TV Series Review: Bring It On, Ghost

AKA as “Let’s Go, Ghost”, this 2016 supernatural k-drama is currently up on Youtube. The 16 one-hour episodes tell an urban fantasy of a very lively ghost girl, Kim Hyun-ji, and a grumpy college student, Park Bong-pal, stuck seeing ghosts whether he likes it or not. Usually, not.

If you read the first chapter of Bleach and wondered what the story would have been like if it’d stuck to angry-boy-meets-ghost instead of jumping into shonen “give me more powah!” style, this is the show for you. Ghosts do have some supernatural abilities: fear, teleportation, messing with electronics, sometimes throwing objects. (Which is usually the ghost actually throwing the object.) They’re dangerous because they can hurt people and drive them insane; they don’t need massive levels of supernatural power.

Likewise, Park Bong-pal has one limited power. He can see ghosts, so he can hit ghosts. That’s it. He’s as agile and strong as a fit young college guy who’s put a lot of work into knowing how to punch, kick, and grapple. So when he takes on ghosts to exorcise them the hard way, it’s pretty much an even fight.

(And when it’s not – he’s run into some very big ghost guys – running is an option.)

Kim Hyun-ji isn’t any more powerful than the average ghost either. She’s just smart, determined, and apparently took martial arts in life to good effect. When she and Park Bong-pal team up, they can take down your average ghost without getting too badly hurt. Usually.

The evil spirit hanging around killing people is on an entirely different level, but that monster takes a while to track down. It usually looks like a human….

I classify this specifically as urban fantasy because I’ve seen reviews by people who couldn’t seem to fit this into a neat mental category. It’s got horror elements, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens; ghosts, murder, suicide, and abuse all show up. It’s also got a lot of romance. And plenty of comedy. The college ghost-hunting club looks ridiculous. Give them a few eps; In-rang and Cheon-sang will surprise you. They grow as characters from irresponsible college students to… well, still ludicrous but fairly reliable adults. And they come through in a pinch!

And man is there ever a pinch. The evil spirit acts like a serial killer, stalking and slaying as it searches for something, and it’s keeping close to Bong-pal….

Here I’ll warn you again, not for younger kids. The spirit is a sociopath, and while there’s nothing too graphic on-screen, there’s an intense scene where you hear it torturing an animal to death. Most of the show is not like that, but… stick to older teens for this one.

(The evil spirit is a Bad Guy, full stop. It pulls out the full psychopath toolkit, including charm, manipulation, torture, and murder. What’s really scary is that outside of tricks like messing with video cameras so it never shows up on tape, everything it does is in the realm of regular serial killers. Brrr.)

There’s a definite Earn Your Happy Ending going on, and you may have a lot of frustration with a certain monk’s communication skills… but this is a good show.

21 thoughts on “TV Series Review: Bring It On, Ghost

  1. Ooh! Sounds interesting! And exactly what American urban fantasy lacks, ie, actual plot beyond “what screws over the Good Guys the most because that makes it Relevant.”

    My least favorite Valdemar series is Vanyel. Because in her own words how she handled the series was, “drop a mountain on him. Make him happy. Drop another mountain on him.”

    But this sounds good. My aunt has also gotten into Asian dramas, and they are remarkably, hm, light on the physical side of romance. Which is a score in my opinion.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Sounds interesting. Will definitely check it out. I have gotten into Asian drama specifically because of Vathara’s Valdemar series. But why do so many of the historical fantasy ones have bad endings? 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What I’ve learned from an (admittedly limited) selection of chinese movies, is that if everyone is miserable throughout, and then they all die at the end, it’s a tragedy; and if everyone encounters miserable situations, but mostly maintains a cheerful spirit, and the bad guy and minor comedy relief characters die, but at least one of the main leads is still alive at the end, it’s a comedy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, Lady Iron Monkey is one of those. Laugh a minute for.most of the runtime, big revenge ending against the villain prince, most of the heroes die, but the titular heroine survives so it is happy.

        The baby hopping vampire movie has a good ending. Even most of the evil Taoists learn better, and all the kids survive.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. A lot of it depends which country the historical fantasy is coming from. Korean historical fantasy is often… very different in tone from Chinese or Japanese historical fantasy. A lot of Korean historical fantasy (especially action) is less “historical” and more “we like that aesthetic and stuck our plot in that time period” and then proceeds to tell a plot that could work in the modern day with very few tweaks. Overall… Korean historical fantasy is generally less depressing than Japanese or Chinese historical fantasy…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A nice solution for masquerade problems. “You can’t see them, so it is hard to prove. But all human history has said they exist, so don’t blame others if you just didn’t believe it.”

