Recently, I have been scoring every streaming service to find a show to binge when I had the free time. I was looking for a show with romance, but also suspense. As I was scoring through Netflix’s anime series, Black ( 블랙 ) popped up. Black may not be an anime, but it was everything I wanted and more!
This South Korean fantasy thriller first debuted overseas last fall, and now it’s finally available for American viewers to binge and be wowed by. Written by Choi Ran and directed by Kim Hong-sun, the series follows Hang Moo-gang/Black, a detective possessed by the Grim Reaper who falls for Kang Ha-ram, a mortal woman who can foresee death, whenever she isn’t wearing her sunglasses. Together, the two break the rules of the afterlife by trying to save people’s lives, and they evidently find themselves sucked into a dangerous collision of worlds both earthly and beyond. What’s special about the show, however, is that it masterfully toes the line between genres with each episode, all while remaining visually lush.
Black ( 블랙 ) is not the kind of show you can half-commit to (especially if you don’t speak Korean and you are reading subtitles); there are a lot of characters and events to keep track of, which is why it lends itself so well to a binge-watch. You’d likely forget half of the most crucial plot points if you took an extended break between episodes, it’s just a testament to the vast complexity of the series. Personally, I had to rewatch a few episodes to make sure I was fully understanding what was occurring in the episodes.
It’s the kind of show that’s immensely fun to consume as you go along, and best entered with as little information as possible. Each scene is more compelling than the last, and there’s significance to be found even in the smallest moments, which is exactly why your undivided attention is so necessary. The cast brings their A-game, adding little pieces to the puzzle with every revelation and making you wonder why it took you so damn long to just cave and get addicted to K-drama already. If you’re skeptical about the fantasy elements, don’t let that scare you off; it’s integrated so intelligently that it drives each development home even further.
Ha-ram’s character growth throughout the series is absolutely beautiful. She goes from being an introvert with no friends, to interacting with many people in order to save their lives or to save others. Even the character growth of Black is quite phenomenal. He goes from being a ruthless grim reaper, to angrily confused on how the human world works, and being overwhelmed by all the emotions a human has. Black and Ha-ram make a great team because they rely on one another and each are essential to one another’s existence.
If you aren’t feeling hooked from the first episode, don’t worry – you aren’t alone. The mixing of tones may seem a little jarring, but taking a chance on Black ( 블랙 ) evidently provides a massive reward. There’s slapstick comedy, melodrama, and actually shocking twists, and just when you think you know where things are going, Black ( 블랙 ) throws you for another loop. It’s a long journey, if you’re committed enough, we think you’ll find the trek worth it because the ending is one you would never expect.