Thursday, December 22, 2011

thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (Korean) -- finale on the horizon

This article contains spoilers, but mostly opinions (lots of them at that); proceed with caution.

There's something to be said about a make-shift family, non-blood related, who somehow manages to come together and through so much chaos, can stand around and decorate a Christmas tree in somewhat harmony. I'm a sucker for these types of friendship dynamics; blood relations have no choice in their families, but those that end up choosing to remain together without prior ties, those are just heart warming and make for the best fun of plot devices.

As Episode Fifteen came to a close, I thought about this for a while, about putting my two cents in for the finale before being given the chance to see the last episode. Do I want to keep my thoughts to myself and let it all out at the end, or do I want to voice some minor thoughts as well as include hopes for the ending? In the end, my desire to voice such opinions came around, even if this will be a short one (for real this time) at least shorter than the previous posts.

The Noble Idiocy device was employed as expected. This is the entire premise of Episode Fifteen as we watch Chi Soo's gradual acceptance of what he believes to be his only decision to keep the peace. As is typical of most rom-coms, one party will always find out devestating news that could "only be saved if the couple seperates" and so that party chooses to make the decision to play Noble Idiot. It's a cliche that gets me riled up almost every time. Although I WILL say that sometimes the device works; and sometimes the device is necessary.

I can't a hundred percent say that this device is perfect for Flower Boy Ramyun Shop. Nobody likes the Noble Idiocy device because it frustrates. HOWEVER, for Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, with only one episode left to end the story, this Noble Idiocy ploy was both necessary and bearable. For one, Cha Chi Soo has always lived in a selfish, naive bubble wherein everything must go his way, no questions. Being a series which has focused so much on Chi Soo's growth and his realizations of real life outside of his second generation chaebol bubble, it's a little proud moment to see him find a sense of maturity in this situation. It's not the BEST time for him to suddenly feel the need to be cool and noble, but why not use something as drastic as the Ramyun Shop being demolished as his cue?

For me, this particular instance of Noble Idiocy works. There's a lot riding on the line of the Ramyun Shop going down and Chi Soo learns this the hard way -- by feeling that spear going through his heart when he realizes how important the Ramyun Shop has been to everyone else. This is a nice ring too, because Chi Soo's decision isn't solely based upon the effects on Yang Eun Bi alone; he even factors in the other boys and how the Ramyun Shop helped to save their lives. With his simple-minded thought processes, of course, he wouldn't be able to find another way to fix the problem besides succumbing to Daddy Cha's wishes -- because this is how Chi Soo was brought up with his misguided, simple-minded father who is also resigned to his chaebol bubble. To these men, the world is either one way or another and there IS no fighting against it. You stay in your place and you remain in ignorant bliss. It's a typical Cha Chi Soo move; where I had hoped that his immaturity and backwards thinking would present to us a different type of action, now that I've throroughly convinced myself that Chi Soo's Noble Idiocy works, it all makes more sense.

Also, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop has been toying with cliches like a prodigal piano player -- it will employ all the necessary tropes and follow the rules to play it's piece, but in the end, when improvisation is necessary to suit a more independent flair, that's when we get to see the uniqueness of individuality. This is why I've been loving this series so much so far. We get to see the typical cliches for all rom-com love lines: the return of the ex-boyfriend, the pretense of a new boyfriend to show off to the ex-boyfriend, the rich second generation chaebol running away from home and living in the poor desolated heroine's home, the floundering of unfamiliar feelings of love... And the one thing that this series does best is that it doesn't drag out all the overdone cliches like a bad cough. Just as soon as we're introduced to one cliche, we immediately resolve it and move on to more important matters (such as the story line itself).

With the last episode just around the corner, there's no doubt that this Noble Idiocy device won't be dragged out to suffocation -- it needed to happen and it happened for all the right reasons and we're already ready to resolve it just as soon as it's begun. So now we just sit back and wait to see how things play out. Something tells me (the previews, probably) that Chi Soo won't have to stay in his isolated Prince's Tower forever and Yang Eun Bi isn't going to take his Noble Idiocy like a toy puppy. If this series has built Eun Bi up to being some sort of strong attack, then by gosh, I'm looking forward to her final strike at Daddy Cha in order to win Chi Soo back!

Although as javabeans mentions in her ending comments of the Episode Fifteen recap, it would be more meaningful if Chi Soo could break free of his bubble by himself. His father has already resigned himself to a misguided life of illogic wherein he doesn't see that caviar and rice can live in harmony (even if it gets a little icky), because in the end, both are foods that are digestable and both go to the same place anyway. I can only hope that things aren't the same for Chi Soo; that he can make life happen for himself how he sees fit and not how others think he should be living his life.

Daddy Cha failed to account for the fact that life doesn't work the way he's been seeing it for all these years; things area ALWAYS liable to change if he would just look outside his own world. The fact that Chi Soo's mother's sadness was what propelled him to believe the same conclusion would be in store for Eun Bi... I think we've forgotten to keep into account that Eun Bi and Chi Soo's mother are two different people. Even though we've never met Chi Soo's mother, we cannot count on both women having the same exact fates even if the same situations happen to occur to them.

Life isn't a script that needs to be followed -- and even if it WERE a script, stories have the ability to change upon necessity.

The thing I've loved about Chi Soo since the beginning is his flair for proving people wrong about himself so that he can have his way -- somehow, his selfish arrogance really works in his favor for this part of his personality. When he falls in love, he does it with an excitement that only innocent children can make use of (there IS no sense of "what if things don't go as planned?") and he will follow through with it because he sees no reason not to do so. The best example of this would be the entire "lions don't eat grass" analogy from Episode Thirteen as it pertains to Cha Chi Soo and his father; but rather than be resigned to remain a lion who only eats meat, Chi Soo went and logically (sort of) proved that lions indeed CAN eat grass.

