Tale of the Nine Tailed: 1938 (Season 2) Review – A far superior and improved sequel

Season 1

Season 2

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
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 – 3.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 -| Review Score – 4.5/5


When Tale of the Nine Tailed dropped back in 2020, many people agreed that it struggled to stand out, armed with a lackluster romance and a dour, stoic tone that didn’t fit the lofty, epic fantasy expectations this one set for itself. As a result, it petered out into disappointing mediocrity.

Fast forward to 2023 and Tale of the Nine Tailed is back. Many people doubted the decision to renew this one (including yours truly) but like a phoenix rising from the ashes of disappointment, Nine Tailed 1938 is exactly what the first season aspired to be – and so much more.

Although fans of the first season will undoubtedly get more out of this one, given the number of Easter eggs and the deeper character development, newcomers should feel right at home here too.

The story centers on Lee Yeon, an immortal nine-tailed fox that was once a mountain god spirit. The first season essentially saw him live a happily ever after, having reconciled the differences he had with his half-brother, Lee Rang, and settling down with his girl, Ji-ah.

The second season unfolds with Lee Yeon and his returning assistant, Shin-joo, thrust back into the thick of drama, jumping back to 1938 and becoming embroiled in the politics and fantasy of the era. Hong-joo is here too, and she’s every bit as troublesome and tricksy as she was before. She’s now the owner of the best high-end restaurant, Myoyeongak, situated in the capital city of Gyeongseong. Rang is here too, but he’s dead-set on killing our Yeon, unaware that the 1938 version of our mountain god is still high on opium and out of commission.

What ensues from here is a blend of long-form and episodic storytelling. The former comes in the form of Japanese officials in town, with the evil Kato and his band of cronies working on his side. There’s also a subplot about a rebellion that intertwines into this, and another that involves Rang working to patch up his differences with Yeon.

The episodic storytelling follows the same sort of format as season 1, with a variety of different spirits and demons springing forth to test their power against Yeon and his group. There’s an almost anime-like feel to some of these confrontations, especially late on when a group called the Shinigami Mercenaries enter the fold.

With no focus on the romance between Ji-ah and Yeon this time, Tale of the Nine Tailed feels far stronger and streamlined, instead turning its attention on the brotherly love between Rang and Yeon, with Hong-joo and how she slots into all of this another stand out element too.

The show does a great job with its character development overall though, with the added additions of characters like Moo-yeong, Kato, Hong-joo and newcomer Yeo-hee, really helping to give this ensemble some much-needed depth and intrigue.

The blend of fantasy, drama, horror and comedy is much better balanced this time around, with some legitimately creative and well-written segments that stand out across the 12 episodes. The jokes are well-timed and although there is still a sprinkling of deus ex machina and last-minute fake-outs and power-ups, these can be overlooked thanks to how much fun this show is.

And fun is ultimately the best way to describe this second season. Unlike the often-times dour and stoic first, Tale of the Nine Tailed: 1938 feels far more enjoyable and as a result, that translates across to audience enjoyment too. This is arguably one of the best K-dramas of the year and coming off the back of season 1’s disappointment, that’s quite an achievement.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

10 thoughts on “Tale of the Nine Tailed: 1938 (Season 2) Review – A far superior and improved sequel”

  1. The reason I don’t care for season two as much is because it lacks any and all depth put forth in season one. What made the brotherly relationship between Lee Rang and Lee Yeon compelling was its complexity. If the Lee Rang in 1938 had been the one from season one who had done all the growth and then ended up in 1938 somehow, then them teaming up so quickly would make sense. It just feels like they’ve cheapened his pain and trauma for the sake of fanservice. This guy committed horrible atrocities in his hatred for his brother, who he wanted to kill for half of season one, but then they’re besties in an episode and a half in season two?
    That’s my general complaint overall. Like I guess some people didn’t like the darkness and look into the complexity of human emotions and relationships, but for me that’s what made the show interesting. Lee Yeon having to choose between the family he chose (his lover and his best friend) and his blood family (Lee Rang) is the biggest moral issue of the show alongside picking the people you love over the greater good of humanity. There is also the moral issue of who and what would you sacrifice for youth and wealth. Those are the push and pull elements that drive the show and none of that tension seems to be in this season. For a campy, comedy show season two is fine, but it feels like a cheap fluff piece compared to season one. Is it bad? No. Does it live up to the incredible world and relationship building of season one? Absolutely not.

  2. What? Season one was great!! I loved the romance and every single thing about season 1, kinda sad that storyline didn’t continue at all.

  3. I must be the one of few people who loved the first season as well. Season 2 was so goofy , mysterious and adventurous but I must say there are some plot holes in season 2 like Lee lang obliviously had pay back something with that guy in season 1(imoogies servant) so after reconciling with yeon why didn’t he mention that. If they had reconciled in 1938 future will be different right. I thought after yeon went back to the future everyone will forget him or something but it never came. Also I hope there will be a season 3 because where did the original mountain god went to.

  4. We loved season I but season 2 left us a little annoyed. Some terrible story lines. What did save it was the wonderful characters that we grew to love. We were truly involved with them from the start but boy the story line just got more and more annoying and was an insult to some well acted characters.
    We hope there is a season three but pray they improve the story line or we will desert the show.

  5. Look, I loved both seasons. I really did. But is everyone just going to ignore the plot holes season 2 raised? I hope they do another season to rectify the time travel mess that occurred. Like how the hell will Rang still be Yeon’s enemy in 2020 if they reconciled in 1938?

  6. I didn’t know Season 1 had been a disappointment – that surprises me they would have made a second season, considering how infrequent they do that in Korea. I absolutely LOVED Season 1 even though I couldn’t get into the romance. I accepted it for what it was and thought the actors were great – it was just too unbelievable for me that a guy would wait around 600 years just hoping his partner would reincarnate. But that bit aside, Season 1’s character development was unforgettable, particularly between the Lee brothers, and the plot was thoroughly fleshed out with so many intricate details I had to take notes as I followed along, lol!
    Season 2… completely charmed me. I was engaged and entertained and just enthralled to have so many great characters back for another adventure. I couldn’t believe they’d found another issue for Ranga to work through that had been there all along – I just hadn’t noticed it before. (I don’t want to say because I don’t want to spoil it.) The only real downside to Season 2 for me was that it was much spookier that the first season. I wasn’t expecting so many ghosts and zombies.👻🧟It was a bit too much for me. But aside from that, the cinematography, music, actors, writing, character development, action, etc. etc., was all on point. I already know that I’ve seen the best of 2023 in 1938.👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  7. I loved season 1, that is why I so looked forward to season 2! I am hoping for a season 3 now!!! I absolutely loved the development of Lee Yeon and Rang! And I am so happy how they developed Rang character. I hate horror, but I watched it all because of how I love these characters! Please bring them back!❤️❤️❤️

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