Network: Mnet & TvN
Cast: Yong JunHyung, Ha YeonSoo, Kang HaNeul, DaHee, Kim MinYoung, Kang UiShik, Park KyuSun, & Ahn NaeSang
Musical Korean dramas are becoming my favorites and all for good reasons. Monstar is no exception, especially how it partnered amazing music with a tight, heartfelt story. TvN continues to prove that they're the dark horse in the Korean drama landscape, and this time, they partnered with Mnet to do so. Quite a lot of amazing things came out of this series, too!
The drama revolves around SeolChan (Yong JunHyung), a KPOP idol forced to go back to school, and SeYi (Ha YeonSoo), a transferee student from New Zealand. They become seatmates in class and often find themselves in trouble along with the friends they meet in their musical high school adventure.
There are many things to like about Monstar, and one of that is how we're given the chance to really get to know the characters. The story gives us fleshed out characters who aren't stereotypical in this other side of television. In most dramas, we are given three leads to invest in and multiple secondary leads we end up not caring about. But in Monstar, we are introduced to a group of friends who end up forming one of nicest musical ensembles in Korean drama history: Color Bar! These aren't characters just thrown together to form a bad. Each and everyone of them are fleshed out really well. We are given characters with different dimensions that best represent how it feels like to be a teen. There's the difficult friendship, the mistrust, the infatuation, the insecurity, and most of all, the angst! It's difficult not to invest in them, even the ones you might is irrelevant in the group.
Their stories feel so real. There are so many tender moments in this series that will definitely tug at your heartstrings. They are teenagers who act like teenagers. Though our main lead is a KPOP star, we see more of him as the teenager that he is and not as the star that he claims to be.
At first, I thought I wouldn't like this series. I'm a bit wary of dramas that touch the reality of KPOP idols, because it tends to get superficial. Also, I had a hard time taking Yong JunHyung seriously. He's not my usual type of actor and it took some time to warm up to him. But when I did, I really, really like him. Yong JunHyung surprises by bringing so much character to his portrayal of SeolChan. He could have been just any haughty idol, basking in his popularity. But he made it funny and curiously dimensional, and he's just incredibly entertaining to watch.
I also love the character of SeYi. Here's a girl who's frank, honest, and no pushover. Finally, a heroine I can root for! She's such a refreshing character in a kdramaland filled with goody-two-shoes-but-always-mad-at-the-hero type of character. Sure, she gets angry at SeolChan, but she can also be incredibly supportive and pleasant when she wants to. She knows how to stand up to bullies, and she knows how to cheer up a friend. She's also not perfect, and it's amazing to see her grow as a character. Also, she's sooooo0oooo0ooooo cute. I can't with the cuteness at times.
The main cast is filled with actors with little to no experience in acting, but it doesn't bring the drama down at all. In fact, I was blown away that it's the first time for most of them to act! But the one thing the cast have in common is that they're all clearly adept to music. All of them can sing and most of them can play an instrument. I think it's the two things you can't fake in acting. It's clearly obvious when one is just faking the guitar playing or when the singing is dubbed. But with this ensemble, we get a group of kids to act and to do one thing they're all good at: make music! I firmly believe that's what makes this drama so addicting.
Overall, Monstar is a series I thoroughly enjoyed. I waited for it every week because I always look forward to the silly antics of our characters. I get excited for their songs in the episode and how they can relate the songs to the current situation. The songs seem to always, always fit the situation. It's a series I incredibly love and I started to think that it might be my favorite drama this year.
That's why I get incredibly offended when I remember the ending. We could have had it all, Monstar, if only that aggravating ending didn't happen. How can a series so amazing be punctuated by an ending that's obviously rushed? I still try to forgive them by thinking that they obviously have more planned for the drama but were only given 12 episodes. Somehow, they still forced everything in the ending so it resulted in a mess. I have no words. I just can't help but sigh. I might as well stop writing, but I won't because I have to end this somehow. (Spoiler alert for the succeeding paragraphs!)
I just feel like it's so unfair to the kids. They at least deserve a good ending for all the things they went through. But it's most unfair to SeYi. She suffered for years not knowing the secret behind the accident that took the life of her father. It scarred her and only when she learned to make friends and to open up did she start to heal. Then in one blow, just a few minutes before the ending, we, along with SeYi, finally learn about the truth and it just devastates her (and me!)! What's even more frustrating is that she learns about it from some stranger who only appeared in the last episode. WTF, Monstar. I know that the healing this time around won't be so difficult because she has her friends, her music, her mother, and SeolChan beside her. But it still doesn't feel right.
Basically, I'm just not happy how they decided to dump everything in the ending. If they're really running out of time, I can pinpoint some things that can definitely be taken out. I just don't understand why they have to wait for the last episode for so many reveal, making many of the problem seem so big when they're really not. Then letting those graver conflicts have very little space to sink in to us audience.
Take SeolChan's case for example. How can the writers, director, producer, and everyone on board allow such important stuff to only have a space on the last episode? How can something so big not play any role in the stuff? HOW?
Also, I seriously do not care about the older generation. Seriously. In high school or college dramas, it's better to let the children's stories take center stage. I believe that the conflict in the adult's story could have been resolved a lot sooner. I just wanted the last episode to focus on SeYi and SeolChan's relationship and to know where they plan to take it. But alas, so many unnecessary things have to happen. I can't believe they think it's a good idea to start new conflicts in the last episode. Like, why?
And I thought I wouldn't be able to say much, but I guess my passionate love for this drama coupled with my absolute hate for the ending is enough for me to write an essay. Haha! But you see, no matter how agitated I am over the finale, Monstar is still a drama I hold very dearly to my heart. And yes, it's still a drama I will happily recommend to anyone. Because what's a disappointing ending compared to the eleven episodes that made me incredibly happy? :) Besides, I know people who actually think the ending's okay.
To end this unbelievably long post, here's my favorite song from the entire series. If there's one thing the ending did right, it's the finale song.
(All photo credit goes to Monstar's Official Page.)