Damn if that boy doesn't have a way to make everyone smile at his silliness. I'm sure it's not that he's missed the entire metaphor; his simple-minded thought process just feels it's necessary to find loopholes in the most simplistic fashion. "Some lions DO eat grass, erego, I can be THAT lion just fine. If you think that life should sustain one direction, I will push in the other direction until we start moving. Things will work because there's no reason why it shouldn't." It makes perfect sense to him, and when you really think about it, it's pretty logical (if you think about it really, really hard). However, I have a feeling that Chi Soo doesn't even realize his own actions versus his intentions. All along, everything he's done has been in a one-tracked fashion: "I've fallen for Yang Eun Bi so I must have her, even if I do things out of character." At the same time, he remains fairly in character and convinces himself that his world is the only world he can survive in even if he's currently straying away from it for a temporary fix.

None of that makes any sense, I'm sure, but only because I can't seem to put into words what I'm actually thinking. If anyone out there can make sense of my own rambling, feel free to help me organize that mess, because I know I probably won't be able to figure it out (even if it makes sense to me anyway).

On a side note about the love line, now that it's pretty much determined, I've found myself finally feeling that injustice for Choi Kang Hyuk's sake. Seeing Eun Bi crying to him about her own lost love when Chi Soo dumps her in his own rom-com cliche, I actually felt a little resentful towards her. I understand that you can't help who you have feelings for. I've talked about agreeing upon the fact that there's no measure to how much one person deserves to be with another person more than the third party. Love isn't calculated through actions and Kang Hyuk's good personality doesn't have to mean that Eun Bi must fall in love with him. I feel sad for Eun Bi that she and Chi Soo are going through a rough patch (not that their love line has been smooth at all). The Noble Idiot separation was a given and it pains me to see Chi Soo's typically indifferent, innocent character have to face this dilemma just to grow up.

It's like watching your child fall, but knowing that you can't pick him up because he needs to fall in order to learn to stand back up; even if the reasons that he's falling doesn't make a darned dime of any sense. The kid will learn to figure it out even if he's still not standing up correctly.

Coming back to the triangle, I DID find myself wondering why Eun Bi couldn't just fall for her Pillar Husband from the start and save everyone else some heartache. I DON'T know what's come over me, but just seeing her sobbing on about being dumped by Chi Soo only moments after watching her tell Kang Hyuk that he's not the one for her... it was heartbreaking... for Kang Hyuk. Because how does a guy respond to something like that? He doesn't want to see her broken, but she's broken over another guy. The separation works in his favor, but that doesn't mean that Eun Bi will be happy, which also breaks HIS heart as well. It's a losing situation for him no matter how you look at it because Kang Hyuk is simply such a good, good man.

Even though I've been setting up residence on Chi Soo's ship since the moment he had his first over-the-top comedic moment, I can't help but to feel that Kang Hyuk has been jilted out of a love story that could have been his. If Chi Soo had just stayed in his bubble, Eun Bi could have become easily entranced by Kang Hyuk's charms; because I'd hate to admit it, but there were moments when I felt that Eun Bi could be leaning more towards Kang Hyuk and not just because he's the better option. There were moments when it seemed that he DID move her heart; it just so happened that Cha Chi Soo moved in and set up camp before Kang Hyuk could do anything more.

And then to add onto that, Kang Hyuk's consistent care for Chi Soo even in spite of the spoiled brat's immature arrogance and love rivalry is very commendable. It takes a big man with a big heart to gloss over those details and remain the more mature and somehow omniscient player in this game of life. There is so much more for people than a love line and Kang Hyuk has transcended that level of petty detail, reaching an almost karmic understanding of what's more important in life. And this is why he's such a good man, but at the same time this is also why he's slapped with a disadvantage. Trying to be selfless and looking out for everyone else before himself has allowed Chi Soo to worm his way into Eun Bi's heart too easily. Had he tried to be a little more selfish or more aggressive, maybe he could have had a better chance rather than constantly worrying that Eun Bi would feel uncomfortable. Then again, would we all have loved him as much otherwise?

Maybe this is just my own excuse for the Eun Bi and Chi Soo pairing. No excuses should be required since love isn't a fair game anyway, but even I feel like I need to find some reason as to why anyone would pass up a great guy like Kang Hyuk (other than rom-com dictates that the good guy will always lose out). I mean, I wholeheartedly LOVE Cha Chi Soo; but only as this series' main male protagonist in all of his chaotic, dysfunctional glory. But in real life, does it make sense that a girl would choose a spoiled, wealthy, arrogant brat with a mean immature streak over someone as stable and congenial and secure as Kang Hyuk?

Then again, even in the real life, characteristic details often don't mean anything either. We love who we love and there are never reasons for things like that.

I guess I can't quite be pleased all around and sort of wish that we could create another dimension where Kang Hyuk gets the girl instead. But I also want to keep my dimension where Chi Soo and Eun Bi get together, because darned if I don't love that bratty little roller coaster of emotional chaos!

Well, rant and ramble finished, I've already figured out how the series will end (because of the previews) but I want to see how this series manages to churn out any surprising twists. Flower Boy Ramyun Shop has always been about the unpredictable turns hiding within the predictable tropes (amped up with hilarity to the 'T'). So whenever I think I know what's going to happen, something else pops up out of nowhere and I'm rolling in my seat in awe, laughter and impressed wonder.

Drama Series, please don't fail me now. One more to go, and judging from the few glimpses of opinions around the place, this should be a satisfying conclusion.


Related articles:
first impression: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- mid-series
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- episodes 9 and 10
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- shipper status update
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- the end is near
thoughts: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop -- the final showdown (sort of)


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