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Alchemy of Souls: Episode 1

Alchemy of Souls is as dramatic a historical-flavored fantasy as you’d expect from the Hong sisters. Body-swap shenanigans vie with high-stakes magical duels, resulting in a promising first episode. Its real strength, however, hinges on its charmingly homicidal female protagonist and her efforts to survive in a new, weaker body.

 
EPISODE 1 WEECAP

We begin, as in all good fantasy, with a cryptic prologue, meeting a mage (Joo Sang-wook) who practices the forbidden art of soul-switching — moving one soul to another body. It’s a morally dubious magic: a soul can clash with its host body, causing it to lose energy and attack other living beings, all the while gradually becoming stone.

Our mage has been summoned by his king (Park Byung-eun). Things are tense as the king is deathly sick and cannot stand the thought of dying without an heir. Just one week, he says. Let me switch bodies/souls with you for one week.

This seems not at all suspicious. So, holding out a mysterious glass orb, in a stunning display of CGI theatrics — seriously, the visuals in this show are beautifully bombastic — the mage performs the spell.

Turns out, the king had his own agenda (who’d have thunk?): to seduce the mage’s wife in the hopes that she’ll bear his child. (Side note: I don’t love the way sexual deception is so casually used to engineer drama, but we’ll see if that’s explored in later episodes.)

Alchemy of Souls is set in the fictional kingdom of Daeho. Long ago, the energy of the sky collided with the ground to create the magically supercharged Lake Gyeongcheondaeho, around which Daeho was built. Mages are people with the power to wield the lake’s energy; one of the very deadliest is our heroine, the masterful assassin NAKSU (Go Yoon-jung – for now).

Twenty years post-flashback, Naksu has fallen afoul of Daeho’s higher-ups, presumably due to her inconvenient habit of killing lots of people. Now, she faces PARK JIN (Yoo Joon-sang) – head of Songrim, the most powerful organization in the land – plus a squad of mooks that she swiftly dispatches with her sword. Atop a frozen lake, she battles for her life, though not without taking time to sardonically explain that she’s named after the sound of heads hitting the ground. How droll!

Despite her skill, she’s wounded by a well-aimed arrow from Park Jin. Fleeing, with enemies hot on her heels, she has one desperate means of survival. Grabbing the first woman she sees on Daeho’s streets, she opens up her hand to reveal a glass orb which — you guessed it! — she uses to send her soul into another body, letting her current one slump corpse-like to the ground.

Unfortunately, Jin is wise to her tricks: when he finds her body, he spots the tell-tale blue mark indicating her soul has left the building. However, when they search the other woman they find at the scene, there is no corresponding mark. Park Jin, concluding that the soul transfer must have been unsuccessful, bundles up both body and sword to return to Songrim.

As Jin and his cohorts examine Naksu’s body, we meet SEO YUL (Minhyun), a baby-faced noble who notices a bird-shaped whistle in her pocket. This clearly strikes a chord, for he has wistful memories of a girl he used to know — a girl whom he gifted that very whistle. (Our assassin remembers him too, as it later turns out, but she’s got bigger problems than a long-lost first love.)

We also meet Jin’s heir, PARK DANG-GU (Yoo In-soo), an easygoing party boy who would rather carouse in Daeho’s bars than knuckle down and study magic. He bemoans the loss of his friend, JANG WOOK (Lee Jae-wook), who has been sent away to do the latter.

Time to meet our male lead! Jang Wook is one cool customer, and currently, he has a bone to pick with a monk. He’s been patiently honing his magical theory, but his would-be master won’t teach him a single spell!

Cuttingly, Wook threatens that if the guy won’t tutor him properly, he’ll withdraw the tasty bit of funding his benefactor Jin promised. As the monk blusters over Wook’s shameful parentage, we learn that he is an illegitimate child whose father abandoned him. Hmm… sounds suspiciously prologue-relevant.

Anyway, Wook won’t stand for this slander: instead, he’ll find a better master! Someone powerful! Yeah, that’ll show ‘em!

Cut to Naksu. Except, she isn’t Naksu any longer. Instead, she’s MU-DEOK (Jung So-min), a once-blind girl with all the strength of a wet noodle — a source of interminable woe to her body’s new inhabitant.

Things take a turn for the slapstick as Mu-deok attempts to perform all the killer assassin techniques and death-defying acts of strength that came naturally to her before, only to pratfall repeatedly.

