Lessons from Dramas – Drama Theme Overview (2)

More overview of  themes fromAsian Drama Land.

So last time, you were experiencing the reincarnation- second chance in life theme and were given a unique opportunity to experience friendship and bromance theme. And you feel how beautiful it is, because it relies on and perpetuates he notion of loyalty and support as well as accepting friends for what they are. You and your friend are now like Spock and Kirk almost. Or perhaps Red and Andy bonding over time in Shawshank.

You are lucky this time around, your friend is loyal and supportive. Others like you actually are less fortunate, as friendship or brotherhood sometimes becomes complicated by rivarly.  There is that guy next door, for instance. He and his brother were best buddies , until…until that woman came along. And it turns out that brother..was aopted so the other one feels no remorse in rivalling with him and thus..the supportive bond dissolves..but hopefully they will mend their ways. You  heave a sigh as in the meantime you receive a letter through some secret channels. It’s your friend from North Korea. Here comes another difficulty for friendships- political barriers. So now both you and he jmust try to keep overcoming the borders that separate you, to transcend the borders..but it;s worth it.  He writes in his letter than he formed another friendship uring his Secret Reunion missions. You smile at this little unexpected beam of sunshine. You write a reply and offer it to a trusted messenger, your Faithful Sidekick figure. This theme actually warrants a separate place because sometimes the relationship between character-sidekick may be more reserved due to difference most of all in age, rank or class and inclides faithful servants or followers, in other words there is a barrier of rank, class or age, but  there is the element of mutual care.  And this is where the Butler from   Legal High says hellopresenting himself asjust a clerk, he just happens to be true renaissance man!

This is is a type of barrier, again, which brings me to the more general theme of  Overcoming Borders and Limitations. In part related to “meetings transcending time”- because time is a barrier too, this broad theme then  includes individuals, loves and friendship that have to overcome a barrier of some sort. Cultural barrier, class barrier, prejudices,  language barrier, political barrier, or they need to overcome their differences. Can be very prominent in period pieces. So, for instance the political barrier in forming friendship. In other cases, this usually also involves fighting against an oppressor, in various forms and on various levels. Bridal Mask, for instance, deals with the Japanese occupation of Korea, but it is also indiciative of another related theme as it presents an entirely lonely character struggling not only against the Japanese but also against people from which he comes- and thus he is shown as inherently lonely, living as an outcast.

Other examples from a period piece include, for instance,  the Princess Man, where the barriers take various forms and are many, and yet love manages to achieve a sort of fulfillment. As much as cultural or social, there are also barriers of age.There are many romances featuring a considerable age difference, in two variants: older man-younger woman and lately  very frequently older woman-younger man.

A very interesting take on overcoming differences and barriers is presented in Hotaru hikariabout a woman who prefers to laze around at home. She has a lot of changes to make before she can understand and become happy.

Another case is represented by the figure of the Underdog, featured in success stories from rags to riches. These characters usually have many difficulties, including genetic ones, and have to face many trials before they gain recognition, happiness, fame, like in Be Strong geum Soon, for instance, a typical underdog story about a woman doctor with a heart condition.

When we think about overcoming barriers, these barriers may be effectuated by an ingrained desire for rivalry, for being better.  Sometimes, rivalry is a way for friendship to begins; other times it takes the form of a love triangle and squabbling for a woman, yet in other cases it is featured in corporate dramas.  Siblings are often rivals. A darker form takes place in crime/myster/suspense dramas and  race against time masterplots. May be also common in period pieces, especially in struggle for the throne.

Not often, these truggles are effectuated by the figure of the The Mastermind/ Manipulator. A (dark, nysterious) figure which plays with the fates of others, usually for revenge, sometimes for other reasons. A good example comes in Mawang. The protagonists in Mawang may actually also be seen as two mirroring selves, tragic Twins and Doppelgangers figures, who share uncanny resemblance or, like in Mawang, a similarity of tragic fate. they are connected, they are two sides of each other. The characters in Mawang,however, posses a psychological depth.

In other words, they aren’t typical   Villainous Villain who want to do evil for evil;s sake almost. A good example comes in Giant or the King2Hearts and I will deal with it more when discussing the Evil Relative theme.

If there is anyone who can prepare individuals for these sort of struggles, it must be our mentors, teachers.  The best example is Queen’s Classroom.  As children, we demonize them, we think they paly with our minds, but they really want to prepare us for a life in  this harsh world, to be resistant and think for ourselves.

We also learn to be resistant during extensive journeys, like in the chinese film, Postmen in the Moutain.   But uring those travels, a drama character may also encounter supernatural creatures, ghosts or gumihos- some of them even become their girlfriends! And so we will deal with dramas portraying those creatures, such as My girlfriend is a Gumiho. Warning, warning, maybe such meetings will cause the characters themselves to have supernatural powers! The Magistrate in the Arang and Magistrate may have something to say on this issue…for sure?

And if they don’t, that’s because there are greater issues at stake- it’s all politics after all. Or maybe they have to protect a queen to be fighting for her throne, so these flights of fancy have to be forgotten while they go against those powerful opponents again, and meet strong women- bye bye Gumiho Shin Min Ah, your prince Lee Seung Ki is now a royal heir and has met Ha Ji Won in The King2Hearts, though it is still a semi-fairy tale world he inhabits. The real world is even harsher, and Mishil  from Silla knows it well..struggling for the throne.

The world, especially that political world and world of monarchy is governed by intrigues, scheming and murderes…and whodunnit can sometimes be answered by devoted loyal sidekicks  – Eun Shi Kyung is always at your service..-.or  geniuses (hey, we can always borrow prof Yukawa Manabu from Galileo! ). And Geniuses are of course  great with Computers and Internet, so they do not fear women who claim “I am a cyborg, but that’s ok”

If they eat, only in best gourmet restaurants ..though maybe the little italian place from “Pasta” isn;t perhaps the best out there. As you enter you, you feal yourself leaping…as if to another body with the flash of blue light- the Quantum Leap project autho,r, Sam, wanred you it may be unexpected. Somewhere behind you hear someone coming and shouting in a chirpy voice “Yesss, Chef!”

Oh Boy!  So…what do you do now?

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