    A related solution is, “Of course there used to be tons of wards and guards against this very situation. But modern society did not maintain them and add new ones, or what was added was done badly with bad information; so now we are in a mess and need new guards.” With the related explanations of anything you want, like “the crazy cat lady down the street is someone unconsciously trying to maintain wards without proper training, and if you help her, her mental health will improve.” Or similar.

    This allows for science fiction worlds to have masquerade silliness, too. “That’s not an alien, it is an elf pretending to have diplomatic immunity by hiding among the ambassadorial staff using Earth glamor. Probably a spy for the Unseelie Court.”

    Liked by 4 people

      1. So the baddies don’t want to scare you until they are ready to kill you. Or you die fat and happy. Ugh.

        Alien world, alien folklore monsters that the aliens don’t believe in, but the humans do see them…. Also creepy. Although a nice invitation to hfy types of stories, as humans use their human powers against the baddies. Or to help the goodies.

        “Let me introduce you to a magical human weapon called the shotgun.”

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Btw, there has recently been a lot of discussion of Purgatory, tollhouses, and other afterlife concepts of Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy, on various YouTube channels, like Reason and Theology.

    As Sam says in LOTR, “That was an eye-opener, and no.mistake.”

    And… It turns out that a fair amount of branches of Orthodoxy do think that the dead who are saved but not saints do spend time in Hell and then get taken out again. Like Hell Hell, or a Sheol Hell, or even a Dante-like Hell of the righteous with nice food and pools, but… Yeah. And the whole Christ breaking sown the doors of Hellmouth thing being interpreted as “So people can go in and out if they come from Heaven on missions.”

    So… Yeah, this is me apologizing for freaking out, because there is apparently NO single theological afterlife narrative in a lot of apostolic Eastern churches, because they don’t have a single patriarch authority to say no. (Other than not sounding like Western stuff, because a lot of that gets called heresy straight off.) Plus the whole hesychast thing means “Even if I know the Bible says it, I don’t want to be too definite about it.”

    So yeah, it turns out that your girl can just hit up the Eastern Catholic or Eastern Orthodox side and they would probably not hear anything objectionable, or they would be unwilling to object. Ethnic stuff, or fasting practices, or some other internecine thing, maybe not so much.

    Your research fu beats mine!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. *G* I read someplace that the priests converting the Vikings referred to that episode of breaking down Hell’s door as “Christ’s Hel-raid”, and it got a lot of sincere converts. For two reasons.

      1) Establishes Jesus as the complete badass all proper Vikings approved of -moneychangers in the Temple is one thing, but taking on Hel? That’s something else.

      2) Gave hope to the vast majority of people who physically couldn’t be badass enough to die on the battlefield. Anyone unlucky enough – or smart enough – to die old and gray in bed had no hope of anything but Hel’s endless, hungry halls before that.

      Did my research from there, and wow, early Christianity was a madhouse – and I mean that in the best possible way!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Did my research from there, and wow, early Christianity was a madhouse – and I mean that in the best possible way!

        ::happy, though quiet, voice:: The amount of stuff that’s licit, just not widely known, is pretty much a madhouse in the good way, too. ^.^

        I adore the idea of the Hel-raid giving the comfort and hope that it should.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Agree on the Hel-raid! Nice! The Gothic poetic translation of the Gospels is pretty cool also. (I kept looking for the Arian bits and didn’t see any.)

        The funny thing is, I expect a lot of loosey-goosey in early Christianity, and I expect a lot of interesting theories from random guys on the Internet. It’s disconcerting when a dude with five degrees and an Orthodox monk hat explains to you the long devotional tradition of loosey-goosey.

        (Possibly right after looking very dubious about whether the Rosary is okay to pray. And some Eastern folks got convinced that St. Francis of Assisi must have been possessed by demons, because holy fools were a thing but wandering non-priest preachers were not a thing. Or something along those lines.) (Until wandering preachers were a thing. At which time they were definitely not anything like the European thing.)

        The good news is that the more one can find out about what’s going on, the more one can suss out where problems are and aren’t. “St. Francis creeps people out” is not something I ever knew was a problem.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m finding this and the comments a little inspirational to putter around with.

    Aside, I just watched some clips from the Inuyasha sequel. Reminded me of the Inuyasha/Ruroken/Valdemar fic, even if somewhat far from anything that could have anything to do with that story.

    Liked by 1 person

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