It’s slightly jarring compared to the earlier moody atmosphere, but Jung So-min really sells it: her exasperated glances are reminiscent of a cat with ruffled fur, and it’s very easy to find her endearing as she scarfs meat to pacify her body’s growling stomach and thinks longingly of murder when a passerby makes her drop her chicken skewer.

Mu-deok is still in peril: she must escape the gisaeng house to whom her body’s previous owner has been sold. Here, our leads finally collide. Wook is searching for the notorious assassin Naksu, who — if she survived — might be the only person fearless enough to break the seal his father placed on his magical abilities. Because yeah, as it turns out, there’s more to the monk thing than first met the eye: nobody dares countermand his father’s will and teach him spell work.

In one of this episode’s funniest scenes, an escaping Mu-deok threatens Wook with the first weapon that comes to hand: a crab leg from his nearby dinner tray. Wook, remarkably unperturbed for a guy about to be impaled by a crustacean, merely remarks that Mu-deok has beautiful eyes.

Although Mu-deok manages to tumble out the window before Wook can do something awful like compliment her again (the reproachful glance he sends her after she grabs his purse made me cackle with delight), she is quickly apprehended. After a swift bop on the head, she wakes up in the Jang residence: Wook has rescued her, purchasing her from the gisaeng house.

Here, things get cute. Wook clearly recognizes that Mu-deok isn’t who she claims to be. However, instead of confronting her, his plan is to make her fetch water for his bath, then complain about it being too hot, only to whine that it’s too cold when she adjusts it, ad infinitum until she snaps and resorts to violence. It’s not a terrible plan. She fantasizes vividly about murdering him. However, with no magical skill to speak of, it’s all she can do to grin (unconvincingly) and bear it.

Awkward misadventures abound. When Wook discovers Mu-deok, who was attempting to steal his gate pass, hiding under his bed covers, he remarks, deadpan, that this was not what he had in mind when he brought her here. Her hasty excuse is that she was trying to warm his bed, to which he replies that, if that’s the case, she should warm his bed all night… with this brazier here, where she can fan the fire.

His toneless delivery, along with Mu-deok’s blank disdain at the innuendo, make the scene — and, although Wook’s attempt to tease Mu-deok is a little uncomfortable, it’s clear his only purpose is to psyche her out until she reveals she’s an assassin.

The chemistry between them is blisteringly awkward, and I am here for it. Mu-deok’s incredulous certainty that Wook has somehow fallen for her, paired with Wook’s failure to understand why this cutthroat assassin is being so weirdly polite, hits that comedic sweet spot. The characters are baffled by one another, but the actors know exactly what they’re doing. It’s got delicious potential: eventually, there’ll be sparks, but right now they’re fumblingly alarmed by the other’s existence.

Whilst Wook pretends to sleep, Mu-deok steals his pass in order to escape. She does not, however, get far. Mysterious cloaked figures — associated, it seems, with the man who hired Mu-deok — have set fire to the Songrim building, and in the ensuing chaos, Mu-deok is nearly caught again. She is rescued by – Wook, who pulls her to safety.

She asks him why he’s here. Because, he says, of her eyes. In the moonlight, they gleam as blue as the mark left on Naksu’s body. Mu-deok has been seen for who she is: Naksu’s soul in a new body. And Wook is determined that she be his master.

Whilst the silliness of Alchemy of Souls occasionally misfires, this show has great potential. I was excited by the premise, and my excitement has only ratcheted up after that delightful ending.

Most of all, I love Mu-deok, and can’t wait to see her struggle with her desperate yen to murder people in Episode 2.

 
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“Jinxed at First” has me in an absolute mood regarding women being forced to do things (possibly sexual) that they don’t want to do, so my first instinct was to yell when the body-swapping king both slept with the mage’s sweetheart and gloated about it. Ick. Ick in so many ways, if we could just generally remove rape as storyline motivators I would not be as yelly a human.

BUT the show did somewhat redeem itself by making sure that Wook really didn’t get creepy when he had so many opportunities to do so. And better yet, the actor isn’t even making it part of the portrayal - WE know it, because MD rightfully is on her guard and preparing for the creepiest possible interpretation, but Wook has a longer plan and it’s not lecherous, it actually makes sense and values her for her professional skills.

I could have done with less CGI fighting. But maybe they got it out of their system and now we can focus on a much more fun secret training and plotting and teamwork thing. So I’ll stick around.

