Monstar Episode 1: First Impressions

I haven’t seen Shut Up Flower Boy Band  but I’ve seen Heartstrings and the first half of Dream High and I didn’t feel like this was a retread of those dramas although there are some similarities.

I’m not into Kpop at all so I don’t recognize anyone but I know the lead is from BEAST. His acting is pretty good like the rest of the cast.

So what did I think of the first episode?

***

The episode starts with the pretty female lead, Min Se Yi (Ha Yeon Soo), sitting under a tree, playing a song on her guitar. We cut to the male lead, Yoon Seol Chan (Yong Joon Hyung of BEAST), performing the pop version of the same song at a concert. The two scenes are spliced together and we’re soon listening to an unintentional duet.

After the performance, it’s time for both of them to go to school.

While Seol Chan’s manager drives him there, we learn about his crazy fans. Since he’d mentioned that he hated rats, one of his fans sent a dead rat with a message that she’ll be his cat forever. LMAO. I’m just happy they blurred out that rat because I hate those nasty buggers too.

Next, we see Seol Chan walking through the school hallway followed by fans. He stops in a class then walks over to a girl who acts uninterested. When he asks her to step outside so that they can talk, she tells him to just speak there. So he bends down and kisses her. Okay, is she going to be the crazy ex in this drama?

He breaks apart from the girl and we see that he’d placed a thumb as a barrier between their lips. It’s not a real kiss because they are shooting a film at a high school. The fangirls are real but the characters are actors.

The director isn’t happy because he’s a serious director making an art film about a high school romance (seriously? LOL) and he needs authenticity, hence, a real kiss. The school principal runs in because he didn’t sign up for kissing and all the fangirl mania when he agreed to the shoot.

Seol Chan and the female lead, Ari, leave the classroom and as they walk, she scolds him for his lack of professionalism. He laughs and backs her into a corner. Is she mad because she wanted to kiss him? She starts to protest and he tells her that he knows she’d specifically requested him as the lead and had a bet going that she would kiss him first.

He inches closer and leans in but she pushes him away. Then they struggle as someone walks down the stairs. Ari warns that these days, students are worse than paparazzi but he tells her that they’d be done before anyone sees. As he inches closer, they hear the click of a camera. They turn around to see Se Yi pointing her phone at them.

Ari grabs it and leaves and when Se Yi attempts to chase after her, Seol Chan grabs her, reads her name plate and tells her that she’ll get her phone after they’ve deleted the photo. That is no comfort to her so he hugs her to placate her. He thinks she’s a fan and she’s confused and just wants her phone back.

His manager comes to get him and as he turns to leave, she grabs him, ripping off his button. He can’t properly react because he’s dragged away to outrun the fangirls. They rush into their van and drive off as Se Yi and the fangirls chase after them.

Seol Chan tells his manager what happened and the idiot keeps hitting the brakes whenever he’s shocked. After the third time, a student falls in front of the car. Seol Chan runs out thinking it’s Se Yi as the student has pigtails similar to hers but it’s someone else – a crazy fangirl who’d faked being hit. After whispering the truth to him, she forces a kiss on him. He struggles and manages to slap her off him but unfortunately, it’s caught on numerous phones. The girl holds her cheek and tells him that if he visits her, she will clear his name. Then she starts to scream and accuse him of hurting her.

He’s quickly returned to the van and as the manager is out settling things, he puts his headphones on and tries to relax. He looks out and finds Se Yi staring back at him. They appear to look into each other’s eyes, seemingly connecting but she can’t actually see him and is staring at her reflection in his window.

We’re then taken to an orchestra practicing. After practice, the teacher pulls over the leader, Joon Hee, and tells him that the principal would like the band to perform at a charity concert. He says he’ll talk to the members about it. As the teacher walks away, another teacher, Mr. Choi, calls her from behind. From her reaction, it’s clear that he’s her enemy and most likely her love interest. He taunts her for not having authority over the band and bets that the students will refuse the request.

He leaves and teacher looks out of the window and sees Se Yi staring into space. She asks a student passing by, Seon Woo, to go and get her as she’s a transfer student in their class. He looks at her and it’s love-at-first-sight. He goes out and introduces himself and we learn that he’s the class monitor.

Next, we watch a bastard bully a student in class. The asshole tells this boy he calls Radio to sing because it’s time to watch a performance. It’s obvious it’s a regular occurrence. His big friend is the “muscle” and while most of the class laughs, there’s a girl who butts heads with him and doesn’t like it. Another future couple?

