Alchemy of Souls | K-Drama Review
Written by the infamous Hong Sisters, Alchemy of Souls is a Fantasy K-Drama with Season 2 in the making already. Ended on a cliffhanger, I found myself the unpopular opinion once again like my Cafe Minamdang Review. What makes me one? Read this K-Drama Review of Alchemy of Souls but save your hate 😉
Disclaimer: The post ahead may contain SPOILERS since this is a review of the whole series.
Set in a fictional world called ‘Daeho’, Alchemy of Souls follows a story of Nak-Su (played by Go Yoon-Jung). Nak-Su is a skilled assassin who accidentally found her soul trapped inside Mu-Deok’s body (played by Jung So-Min). After using the forbidden skill of alchemy of soul (switching souls), she is now on the run without her powers plus the frail body of Mu-Deok.
Closely following the storyline of Nak-Su, we have young mages (who can make use of their power depending on their mastery level) from noble families known as the ‘Four Season’ of Daeho. We have Cho-Yeon (played by idol Arin) as the Spring from the Jin Family. Then we have Park Dang-Gu (played by Yoo In-Soo) as the Summer from the Park family. And we have Seo-Yul (played by Hwang Min-Hyun) as the Fall from the Seo Family.
Last but not the least is Jang-Uk (played by Lee Jae-Wook) as the Winter from the Jang Family. The only mage who can’t use his power because of a spell casted by his own father, Jang Uk found himself in a student-master relationship with Mu-Deok by fate. Mu-Deok promised him that she will help him learn how to revoke the spell for him to be able to use his power while serving him as a servant. Until she gains her power back as Nak-Su, they started to develop feelings for one another.
Personal Review of Alchemy of Souls
Claimed by fans as a Wuxian drama replica, Alchemy of Souls is a visually pleasing and enchanting K-Drama. It reminds me of Arthdal Chronicles with a whole new fictional world built. Cinematography and the use of CGI is not so bad and the choice of characters are somehow diverse. Since when did we have a softie Crown Prince? *drools*
However, the story and even the character development for a 20-episode duration is a little lacking for my taste. In return, we were given a lot of filler scenes (sometimes for comedic relief) to compensate for the missing gaps.
Apart from the comedic chemistry from our Crown Prince and from Jang-Uk, and the love triangle of Maidservant Kim-Park Jin-Master Lee, I frustratingly wait for Nak-Su’s persona to come out. Nak-Su is a cold-hearted and strong assassin yet we have a submissive and dull Nak-Su in Mu-Deok’s body. 18 episodes later with very little progress on her ‘revenge’ to get her power back, she fell in love with Jang-Uk and runs wild at the end of Season 1. Where did the badass Nak-Su go? Is her soul overpowered by Mu-Deok’s persona or what?
The story fell flat even more when the action and magical elements only appeared mostly in their dialogues with no full swing of action. We’ve seen crumbs of these elements but it should be the selling point of the story. I want to see catastrophe, villains taking over, mages and their different mastery level of magic. In return, theory after theory is given to us repeatedly without any climactic story arc at all.
Alchemy of Souls and its whole fictional world has a huge potential to be explored. It is definitely interesting but the K-Drama got stuck with their original set of cards. The only character who had progress is Jang-Uk, but he didn’t even reach his full potential yet. The ice stone is finally in his hands and we ended up with Nak-Su becoming powerless once more. Bewitched by the bell sound, really, that’s it?
Bonus Section: Unpopular Opinion about Jung So-Min’s Role
Don’t get me wrong, I like Jung So-Min’s past works (films and tv series) but this one’s totally a miss for me. So a big NO for me when the fans say Jung So-Min carried the whole show. How did she carry everyone else? She’s not even a scene stealer despite running wild at the end… no wow factor for me sorry!
Compiling her photos on different situations, all I see is empty eyes with the same look – expressionless. While the delivery of the Satoori (South Korea’s regional dialect) is somehow good (when she’s pretending as someone else), I find it so hard to connect to her all throughout the series. During the actual fighting scene, I can’t sense a weight in her eyes like how Nak-Su delivered.
I’m not sure if it’s the character, the director or the actress, but it’s just my two cents. Here is another photo of her smiling towards the end and it’s the only scene where there is a slight variation and emotion in her expression.
Bonus Section Part 2: Thoughts about the Ending?
As frustrated as I was, I am happy that finally the drag is over. Is it really over? I am eagerly waiting over the fact that we may now finally see real actions this time. This could be the turning point of story and while Jung So-Min is not confirmed as a lead character I don’t mind NOT seeing her on Season 2.
By all means I’m here to follow the Nak-Su’s storyline and Jang-Uk’s redemption once more. Whether Nak-Su is inside Mu-Deok’s body or someone else, let’s start getting serious with how the story goes, please. I’m also tired of all the talks about Bu-Yeon being a mighty priestess yet has proven nothing until now.
Again like what I said above, everything ‘magical’ and ‘powerful’ mentioned in the story was all talks and theories. Give me some outcome and a little bit of resolution because a 20-episode K-Drama is a waste if we are still ‘laying the groundwork‘. With that amount of episodes, the storyline could have had completed the full circle by now hence the disappointment.
I don’t like slow-paced dramas? Nah. I loved them especially when they are written so nicely. Some of my favorites are My Mister, Matrimonial Chaos, Lost, My Liberations Notes and Be Melodramatic.
K-Drama Rating of Alchemy of Souls
Legal and Crime Dramas are on the roll these past few months. Military Prosecutor Doberman, Again My Life, Why Her, Doctor Lawyer, Insider, Adamas, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Big Mouth, and Good Detective S2. No matter how I like Legal and Crime Dramas, it’s too much to consume without a different genre in between. This is where Alchemy of Souls came in handy, a breathe of fresh air.
- Personal Rating Score: 7 out of 10
- Target Audience: Fans of Fantasy
- Will I recommend this: Still Yes, but set your expectations right 😉
A story of soul-shifting, magic powers and spells and greed for power and immortality, Alchemy of Souls is a dreamy and an exhilarating fantasy K-Drama. Despite the lackluster of the real deal, I still liked the series. But not to the point that I’d recommend it. Now the question is, I’ve heard good comments about Wuxian dramas… should I watch one? Which one should I start first?