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The whole King sleeping with the sweetheart thing made little sense. The king's soul may now be in the mages body but it was still the mage's body and any child would still be the mage's despite the king's declaration otherwise. Said sweetheart was very willing- because she thought she was in fact sleeping with the mage. The Hong sister's draw ideas from myth and legend and the obvious parallel was the fathering of the future King Arthur upon the wife of the Duke of Cornwall after Merling had put a glamour upon him to make her think he was her husband. But they missed the mark here. Or did they? It is possible that said former king may have realized that he had in fact failed to accomplish his goal of an heir with the birth of the child? After all once he switched bodies he was not the king anymore- and that this was not really his child after all- and had started the rumor that the child was the product of an affair. Sealing away the child's power was really an act of spite. Just a hypothesis of course but we will see where it goes.

The fighting was distinctly similar to what we see in Chinese Wuxia dramas. We will probably see more of it even though the main focus is on the magic.

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I thought of Arthurian legend too, but it’s the whole soul-swapping thing that’s got me squinting. And the king knew he was biologically the mage (and seemingly prepared this whole plan) so I assume there’s some soul-essence stuff in play here that means you might be able to father a kid using someone else’s body…?

As for willing - if you happily eat a piece of candy and then later find out it was actually a decoy candy that burned a hole through your stomach, I think that cancels out the happiness of the candy in the first place. It’s what always bothers me in body-swap seductions: she almost always finds out. And no matter how blameless she is in the moment, can you imagine what the knowledge did to her? That’s the sort of reality-shattering stuff that makes you seal yourself off in a tower for the rest of your life - not out of shame, but out of an inability to trust anyone or your own senses ever again. Awful.

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Although the story is not elaborated in the original 12th century account by Geoffrey of Monmouth there is every reason to believe that Igraine did in fact realize that she had been duped not long after the seduction happened. This is because that very same night Gorlois was killed by Uther's men. She did not have to be a genius to know that something was wrong.

In fact, it provides an explanation for the ease with which the baby Arthur was surrendered to Merlin, to be taken away- with absolutely no one believing that he was the heir to the now dead Duke Gorlois. Whatever Arthur was the one thing he would never be was the Duke of Cornwall, a title which still exists and is presently held by Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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There is a similar story in Indian Mythology which is about Indra, the king of gods shapeshifting to a mage to sleep with his wife.

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"The whole King sleeping with the sweetheart thing made little sense"
To me it does: the king is dying, but people still obey him. His mage, who can do soul-swapping, happens to be married to a beautiful woman... I think he didn't want the baby, but to enjoy some earthly pleasures with that fine lady before his demise.

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What is up with everyone's hair?!

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I assume the hairstylists decided to take a lot of liberties because this is a fantasy and a fusion sageuk lol
I'm okay with Dang-gu's hair because it illustrates his easy, breezy personality (but how are they going to explain his pristine bleaching?), but I am not so sold with Cho-yeon's.

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A kpop group said "for our new comeback let's go for the concept 'Goryeo with swag'", that's how this drama happened.

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I decided to go with my gut instinct and just avoid this in end.
Have fun everyone~!

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I found the opener a combination of Harry Potter, Hong Kong martial arts and Naruto. There was a lot of information thrown at us but without much context (a writer’s trap of knowing but not expressing the meaning of many things). Will the high budget special effects overcome the weakest part of the story so far: the soul shifters? The start is the typical MA revenge so soul swapping does not add much drama.

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OMG, me too. I thought it was because I had been rewatching Naruto Shippudden, thanks for the affirmation. lol

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This was definitely much better than I expected in terms of storyline, dialogue, and special effects *whew* Finally, Jung Somin gets a drama where she can showcase all aspects of her spectacular acting. I love the witty/dry humor thrown in & the unexpected twists at every corner. The 60+ minutes just flew. I'm cautiously optimistic, but this is THE fun summer drama that I've been waiting for!!

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I really had fun with the first 2 episodes. Gives us a fairly interesting world, and a decent setup, though the bit with the body swapping the king and mage would probably have more weight if we cared about either character. The CG was pretty solid, and I enjoyed some of those set pieces (though I'd like more interesting fight choreography).

I'm here for our leads, and luckily they both seem pretty great. Tragic backstories ahoy! Jung So-min is getting to play up the snark and side eyes, and Lee Jae-wook has a fairly chipper disposition considering his "father" sealed away his energy (for some reason?).

