What makes web dramas somewhat disorienting compared to the television ones is that they tend to be really, really fast. I mean this in very literal terms. By the second episode "Prince of Prince" has stopped even trying to slowly draw out its characters and simply resorts to dossier profiles. Which strangely enough works out all right. These are uncomplicated people working in the fast-paced world of video games. Job time is work time, not play time, even if there's plenty of spare moments for the characters to have short, indignant arguments.
I kind of want to be mad at "Prince of Prince" for being so exciting. That no doubt sounds like a very strange criticism. Maybe it's just because I'm used to long-format dramas where this kind of action is supposed to be a reward. And yet here at any moment there could be jokes about cosplay or video games or gay hiring practices and by the time I've even figured out what's actually happened the episode's already over. What is this, hit-and-run style storytelling?
Well yes as a matter of fact. These episodes are all under ten minutes long so there's not time for much else. And I get the distinct feeling that the appeal here is at least partially just a function of the actors, who appear to a tad unhinged. They're performing less like a deliberate story and more like an elaborate practical joke where everybody knows what's going on except for Si-hyeon (played by Choi Jong-hoon).
Overall it would probably be accurate to characterize "Prince of Prince" as being an elaborate in-joke. The drama is based on a webtoon. And not even a complete webtoon. It's still ongoing. And the drama itself constantly reminds us about this by transitioning the real-life actors into the webtoon versions of themselves, as if we needed more further reminders of how utterly bizarre and weird the story is.
Seriously, look at these drawings out of context and you'd think "Prince of Prince" was some sort of gay historical time travel psychological thriller. I know full well that this drama is just a rapid-fire Internet comedy with cartoonish editing and yet the gay historical time travel psychological thriller theory at times feels somehow more plausible. Plot summary? Who has time for plot summary? This is a regular drama with five times as many cliffhangers and the tone is exactly as crazy as it sounds.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Prince of Prince" Episodes 1-5"
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