"Circle" enters the drama game today and expectations are high for a genre so rarely loved by Korean film and television. The episode introduces both timelines, their characters and the two mysteries which will unfold through their adventures. These mysteries are instantly engaging, the characters easy to feel attachment to and the pop culture references and homages abundant. There is a lot to talk about, so here we go.
Before talking about the human and by far best element of the series, I have to say that I am surprised by how rich the world-building in "Circle" is. From the written to the mise-en-scène this is a series which makes its setting clear. This is especially crucial in 2037, because the creators face the challenge of presenting a foreign world. From the masks carried by Normal Earth inhabitants to the giant, narcissistic phallic buildings of Smart Earth, everything paints a clear image.
Aside from the excellent aesthetics, the human element is what truly brings the drama to life. The characters and their relationships are all portrayed very simply and honestly. What I particularly like is the different coping mechanisms of siblings Kim Beom-gyoon (An Woo-yeon) and Kim Woo-jin (Yeo Jin-goo). Their past could be explained rationally and it is this logic Woo-jin latches onto. His brother has found purpose in the paranormal. Their relationship is engaging because of it.
While the future is more cryptic and alien, pardon the expression, it also raises so many delightful questions. From the division of classes to the concept of control, the social commentary is hefty and the cautionary value great. As for Kim Joon-hyeok (Kim Kang-woo), while seemingly a typical "tough guy" detective, the episode is quick to establish his place in the story and reveal the connection between the two worlds. His identity as a Kim sibling is a theory I had before the series began, so I am glad that his exact identity is still a mystery.
I want to use this first episode to also address the naked elephant in the room. The Terminator-like arrival of the only currently known alien might be on the cheesy side, but the mystery is solid. We know so little about their origin and arrival, but most importantly their intentions are unknown. Our siblings are, in Woo-jin's own admission, unreliable narrators and so anything is possible at this time.
There is a lot I have to leave out for now, but it is truly a delight having so much to speak about that it cannot fit in one piece. Aside from the mystery, there are so many little touches that enrich the series. From the seasoned noir style detective and his webtoon to drones and hacking being the poor man's tools of the trade, I am just loving all the passion put into this so far. Please be good, "Circle".
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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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 Review] "Circle" Episode 1"
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