Watched it on Netflix and it said the episode count is going to be 30?! Is that correct? Seems super long by modern kdrama standards. I'm in for at least another week though!

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According to this Korea Herald article (https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20220615000732) the first 'part' is 20 episodes but the director seems to think 20 isn't going to be enough so they're already planning a part 2 - I'm guessing either the 30 ep listing on netflix is a typo or is making reference to the 'part two' thats being planned maybe?

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Yah! Thought I saw 30 eps by mistake, but you saw it too. What ev. If the Hong sistahs can stay engaged past ep 10, it will be a miracle, right?

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Right? When I read about the two parts thing I was like exciting but is it?! Time will tell I suppose hahahah

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I mean the plot is progressing rather quickly for a 20-episode drama, so I wonder about the extension.

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yeah a little, I hope it slows down a tad next week now that we've already quickly assembled all the pieces OR that there's a bigger storyline/multiple storylines waiting - the absolute worst would be if the show decided to rush through at the beginning and then drag everything out excruciatingly in the middle

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The first episode had distinct echos of a Chinese Wuxia or Xuanhuan costume drama epic. The fabulous NIRVANA IN FIRE has fifty-two episodes so a longer show would simply be consistent with that approach if the Hong sisters are indeed emulating those dramas.

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great point actually, probably is in line with that notion

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Seriously? Twenty episodes is plenty to tell the story if the Hong Sisters just buckle down and tell it without throwing in unnecessary stuff.

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I saw someone mention thirty episodes somewhere else. I really hope that is not the case.

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I wish the Four Seasons children had powers related to their seasons: spring rain (or flower petals), summer sun, fall wind, and winter ice. So mages are not born with powers à la Harry Potter, but learn magic? Since Wook is the king's son, I wondered if his father cast the spell on him because Kang knew Wook couldn't practice magic.

Did Kang even switch bodies back in a week? Since the king was weak and near-death, how could he have performed the spell? They better not have slut-shamed Do-hwa for having an affair with her own husband.

I don't believe Naksu's soul is the reason why Mu-deok can see. I suspect Mu-deok has her own secret in pretending to be blind. I'm rooting for Naksu to get revenge on the mages for killing her family, but she may waver over her first love Yul before eventually falling for Wook.

Thanks a bunch for weecapping, @alathe!

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The body switch thing was confusing but I guess they did switch back - the king died quickly, the mage realized his wife was pregnant (and hopefully wasn’t a dick about it until she died), and Wook was born.

I assume that the mage blocked Wook’s ability to do magic partly to thwart the king, who seems to have slept with the mage’s unknowing wife both because he’s an absolutely creepy skeeze and because he wanted an heir. So there may be another layer where the king planned for his minions to elevate Wook to the throne, and the mage stripping magic from him made it impossible or at least unlikely?

While we’re at it, who does everyone think Wook’s real father is?! And why is everyone so casual about it, with his mom’s husband gone?

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Wook's dad situation is so interesting, because the way I see it I guess technically the mage dad is his biological dad and but his 'soul' dad is the king since the he was in possession of the body at the time - so the answer seems to be both maybe??

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I wondered if it was even possible for the rapist king - if he had lived long enough- to have made Wook the heir by saying "he doesn't have my blood! But my soul was there when I used my mage's body to make the heir!" I guess we'll see if the soul is a strong enough entity in the drama's world to make that argument. Making such an argument would also mean admitting to dabbling in forbidden magic. The whole soul-shifting thing is known to be used by bad guys, who have been going around killing mages.

I wondered if Jang Kang blocked Wook's magic as a way to protect him. It seems like mages still have to obey a king and be used by him. That is one less mage the royal family has under their disposal.

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My guess is that both are his parents and he might eventually be able to make a claim to the throne down the line

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Wooks father I think, is Jang Gang. Both by soul and by blood. The king being in the mix provided reasonable doubt as per soul paternity. But there are several things to consider, mainly the EDD window. Perhaps she was already a few days/few weeks(max 2) gone before the rapist king went on a rampage. Had she given birth way much earlier- before the window, he wouldn't have to doubt.

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The show makes a great deal out of the rumor that Wook is the product of an affair without disclosing details.

Also- someone is sitting on that throne as king already. How does Wook get elevated to an occupied throne?

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Right, but isn’t it curious that everyone seems to know Wook is someone else’s kid without mentioning whose kid he is?

