Bullying is prevalent throughout the world but in South Kora, it’s a particularly sensitive issue. With K-dramas we’ve seen these scenes played out across school and even at the workplace, and recent statistics unfortunately claim that more than 1 in 10 workers suffer from bullying every day.
Being on the receiving end of this feels like being stuck in a black hole that there’s no escaping from. No matter how you try to cope with it, things can spiral quickly and get out of control. From physical violence and name calling through to ostracism and, more recently, cyber bullying, these can be awful to have to deal with.
Lookism then is a Korean anime that tackles bullying directly and it does so through the lens of Hyeong-Seok, a poor overweight kid who’s pushed around by his peers. He’s bullied so badly in fact, that he changes schools and hopes for a fresh start. Only, that immediately goes awry when a misunderstanding turns into a viral video and Hyeong-Seok’s life turns into a miserable fight for survival.
When Hyeong-Seok falls asleep and awakens as the idealized version of himself, complete with good looks, tight abs and an amazing singing voice. What ensues from here is a dual life of sorts, with Hyeong-Seok realizing that every time he falls asleep, he awakens as his other version. So Hyeong-Seok decides to work nights as his old self, raising funds to help his growing appetite, while the new version heads off to school and attempts to navigate the trickiness that comes with studies and navigating social circles.
The story is a relatively straightforward one and the majority of the series spins between a slice of life drama and a more thoughtful piece about society’s expectations and the sheer amount of weight put on good looks.
The tone isn’t all somber melodrama though and there are occasions that are genuinely laugh out loud funny. The inclusion of tough guy Basco, who looks out for the downtrodden, brings up some particularly funny instances and there’s some wild, over the top fighting here too that helps inject the show with some action.
The characters themselves are great and alongside Hyeong-Seok, there’s a solid cast of players that you’ll find yourself rooting for. Basco as I mentioned is one who immediately stands out, but late on we meet Deok-hwa and Jin-ho who are similar to Hyeong-Seok.
The animation is largely hand-drawn but there are some CGI instances here too. During one on one fights and in particular through the finale, there’s a fair amount used but it doesn’t detract too much from the experience.
Overall though, Lookism is a solid series and well worth a watch. It’s a thought provoking Korean anime that manages to touch on important topics while simultaneously delivering a solid story with a lovable cast of characters. This one’s a must-watch!
Verdict - 7.5/10