When "Imaginary Cat" was announced, the idea behind it seemed pretty straightforward. There is a cute cat and there is a cute actor and they would be cute for audiences together for some episodes. This is not the kind of drama to really raise one's expectations over. It is therefore a surprise, a pleasant one, that the series has quite a bit more to it than simple fanservice.
Those who are looking for the fanservice alone will not be disappointed. The drama has some humor, a lot of cute cat and human antics, copious amounts of cat petting and Yoo Seung-ho being cute. However, the series actually handles some serious topics through its characters, human and feline. Loss, abandonment, fear, trauma, insecurity, hope and more are all slowly being explored and revealed as part of these people's and cats' lives.
This might sound all too heavy, but the drama is actually doing well in being contemplative without being dark. The issues explored are very masterfully written into the plot and characterization in a way which conveys meaning without going for cheap tear-jerking. There is a welcome subtlety here, the likes of which we do not often see in Korean drama. The leading cat's anthropomorphism is also used as a way to simplify human concepts, making them surprisingly more poignant. We all give meaning to people, animals and objects and this brings us happiness, but also allows us to create our own misfortune through their loss. And as silly as it may seem to others, they shape who we are. The series delves into this idea well.
The more practical parts of the drama are so far satisfying as well. The pacing is good, the mood light, the humor often endearing and the more somber moments moving. "Imaginary Cat" is not hard to follow and is therefore easy to enjoy, whether one just focuses on the cuteness or takes interest in the topics mentioned in the paragraph above.
While not too heavy at this point, there are still certain elements which could lead to very cliché melodramatic developments if the creators wish them to. The series is not going there yet and its makers can hopefully resist that temptation until the end, as the whole thing is very balanced right now. The acting is also something which does have its weak moments at times. Cho Hye-jung, the drama's female (human) lead is not very charismatic or skilled for the more serious moments.
This is, however, worsened by the unfortunate fact that her character is still too much in the bubbly category and acts more as a prize for the male lead's pain than a character of her own. This is a shame, because she has an interesting enough backstory to make her another person through which viewers can witness human nature. That said, it is still early enough for her to leave these stereotypical constraints.
"Imaginary Cat" is one of those rare, but pleasant surprises when Korean drama does more than just fulfill the minimum requirements and not reach beyond. This could have very well been 8 episodes of cute, fluffy fun and no one would complain. It is encouraging that the series achieves more and so far does it really well. Now it just needs to continue this way and remain as great.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Imaginary Cat""
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