[K-DRAMA] Monstar (2013)

warning: may contain spoilers

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A fun school-based drama with interesting music for your ears..

Plot:

Yoon Seol Chan is a leader of one of Korea’s popular idol group, Men in Black. He gets into trouble one day for pushing one of his crazy fans and thus his reputation declined. To be able to make up for this mistake, the CEO of his talent agency decided to send Seol Chan to school to let the heat cool off first and slowly rebuild his reputation as a star. Meanwhile, Min Se Yi is a transfer student from New Zealand. Se Yi and Seol Chan became classmates and seat mates. Both of them befriends other classmates. One day while they were doing volunteer work at Gyeong Buk Palace, they got into trouble as one of them accidentally hit the wall tiles/roof and it broke. Students who were caught passing by in the location of the incident were sent to the teacher’s office. They later realised that they were sent to the office not because of that, but because of poop. The poop incident drew these students together and they later learned that music is their common interest.

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Opinions:

Monstar is a school-based drama but what makes it different from other school-based dramas is that one character is already popular and already made it to stardom while the rest are just purely students. While Master of Study focuses on grades, Dream High on music and performance and School 2013 on bullying and friendships, Monstar is more diverse when it comes to themes. It also touched on music, performances, friendships, and love. I like how Monstar was able to put everything together in 12 episodes. Monstar really has a little bit of everything.

The plot has similarities with other dramas, but with the addition of Yoon Seol Chan’s character, it made Monstar new and unique. The first half was an impressive start, as we get to know each of the members of Color Bar. I really like the members of Color Bar as they are really distinct and different from one another, thus the name Color Bar. While in other dramas, there seems to be an overlapping of character’s personality and looks, this drama made the characters stood out on their own. The characters and their personalities are really easy to remember. I think it’s a pity that they weren’t able to make the story as interesting in the latter half. As the story progressed, it turned more serious and slow. I did not like how they wasted many time and scenes for those few unnecessary subplots.

Characters:

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Beast Yong Jun Hyung as Yoon Seol Chan — I’m not exactly sure how he was able to become the lead actor for this drama. I have nothing against Jun Hyung as an idol because I knew he’s really talented in rapping and songwriting. When it comes to acting though, it seemed like he needs more practice. Sometimes I felt that he was a bit awkward and stiff in some scenes. Although I have to admit that Seol Chan’s personality was suitable for him. However, Seol Chan was not a likeable character for me. Overall, Jun Hyung’s acting was pretty impressive considering it’s his first acting project. I wished though that he could be given a supporting role first instead of a major lead role. I felt that he wasn’t ready yet.

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Ha Yeon Soo as Min Se Yi — Another newbie we have here. This is considered Ha Yeon Soo’s first major lead role. My first impression of her was not quite good because I thought that she would just be another girl. From the first few episodes, I found nothing special in her and really wondered how she could become the lead girl. As episodes passed, and after hearing her sing while playing the guitar, I felt a certain charm in her that could be different from other girls. She’s small and petite and maybe from a guy’s perspective, there could be a sense of wanting to protect and take care of her. Her portrayal of Min Se Yi is good. She voices out whenever she can and she speaks what’s in her mind. Although acting-wise, I know she used quite a lot of her innocent-look and cuteness, but she’s a female lead that I learned to like as the drama ended. What I like about Ha Yeon Soo the most is her ability to sing and play the guitar.

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Kang Ha Neul as Jung Sun Woo — Kang Ha Neul is certainly a hidden gem. Discovered him in To The Beautiful You and during that time, I knew he will make it big. Look how busy he is in 2013 as part of the cast in Monstar and The Heirs; and also a special cameo in Two Weeks. I love his character in this drama as Jung Sun Woo as he was different from the well-known second lead guys wherein they’re not much expressive. Sun Woo is the total opposite as he’s really expressing how he feels for the girl he likes and fighting for it. I must say that Kang Ha Neul did great in portraying this character. Aside from this, we can also see his muscular body as there was a scene when he took off his shirt. *fangirl alert* I’m also surprised that Ha Neul could also sing so well. Even though it was lip-synched, but hearing him reach those high notes is already enough for an actor like him who hasn’t released any album. I also admire his musical abilities as he could play the cello, bass and guitar in the drama. Not really sure if he could play in real life, but even if he doesn’t, he did well in “showing” that he can play those instruments. I must admit that Kang Ha Neul really helped me in finishing this drama. I’m excited on Ha Neul’s upcoming projects this 2014. Hopefully a lead drama this time!

