Monday, August 26, 2013

Panda & The Hedgehog

Panda & The Hedgehog 
Will contain spoilers...
So mischievous looking!
I note this Kdrama as being absolute perfection. There is not one thing I didn't like about it--not even in it's smallest form. I actually had to draw this KDrama out for a few months--not because I didn't like it but because I Honest-to-God didn't want it to end. All of the strings in the KDrama were tied in a neat little bow and basically gift wrapped for your Kdrama Heart! 

So..let's discuss it! 

Panda & The Hedgehog follows the life of Go Seung Ji (aka Hedgehog) in his quest to become a great patisserie--because I don't want to keep spelling that out, I'm going to refer to 'patisserie' as ;cake maker' from now on (All Patisserie's out there, please forgive me). We know right away that he is a juvenile delinquent but has since turned his life around and found purpose. Although he's encountered many dead ends while trying to reach his goal, he finally finds salvation with Yang Pan Da (aka Panda).  The situation turns out to be beneficial for both of them and marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The only person who isn't comfortable with the situation is Panda's close friend--and loving admirer--Choi Won Il. Through power struggles, betrayals and harrowing pasts, we watch the story of these three young adults become close friends. 

Here's the cast!

Lee Dong Hae or just Donghae to the fans of Super Junior, plays the admirable character 'Hedgehog'. As I stated briefly before, Hedgehog is a juvenile delinquent but more than that, he is steadfast, strong, caring, forgiving, capable...well I could keep going on but I won't. This character was written beautifully. Despite his somewhat shady past, when we are introduced to this character--it's basically love at first sight. Watching him interact with his friends and most importantly his adopted 'Grandfather' instantly makes us like this guy. He'll tease and pester the old man but when sh*t gets real, he's right there backing him up and vice versa. The chemistry Hedgehog immediately forges with Panda is visible. However, as with most juvenile delinquents, Hedgehog has a past and it's quite a complicated and sad one. 

Donghae is a great singer, unbelievably great dancer and now, he's also a great actor. 

He's also adorable...
He's teasing his Grandpa in this clip

Our leading Lady is also pretty amazing. Panda is played by Yoon Seung Ah and if I were to make a list of adorable actresses...well, I'm fairly sure she'd be at the top of the list. *makes note of a potential blog post* She's caring, scrupulous, and incredibly forgiving. She also has a strong-willed streak that makes her anything but a push over. Panda's bakery/cafe has been floundering and she's done just about everything she can to try and preserve her father's life's work. Having just about run out of options, she meets Hedgehog who--having learned the ways of earning and saving money--offers to bail her out but with two conditions; 1) she gives him a job & 2) no background check. After he displays his abilities as a 'cake maker', she hires him and they begin their partnership.

I've only ever seen Yoon Seung Ah one other time--Playful Kiss--and I liked her character in that as well. 

If you've read my Secret Garden recommendation page, you'll remember I thought that Hyun Bin & Ha Ji Won should just get married. Well...I feel the exact same way about these two leads. Their chemistry on screen--and clearly off screen--is tangible enough that I just want to lock these two together in a room and demand they start making wedding plans! I was floored to find out that she's actually older than he is by three years but still..isn't older woman marrying younger men the trend in Korea nowadays? 
Marriage people...marriage! 
Despite my hopeful dream that these two get married, I'm not one to spread false dating rumors so please don't misunderstand me...I just like to dream...

Choi Jin Hyuk, who plays Choi Won Il, is someone I've actually spoken about before. His character, Choi Won Il, has just returned from studying abroad and reunites with his oldest and closest friend, Panda only to realize that the feelings he's always had for her have never diminished. Lovey-doviness notwithstanding, Choi Won Il has quite a lot on his plate: planning to usurp his step-father's position as President of St. Honore's (top 'cake maker' company), turns out to be quite difficult. Actually, the complexity of this character is what is most likable about him. His boyish affection towards Panda and constant bickering with Hedgehog is very different than the calm and collected maturity that he displays while at work. He proves himself to be capable and efficient while dealing with St. Honore business--including his mother. But that's not even the most endearing aspect of this character, that is reserved for the love and adoration he holds for his younger sister! 

Choi Jin Hyuk is an exceptional actor with a very small singing career that I am hoping will eventually explode one day. His deep and steady voice is worth building into a career so please, Choi Jin Hyuk...sing more!!

The sister, Choi Won Yi...easily the best, best, best character in the whole Kdrama. Easily. She is this...hyperactive, tomboyish and meddlesome girl (or woman) who displays some serious understanding and maturity throughout the KDrama that belies her normally funny and childish nature. She eventually reveals the reason for her nature and her true affection towards her brother and you can't help but go "Damn, girl..I love you!" Her continued faith and support in her brother, evening know his true intentions towards her father, is a show of strength and loyalty that we seldom see in real life. She makes me wish I had a younger sister who was like this, although I would probably chain her to my ankle so that she could be my constant ray of sunshine in life. 

I don't know much about the actress (Oh Yi Na) but based off this role, I'm interested to see how her career progresses!
This actress is hilarious!
The story line takes a rather emotional turn as you begin to put the pieces of these character's lives together and I swear..episode 15 had me absolutely bawling from start to finish--so beware: Emotional Investment Ahead! And by bawling..I do actually mean, bawling--tears cascading down my face, tissues up the nose, soft chants of "Oh my god..." whispered underneath my breath as it all comes together...ok...maybe not that dramatic..but pretty damn close! There were no tissues...and the scenes are so touching, you'll rewind it a few times just to take it all in. 

As with most of the Kdramas I write about, there are a some honorable mentions: in this case, it's the Grandpa. 

Park Geun Hyung plays Hedgehog's 'Grandpa'. This actor has one of those faces that say "Trust this Ajusshi" so we do! We know he helped turn Hedgehog's life around and we know that he basically adopted Hedgehog even knowing his past but I can't really say much more without giving too many details about the story line. What I can say is the relationship between Hedgehog and Grandpa is probably the cutest Grandpa/Grandson relationship ever captured on Kdrama film. Whenever Hedgehog is in need of guidance or discipline, Grandpa is always there. Their drunken scenes together are seriously...well, the cutest ever.  

Although their relationship in the Kdrama is notably the best and cutest Grandpa/Grandson relationship, it's actually their friendship outside of the Kdrama that is the sweetest. For anyone who isn't familiar with Lee Dong Hae; he lost his father a few years ago and it seems like this Ajusshi has taken our Donghae under his wing...they are constantly supporting each other--they might as well be Grandpa/Grandson in real life!
They have been seen together on multiple occasions including at Super Junior's Super Show!
Aish...I want to say more about this Kdrama but I won't. Suffice it to say, this is a heartwarming Kdrama you won't forget for a long while and it's one you'll rewatch multiple times and wonder "Why couldn't there be a season 2?" that just me...? 

Just remember, with any Kdrama you watch, keep an open mind and give it a try. 
Feel free to leave comments in the comment section below and let me know you felt about the Kdrama! Kamsahamnida! (Thank you!)

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