Se Yi goes to the staff room and we learn that she’d been living in New Zealand for 5 years but can’t speak English because she was a sheepherder.

The teacher takes her to class and seats her next to some gangster, Kim Nana, even though there’s an empty desk. Once she leaves, Nana tells her to piss off and she promptly moves to the empty desk where a girl, Eun Ha, joins her. She’s the one who butts heads with the bully and her new friend.

We’re taken back to Seol Chan’s story. He’s at the agency and the president is mad about what happened. He tells him everything is a mess and that he needs to visit the crazy fan to settle it. He refuses. Ari shows up because their movie is now in jeopardy. She tells him that now isn’t the time to hold on to his pride because others are suffering. She needs him to settle this and gives him Se Yi’s phone to settle that too.

After she leaves, his manager begs him too. Can he please sacrifice himself this once? He looks at his hyung. It’s not that he’s being too proud but can’t he understand that he was sexually harassed? I know they are kind of making light of it because he treasures his lips and this bitch only kissed him but he has a right to be angry. The crazy, manipulative, psycho fan shouldn’t win.

Without her phone, Se Yi is lost and gets home two hours late. She steps into the apartment and who’s waiting for her? Her homeroom teacher. She’s her aunt and tells her to call her mom but Se Yi refuses. As they talk, it’s clear the aunt feels put out by her presence and expects her to leave soon but Se Yi says she intends to stay there for a long time as it’s her childhood home.

A flashback tells us why she doesn’t want to call her mom – she blames her for her dad’s death.

In a dark room elsewhere, Seol Chan is pondering over the day’s happenings. We now know he finds solace in music and when he tries to listen to some, he finds that his phone is out of battery. He remembers he’s got Se Yi’s phone and turns it on. She’s got a bunch of missed calls and when he looks through her gallery, he can’t find the photo of him and Ari. Instead, he learns that she’d taken a photo of a poster hanging over their heads. Oh crap. Now he has to find a way of apologizing without looking like he’s in the wrong.

He looks through her music library and can’t find any of their songs. Is she really not their fan? That’s not possible, is it? It is if you’re a shepherd in New Zealand, it seems.

He looks through her playlists and picks the one called “Don’t be sad.”  An acoustic song by Se Yi starts to play and we learn that our hero had been abandoned as a child. So both of our characters have mommy issues. Then we get a montage of our various characters in different stages of grief with Radio at the lowest point, standing at the edge of a building, crying, seemingly contemplating suicide.

Se Yi’s aunt’s neighbours complain because her guitar-playing is noisy.

Her mom calls and Seol Chan answers it but before he can say anything, she begins a monologue, relived she’s finally reached her daughter and begs to hear her voice. Seol Chan hangs up so she doesn’t learn she still hasn’t connected with her daughter.

Seol Chan meets with his president the next day. Since he won’t meet the crazy fan, the older man has come up with a new solution – attend school for three months to clean his image by being a lovely, model student.

Da hell? His boss wants him to attend school with the crazy student? Hell to the no! He storms off.

It turns out the student doesn’t even attend their school. Apparently, she’d dropped out to become a stalker fan.

In class, the other students learn of Se Yi’s background and when the bully, Jae Rok, grills her, her direct answers sound rude and defiant. He gets into attack mode but the class monitor, Seon Woo, reels him in. Seon Woo is now her protector.

Embarrassed, he turns to Radio, and makes him sing and dance. Poor kid. Why can’t he just tell him to fuck off? The worst part is that the rest of the class encourages it by laughing at him.

We learn other things through a conversation Se Yi has with Eun Ha like how Seon Woo and Jae Rok, along with Joon Hee –  whom the teacher had spoken to –  are all officials in the school’s orchestra “All For One.” “All For One” is made up of rich kids. Seon Woo is a perfectionist who’s nice, but also very cold.

Then Se Yi is told to stay away from a maniac, Adam, who usually shows up in spring with bronzed skin and a wrinkled raincoat and who suddenly shows up looking just like that? Seol Chan. He’s come to return her phone so that she can talk to her mother.

Se Yi and Eun Ha walk home and Seol Chan follows them. When she’s finally alone, he calls out to Se Yi but she runs away because hello, she’s walking through a dark alley and he looks like Adam. He chases after her and Seon Woo sees this and stops to help. Instead of chasing and yelling at her, why can’t he mention that he only wants to return her phone?

