Alchemy Of Souls Season 2 Review – Fantastical follow-up loses its magic

Season 1

Season 2

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -|Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -|Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 -|Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 -|Review Score – 2.5/5

 

 

Alchemy of Souls season 2 is… fine. After a pretty shaky ending to the first season, this fantastical drama returns with a more condensed 10 episode story but one that also comes with its own set of pitfalls and issues. Although the characters are still their lovable old selves and there are some stand-out moments here, compared to other Korean dramas, this really doesn’t have the pizzazz needed to really shine brightly.

The story picks up three years after the devastating events at the end of season 1. Mu-deok (who’s possessed by Naksu) is gone, having been saved from certain death by mysterious forces. As for Jang-uk, he’s back and more badass than ever before. He’s a hunter of soul-shifters and nigh-on unstoppable. He’s basically Neo from The Matrix Reloaded here, and it’s quite startling how similar those characters overlap narratively.

When Jang-uk comes across Bu-yeon, the long-forgotten princess of Jinyowon that’s been imprisoned by her mother, what ensues is an unlikely romance wrapped around a larger plot for saving the Kingdom. Only, it turns out Bu-yeon is actually Naksu and Mu-deok in disguise, although she doesn’t remember any of it.

As the season progresses, we essentially get two plots wrapped in one. The first sees Jang-uk and Songrim working to try and figure out what Jin-Mu and his monstrous mages over at Cheonbugwan have planned. It seems to involve drying up the lakes and enacting some sort of ritual to bring about their dastardly plan. The other, sees Jang-uk and Bu-yeon falling in love but also tiptoeing around the truth.

The pace is pretty uneven and some of that is attributed to the story, which see-saws between these two different plot elements without much urgency. That is, until the final few episodes where everything is ratcheted up to 100 and the story bursts into life.

The characters themselves are a bit of a mixed bag here too. Park-jin and Kim are relegated to comedic pieces, with the former no longer involved in the affairs of Songrim…until the last few episodes. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince ends up in his own subplot involving a very special turtle (which works surprisingly well) while Yul ends up infected with the blood parasite (which doesn’t work well). The biggest issue here though comes from Bu-yeon’s character itself.

Much has been said about the actress change but beyond that, the character is played completely differently. No longer is Naksu this tortured assassin that can more than hold her own. Instead, Naksu (within Bu-yeon’s body) plays the role of damsel in distress and it feels like a devolution of the character we’ve known across the show’s run.

Don’t get me wrong though, this season does have some really strong elements. The action and the special effects are just as good as they were before, while the overarching story involving Cheonbugwan is equally as endearing. The worldbuilding is interesting and the production design – especially the sets – look fantastic.

It’s just a shame then that the narrative doesn’t really stand out, at least not this year. There’s nothing particularly bad with this second season but equally, there’s nothing outstanding or amazing either. The story functions as well as it could and there’s enough twists and turns – especially late on – to keep you glued to see how this one concludes. Whether that’s enough to stand out next to a wealth of other Korean content on the market right now is another matter.


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  • Verdict - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
6.5/10

13 thoughts on “Alchemy Of Souls Season 2 Review – Fantastical follow-up loses its magic”

  1. So Disappointed in Part 2..No subtitles and no Me-doak..I stopped watching the moment I realized they changed characters without showing us how this happened..SUBTITLES PLEASE AND BRING THE OLD ME-DOAK BACK

  2. I was absolutely obsessed with season 1. The chemistry between Mu Deok and Uk was incomparable and that whole dynamic worked. It was really difficult to watch season 2 after that, i honestly felt that Bu Yeon’s character had more chemistry with Yul. Part 2 was definitely not as enticing as part 1.

  3. I’m disappointed. I haven’t seen season 2 at all yet, still making my way through season 1 which is great. I don’t mind subtitles since I use them even if the people speak English. The English was kind of stilted anyway. However, I am going to miss the actress playing Naksu in season 1! And only 10 episodes??? Someone must have realized how bad it was….

  4. I would love to have a series that lasts up to 6 seasons. please don’t finish this.

    Naksu is the main character and the assassin. not a fairy. Dress her up and let her fight like Jang Uk.

    PS: Posted by a fan who was very happy watching

  5. I think that part one of the Alchemy of Souls is probably the best series I ever watched. Trust me I’m not easily please and I’ve watched thousand of cinematography. The plot was intense and the combination of both action and love intricately in twined, was epic. However, Part 2, I am completely disappointed with missing English voice overs, the emotional connect is lost in the translation. They did too good of a job in Part 1, with the perfect voice overs that it is painful to watch Part 2. Changing the storyline was a traumatic choice. This option is tantamount to the proverbial carrot placed on a stick hanging in front of the horse that unfortunately leads to traditional “ happily never after“ endings, that seems to be an non-western culture story line.
    Thumbs way up on Part 1.
    Thumbs down on Part 2.
    Unfortunately that happens when you tinker with and forget what made the success, by disregarding your audience.

  6. I think they killed the whole series by getting rid of Mu-Deuk’s character. She was the main actress. Honestly, I can’t even watch season 2 now. How do I get 20 episodes in then they bring in another actor? As well how come nothing has been done about assistant Gwanju yet? He was the one performing alchemy of souls. It just seems like it’s not well written. Mu-duek is gone and has Naksu’s face. Really? But none of Naksu’s memories and none of Be-loeung’s memories and none of Mu-Deuk’s memories. It’s such a disappointment
    Bring Mu-Deuk and Naksu
    back.

  7. I think they killed the whole series by getting rid of Mu-Deuk’s character. She was the main actress. Honestly, I can’t even watch season 2 now.

  8. I love the show. Watching part 1 a second time and it seems quite different than the first time watching it. My husband and I keep saying “ wait, we don’t remember this “ in many episodes. Same story but seemingly different pieces to it.

    I loved part 2. While we miss Mu deok and the actress, I thought they did well building up the chemistry between Uk and Bu yeon with the other actress.

  9. I totally agree with everything you said. I like the 2nd season just fine but had they kept Naksu’s character despite the change of actress I would have loved it more. I am highly disappointed by that honestly. although Go Youn Jung was great and her chemistry with Lee Jae Wook was amazing but I rarely ever felt like that was Naksu that I know and love. So in the last episode when Jang Uk said that deep down he knew all along who she was, I was honestly annoyed.

  10. I agree – I do like Season 2; although I miss Mu deok very much. I miss her spunk; her wits; her spirit. I do understand the story calling for Jin-Buyeon and Naksu’s face; but it could have included Naksu’s natural traits and character specially after regaining her memory slowly. I like that Jang Uk pined and longed for Me deok/Naksu and played excellently to resist Jin Buyeon’s charms

    Love Season 1 – My all time favorite since watching it and watched it many times since- Jang Uk and Mu deok all the way!
    Liked Season 2 – Great story, great actors
    Thank you for the the great ride

  11. Alchemy of Souls in Season 1 is amazing. Season 2 is fantastic .My friends and family circle are waiting for Season 3.

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