It's raining cats (and dogs!)
Meow, the Secret Boy (어서와) or Welcome, as I shall be referring to it from now on, for the collective happiness of everyone concerned, is a 16 episode (32, if you swing that way, I shall not refer to the 32 episode format) romantic-comedy drama, that is currently in its second week of airing, with two episodes released at the time this article is being written. [UPDATE: The drama's initial 16 episode count has now been shortened to 12, AKA 24 episodes instead of 32.]
Based on the webtoon of the same name by Go A Ra (no, not the actress, bless her heart), it premiered on March 25th, on KBS2 as a Wednesday-Thursday drama, to modest ratings, not bad, not great (according to Nielsen Korea.)
As someone who doesn't really watch romantic comedies, I was hesitantly anticipating this one due to my adoration for the cast. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I found myself smiling throughout the entire duration of episode one. I could not help but feel strangely happy and warm inside when my general mood these days has been kind of like this. —>
Well, one thing led to another, and here I am, over-analyzing the first two episodes of this lovable oddball of a romantic-comedy while doing some intense parkour to keep this article completely SPOILER FREE! Yes, you read that right! So, without further ado, let's just jump right into it, shall we?
Kim Sol Ah, a graphic designer in her twenties, lives with her crotchety poet father in an apartment. One day suddenly, her father asks her to move out. As fate would have it, Sol Ah's new home is in the same neighborhood as that of her first love, Jason. Having just weathered a breakup, Jason is left with his ex's cat, Sergei, but his cat allergies prevent him from taking care of it. A good Samaritan, (with ulterior motives at heart) Sol Ah volunteers to take the cat home, despite her deep dislike of cats in general, and names it Hong Jo. What Sol Ah doesn't know is that this is no ordinary cat and that her life is about to take an amazing new turn. Along for the ride are Doo Shik (Sol Ah's childhood best-friend) and Ji Eun, Sol Ah's colleagues at work who are at quiet odds with each other.
Kim Myung Soo (L) as Hong Jo
Shin Ye Eun as Kim Sol Ah
Becky as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Hong Jo
Seo Ji Hoon as Lee Jae Sun
Yoon Ye Joo as Eun Ji Eun
Kang Hoon as Go Doo Shik
Welcome really has it going for itself in terms of music. The background music that usually exists to set the mood in a scene has a character of its own here. It adds to the comedy and is almost tailored to each character, something you usually only see in higher budget productions. Welcome also has the perfect blend of your classic (I won't say generic because these songs do complement the overall vibe of the drama really well) romantic comedy soundtrack. A mixture of upbeat, cheerful, pop songs, to raise your spirits and turn a bad day into a little less bad one. However, and here's where I assume the underlying solemness of the drama exists, the featured song by Dave Hawks (number 4 as mentioned below) completely changes the mood of the drama. It's sad, almost painfully. The contrast from the other songs is jarring, but it is a welcome one (pun intended).
Note: This is a self-made list of the songs that were found in the first two episodes so far. It is highly likely that there are more to come. Tap on either picture, or song title to be redirected to the official music videos for each. Except for the last one because it was a nightmare to find online. *cries in Hong Jo's meow*
Note: There is another featured song that I spent aeons looking for but unfortunately failed to find. Sincerest apologies and I hope you enjoy it when it's played in the drama.
Now, you're probably thinking, is this person really shallow enough to dedicate an entire section to talking about how pretty everyone is? Well not quite, you see...
Okay fine! I admit these visuals are otherworldly, our leads look like they popped straight out of an anime. (Not discounting the visuals of the rest of the cast, that includes Becky!) But the visuals we're here to discuss are certain clever shots that I absolutely loved, and appreciate the production team for taking into consideration. This includes, but is not limited to playing with colour palettes, playing with light and shadows, all to drive home the theme of cats and how they're everywhere!
Play with Color and Light
It is customary to highlight important aspects of plot devices within a scene, and even though Welcome does exactly that, it does so with such effortlessness that even if it's thrown in your face, you'd still appreciate how it contrasts with the rest of the scene. There is also something about the color red (and its associated shades) that is quite interesting here, I shall not state why. Another is the use of light filtering in through curtains and blinds that makes for great shadow shapes and adds character to an otherwise mundane scene. Let's have a look at some out of context pictures and GIFs, shall we?
All GIFs in this article are here thanks to the beautiful people at Tumblr.
The World of Pets
Another great choice made by the production team was to open with a set of people talking about their pets, most of which used to be strays or abandoned house pets. This serves to add more of a personal touch to the drama. The next part is more of a kudos to the writer, but I'll still include it in this section because they're kind of a single unit in how cohesive they are. It is empirical for pet owners to know how to care for their pets, and this drama tries to get that message across through subtle, yet apparent messages. For example, as someone who only had birds for pets, I never knew that cats are lactose intolerant and you can't quite feed them the same milk people usually drink.
Would you look at that? The final section of the article, where I list even more reasons why this drama is worth checking out. While Welcome does not have the most original story (and even the basic premise of the plot drives many people away), it more than makes up for itself in terms of character dynamics (thanks to the amazing chemistry between all cast members), scene-setting, and gosh, that beautiful fantasy-themed background music that makes the drama look like it could be a Disney movie.
Throughout the first two episodes, I was plagued with the concern of exactly what the rules for the drama's supernatural element are. It seemed hilarious to me how some situations should not have existed due to that very reason ,and how it kind of made the drama contradict itself a bit. Then came the end to episode two, and I saw the preview for the third episode, which safely put my concerns to rest. Thank goodness, because the last thing you'd want from a relatively simplistic story would be for it to blow its load in the first two episodes.
Now, of course, the question arises: can you watch this drama just to de-stress and obtain momentary escape from the clutches of the cruel, cruel world? Absolutely! I believe it was providence for this drama to be released at this point in time because honestly, this is what we all need, even if we're not too keen on romantic comedies (talking majorly about myself). In times of hardship, social distancing and isolation, Welcome is here to quite literally welcome you with open arms into its wholesome, lovable world. As I wait for the upcoming episodes with bated breath, I urge you to give Welcome a shot. It's only a matter of one small leap of faith!
오랜만이야 ! It's been a long time, and I'm finally back!
In times like these, it is crucial for everyone to join forces, and check up on the well-being of others. This too shall pass, and life shall bloom once again. It is important to take care of yourselves, frequently wash your hands, and most importantly, observe social-distancing.
Thank you so much for reading! Please share your thoughts regarding the drama below. Are you currently watching it? Do you plan on watching it? Or are you going to call it a pass? I'm curious to read your thoughts. Until next time! ❤♡
Refraining from making cat puns was a Herculean task, I'm proud of myself for succeeding! xD
Cookie (1st editor)