She gets cornered and now scared shitless, she tries to scare him off and yet our brainiac doesn’t think to take off his shades to make himself recognizable? After all, the disguise was supposed to hide his identity. Seon Woo calls out her name so Seol Chan quickly grabs her and covers her mouth so that they won’t be caught. At this point, the poor girl is crying, damn near pissing in her pants, trying to fight him off. He eventually takes off his shades so that she can recognize him. If it were me, it wouldn’t ease my mind. Being in a boy band doesn’t stop one from being a rapist.

She stops fighting when she recognizes him but before they can speak, Seon Woo shows up and punches him. Seol Chan tries to escape when he sees who it is because they have a past that gives Seon Woo the upper hand. Se Yi ends it by punching him in the belly before leaving.

Now that returning to school is out of the question, Seol Chan considers visiting the psycho at the hospital but there’s a mob waiting and he just can’t do it. So back to school it is.

We’re back at school and Jae Rok can’t let Se Yi get away with embarrassing him. He tells her that since they haven’t had a welcoming party for her, Radio will sing a song and she has to sing one to thank him. She refuses and after some tension, he backs off and tells Radio to sing both songs. He even picks a song and tells him how to sing it. The poor kid obeys with the rest of the class laughing. Seol Chan – who’s arrived – watches from the doorway.

Instead of just leaving him to sing, Jae Rok makes it worse by directing him to sing higher. Now thoroughly humiliated, Radio starts to cry.

It’s too painful to watch and Seon Woo, Eun Ha and even Kim Nana tell him to stop (I think she was talking to him). But he doesn’t. Then Jae Rok joins in, thinking he can make him stop but to his surprise and anger, he just keeps singing. Then Se Yi starts to sing and they end it in a beautiful duet.

Enraged, Jae Rok blows up. Seon Woo gets up to stop him and at that moment, our hero, Seol Chan steps into the classroom. He walks over to Se Yi and asks to be her desk mate.

***

I’m a fan of musicals so this is right up my alley. I found it to be one of the strongest first episodes I’ve seen in a while and when it ended, I regretted that there wasn’t another episode to watch. So far, so good.

There’s a nice chemistry between them and I like that the female lead isn’t a shrinking violet who takes shit from everyone. She’s bold and direct and handled the bully really well.

I love that there’s a lot of intrigue and mystery to explore as we wade through everyone’s histories and connections. And I love that  despite being an idol, the main character is quite a sweetheart. His perceived arrogance is really just him trying to protect himself in his crazy world. So this isn’t about some innocent girl softening some arrogant idol’s heart. He needs to learn how to handle women, though. The dragging stuff and intimidating them into corners isn’t cute.

They gave Se Yi the shepherd from New Zealand background (analogous to Cady in Mean Girls) to explore the class dynamics and have her shake things up. And the only way to keep her from recognizing a current idol. It’s cheap and unimaginative but I give it a pass because the end justifies the means.

There will obviously be a love triangle between Seon Woo, Se Yi and Seol Chan but I’m already Team Seol Chan. I just like his innocence. And I don’t mean the kissing thing but I just like that there are some values he holds dear.

Ugh, how I wish this were two episodes a week because this wasn’t enough. Will I continue to recap this drama? Probably.

Now that we’ve been introduced to all the characters, I guess we’ll see how they all interact and what will really come of this charity performance “All For One” has been asked to perform in. We’ll find out next week.

Till then!

Video credit: Mnet YouTube channel

 

5 Comments

  • TS says:

    A shepherd in New Zealand? really, is that the best they could do?

  • liz says:

    Shut up flower boy band is really good, my fav drama from last year/years?

    I loved the duet! So good! The scene also was moving! <3 the girl can sing!

  • I liked this a lot. Am not really in love with the soft-focus, though, although I think it does add to the “emo” touch, which I’ll totally go along with. Not liking the overdose of beauty on one side and the normal looking girl having to be the stereotypical chatty classmate. But all in all, i was very pleased.

  • marinai says:

    I really love Seolchan, as you said I love his innocence (my fave part was when he said he was molested by that girl!
    I am not too much into k-pop but I really think some fans should BEHAVE more! It’s not possible to be like this!
    Idols are human beings too 🙂
    Love Seyi, I think she is the one who will give a hard time to Seolchan ( I love them already)

  • What is the title of the duet beetween Se-Yi and Radio? It’s honestly beautiful.

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