My infinite fondness for Jinyoung is not unheard of on this space, so regardless of the production, I had intended to watch meticulously. Each episode spanned approximately fourteen minutes, with some airing in two parts, each about ten minutes in duration. Airing weekdays at 7 AM KST for a total of three weeks, Magic School concluded in 16 wonderfully thoughtful episodes.
The story revolves around four young adults, each with their individually unique worries. Throughout the story, magic manages to connect them together and assist them in either mitigating their concerns or providing a new outlook on life.
Lee Nara (Jinyoung), the protagonist of Magic School, commences university at the start of the story. In the first and second episode, he is depicted as a hard-working student that aims only to fulfill his father's wishes. His mother passed away while giving birth to him, which led his father to express sorrow on his birthday every year. A total of twenty-two years passes before Lee Nara encounters an ambiguous situation with his best friend, Woori (Park Gyuyoung).
While observing that his hyung succeeds in confessing his feelings towards a girl in his school with the help of magic tricks, he too tries his hand at determining his feelings for Woori via enrolment in a privately-operated Magic School (마술학교).
Simultaneously enrolling this Magic School are: a medical intern hailing from the United States, a young professor researching the correlation between magic tricks and science, and the younger brother of a famed magician. Jun (Nickhun) aims to adopt a set of tricks to prove to a young patient that miracles can exist, and that she should not lose hope in recovering from an incurable disease. On the other side of the spectrum is J (Yoon Park), a wealthy, snobby man who refuses to accept his brother's death and demands Master Han to reveal the details of the trick such that he can reunite with his brother. Lee Sung (Kang Yoonjae) enters Magic School as a way of researching magic tricks, only to later find himself encaptured by Master Han's daughter, Han Yiseul (Shin Eunsoo).
The scene in which he drinks beer for the first time and becomes intoxicated to the point of passing out is very crucial. Not only does this lend him the courage to confront his father about his newfound hobby, but also allows him to voice out his detest for government workers and their distasteful actions towards his father. This is the turning point that enables Nara to discover his hidden talents and confirm his feelings for Woori (with advice from Master Han), while allowing his father to re-consider his actions towards his son.
The series of events is quite logical: all characters find themselves in a suitable spot in their lives. As the finale, Woori casts Nara as a magician cameo in one of her works, and the two "live happily ever after".
I seriously cannot express my amazement with the quality of this web series! From the smooth transition between scenes (camera crane in the first scene) to the stability of the camera varying with degree of atmosphere tension (when Nara discovers his father depressed and drinking), from the bokeh of night scenes to the crisp details of each cast member's pore size and/or stubble, I have zero complaints about the quality of the production.
My only wish would be for makeup - specifically foundation - application to be smoother and fewer bowl cuts on set.
- Jinyoung: My UB blew me away with his vast improvement since his Legend of the Blue Sea appearances. The broad range of facial expressions and subtle gestures he put forth in this production was astounding. Having witnessed his skills progress from Dream High 2 and Dream Knight, it brought me an immense amount of joy, as both an IGOT7 and audience member, to lay eyes on such persuasive roleplay.
- Magic School proved a medium to prominently distinguish GOT7's Jinyoung from actor Park Jinyoung. The sights of Jinyoung wearing shorts, donning pink cheeks from drinking, casting shy glances, and, most crucially, confidently striding up to his female co-star for a heart-wrenching kiss are all brand-new experiences for even the most veteran ahgases. (His aegyo segment at the end was also too adorable!)
Kang Yoonjae: The bowl cut deterred me slightly from enjoying his appearances more, but generally speaking, he was a very likeable figure. His bewildered expressions and brainiac-like rants aligned perfectly with his role. While I could be mistaken, Kang Yoonjae gives off the vibe of a newcomer to the world of acting. There is definitely room for improvement, but Lee Sung was a promising start.
Shin Eunsoo: Based on her brief interactions between Jinyoung in Legend of the Blue Sea, I can only comment that her acting has improved slightly, but not enough to conclude a discernible difference. Given her young age though, it is probable that she will improve with time.
Park Gyuyoung: Donning the aura of an experienced actress, she took on the role of Woori with ease. However, while her expressions were convincing and in line with the demands of her character, they did not seem genuine. I found myself clearly identifying her as "an actress in the shoes of Woori" rather than "Woori" as a relatable person. While biased, I also did not feel that she matched well with Jinyoung. Her appearance is more reminiscent of a seasoned businesswoman (think WITCH) rather than an eager movie-creator.
All in all, Magic School is a short yet solid production that depicts the ever-evolving events of youth and the impact of magic on the lives of mere mortals.