Alchemy of Souls
Updated: Dec 31, 2022
A young ambitious Jang Uk is known to be a trouble maker and is infamous for being constantly kicked out of training programs. As fate, or accident, would have it he happens by the great and powerful assassin Naksu after she's switched her soul into another body and in hiding. She eventually agrees to be his master and teaches him how to handle and expand his power. Sometimes her methods are questionable and brutal, but there is no one better to learn from. The two fall in love, but tragedy awaits them.
Hello dear reader, I has been a long time since I last wrote a review. To be honest I was busy, but the lack of great dramas has also stunted my desire to write a review. Since the great disappointment of 25/21 and the surprisingly amazing Extraordinary Attorney Woo, I haven't found a drama that really caught my attention. I flirted with the drama Love is for Suckers but ended up so pissed with the drama I dropped it 5 episodes or so in. Then picked it up again only to get angry dropped it for a second time. In the end I finished it and I will try to write a review later.
I did watch the first series and wanted to wait to write the Alchemy of Souls review for the second season. I'm so glad I waited to review this, because now that we have
most of the story and I've got a grasp on the characters as well as the trajectory of the plot this is going to be a more complete analysis of the series.
I rate my dramas on mainly two categories, storytelling, and direction. Under Storytelling, I take into account not just the acting, but the writing, and music as well. It is usually presented as a percentage. Under the category direction, I consider both editing and direction, editing counts for 2 points while direction counts for 3. It'll be out 5. I call them my sticky notes because that tends to be what I write my thoughts on when I'm watching. For Alchemy of Should the storytelling is 85% and the direction to be 3/5. The acting in this series is mostly great. The music, while good, has misplaced moments. in moments where the scene would have been more impactful silent there it was interrupted by loud music. The writing could have been better. In my opinion the writing hurt this series.
So, let's begin with the biggest elephant in the room, the female leads. That is right,
the two women who became and brought to life the Naksu character. The actress from the first series, Jung So Min did a great job at bringing charm to a character as sassy, bossy, and calculating as Naksu. There were some pure comedic moments where the actress took the bossy, calculated scenes and mingled it with sassiness and pureness that really helped the audience empathize with the character more. However, there were moments where the performance went dry, and I'm not sure if that was the writing's fault or So Min's as the actress. There were moments when Naksu would try and push away her love interest, Jang Uk, that were flat in terms of performance. For me, those scenes seemed to just drag on.
I know that not many people were happy about the switch in female leads, but the actors themselves had nothing to do with the decision. A change in actors was how the creators foresaw the series going. With this thought, I did my best to keep an
open mind to the new actress taking up the Naksu persona. I'm not here to nitpick at Go Yoon Jung and how she's brought the new Naksu to life. In fact, I am going to surprise you dear reader. I am going to praise her. It is not easy to jump in mid series and take up a character in a drama that millions have an interest in. Many, if not the majority, of whom are staunchly against the change in actresses. Yet, she's done an okay job. I wouldn't say excellent, since there are portions of the performance where I wish the actress was more expressive in her face and body language. However, she's done a pretty good job with what the writers have given her. I've even noticed that she has tried to emulate Jung So Min's speech pattern and inflection, which is something not many people think of doing. She's also adopted some facial expressions that I noticed the So Min's Naksu did often, i.e. the face pout.
Now moving on to our favorite leading man, Lee Jae Wook, Mr. Jang Uk himself. Ugh I love this man. I mean I honestly love and equally am frustrated with this absolutely brilliant man. In the first series I loved his endless sass and his determination. His determination to gain as much power as he could and become the best at sorcery endeared me to him at first. He was a character with a chip on his shoulder, but was still light and hopeful. His chip didn't drag him down, instead it drove him to try his best. . . or try his best to piss off those
who didn't grant his wish and train him properly. He loved one woman and wasn't afraid to show it, even though the woman of his desire was prickly and cold. He was the warmth (he was persistent, even a little argumentative) that eventually melted Naksu's cold indifference toward him. He matched sass with sass and I loved it. I love the way Lee Jae Wook portrayed his character. He honestly sold me in his performance.
