While not an Asian drama, the Netflix original series Sense8 does have Hallyu actress Bae Doo Na as one of it’s central characters. Since she’s living in Seoul we get to see a lot of Korean actors we’re familiar with (Yun Yeo Jeong/Yoon Yeo Jung, Hong Suk Chun, Cha In Pyo, Lee Ki Chan, Lee Kyung Young). So the story revolves around eight strangers who one day start seeing and experiencing each others surroundings and feelings. They are what people call sensates and it appears they may all share the same birthday. Sensates are birthed in clusters. You can communicate with your own cluster without having ever met them, but you can only communicate with outside sensates if you make direct eye contact.
Overall, the series was good. I marathoned it quite quickly. That being said, there were definitely parts I didn’t like. I am never a big fan of what I call gratuitous sex scenes, but hey, it’s a streaming drama with no restrictions really. And…if you have enough smoking and f-bomb drops it really just seems forced and trite to me. But that’s just me. One thing that I didn’t like is that almost everything was in English. You’re in India, Africa, Korea, and Germany besides having characters in the UK and the US. Why not have them do their own language all of the time? With the forced English, those with heavier accents (mostly in the Korean scenes) actually seemed more awkward. Even though they were acting well, the speech did not flow naturally. I would have been happier with the native tongues and subtitles.
And, if we’re being honest, the whole basis of the series is actually not new. There have been books and movies before that covered people with a psychic or some such bond who are able to experience and feel what the others are feeling. But since it is a hugely overused plot aspect, it wasn’t boring or typical in any way. In this drama who have our sensates who were birthed as a cluster by Angelica (Daryl Hannah) who kills her self to save them from Whispers (an evil sensate who hunts down and kills the others for whatever nefarious purposes). Jonas is essentially her virtual lover. He’s played by Naveen Andrews and at times his character’s motives are ambivalent, but I think he’s really not a bad guy. He’s doing his best to protect this cluster from Whispers.
We have a cop with a rebellious past, a DJ with a heartbreaking history that led her into a world of drugs, a transgender who had surgery to become a woman, a gay telenovela actor who is afraid to be truthful about his sexuality, a repressed Korean woman who is an underground kickboxer, a pharmacist who is about to be married to man she does not love, a positive bus driver whose mother is dying of aids, and a safe cracker with serious daddy and family issues. It’s a wide spectrum of characters and the Wachowski brothers did want to tackle some characters you never usually encounter in this drama, but I actually don’t think they did a bang up job with the subject matter in some aspects.
There were times I would have liked more of a focus on the sensates and their connections they are experiencing with each other, but some characters had more real life stuff going on and only had a few small occurrences and interactions with the others. That detracted a bit from the series. It made it kind of weird when the people with the least amount of interactions with the group pop in and are suddenly helping them and saving the day. It felt like a bit of a stretch. I was also a bit sad that our Korean main character had to kind of be a token martial arts master. Really? Way to think outside of the box.
That being said, it wasn’t like the characters’ real world troubles weren’t interesting. Several of them were dodging the organization out to kill them while learning more about them while others were just dealing with other stuff. Sun struggled to keep her promise to help her father and worthless brother and eventually has to take the heat for a crime she did not commit. Lito had to deal with his true identity threatening to be exposed, Capheus had to struggle to get the drugs his dying mother needed, and Wolfgang had some serious family issues to address while the sensate he’s falling for is trying to figure out if she should go through with a marriage she does not want. Those stories weren’t boring, but sometimes the focus was so intent on them that going back to the underlying danger didn’t quite flow well.
But all in all, I did like this series and I hope it does get a second season as it is quite the ending. But, I suppose if they wanted to leave it like it is, it’s enough of a satisfactory one with our cluster managing to come together and escape the evil Whispers.