As for there being a sitting king, without a war he’s likely a brother or nephew or cousin of the old king. Plenty of placeholder kings in history… not that they view themselves that way, but the people who elevate a candidate with a “better” hereditary claim certainly make that case.

For the old king to regret not having an heir and then promptly go deceive a woman into sleeping with him, I assume he had some sort of plan. If not for immediate succession, then maybe plans to be carried out by others. Wook gets elevated by killing or disqualifying the current king. Not saying it’s easy, but in sageuks and history hardly uncommon.

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Technically mages have "energy" that they use to cast spells, however Jang Wook's energy is blocked, so he can't use magic.

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Thanks, @panshel - glad you enjoyed! :)

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Decided to give ep 1 a try, and surprisingly I’m charmed enough to want to stay on for a couple more eps, at least to see how it pans out! The 2 leads have been convincing enough so far; am not really a big fan of Jung So Min, but I forgot that she can do comedy well, and it works for the body-switch scenario. I do have to say the original Naksu is way more of a scene stealer tho! I’m so glad to see Go Yoon Jung back, she won me over in Law School, and I had/have high hopes for her, if she can get good roles 😍 The older supporting cast are pretty big names in their own right, n always reliable. The main letdown for me is the younger supporting cast, eg the rest of the “4 seasons” - did the show run out of budget after spending too much on the CGI, so they could only afford to cast such young n inexperienced idol actors/actresses…?!? Sighhhh. They just always look so blank on screen n cannot emote, I mean of course everyone has to start “somewhere”, but to cast [too many of] them in such assumedly key roles is just pushing it I feel, n wld really be a pity if they become the Achilles heel of such a grand sweeping fantasy tale. Sigh, we shall see…

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Original Naksu is definitely worth more attention. As goofy as the mage-assassin premise is, she was pretty compelling and I’ll be sad if we don’t see more of her.

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Are all the idols from the same agency that is owned by the production company? 🤣

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I originally became interested in the show because of Jung So Min but when I first looked into it I hesitated because historical kdrama not my thing. Plus, lots of criticism of the Hong sisters. But after the heavy promotion this last week - character and family descriptions, the gorgeous visuals and finally the 5 minute "preview", I got up early in Sat morning to watch Ep. 1 and I am hooked for the long haul. Jung So Min didn't disappoint and the show's director (and the script writers) knows what they are doing to promote this synergistic partnership/pairing. Lots of other stories and relationships that will be explored as well. And the visuals! Just stunning. Did I say I was hooked?

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STUNNING. This show is a stunning feast for the eyes - I rewatched the 4 seasons introduction sequence at least one million times because it was so damn pretty ❤️ An hour episode turned into two because was too busy staring at all the pretty that I couldn't focus on subtitles, and while the CGI and green screening might not be Marvel quality all the time, I think it's very, very nicely done given the budget it's likely on - the effects for the mage powers in particular are so beautiful

The plot (or at least what we know of it) seems like it'll be typical high fantasy, that's not a complaint at all because HIGH FANTASY 😍Characters are all starting to build their homes in my heart (yes despite what little we've learnt about them, go figure - I guess that's how excited I am) and especially intrigued by our anti-hero (?) FML. Plus, while I was already excited for LJW and JSM (and they delivered thus far) I hadn't read up on anything else too much prior, so you bet my sad Nu'est heart was given the biggest jump start when Minhyun appeared on screen 😍

I do have a billion questions about the lore etc. and the plot points that have been set up so far but granted it's only episode one I'll hold off any further judgement till later. Suffice to say I love what I saw - even if the plot goes haywire and becomes straight garbage fire after this point, I will happily watch till the end of 20 episodes for the visuals alone.

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First episode - For me it's better than Bulgasal. I understand this show better. Minus the King's act.

I'm aware of the special effect while they were fighting, but somehow the director made it look so beautiful that I don't fast forward the fighting scenes! This show is fun & dark but not too dark (yet)

Looks like this month this show will be one of my favorite along with Link!

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The last Hong Sisters fantasy drama that I could sit through was My Gf is a Gumiho. Which actually turned out to be quite a breezy watch. This one was way too confusing even in the 20 mins that I lasted for.

It’s a no for me.

