Besides the cast performances, what impresses is the show's exploration of income inequality, something that was seen in recent K-dramas like Squid Game, The Silent Sea, Happiness and All of Us are Dead.
Last Updated: 04.10 AM, May 09, 2022
A still from The Sound of Magic | Netflix
Story: A touching drama about Yoon Ah-yi, a girl who had to grow up too fast, and Rieul, a mysterious magician who — although grown up — wants to remain as a kid.
Review: Director Kim Seong Yoon has brought many real-life themes to screen in his dramas — an unconventional love story in Park Bo-gum's Love in the Moonlight or dealing with loss and reviving your dignity in the gritty Itaewon Class starring Park Seo-joon. Now with The Sound of Magic, he and writer Min-jung Kim weave fantasy into these real-life issues. And also music.
Choi Sung-eun is Yoon Ah-yi, a high schooler whose parents have abandoned her and her little sister. She's the breadwinner now and is barely scraping enough to run the household. And in this dog-eat-dog world, one goes easy on her or sympathises enough with her. In spite of the hardships and in spite of knowing that she will never go to college, she maintains her stellar academic record.
Hwang In-youp, though in his 30s is surprisingly convincing as Ah-yi's classmate Na Il-deung, a reclusive overachiever with only one goal in mind — to top the exams and make it to the best colleges Korea has to offer.
Ji Chang-wook plays the eccentric magician Ri Eul who invites them into his abandoned theme park so they can have magical learning. But he's such a mysterious figure that he's suspected in the case of a missing young girl. The story keeps building on the mystery around him and only gives us a juicy backstory right at the end.
Ah-yi is a protagonist who will make you empathise with her. The burdens she carries are a lot of one person, especially a teenager. Life outside of school isn’t easy and neither is it inside the classroom as bully Ha Na decides to make Ah-yi’s life five times more unpleasant than it already is. Il-deung, in comparison, comes from a monumentally privileged background though that doesn’t leave him devoid of struggles. He’s pressured from all sides to give his best, and do his best because he has no external worries to take care of. He stretches himself thin trying to live up to his parent's expectations who keep asserting their hopes and dreams on him. Sounds relatable enough for all Asian kids.
The VFX is clunky and you can tell that there is a disparity between the actual setting and the fantastical one. But that’s not really that major an issue as the prolonged song and dance routines. They are impressive, crisp, and emotional depending on the situation yet become an annoyance. I’m not surprised that The Sound of Magic is No 3 on Indian Netflix charts, I’m sure the actors have their fans who have been dying to catch this show. However, honestly, it’s just a garbled mix of too many elements. There are coming-of-age themes but also romance, musical numbers, magic sequences and a murder mystery.
Verdict: The Sound of Magic is unlike any K-drama or TV show I've ever seen. Even with so much going on, the show ultimately fails to do what it had set out to do and that is to leave the audience absolutely stunned and invested in the story. You will be floored by the fantastical imagery, and solid cast performances yet the storyline will not leave you satisfied. What does impress is the show's exploration of income inequality, something that was seen in recent K-dramas like Squid Game, The Silent Sea, Happiness and All of Us are Dead.