Episode 1 -| Review Score –5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score –4.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score –4/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score –4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score –4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score –4.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score –3/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 12 -| Review Score –3/5
Episode 13 -| Review Score 4/5
Episode 14 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 15 -| Review Score –3/5
Episode 16 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Goblin is revered by many and regarded as one of the best Korean dramas out there. As someone who binged all of it across several weekends, I’d be inclined to agree. Sure the romance is a tad subjective given the age difference, but the show hits the right balance of fantasy, romance and epic historical drama.
After the tepid effort of Tale Of The Nine Tailed, Bulgasal: Immortal Souls slammed onto Netflix late last year, delivering an epic showcase of drama and romance that looked set to take the K-drama world by storm. And for a while it did.
The problem is, Bulgasal’s initial spark fizzles out and struggles to illicit the same wonder and fantastical bliss across 16 episodes. Despite a strong ending, Bulgasal slips up where it matters most. Don’t get me wrong, the show is good but it’s not as great as it could have been.
The story here, 1000 years in the making, centers on a guy named Hwal, a man-turned-immortal who vows revenge on a woman with a mysterious past and who happens to be responsible for his immortality and miseries.
Hoping to free himself from that curse, Hwal remains determined to gain his vengeance, which manifests itself in the present with Sang-Un and her sister Sang-Yeon. With ideas of reincarnation, destiny and romance flirted with over the run-time, Bulgasal’s premise is promising and certainly has glimmers of brilliance.
The problem is, Bulgasal gets bogged down in developing its familial ties without actually expanding beyond that to keep its plot exciting and dramatic like the first half does. That’s an issue plaguing much of this show, which loses its way midway through.
That family comes in the form of a grizzled detective known as Kwon, a boy named Do-Yun and old lady Hye-Seok. There’s also Si-ho too, although the extent of her influence on this series only stretches as far as prophetic powers and teasing glimmers of the past.
The past is ultimately where this show is at its strongest, but it’s also the biggest Achille’s heel Bulgasal has. You see, the show rests a lot of its mystery on events that have occurred already, but yet in teasing this and drip-feeding the mystery across the season, it forces Hwal into some questionable moral decisions to “protect” his family.
One could argue that it’s teasing an evil turn but while that would be great… it never materializes. At the same time, what happened originally 1000 years back is so central to keeping this show ticking over that when it finally is revealed, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as epic as the first few episodes would have you believe.
That’s not to say the show is bad, quite the contrary. Bulgasal has some great moments and the action dotted throughout the series helps to break up some of the drama and character ties. There’s a solid ebb and flow to a lot of the episodes and the romance between Hwal and Sang-Un feels natural and has some stand-out moments.
Moments is probably the best word to describe Bulgasal. There are some amazing moments in this show, sprinkled atop a mediocre humdrum of drama, romance and fantasy. Bulgasal: Immortal Souls had a lot of potential that’s unfortunately never quite explored as thoroughly as it could have been.
Verdict - 6.5/10