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For a tv show, great CGI so far. Love the cinematography and overall color display. Also I didn't know this was a Studio Dragon production until I watched the show.
As for the show itself, the premise had my curiosity from the beginning when it was announced and the first episode definitely tickled me. Obviously watched the second episode too and though at times some sequences felt rushed, I like it. The cast is doing well and I believe it's only going to get better.
Oh and of course, JSM and LJW are doing amazing. And hey, let's hear it for JWookie's first leading role. 👏 👏👏

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Oh I totally forgot DODOSOLSOLLALASOL's existence 😅😅 let's collectively ignore that one okay??? 😀

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HAHAH I also conveniently forgot that drama happened dw

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I'm not much of a fantasy person and found most of it pretty cheesy. The first Naksu was compelling. I was sad to lose her, but then I'm not much of a Jung So Min fan. I think she's better in contemplative roles than in comedy.

The costumes were .... interesting. They really overdid the makeup on the men. LJW is a manly dude but with all the makeup and that hairdo, he looked rather matronly.

They are obviously wanting to tell a sprawling take, which is cool, but I don't trust the Hong Sisters to keep it tight and tell it.

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"Matronly" 😂😂😂😂😂

I love the combination of historic-flavored costumes and varied, mostly modern hair - male headgear sadly is a fantasy-killer for me.

Whether this ends up being 20 episodes or 30, I doubt the Hongs can maintain focus for more than 10, but I am here for the pretty and for all the crustaceans and bickering they can sell during the first few weeks.

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Also, thanks, @alathe !

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Thanks, @Elinor - happy you enjoyed it! :)

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When I first saw Mu-deok in bulky (around the middle) servants garb my mind went back to Ba-woo (Jung Il-woo) in BOSSAM. He was dressed like a babushka. Mu-deok is not that bad but definitely not the most stylish if you will.

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As for Wook (LJW) his is thin (as are the other young Four Seasons I guess) and his costuming accents that.

O/T If you saw LJW’s work in MOVE TO HEAVEN where he played a boxer you got a look at his physique. I am sure he trained for that role because he looked in great shape (still thin) and his boxing scenes were excellent.
So for me under the clothes he is wearing he is in good shape and eventually will be a fine sword handler.

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LOL! "Charmingly homicidal" I am definitely charmed every time Mu-deok mentally sentences people to her "to kill when I get my power back!" list. I love how the music changes when she monologues dangerously.

I loved the first week! I was really skeptical from the previews since the previews just emphasized the ML bossing the FL around. When it finally aired, I was impressed by how large-scale the setting is. Even though there was a lot of CGI in the lake battle, I loved it, and it was beautiful and thrilling to see one young female mage/assassin battle it out with a dozen dudes. I loved how the drama really leaned in to the fantasy world. The actress who played OG Naksu was charismatic, and i hope to see her lead a future drama. Jung So-min and LJW are also killing it and have great chemistry. The older actors - Joo Sang Wook and Yoo Jun Sang- are also looking amazing.

It's the sort of fantasy storytelling you don't see a lot in kdramas. You see it in cdramas and probably in video games and manhwa. I think the last time I got a similar historical fantasy thrill from a kdrama was Tae wang sa shin gi, which had things like mythical guardians and powers.

Even if this drama goes downhill, I am impressed by what it is trying to do and bring to the kdrama landscape.

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Love Jung Uk and Mu Deok's chemistry ❤ I hope they don't go the Hotel Del Luna route and give us more squeals! The Hong Sisters have quirky humour sense and not an all in comedy, so I want Jung So Min to throw a bit more of herself into the comic scenes as I feel her awkward in some scenes, but with the theme of soul switching the awkwardness feels reasonable and intentional. The story is interesting thus far and and an hour flew by quickly.

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@alathe Welcome to dramabeans (I have never seen your recaps before, so you must be a new comer or I just did not watch the shows you recapped😅)! Nice recap.

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Aww, thanks, @emsel! I am indeed new to dramabeans - really glad you enjoyed! :)

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I loved episode one. A lot went on and I may do a rewatch to get the basics down of this fantasy word. Lee Jae-wook and Jung So-min are terrific together.

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There were some interesting parts.

I'm not convinced by the 4 seasons' acting yet. But their description looked good, poor Fall, he just cut wheat (why when Fall is the period to sow...). They looked a little too modern with their haircut.

Naksu wants to revenge her parents death, I wonder how it's connected with the 4 families. She was funny in Mu-Deok's body.

Wook is the son of the King? How the King thought to put him on the throne if everybody thinks he's the Mage's son?

