13 October 2012


Vampire Shows: US Vamps vs. Korean Vamps

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on October 13, 2012
Vampire Diaries Season 4 premiered last Thursday. This is a perfect opportunity to do a different kind of comparison: US Vampires vs. Korean Vampires.
Americans have the upper hand in terms of quantity - well, the vampire hype has been going on for a while over there. And I've actually seen quite a lot of US vamp shows. You know, before I became Korazy, I was Vamprazy.

Blood Ties (which is technically not a US but a Canadian show): I remember Christina Cox as Vicky Nelson. That's it. And I do remember that I liked her in it, because Vicky Nelson is a great character and she portrayed her well. Moonlight: I remember Alex O'Loughlin as Mick St. John, but that's it. Ah, no, something else: there is one episode with mummies and an Egyptian museum... I think. Or hang on, was that in Blood Ties? Or was that in the Blood Ties' books?? Dammit, there's this vampire mess in my head. (Actually, I also thought that Mick St. John is the vampire who is with Vicky Nelson - probably because he's also a good character, all in all - but that's not the case). Kindred, the Embraced: I know I watched it but I don't remember a thing - apart from the fact that it was terrible from beginning to end, super kitschy and visually terrifying (but not intentionally). I think it is set in California (LA?) and the main actor has sleazy black hair. Don't ever watch it if you can help it.

Of course, there's also the mother of all vampire shows, which is Buffy: I've only seen a few episodes. I know that this eternally disqualifies me in the eyes of some people, but I never got into it. All I do know is that I liked Angel (and that I used to like Bones when I watched it because Angel, err David Boreanaz, is also in it). 

That's all in the past now and should remain there - but don't forget the two current shows, True Blood and Vampire Diaries. True Blood has gotten progressively worse since it's first episode and I just follow because I'm sometimes nostalgic; I did go crazy over it once, after all. There are too many parallel story-lines, 80% of which don't interest me one bit, it's emotionally flat, there is no character development, and there is too much sex. I'm so over constantly horny vampires and their annoying display of über-virility. It's simply b.o.r.i.n.g. I get that HBO wants to overcompensate for the prudery on other American channels, but a show just doesn't get any better if there's more screwing. Or screwing on blood. Or screwing when drinking blood. Or drinking blood and thinking about screwing. ETC.

Vampire Diaries on the other hand has gotten progressively better. Though many of the side-characters are and remain annoying (namely: Caroline, Jeremy, Bonnie, Matt, Tylor) and it's far too teenagey for me overall, the two male leads are doing a decent job in portraying the brothers that are eternally doomed to love the same girl. And Nina Dobrev is doing a good job in portraying a woman who is struggling with her love for the two brothers and loooooooots of other tragedies in her life. Okay, maybe there's too much suffering and too many super hard decisions (at least 10 in every episode) - but this show doesn't bore me. The main cause is probably the schmeksiness that is Ian Somerhalder/Damian and his palpable suffering because he doesn't get the girl. I love it when bad boys don't get the girl and can't get the girl. And he suffers so well, being so handsomly angry and all! What a shame he's not Korean!

Yes. About that. In fact - watching Vampire Diaries episode 1 of Season 4 tonight made me realize that I've been turned, too, like Elena: not into a vampire, but into a true KDrama addict. Once you've transitioned, there is no going back. And you need a constant supply of KDrama to keep living.  

Are we done discussing the US shows? Seems so.
Okay, I admit it: I really just needed an excuse to rave about Vampire Prosecutor. Vampire Prosecutor is actually the only Korean Vampire show I have watched and I think there's only ever been two (didn't go down the road that was Vampire Idol, though I hear that show was pretty funny if not insane). It's now into its second season (Korean shows usually don't come in Seasons, only on OCN) and it continues to rock my boat. It simply beats all the US vamp shows ever and in the future, too.

Paradoxically, Vampire Prosecutor isn't even a real vampire show. It's mainly a mystery-crime show in which the protagonist (Min Tae-yeon) happens to be a Vampire. The show is awesome for many reasons (like the visuals, the writing, and the directing), but particularly noteworthy is that the whole vampire-shebang, the vampire lore/myth/symbolism etc. just doesn't matter. Sure, this Prosecutor has special abilities because he is a vampire. For example, he can look at blood patterns and then knows immediately how it was caused (as in 'see' how the victim fell, how the blood splattered, etc.). Or he can painfully re-live the last moment of the dying person when tasting the victim's blood. He also fights like an ace and is vamp-strong if he wants to be (this actually makes Yeon Jung-hoon my second favorite fighter in KDramaland. Third comes Jang Hyuk. And first comes ... Lee Jun-ki! Go, Magistrate, go!). That makes him an investigator with an advantage, yes - but all the other things that drive him have nothing to do with vampirism. It's the loss of his sister that is his biggest wound and finding her is his desperation. He isn't after revenge. He doesn't covet much (though justice is one of the things he is after). He is arrogant and dry, and probably very lonely. But he always feels human, through and through - and he would be exactly the same if he weren't a vampire on the side.

And then, there's the sizzling not-quite-but-would-if-we-could-romance between him and the woman prosecutor on his team (played by Lee Young-ah, who looks gorgeous with long hair in Season 2), who happens to be a mobster's daughter. At this moment (Season 2, halfway in) she is that close to finding out that something is not-quite-right with him; in fact, I believe she knows but chooses not to think about it. This workplace almost-romance is certainly not helped along by the fact that he is a vampire - but here, too, this is not necessarily the main obstacle. He is her boss - any romantic involvement would make things very awkward. The show does an excellent job in giving us flashes of possible romance, a smile here, a look there, and you want to see that sizzling chemistry build to the point where it hurts for them to even be in the same room. Since I'm hoping for a third season, hoping very much!, I'm fine with this to continue for the rest of Season 2. In fact, I'm all for keeping potential lovers apart - because once they're together, shows tend to get boring. I think that's a general drama rule. 

And for those who don't care about romance (I hear such people exist!), there's plenty of bromance, too. The trust and friendship between Prosecutor Min Tae-yeon and one of my favorite ahjussis, Lee Won-Jong as Hwang Soon Bum, is both heartwarming and funny. And for those who like police-stuff, there's plenty of blood and gruesome murders, car chases, interrogations, putting fotos of murder victims on walls, coroner-stuff, etc. Korean Prosecutors don't just sit at their desks - they go out and investigate. Perfect drama material. And perfect execution in this case. In fact, Vampire Prosecutor is the perfect show for the whole family (over the age of 16) - there's a bit of everything and a whole lot of awesome.

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