Selling an outrageous concept is a very delicate procedure. On one hand, you have to embrace your premise and on the other, you cannot take yourself too seriously or in the wrong way. Outrageous does not mean ridiculous and it is the latter there is less tolerance for. 'The Girl Who Sees Smells' certainly presents an odd world and combines two usually contradicting in tone genres, but its consistency, balance and involvement with what is has to show keep it enjoyable.
A romantic comedy crime series does sound strange. Romantic comedy is light and happy and preoccupied with matters concerning everyday life, rather than life and death situations. The reason these two do not come into conflict in this show yet is because they fall under the same tone and are given the appropriate importance. Too much focus on romance makes the characters' priorities seem messed up and too much on the crime drowns the romance. By carefully regulating the two, the setup becomes believable.
All of the romantic cuteness that many love is here, being brought out in an organic and satisfying manner. The chemistry between Park Yoo-chun and Shin Se-kyung is great, the interactions lovely. At the same time, the serial killer mystery is paid attention to and even made intriguing and challenging. Everyone is a suspect, everyone has secrets and the show gets one's investigative thirst going. The grisly details are not avoided, but the pacing and tone keep the show light and packed.
'The Girl Who Sees Smells' does not only face the challenge of being a romantic crime comedy, but one with fantasy elements. It becomes pretty clear early on that Moo-gak's (Park Yoo-chun) and Cho-rim's (Shin Se-kyung) abilities have existing conditions as their starting point, but are otherwise nothing short of superpowers. Despite their nature feeling silly at first and as a general idea, they have rules which are so far maintained and they feel like a natural part of their owner's lives. Adding some nice details to how those powers manifest also makes them easy to embrace.
A great start is nothing short of encouraging, but what follows needs to be as engaging to maintain viewer interest. What is worrying here is how fast the plot seems to be progressing and how complicated the mystery appears to be. Assuming things are not as they seem and there is a very intricate case created which will unravel during the show's entire run, there are surely great things ahead. But it is also possible the journey to the outcome will not be as exciting as the mystery's beginnings.
The tone created will also undoubtedly shift when certain revelations are made and things get more serious down the road. As Korean dramas love their attention-grabbing plot devices and melodrama, there is a very real danger that those will take over to keep the series progressing. If the mystery keeps evolving at this pace and does not have enough in it to last, filler material overtaking things will be an even bigger possibility. The series has some other minor issues too, like the typical incompetent cops and some inconsistencies, but those are quite negligible.
'The Girl Who Sees Smells' could have easily gone horribly wrong. It could have begun as romantic drivel without purpose or direction or it could have gone the very dishonest way of piling on the comedy and keeping its darker parts hidden until viewers are hooked. By presenting all of its elements and paying the necessary attention to them, it creates a fun, promising and well-constructed introduction to its world, story and characters.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "The Girl Who Sees Smells""
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