May 28, 2013

Monstar: Episode 1


I've finally seen the first 2 episodes of the new Mnet drama Monstar, and it's safe to say that it has successfully captured my interest and I will be trying my hand at recapping. *crossingmyfingers*

The show has quickly set the tone for episodes to come. It's easy to tell where we're going based on its first two weeks on air, which I like. It's a coming-of-age story of several different characters in a regular high school. We're bound to have romances, rivalries, teenage angst, parental issues, and some laughs along the way. I like that while there are several emotional beats spattered through its episodes, its an easy enough watch that surprises me with a laugh-out-loud moment every now and then. It's not too heavy, nor too light. I'm liking it so far.

So here we go.

EPISODE 1




The show opens with a pair of snails slowly gliding on a dewy leaf as a girl says in voice-over: "That's also saying, if you really have to know the reason, the things that happened to us... began with a pair of lips."

It's our heroine, MIN SE-YI (Ha Yeon-soo), who's siting in the middle of a beautiful garden, a puppy at her feet. As she softly strums on her acoustic guitar, we cut to a music performance by idol group Men in Black. They just so happen to be singing the same song.

After the song, she packs up her guitar and bids goodbye to the dog. She's off to school.


As it happens, so is our hero, Men in Black leader YOON SEOL-CHAN (Yong Jun-hyung). He doesn't really want to go, but he has to. In the van, on his way to school, his manager discusses with him the problem that tops most idols' list of concerns: sasaeng fans.

They're running late to school, and so is Se-yi, whom the manager points out on the side of the road as they drive past her. Manager Hong asks if they should pick her up, to which Seol-chan just scoffs.


At school, Seol-chan enters a classroom and beelines for a girl. His girlfriend? She easily dismisses him though, even as he asks her to talk in private. She tells him that anything he wants to say to her can be said in front of the class. "Alright, I'll do it here," he says and bends down to kiss her. The class erupts in cheers.

We pull back from the dreamy scene with a "cut!" from the director. So she's not his actual girlfriend but an actress playing opposite him in a drama set in high school. The director approaches Seol-chan to call him out for not really kissing Ari, the actress, but rather kissing his thumb which he had placed over her lips. Seol-chan reminds the director that he is underage.

While the director argues with the school principal over what they can film and not film within school premises, Ari stalks after Seol-chan and scolds him for not being professional about the scene. She tells him this is exactly the reason why idols won't make it as actors - they treat acting like a game. But Seol-chan just laughs at her.


"So you want me to do it properly?" he asks, smirking. He says that he's heard about her specifically requesting for him to be the male lead, and her bet with her celebrity friends on who would be able to kiss him first. Whether dating or in an acting capacity, the person to first kiss him wins.

She tries to deflect the situation but Seol-chan persists, pinning her against the wall. She asks him to move but he just leans in closer. He tells her he'll make sure they're done before the kids come around, he is a pro after all. As he closes the gap between them, they hear a phone camera go off. It's Se-yi.


"Lips..." Se-yi tries to explain when asked what she was doing. Ari grabs Se-yi's phone and walks off in a huff. Se-yi is about to run after her but Seol-chan holds her back. He peers at her name tag and tells her he'll remember her name and return her phone to her once they've deleted the photo. He's about to leave but she grabs him by the arm. Thinking she's a fan, he pulls her in for a hug and again promises her that it's done, he will fix things.

Manager Hong rounds the corner and tells him that filming has ended and they need to go. But Se-yi once again grabs at Seol-chan's sleeve, pulling out a button in the process. Seol-chan yells, "You bi-" and Manager Hong just about manages to cover Seol-chan's mouth in time because the fans are fast on the manager's heels and they come rounding the corner as well.


It's utter pandemonium as Seol-chan and his manager make an escape. Once in the van, Manager Hong tells him off for not doing the kiss scene properly as well. It's just lips, he reasons. But Seol-chan has other things on his mind as he tells his manager to check the internet for news.

Manager Hong presses hard on the brakes and turns to look at Seol-chan, asking him what he's been up to again. He starts to berate Seol-chan but has to forge ahead because the fans are starting close in on them. Seol-chan tells his manager to relax and that Ari's agency will take care of it. Which, of course, causes Manager Hong to stomp on the brakes again. And it's a funny visual of Seol-chan lurching forward in his seat whenever his manager hits the brakes.

Se-yi manages to catch up with the van and presses her face against the window, trying to see into the deeply tinted glass. Seol-chan is taken aback but he continues to explain to Manager Hong that he was about to kiss Ari but got caught. The manager once again presses hard on the brakes, but this time hitting a student in the process.



