Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Back in 2019, Love Alarm showed up on Netflix and immediately took the K-drama world by storm. Taking the compelling elements of sci-fi-esque dating apps and high school romance, Love Alarm cut a unique slice of the streaming pie for itself.
For those who need a quick recap, the background here revolves around an app (unsurprisingly) called Love Alarm. This measures love interests within a certain radius, and if someone steps within your circle, the phone pings to let you someone nearby loves you. There’s no guesswork, no awkward first dates and certainly no cringy rejections either.
Only, this app comes with a heavy burden, and interestingly our central protagonist Jojo finds herself in the middle of this, “shielded” from the pressures thanks to her love alarm being hidden.
The first season then effectively built up a love triangle around this premise, with Kim Jojo left at the end with her two prospect love interests, Sun-O and his best friend Hye-Yeong. Armed with an agonizing cliffhanger ending and lots of unanswered questions, fans scrambled for news of a second season.
With Netflix giving the greenlight for that, the fanbase essentially split into Team Sun-O and Team Hye-Yeong, convinced that Jojo would choose their mascot. And after a lengthy delay, Love Alarm is finally here and more importantly, the answer to who Jojo will choose.
This time around though, Love Alarm recklessly jumps forward in time, writing off that cliffhanger to see our characters out of high school and on to the great beyond. Jojo is still studying, Sun-O is off modelling while Hye-Yeong now has an office job. Spicing things up however, is the public announcement of Love Alarm Version 2.0.
This enhancement on the popular app now boasts the ability to track who will fall in love with you in the near future. One of those names happens to be Jojo, who inexplicably pops up on Hye-Yeong’s app very early on.
This brief background is essentially where we start season 2 and while the first managed to keep you guessing until the end, second season does not.
In fact, this 6 episode k-drama plays out as a middling paint by numbers canvas. You’ll guess what’s going to happen here within the first 10 minutes of the show starting and Love Alarm never even thinks about deviating from that path.
This love triangle essentially peters out after the first 4 episodes or so too, leaving episodes 5 and 6 to play catch-up with the underwhelming sub-plots we’ve been half-following before.
These come in two distinct flavors, with Jojo’s cousin Mul-Gi galivanting off on a quest of her own, determined to find the founding developer of Love Alarm. Her story uses up a good chunk of time too, but although it’s played off for comedy relief, it’s not actually very funny.
Alongside that is a murder mystery of sorts, carried over from the first season and revolving around the Love Alarm killer. There is a nice reveal around this but to be honest it’s given so little screen-time that it barely even registers on the radar when the truth is revealed. It just sort of feels like it’s been haphazardly lumped into the final episodes to patch everything up.
That leaves the CTO of Love Alarm, Brian Cho, who may or may not know what happened to missing-in-action Duk-Goo from the first season. Again, keen watchers will probably figure this out early on, backing up the notion that this really doesn’t have a lot of mystery or compelling twists to speak of.
It also doesn’t help that stylistically the show is a bit of a mess. The editing feels choppy, some of the dialogue stretches on for far too long, while other times a weird dreamy filter gives the impression we’re in a flashback when we’re not – something that’s made worse when an actual flashback shows up.
It’s not all bad though and the show does have some redeeming features. There’s a bit more background into Hye-Yeong’s past while Jojo also gets a chance to confront her past demons too. Some wonderfully imaginative imagery is used here as well, especially when it comes to the hand-drawn segments which are woven so well into the fabric of this series.
Ultimately though Love Alarm serves up a lukewarm offering that’s going to feel colder for fans expecting a red-hot follow-up to what’s come before. If you can go in with no expectations, Love Alarm certainly has enough to enjoy, but there’s equally nothing here that really stands out. This follow-up uses all the K-drama tricks in the book and does so with very little aplomb. This is one alarm that’s very unlikely to ring for a third season.
Verdict - 5/10