Season two has been no different. The character is a little rough around
the edges and he's more sullen from his previous persistent self, but because of Lee Jae Wook's performance I'm also sold on this new Jang Uk. It helps that the actor gives the audience glimpes of his previous more carefree self. Yet, I think my new favorite choice in Jae Woo's performance in season 2 is the thoughtfulness of the character. The new Jang Uk doesn't talk much, but it's in what Jang Uk doesn't say that screams volumes. You can clearly see what the character is thinking just by his expressions. The audience can clearly see the pain he obviously carries and doesn't speak of.
Now onto main baddy Jin Mu. *sigh* honestly dear reader I don't have much to say about this man, but I need to get this out of my system. To put it simply, he's terrible. I don't mean the character (I kind of do) but I mean the actor. All this character does is stir up trouble and is evil for the sake of being evil. He's supposed to be sneaky and charismatic but all I see is the king of side eyes. He's boring to watch. As an actor he
should have brought more to this role. Instead he just side eyes everything. He's not as sneaky as the character is supposed to be. He's not charismatic as a leader should be. Why would people follow a dry, rude, and unlikeable bastard? GIVE ME A REASON THAT PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU! Anyone with any observation skills would have called him out by now. He's BORING and slimy. I would have liked it more had Crown Prince just kicked him to the curb and he not come back, or began with the whole Kings star thing. That would be a more interesting plot. In all honesty I skip most of the scenes he's in. I can't deal with the acting.
There are so many main characters that to go through them all would take me ages. However, I must speak of at least one more actor/character. Hwang Min Young who
plays the character See Yul. He is so handsome. I can see why he is desired to be seen on the screen, he is lovely to look at. I do have to say he has moments in his performance that I like, but there are also moments where I get frustrated because all I see is a face of stone. He looks like a moving sculpture. I just want him to move his face a little more. His expressionless acting just doesn't . . . look this is my opinion please don't come for me. I like the guy, but there are moments in scenes where he could have more expression.
This brings me to the writing. Throughout the series Naksu has been known by several different names and to be honest it's been quite a ride and a little confusing.
I've never seen a show where the identity of a single character was so complicated. Perhaps they did this on purpose. They've almost given the Naksu persona a Voldmort/ Tom Riddle persona. They also take the viewer in circles and go back on already set objectives for the overall arch of the series. Make tabs if you forget. I do! Why go back on an already set trajectory just for the sake of surprise and drama? It doesn't fit! You're going back on everything you set. Come on Hong Sisters. This is just like Bugalsal, and dare I say 25/21, or even Mr. Queen. Great beginning, great following then you try to change it for the wow factor and surprise. This is dumb! Yes, I am talking about the Naksu/ Buyeon problem. All this is achieving is frustrating the viewers!
Also the slew of clichés are just too much. I don't need a whole amnesia trope to last a whole series. I also didn't think amnesia was a great excuse for completely changing a person's personality. I get the writers wanted to try a whole yin and yang, two parts of a whole, or fate thing for season 2, but I think it could have been achieved another way. You could have the main character look for her lover refreshed by his love, perhaps she didn't remember him but she knew she was loved and that was the
cause for change in personality. They also took all the sass out of the character and replaced it with a sweet honey and childlike pouts. It's cute, it's nice but I dearly miss the original character and that's on the writing not the actor.The copy and paste for Naksu's arch in season one and two needed a switch up. I thought we were going to get a different arch but the more we get into the episodes the less likely it looks. They copied and pasted and put some flashy things here and there to spice it up.
Anyway, that is all I'll say on the series so far. Please don't let some of my negative comments deter you from watching the series or make you think that I hate it. I enjoy Alchemy of Souls. I'm just frustrated. What I have written are certain things that I think would make this series better. Alchemy of Souls is available on Netflix if you want to give it a try and haven't yet. Please let me know your observations and thoughts by leaving a comment below. I do love to hear from you. Until next time dear reader!