Fearing it was Se-yi they've hit, Seol-chan gets off the vehicle and kneels beside her. "Min Se-yi, are you okay?" But it's not Se-yi. Instead it's a sasaeng fan who grabs him into a hug and whispers into his ears, "Actually, the car didn't hit me. I just pretended to get hit." She then forces a kiss on him. Ugh. She wouldn't let go of him, but he manages to get her off with a slap and a shove.

Unfortunately, there are about a hundred other students in their vicintiy, each and everyone of them with their camera phones at the ready. This can only mean bad things for Seol-chan. Especially when the sasaeng sits up for awhile just to tell him he should visit her in the hospital if he wants her to announce that this is all fake. She then proceeds to dramatically wail at him for hitting her. And then she fake faints. Seriously, ugh.

Manager Hong ushers Seol-chan back into the van where our hero pulls his headphones on and shuts out the world. As he stares out the van, he sees Se-yi staring back at him. The van then pulls away.



We cut to students on a school stage at orchestra practice. After the performance, Teacher Dok pulls aside MA JOON-HEE (Moon Yong-suk) to ask if his band, All for One, is willing to participate at a charity event. Clearly, he doesn't want to do it but he tells her he'll think about it.

Gym Teacher Choi witnesses the encounter and chides her for being too soft with the students. She bristles at his teasing but he just walks away whistling.



Teacher Dok notices Se-yi standing on the school lawn staring off to space, so she tasks class president JUNG SUN-WOO (Kang Ha-neul) to go and fetch her and bring her to the staff room.

He goes and introduces himself to her and she's surprised when he calls her by name. He points out her name tag though. Then he watches her head off to the staff room, betraying a hint of interest.


Back in classroom 2, amidst the ruckus over Seol-chan's encounter with the sasaeng fan, we meet PARK KYU-DONG (Kang Eui-shik). He's often forced to sing out loud to the entire class by class bullies SHIN JAE-ROK (Yoon Jong-hoon) and CHA DO-NAM (Park Gyu-sun), earning him the nickname "Radio." There are some who protest the bullying, but the majority laugh as Kyu-dong belts out his song. It's painful to watch.

In the staff room, we find out that Se-yi is a transfer student who lived in New Zealand for 5 years. When asked by Teacher Choi if this means she can speak English well, she answers in the negative. She lived alone in a house where she looked after sheep for a living. Ha! And, really? It's funny though when Teacher Choi compares her to Heidi, Se-yi deadpans, "Hers is in the Alps."



Teacher Dok accompanies Se-yi to the classroom to and starts to introduce her to the students when a tardy KIM NANA (Dahee) stomps into the room giving up a slight bow to the teacher before dropping into her seat. The class share murmurs when Se-yi is assigned the seat next to our mysterious Nana, whose backstory includes a comic strip sequence of her quickly taking down her enemies.

As soon as Teacher Dok exits the room, Nana tells Se-yi to take the seat that's not next to her. Se-yi obliges. Not soon after she's taken the empty seat across the way, SHIM EUN-HA (Kim Min-young) temporarily takes the seat next to Se-yi to warn her to stay away from Nana. She then starts barraging Se-yi with questions about Seol-chan oppa and how Se-yi knows him. But Se-yi doesn't know Seol-chan, or anything of the k-pop world.

At Men in Black's agency, the company CEO instructs Seol-chan to go visit the girl in the hospital. Sure enough, the little display the sasaeng fan had caused in front of the school has spread online and is causing quite a stir. Not only is Men in Black in trouble, but so is Ari's career through mere association to Seol-chan.


In stomps Ari, who reminds him how important the movie is to her and so he should go and visit the fan in the hospital. She tells him that a lot of people are suffering because of what he did and he should take responsibility for his actions, even if that means letting go of his pride and kneeling down before the sasaeng fan. She gives him Se-yi's phone, telling him to take care of it, as well.

Manager Hong voices the same sentiments. He mentions that if he loses his job, there are rental fees and tuition fees that he won't be able to pay, thus he hopes Seol-chan would take one for the team. Seol-chan sighs. "Hyung, I was sexually harassed!" Aww.


Being new to Seoul, Se-yi loses her way home and ends up roaming around the neighborhood for hours before she finds her house. Which she apparently shares with Teacher Dok.

Teacher Dok rails into Se-yi for worrying her and not coming straight home after school. Here we find out that Teacher Dok is a friend of Se-yi's mother and that this house actually belongs to Seyi-s family. But Teacher Dok now lives here and she finds Se-yi's presence uncomfortable.



Evidently, the topic of her mother distresses Se-yi. She still hasn't informed her mother of her arrival in Korea and it looks like she has no plans of getting in touch any time soon. In her room, Se-yi remembers the moment when she blamed her mother for her father's death, which had earned her a slap.

