“The Sound of Magic” is described as a musical fantasy drama, but it turns out to be none. It’s the story of a disillusioned teenager who goes through hard times when she meets a magician who brings, yes, “magic” into her life and lots of laughter and happiness. It’s not a bad idea for a series, even if it’s already been done to death. Because every time we tune in to a new Korean drama, we rightfully expect to see something new made with the old, whether it’s a different format, a new twist on an old joke, or at least some emotion unexplored or a sub-plot that we’re going to stick to as much as the main storyline.
We were convinced that the curse of “too much content” had somehow escaped the k-drama world, that it was the only thing that was still able to entertain us without making us roll our eyes at the scripts to half cooked put together just to produce something. But alas, “The Sound of Magic” proves that even Korean entertainment isn’t immune.
The story begins with a teenage girl, Ah Yi, who goes through hard times as her father escapes loan sharks, and she is left to take care of herself and her younger sister. Life is hard for her, and she has to juggle school and part-time jobs, and even then she barely earns enough to pay the rent. She is a good student, however, and although she feels she won’t be able to go to college, she wants to at least graduate from high school with good grades. That’s when she catches the eye of the school’s top student, Il Deong, who has a crush on her. Although he tops all subjects, math is the only place she gets better grades than him. Also, the class bully, Ha Na, is interested in making fun of Ah Yi for being poor. In between all of this, she meets the magician at an abandoned theme park. He is said to be mad but handsome, and his magic is said to be not sleight of hand but real. This magician is interested in Ah Yi and always seems to be there to help her out of any trouble she might find herself in. And as she spends time with him, she finds herself smiling more and more, and her problems start to look worse than they were before. But soon enough, the reality begins to become clearer since the magician is suspected of being involved in the disappearance of a young girl, as well as in several other crimes. But magic solves everything, and the ending is happy and very sunny and rosy.
Sounds unconvincing, doesn’t it? It is also what we feel. Before we explain why “The Sound of Magic” fails to make us feel anything, we’d like to say that one of the drama’s fatal flaws was that it tried to do too much. Along with the main storyline of Ah Yi’s troubles, we also saw Il Deong’s family situation as well as the whole murder mystery. It was a cocktail of plots that just didn’t go together well. Maybe if the show had more episodes?
Also, not to sound unsympathetic, but the “poor girl struggling to make ends meet” is an overblown concept. Il Deong’s story was much more interesting, as was his character. While Hwang In Yeop seems destined to play the high school kid again and again, we can’t deny that his presence lit up the screen and was one of the few things we looked forward to in the drama. Ji Chang Wook, who plays magician Ri Eul, has been one of our favorites for years, and while he does justice to the material he received, we can’t help but think he doesn’t. didn’t get enough. A magician is supposed to be charming and friendly, and if it’s a fantasy drama, maybe a little dangerous when the script calls for it. The script never demanded it, and it was a mistake made by the writers. Also, where was the comedy? The magic is appealing because it creates a comedy of deception, and the entire 6 episodes lacked that. There wasn’t a single moment that made us at least laugh.
And when it comes to music, we can’t help but wonder why this was attempted. The songs were forcefully integrated into the narrative, just to justify calling it a “musical drama”. It would have been much less exhausting if they had been completely removed. And finally, the plot of the “murder mystery” was so poorly done. It wasn’t well thought out, and we’re not a fan of how they decided to solve everything in the last ten minutes with an answer that wasn’t convincing enough. It was something else that didn’t fit the narrative. It’s understandable that the writers wanted to show the magician’s tragic backstory, but it was poorly executed. And poorly explained. His past was that “one day he suddenly changed”. Does that make sense? The answer is simple – they presented the scene well with emotional music, flashback, great actors and the “good goes bad” narrative, but they had a very weak script that couldn’t sell it.
“The Sound of Magic” starts with a group of girls talking about the crazy but handsome magician from the abandoned theme park and immediately cuts to the whole school getting into a dance number. We were okay with that, and we liked Il Deong’s story as well. We have a feeling a different writer wrote this, given its thinking compared to the rest of the series.
When we saw that “The Sound of Magic” Season 1 only had six episodes, we were happy considering how much traditional Korean dramas can stretch. But we understand that they couldn’t fit the format well and tried to squeeze a 20 episode story into the 6 episodes. They should have stuck with Ah Yi’s story arc and done it well, or maybe Il Deong’s, considering it was so much better.
People watch stories about fantasy and magic because it feels good to at least see someone’s problems solved in a world where things always seem to fall apart. But “The Sound of Magic” didn’t get the mission, and that really disappointed us. To be fair, the correct assessment would be that we weren’t bored, but we didn’t care either. I never thought we’d say that about a K-drama considering the recent content that came out of the country. “The Sound of Magic” not only lacked the magic it promised, but it was also well below par. And that’s exactly what disappointed us. It is high time that creators understand that if they do not want to offer us new content, they must at least learn to adapt it to new formats. Given this, they would still be able to retain the charm they are so known for.