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Moon Yong Suk as Ma Joon Hee — I seriously don’t know why I added him in this list when there are other more important characters to include. I just find Yong Suk super cute and tall that his looks certainly got my attention after seeing his first scene in this drama. A 93-liner is considered young and with Monstar as his first drama appearance, I can predict that he can do well in the future as well.

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Soundtrack:

Out of all musical-themed or school-based dramas, the songs used in Monstar were my favourite. Although the songs are not originals but many songs are covers or renditions, but the choice of songs were great. When Sun Woo played “I Will Love You” in his guitar while singing, I immediately fell in love with his cover. This song was a popular song back then and it was originally sung by Zoo. One of Busker Busker’s popular songs was also covered in the drama. Kyu Dong, also called Radio, sang a mix of K-pop songs like Nobody, Rainism, Mister, etc. With matching dance steps, Kyu Dong is really a talented performer-slash-student. It’s a pity that these covers weren’t included in the official soundtrack. How I wished that I could listen to the studio version of these songs as well. The official soundtrack offers songs mainly from their performances and Men In Black songs. Still not a bad idea in my opinion as I also love those songs equally. With 9 tracks and 8 instrumentals, most of the songs are worth listening to. “Past Days” starts off with a Yeon Soo’s voice with acoustics, then after awhile, BTOB’s voices can be heard with the usual idol group song. “After Time Passes” is very Beast in my opinion. Usual rapping and heavy beats but still relaxing to listen to. “Atlantis Girl” is technically a duet of Sun Woo and the younger and older Se Yi. It’s such a cute song with the relaxing strums of the guitar. The tune is easy to follow as well. “Don’t Make Me Cry” is the track sung by Color Bar during their first competition. Originally sung by a popular Korean singer back in 1991, Color Bar did a perfect rendition with Nana’s powerful voice and the addition of beatbox was a fresh and playful version. I loved it even better than the original. “First Love” is Men In Black’s title track and it’s a typical idol song, but I personally think this song could be used as a debut song for an upcoming idol group. Catchy! Last song to recommend is featured in Color Bar’s performance in the last episode. “Only that is my World / March” is also a rendition but Color Bar’s version was a lot lot more appealing. The first song challenged their voices and in reaching the high notes while a little of the second song adds a playful and fun vibe to the song. I really love most of the songs played in the drama. Especially for the songs that used the guitar, it actually motivated me to relearn the guitar once again.

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Ending (spoilers):

Unlike many other viewers pleading for a second season, I wished that the drama was extended to a few more episodes for a better closure and ending. I wasn’t completely satisfied with how the director and writers ended it. It was sort of an open-ended drama. We didn’t really see as to who ended with who, but left with bits of scenes of the potential couples but there’s really no certainty. It’s really obvious though from the very beginning that Se Yi would end up with Seol Chan. I’m not really very contented with it as I know that idols can’t publicly date. Se Yi would probably have a hard time if she pursues their relationship. There’s really a big question mark on what would happen next if they would really up together. Couples aside, the subplots of the characters were resolved pretty quickly and it was a bit confusing. Loopholes were left open as there’s no exact reason or explanation for certain subplots. It was obvious that the last episode was rushed.

Final Thoughts:

Monstar is a school-based drama that should deserve more recognition. While there are many popular school genre dramas out there, Monstar doesn’t lose to other dramas when it comes to the plot and music. Although it isn’t my top favourite, but I have to say that I quite enjoyed the pacing of the story and especially liked the songs sung in the drama. Better choice of lead characters, I’d say, could make the drama more successful. Definitely a must-watch for music enthusiasts as it covers different music styles or genres.

Rating: 7/10

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Recommended Korean Dramas (2013) | My Asian movie & drama

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