Vampires, Shinigami, Two Chefs, & a Tiger Mom
THE SCHOLAR WHO WALKS THE NIGHT
(South Korea, 2015; MBC)
Supernatural beings headline two of this week’s dramas, while three other debuts mine stories from more conventional characters and circumstances.
The Scholar Who Walks the Night, a K-drama adaption of the hit Korean manhwa (comic) series, promises a dark mix of historical drama, tragedy, mystery, and romance. After her father is framed for treason, a young noblewoman disguises herself as a man, in order to sell books and earn a living. She meets a scholar during her evening travels – not initially realizing he is a vampire – and is drawn into political intrigue and palace secrets that span several lifetimes. Actor Lee Joon-gi (The Joseon Gunman, Arang and the Magistrate) dons a traditional hanbok (and fangs!) to take on the title role opposite Lee Yoo-bi (Pinnochio, Twenty) as the bookseller. The supporting cast includes TVXQ’s Changmin (Mimi) as the drama’s present-day crown prince, Lee Soo-hyuk (Valid Love, Shark) as a vampire villain, Kim So-eun (Liar Game, Boys Over Flowers) as a familiar face in both the past and present, and Jang Hee-jin (The Woman Who Married Three Times, Big) as a courtesan who helps the vampire hero. (Note: DramaFever will simulcast this title on a two-week delay. In my opinion, it’s worth the short wait to watch it on TV in HD.)
Fans were cautiously excited when the J-drama adaptation of Death Note was announced. The manga, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, is considered a modern classic. Many of its spin-offs and adaptations – including a 37-episode anime series, anime films, live-action films, and a musical – are also fan favorites. How do you retell its story one more time? This question was partially answered last week with the release of a synopsis that significantly altered the ages, circumstances, and backstories of several main characters for the J-drama. But will it work? That curiosity is likely why Death Note’s 90-minute premiere last Sunday clocked in as the highest-rated series debut on Japanese commercial TV for all of 2015. Will fans of the original Shinigami-instigated, psychological thriller tune in for the second episode? Next week’s ratings will be interesting. [Via Crunchyroll, which is simulcasting the series with subs in English and a variety of other languages.]
In the romantic comedy I Order You, a recently divorced chef nurses his broken heart by making homemade lunchboxes for appreciative patrons and by bickering with an attractive (and unemployed) young woman he meets at his shop. The cast for this web novel-to-web drama adaptation features TVXQ’s Yunho (The Night Watchman’s Journal, Ode to My Father) and Kim Ga-eun (The Joseon Gunman, I Hear Your Voice) as its leads. Heads up, TVXQ fans: This is likely Yunho’s last work prior to his mandatory military enlistment.
A different kind of restaurant is the setting for Midnight Diner. The owner of this establishment – which opens at midnight – has a knack for comforting his customers by fulfilling their culinary requests. Drama vet Kim Seung-woo (IRIS, Athena: Goddess of War) portrays the enigmatic proprietor-chef in this K-drama adaptation of Yarō Abe’s Shinya Shokudō manga, which won the 55th Shogakukan Manga Award (General Category) in 2010 and inspired a J-drama adaptation that includes three seasons/series and a feature film. [Background info via Wikipedia, Anime News Network.]
The Wikipedia page for Chinese drama Tiger Mom cites Amy Chua’s controversial book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as its inspiration, but I suspect its cast – led by Zhao Wei, a.k.a. Vicki Zhao (Red Cliff films, Mulan, 14 Blades) – will be the primary draw for many Asian drama and film fans. Zhao stars as a career woman who is dismayed by the realization that her young daughter is already behind her peers academically – even though she just started elementary school. Needless to say, Mom’s determined to get little Qian Qian caught up, but she faces resistance from both her laid-back husband (played by Tong Dawei) and a quartet of very vocal grandparents.
The K-drama Masked Prosecutor also concludes this week.
- And the list of confirmed, upcoming simulcasts is also below.
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