First, for the sake of clarity, the titular “Magic School” is not for literal magic, but rather magic tricks. These places do exist in South Korea- I’ve seen them. Well, from the outside. Anyway, right away we have the first prospective student. Na-ra (played by Jinyoung) wants to be somewhat more interesting than a reasonably intelligent civil servant. He goes through college life wondering when he’s going to get some sort of gimmick or hobby when bam! Magic! Pops out of nowhere in a scene that is funny mainly because of the supporting cast.
That’s the odd place “Magic School” is in. The drama is reasonably funny, but not because of its four leads, who are all competing to be the most straight-laced main character. I’m completely seriously- when the four finally meet in the fourth episode, they all compete to be the least noticeable, apparently terrified that their character quirks will be discovered because they are all just perfectly normal people who want to learn magic.
Jay (played by Yoon Park) does have a pretty good excuse for this, on account of his being an actual famous magician who really should be beyond needing tutelage from a private magic academy. Then again, I’d be nervous too if I couldn’t perfectly time a magic trick that will kill me if I do it wrong. There’s also Seong (played by Kang Yoo-je) who is too smart and stiff for magic.
But my favorite of the bunch is Joon (played by Nickhyun), a doctor who grew up in the United States. In contrast to the usual cool portrayal of such characters, Joon is a total dork. Nickhyun sells this performance quite well, despite being a fairly attractive actor. Unfortunately, the main important aspect of his character is literally untranslatable. Apparently Joon speaks Korean very poorly. As far as I can tell, he speaks it exactly as well as every other character, and certainly better than me. Although maybe that’s the joke?
There’s not really that much to analyze in the first four episodes because they are entirely introductory. Like, literally, the fourth one ends with their all finally being accepted into the school and running laps (?) for training. So right now the plot’s pretty rudimentary. Still, the production has been pretty good at nailing its gags so far, even if the drama is in the odd position of having its random supporting cast be the main ones setting up the jokes rather than the four leads themselves.
Review by William Schwartz
“Magic School” is directed by Kim Do-won-I, written by Kim Do-hyeon, and features Jinyoung, Yoon Park, Nichkhun and Ryu Seung-soo.
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