In his own room, Seol-chan broods as he digests everyone's words to him from earlier that day. He goes to pick up his phone to listen to music but takes Se-yi's phone instead. He goes through Se-yi's photos intending to find the incriminating picture of him and Ari, but instead he finds a poster of a pair of lips. He's surprised to find out she had been telling the truth.

He goes through her music and finds it unbelievable that she doesn't have any Men in Black songs on her phone. He then finds her original music which have been arranged in playlists according to mood. He goes and clicks on "Don't Be Sad."



Se-yi sits in her room, strumming on her guitar and singing the same song that Seol-chan is listening to. Then we're given a glimpse into the lives of the other students we have met earlier. Nana being approached by 2 men in coats on the street; Sun-woo studying in his room; Eun-ha looking grim amidst her k-pop memorabilia; Do-nam looking in at a taekwondo class; Kyu-dong standing on the edge of a rooftop.

Seol-chan also recalls the moment in his childhood when he begged his mother to stay, but she pulled her hand out of his and left the little boy crying.

A tear falls down Se-yi's cheek as she ends her song.

Seol-chan is jerked awake when Se-yi's phone rings. The caller is Se-yi's mother and she starts speaking before Seol-chan can say anything. It's nothing we don't already know - of how Se-yi has yet to get in touch with her mom and how her mom just wants to hear Se-yi's voice. But it affects Seol-chan, who we now know grew up without a mother. He drops the call and muses that Se-yi must have a complicated story.


CEO Go is not happy that Seol-chan still refuses to visit the girl in the hospital. This scandal would deter his activities and so he tells Seol-chan to let go of his pride. CEO Go then offers his last option: Seol-chan will go to school to show the public that he is a diligent and responsible student.

By becoming a model student, Seol-chan will be built up by the very thing that brought him down: netizen comments.

Seol-chan balks at the idea. He reminds them that the students will surely know that it's all a publicity stunt. CEO Go refutes with a "then show them that it's not an act. Every word and every action must be real." Seol-chan still refuses to go to the same school as that "maniac." But, as Eun-ha finds out the next day, the sasaeng fan wasn't from their school, so Seol-chan should rest easy with that out of the way.



The class finds out that Se-yi lived in New Zealand for 5 years and they're all excited over a new classmate who has spent some time overseas. Our resident bully, Jae-rok, gets in her face and asks her to teach All for One vocabulary words. But when she explains she's not at all fluent in English, he takes it as an affront. Good thing Sun-woo is there to ease the tension.

Unfortunately, Jae-rok's attention is deflected to Kyu-dong who stands up to sing and dance.


After class, a bird gets trapped inside the classroom and finds solace on a lighting fixture. Se-yi grabs a table and chair to reach up and free the bird. Her makeshift ladder wobbles and Se-yi nearly falls off, but Sun-woo is there to the rescue. He asks what she needs to save the bird for, she answers with her signature stoic expression, "I'll roast and eat it." It's a joke that stops both Sun-woo and Eun-ha for a second before Se-yi has to clarify that it was indeed a joke. Ha.

Sun-woo, Joon-hee and Jae-rok, all members of All for One, convene and discuss the charity performance. They agree that it's not worth doing.



From afar, Eun-ha fills in Se-yi about the All for One members, all of whom are from rich families. Eun-ha says Sun-woo seems nice but is too cold. She then continues to fill Se-yi in the common knowledge of "Adam" - a pervert who comes out in spring with his messy hair, dark sunglasses, wrinkled waterproof coat, with both hands in his pockets. "If you see this kind of guy, you must close your eyes and run away."

And just as she says this, we see Seol-chan hiding behind a tree in full spy get-up, complete with trench coat and sunglasses. I see where this is going. Haha.

He follows Se-yi and Eun-ha on their walk home and it isn't until the two girls have split up that Seol-chan makes his presence known. Without even looking his way, Se-yi runs for it as Seol-chan calls after her. Sun-woo notices the chase happening from the backseat of his car and calls for his driver to stop.



Seol-chan has finally caught up to Se-yi but she doesn't recognize him. They hear Sun-woo approaching, calling out her name. Seol-chan instructs Se-yi to be quiet. He has her against a wall with his hand over her mouth by the time Sun-woo finds them. This is not good. But I'm giggling.

He pulls off his sunglasses. "It's me, Yoon Seol-chan," he finally tells a scared Se-yi. This vital information finally gets her to stop struggling against him but it's too late. Sun-woo has reached them and he grabs Seol-chan away from Se-yi and he punches him hard in the face.

Just as Seol-chan is about to fight back, he recognizes Sun-woo and hides his face behind the huge collar of his coat. Regrettably, Sun-woo has already recognized him, as well. "Hey, Yoon Seol-chan."

