Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (live action TV series), via Netflix

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is a 16-episode Korean drama featuring supernatural romance. A “gumiho” is the Korean version of a nine-tailed fox.

Dae Woong is an immature aspiring actor who would prefer to happily spend his days wasting his family's money on various presents for himself and his friends. After running away from his grandfather's latest attempt to force him to shape up, he ends up at a temple, where a mischievous gumiho convinces him to help her escape the painting in which she is trapped. Once she has escaped, Gumiho (later named Miho) decides she likes Dae Woong and wants to stay with him. Dae Woong would rather not spend all his time and money providing Miho with meat, but he's afraid she'll eat his liver if he doesn't (for the most part, Miho has little interest in his liver, but he doesn't know that).

Miho saves Dae Woong's life by putting her bead (the source of most of her power) inside him, temporarily tying the two of them together. The more time they spend together, the more Dae Woong grows to like Miho. However, Dong Joo, a supernatural being of some sort, may drive them apart.

This series started off “meh” and just kept getting better and better. By episode 4, I was hooked.

Dae Woong wasn't all that impressive, at first. He was childish, whiny, and irresponsible. It was difficult for me to understand what Miho saw in him, and, for the first few episodes, I disliked how much more attached she was to him than he was to her. I was devastated when Dae Woong tried to get rid of Miho by abandoning her on a boat that was just about to leave the dock, knowing that Miho was deathly afraid of water.

Gradually, however, Dae Woong became more likable. In fact, there were many instances where he was downright adorable. I loved it when he shoved aside his disappointment over Miho's gift and chose to love it for the spirit in which it was given. His efforts to protect Miho from the true ending of Hans Christian Andersen's “The Little Mermaid” were sweet, as well.

There were pretty much only two moments later in Dae Woong and Miho's romance that I didn't like: Dae Woong's attempt to reassure Miho that her scary gumiho rage after Dae Woong's ex-girlfriend kissed him was normal, and Dae Woong's decision not to be completely honest with Miho about the things that Dong Joo had revealed to him. Aside from those things, Dae Woong and Miho's romance was pitch perfect for me.

There were several other prominent characters, some of which worked better for me than others. Dae Woong's aunt, Min Sook, and Director Ban had one of the most slapstick romances I've seen in a long time. When they first meet, for example, Director Ban wins Min Sook undying gratitude by taking the blame when Min Sook accidentally stinks up an elevator with her farts. Sometimes the humor worked for me, but often I just wanted the story to jump back to Miho and Dae Woong.

I've already mentioned Dong Joo a little. In my notes, he was nicknamed “Hot Vet.” His human identity was that of a veterinarian, and he was mind-bogglingly pretty – except for his hair, which kept reminding me of the stupid hairdo Justin Bieber used to have. Dong Joo was clearly intended to be part of a love triangle with Miho, but it was a love triangle that was doomed almost from the start. Miho was too focused on Dae Woong to ever fall for Dong Joo. Dong Joo had the “tragic past love” thing going for him, but he didn't exactly win any points for repeatedly lying to Miho. I'm still not sure why he tricked her in the first place.

Another prominent character was Hye In, Dae Woong's girlfriend. She drove me crazy. At first, I thought maybe she actually liked Dae Woong, in her own way. However, when it looked like his acting career was going to fizzle out before it even began, she dropped him without hesitation. But she couldn't stand to see him with anyone else, especially Miho. Make up your mind, girl! When she finally completely gave up on Dae Woong at the end of the series, I started to like her a little, but for most of the series she was an annoyance.

All in all, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho was very good. I now consider it to be one of my top favorite K-dramas. For those interested in the supernatural aspects, some warnings: the special effects are kind of iffy (but sparingly used, thank goodness), and the supernatural stuff is kind of light, although very important to the storyline.

I will leave you with the music video (I think?) for one of the main songs in the series, "Fox Rain" by Lee Sun Hee. This song is absolutely lovely:

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