Fantasy Korean dramas have been one of the more inconsistent genres coming from the world of Asia. While IPs like Arthdal Chronicles do well to present a gripping story, series like Melting Me Softly and Alice fumble with their ideas and fall into disappointing mediocrity.
Netflix’s latest fantasy drama, School Nurse Files, gets off to a lively and energetic start in episode 1. It’s here we learn more about our central protagonist, Eun-Young.
She’s not like other children. Believing she may be born with an extra set of eyelids, her teacher and Mother ask whether she’s seeing “the jellies” again. It turns out she has a strange condition that allows her to see gooey trials left behind from living things.
We cut forward to see Eun-Young is now working as a student nurse at school. In her cupboard are beakers full of pellets. Seung-Gwon is brought in with a sting on the back of his neck (which ends up being a strange heart-shaped jelly pendant) on his way to finding someone called Jellyfish.
Taking the strange item out his neck, Seung-Gwon hastily leaves. When Eun-Young opens the door a jelly happens to be right there in front of her taking the shape of that student. Armed with a plastic sword and a BB gun, she decides to try and take it out.
Unbeknownst to her, something lurks deep in the basement. The camera swings down smoothly and laughter floats up. In the school office, In-Pyo tries in vain to phone Ilgwang Sterilization regarding what’s happening but struggles to get through to them. As Eun-Young approaches, she notices a strange jelly-like aura around him.
She enlists his help in order to find Seung-Gwon. Seemingly knowing something he doesn’t, she mentions how the student is going to get a fever and start feeling ill.
While he heads outside, Eun-Young notices red blotches trailing up from the basement. As it turns out, In-Pyo is in charge of the basement key and the only one who can open it up.
Eventually Eun-Young heads down and notices these strange jellies completely infesting every part of the room. Armed with her sword, she starts slashing wildly as these creatures burst into tiny pieces. When In-Pyo shows up however, she writes off her erratic behaviour as Zumba.
In-Pyo and Eun-Young work together and head deeper down the basement. Of course, In-Pyo can’t see what she can, as she swings wildly at the various jellyfish flying around her head.
It turns out this aura she’s seeing around In-Pyo is some sort of shield that wards off the creatures.
Descending deeper down, the duo manage to open a locked door that seems to hold a strange rock. This may have been a site where a pond once stood. Despite Eun-Young telling him not to, In-Pyo lifts the stone as a shockwave descends across the school.
Elsewhere, Seung-Gwon’s condition worsens as he starts sweating profusely and getting a fever. He pleads with Jellyfish (whose real name is A-Ra) to stay but she’s called downstairs.
While she’s the centre of attention, this shockwave suddenly causes all the students to start stampeding up to the roof. As they do, students climb up the fences.
Giggling, they all watch as the ground shudders and shakes, paving way for… something to start screaming maniacally from underground. Eun-Young rushes up to the roof as the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
This fantasy series is incredibly colourful and quirky. Some of the camera shots are really good and the acting is suitably campy and feels ripped right from a web-toon.
The episode does a pretty good job setting the foundation for what’s to follow but does struggle with its narrative. This series is absolutely bizarre but this strangeness is partly what makes The School Nurse Files work so well.
There’s obviously something seriously wrong with this school but for now we’re kept in the dark surrounding quite what’s going on. Hopefully we get some answers soon!