Seol-chan turns to face him. "It's been a long time, Jung Sun-woo." Now this is curious. There's something between the two boys that we're not informed of yet but the onscreen tension is fantastic.

Before an actual confrontation could take place, Se-yi comes up to Seol-chan and punches him herself. She then runs off as Seol-chan calls after her.



Sun-woo follows her though, and we see them next in a coffee shop. Se-yi thanks Sun-woo for saving her twice today. While Sun-woo is surprised to learn that she's not Seol-chan's fan, he keeps quiet as Se-yi continues to tell him how mad she is that in her moment of greatest fear and danger she was unable to stop herself from calling out to the person she hates the most: her mother.

Meanwhile, Manager Hong is nursing a bruised-up and pissed-off Seol-chan. With an ice pack to his face, Seol-chan vows that he will never attend that school.

So to the hospital it is then. But the news broke that Seol-chan is visiting the hospital today and swarming around the building is a wall of teenage fans. Not exactly the most appealing place to be right now. Manager Hong encourages Seol-chan telling him 3 minutes is all he needs and maybe a kiss to the sasaeng fan's hand, and then they can move on. But Seol-chan can't do it.



The next day, Jae-rok struts into the classroom and announces that "Radio" has prepared something as a welcome for Se-yi. And should Radio perform, is Se-yi willing to perform as well? But Se-yi refuses. This again further ignites Jae-rok's fury and he gets annoyingly belligerent.

Seol-chan has arrived at school and he stands by the classroom door unseen by all as he watches these events unfold.


Kyu-dong stands up to sing "The Wind Blows" by Lee Sora and Bobby Kim. It is, once again, to the jeers and laughter of his classmates that Kyu-dong sings. Kyu-dong is actually a very good singer, but he cries through the song. Several people are uncomfortable with the display, including Sun-woo, Se-yi, Eun-ha and Seol-chan. Sun-woo calls for them to stop, but Kyu-dong forges ahead, his voice settling into a nice falsetto.

It gets to the point where even Nana speaks up. She interrupts Sun-woo's warnings and tells him to shut up. But none of this stops Kyu-dong from singing, not even when Jae-rok himself yells for him to stop. It's not until a female voice joins in on the singing that Kyu-dong takes a breather. Se-yi continues the song for him and everyone falls quiet.



Kyu-dong and Se-yi continue the song, alternating at each stanza, until they reach the chorus where their voices meld into one. It's a beautiful and heart stopping moment, especially since this causes Jae-rok to reel in his seat. The song ends and Eun-ha starts to clap. No one joins in but this alone prompts Jae-rok to erupt in anger.

Before Sun-woo can successfully stop Jae-rok from his outburst, Seol-chan decides he has witnessed enough and he bursts into the room, kicking the door for effect. This shuts everyone up.


At first Seol-chan just stands by the doorway and surveys the class, everyone looking back at him. He then saunters over to Se-yi. "Min Se-yi, let's be seatmates."


COMMENTS

I wasn't expecting to be carried away by this drama, but I was and I'm glad. Though it targets a younger audience, I still find myself relating to the characters and wanting them to succeed.

There's so much meat behind each individual character that I can't help but wonder if 12 episodes is enough to flesh them all out. There's so much to find out! Seol-chan and Sun-woo have a relationship that I don't quite understand yet but I'm sure it runs deeper than just former schoolmates. And Kyu-dong is a wonderfully broken character as well. There were numerous times I wanted to reach beyond my screen and give him a hug. The boy clearly needs it.


And while it's hard to relate to Jae-rok, he's another character who needs a hug. I'm seriously hoping there's some deep-seated turmoil in that boy. For him to be acting out this much, there must be something niggling at him, yeah? Having a bully just for the sake of pushing the story forward won't cut it. I need a back story for this guy.

So far, the only character I'm not quite invested in yet is Se-yi. While she does provide a good foil for our lead boys, there's nothing about her as an individual that makes me want to care about her. Not yet. But I still have my fingers crossed that the writers know what they're doing.

While I've already seen the second episode, I've quite sadly run out of time to write up the recap today. But I'm aiming to have that out before the third episode airs. And, if this recap sucks, I'm sorry! It's my first and I didn't have time to go back and edit. Eep.

2 comments:

  1. waaa monstar catch my feeling >.<
    thank u admin for reccaping this drama nicely XD

    may i know? where did u take a alot of pictures from this episode, i mean where we can find every screen captures of korean drama?? i really need it to start my first time writing synopsis korean drama, hope u ca explain it to me^^

    #sorry for my bad english

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually do the screencapping myself. I play the video and take screenshots at certain points in the show. Hope this helps.

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