[K-DRAMA] Panda and Hedgehog (2012)

warning: may contain spoilers

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Panda and Hedgehog is not a drama about animals, but actually a drama about patisserie. Welcome to the world of baking and sweets!

Plot:

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Pan Da Yang and her sister are left with a cafe shop after their parents passed away. They are on the verge of going bankrupt as they don’t see any profit in their shop named Cafe Panda. Their current pâtissier doesn’t help as he can’t bake delicious cakes. Da Yang decides to hire a new pâtissier. Meanwhile, Go Seung Ji lives with his grandpa, who adopted him when he was young after he went out of jail. They are close to each other despite of not being blood related. His grandpa is also a pâtissier who owns a bakery of his own. Seung Ji, who developed an interested in baking when he was younger, followed the footsteps of his grandpa. He also helps out in their business most of the time. Seeing that their bakery doesn’t also make much profit, Seung Ji decides to find a job outside of their bakery to help fund his grandpa and buy him a house. Coincidentally, Seung Ji saw a hiring ad at Cafe Panda. After baking a sample for Da Yang, she immediately hires him. Will Seung Ji save Cafe Panda or will his employment turn into a disaster? Will love also blossom as the two get to meet everyday? A third wheeler arrives as Da Yang’s middle school classmate named Choi Won Il just got back from the US after several years. He is also the President of a famous bakery in town. Panda and Hedgehog is a drama that revolves around the world of patisserie.

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Opinions:

The reason why I watched this drama was all because of Donghae. He’s not really my bias, but to show support as a Super Junior fan, I want to see Donghae– the actor, for a change. I also found out that Choi Jin Hyuk was part of the cast so it was a big plus. I have never watched a Korean drama about being a pâtissier. I thought it would be refreshing and new. I guess I made a wrong move. The plot was predictable and there was no suspense. This is one of the reason why I stopped liking rom-com genres a  long time ago. The scenarios are always the same. Childish love triangle story. Fight and make up, but it’s obvious who the girl will end up with. The drama reminds me of Taiwanese romantic comedy dramas. The good thing though about those Taiwanese dramas is that they only make 13 episodes most of the time. Panda and Hedgehog had 16 episodes and I felt 12-13 episodes would be enough. It was seriously draggy and there were a lot of fillers and unnecessary scenes. There’s not much effort in the dialogues, but the background and setting were all pretty. I wished the writers made more effort in making the storyline and dialogues fun and coherent.

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During the first few episodes of the drama, I had so many questions in my mind. One example was exactly why Go Seung Ji went to jail. I mean, he looked so fine and normal. It feels weird that this important question is not answered by any of the characters while having conversations with him. It was later revealed during the middle part of the drama. It feels like the storyline wasn’t much polished. The organisation of thoughts was quite a mess. One thing that I really liked though was the props. The pastries and cakes all looked cute and edible. I loved how they made the effort to actually design the pastries in a playful way and I can imagine that the baking process must’ve been difficult.

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Besides the pastries, the actors are something to look forward to as well. It was funny that Dong Hae and Jin Hyuk’s ages are actually only one year apart and what’s more shocking was that Seung Ah is actually older than the two guys. It seems like Dong Hae and Seung Ah are same aged while Jin Hyuk is the oldest. I also find it funny because there’s a ‘history’ between Dong Hae and Jin Hyuk. Aside from the two guys being part of the It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl cast, Dong Hae had a short ‘date’ with Eun Seo in We Got Married, but Eun Seo became Jin Hyuk’s girlfriend afterwards. Okay, that sounds complicated and awkward. lol Going back to the characters, it was obvious that the staff made Dong Hae looked good and cooler than Jin Hyuk. I didn’t liked Jin Hyuk’s role at all. I didn’t like Seung Ah’s role either. Da Yang was playing hard to get. The three’s relationship became childish already and it doesn’t look mature at all. Even if some of the characters were annoying, the actors did their best and portrayed their roles in the least hateful way.

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Characters:

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Lee Dong Hae as Go Seung Ji — Really loved Lee Dong Hae as a member of Super Junior. Although I watched him in Skip Beat, I completely forgot his role and what he actually did there. His talent in acting was definitely tested in this drama. He was good in this drama, showing all kinds of emotions. While many hate idol-turned-actors, Dong Hae’s acting is not so despicable. I must say he improved a lot and his acting skills passed. But honestly, I prefer him to take second lead or supporting roles in the future. It feels like the producers are just using him for his popularity and not his talent. If there’s a chance, I’d love to see him act again and grow as a great and successful actor as well.

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Yoon Seung ah as Pan Da Yang — She was familiar to me as she took supporting roles in The Moon Embracing the Sun and I Need Romance 3. I loved her beauty because she is so cute and definitely baby face. No one could ever know that she is actually older than the two lead guys without looking at their profiles. I don’t hate her but I hate her role as Pan Da Yang. I find the character very annoying as she tries to fool the two guys. She knows that they both like her, so she takes the time to make fun of them. Seung Ah looks suitable to portray the role of Pan Da Yang, because she looks so young. However, I hope she stops taking aegyo roles from now on considering her age. It feels like Pan Da Yang’s role is for 16 year old girls. I wish for her to take mature roles in the future.

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Choi Jin Hyuk as Choi Won Il — Choi Jin Hyuk has become one of the actors I’m looking forward to see ever since watching him in Gu Family Book. I also saw his other dramas, The Heirs and I Need Romance. What I like about his acting is his consistency. There’s not a drama wherein I hated him, but he did his best in every drama that he’s in. However, I didn’t quite liked his character as Choi Won Il in this drama. Why on earth did he made him look so bad and stupid? lol Seriously, he looks so manly but never had a girlfriend?! That was quite unexpected. He didn’t know how to date or court a girl and he was always asking opinion from his little sister. He was supposed to look cool right, as a President of the bakery? The role given to him though wasn’t cool at all. At least, we get to see a cute side of Jin Hyuk through this role as Won Il. Looking forward to more projects from him in the future.

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Ending:

The ending was very predictable. I know what’s going to happen, but I felt that it was rushed during the last episode. I was wondering what would happen to Seung Ji’s dad. The father and son didn’t get a happy ending after all. Seung Ji’s dad didn’t feel remorseful until the end though, so I guess he deserved it. One of the cliffhangers in the last episode was whether someone was going to die or not, particularly Grandpa. I don’t think I’ll be fooled by the writers. I mean, come on, it’s the last episode and it’s a rom-com, so expect that everyone’s going to be alive. The cast members also purposely wore black clothes to make it look like they’re attending a wake or funeral. You’ll never fool me 😛 The last scene was simple but cute. The three main characters sat on a bench together with a big panda stuff toy. More than love, it was friendship that prevailed among the three of them.

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Soundtrack:

There’s no official soundtrack but there are six songs used in the drama. Super Junior fans will surely be happy as one can listen to SJ’s voices while watching the drama. “Plz Don’t” sung by our very own Dong Hae is the main title track. It’s an upbeat and cheerful song suitable for a rom-com drama. “Don’t Go” also by Dong Hae is also worth a listen. “Loving You” by Super Junior sub-unit K.R.Y. is personally my favourite track. It sounds like a revival from an English song just with Korean lyrics. Love the sweet melody accompanied by the sweet voices of Kyuhyun, Ryeowook and Yesung. The last song I would recommend is “Inverted Love” by Choi Jin Hyuk. Wow! I can’t imagine that he can actually sing! We are all mesmerised by Jin Hyuk’s husky and manly voice and he did so well in this song. His voice is totally suitable for Korean soundtrack songs. lol

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Final Thoughts:

A very typical rom-com that I find very similar to Taiwanese dramas. Honestly, I was very bored to death. Every episode was predictable. Watch it only if you like actors especially Lee Dong Hae and Choi Jin Hyuk. I feel so bad for them because they deserve a nicer plot. It was obvious that the producers and writers relied so much on Dong Hae’s popularity rather than the plot. The drama had so much potential considering its fresh concept or topic about baking, but they didn’t utilise it well. I’m a bit glad that it was aired in an unknown channel called Channel A. The ratings weren’t much noticeable. If it was aired in the Big 3 networks, then it would be possible that the actors would be criticised a lot and the drama would be a major flop. Overall, Panda and Hedgehog was a waste of time for me.

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Rating: 3/10

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