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hahahah yes poor Fall - the other seasons got comparatively cooler shots of them looking pretty and/or wielding their ability but poor Yul only got to cut like three wheat stems 😂 - good thing Minhyun is pretty enough to distract but would've been cooler if he'd been given some sick as background of a forest full of falling autumn leaves and breezy autumn wind or something!

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After Spring and Summer, I was expecting a lot for him but the poor guy just cut some wheat stems and it was over. I think Maximus in Gladiator walking in a wheat field was more remarkable 😂😅😅

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I have only seen one drama by de Hong Sister: Hotel del Luna, which I stopped after a few episodes.

But the first impression is quite good. The story and the world created are so interesting that I felt well entertained. The visuals are also very appealing.

And when the two main characters are constantly bickering, as they do here, then I'm happy to watch this show.

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I liked this premier and I think/hope it's going to be a fun watch

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I decided to watch the first couple of episodes of this show since it was on Netflix and easy to access. So far it's been pretty good, and I think I'll continue to watch it.

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What I like most in a Hong sisters drama is their quirky sense of humour, A Korean Odyssey, another one of their fantasies, has so much of it. What happened, where is it all gone? The humour here is so disappointingly lame and cheesy and I do not blame the actors.

The cast is the nicest bit so far. I like the combination of seasoned and very rookie actors and I am a particular fan of Lee Jae-wook and Jung So-min. For their sake I hope that the drama will improve.

Too much CGI for my liking, even if it is well done, and a lot of necessary explanations of the rules for this fantasy world. I do not watch many fantasies of this kind and had to concentrate quite hard to understand. I like the 4 season mages and Mu-deok having to work without the powers she used to have.

Not all bad, but not as good as I hoped.

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Like others I found the beginning of our story a bit shaky, the interaction between the king and the mage felt like it should have been high stakes but with zero context it was just confusing. With 20 or more episodes I fell like they could have dedicated a larger chunk of time establishing their characters and motivations.

That aside, I'm much happier with the present storytelling.

A miffed cat is the perfect way to describe Jung So-Min's Naksu and I'm enjoying her thoroughly - her entire bridge scene was just hilarious and her more serious scenes in episode 2 were strong.

The leads have surprising chemistry as bumbling as it is at the moment which is promising - I can watch a trash fire plot until its hot mess conclusion so long as I'm still enjoying the characters.

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Im so sold. Jung Somin is hilarious as the badass assassin stuck in a weak body, I almost feel bad for her 😂. This is a nice change from all the dark/heavy dramas going on now the show is really beautiful to watch and the story not too complex to understand. its a yes from me.

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Jang Wook's character is loosely inspired by Bihyung-rang, I think. Bihyung-rang was a Silla man who was born from the union between King Jinji and a lady named Dohwanyeo (Jang Wook's mother is also named Dohwa). Dohwa was the most beautiful woman of the kingdom, and King Jinji wanted to have her. Yet Dohwa was already married, and she refused to have two husbands (which was unexpected of her because I read that married people in Silla could have lovers). So the king asked if she would serve him if her husband died, and she said yes. A few years later, King Jinji died after being dethroned for his licentiousness, and Dohwa became a widow. It is assumed that the ghost of King Jinji could not forget Dohwa's promise, so he went to her house and Dohwa slept with him because he was the king. He spent one week with her, just like the King of Daeho asked Jang Wook. King Jinji sired Bihyung-rang during his affair with Dohwa, subsequently Bihyung-rang was considered to have a ghost father. Jinji's successor, Jinpyeong, was very fascinated about the boy, thus he got him to be raised in the palace and gave him a royal post when he came of age.

In terms of personality, Bihyung-rang was considered to be crafty and could talk to ghosts and command them. I was thinking that the former trait is also present in Jang Wook in the way he quickly pieced up Naksu's identity and how he tracked her down.

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"Bihyung" is his name (full name: Kim Bihyung) and "rang" is a form of address like "-nim".

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It's an interesting story! Thank you for sharing it!

There is no denying that Silla was really better for women!

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The comedic transition here gets me off guard. Not noticing when they've gone into that genre...well done.

The CGI here is really good, especially with the magic. But I hope they limit it during the sword scenes, it seems animatic and branching into chinese wuxia elements.

There's no way I'm not coming back for more. The comedy, the story at the point it is now, is really interesting.

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Well, that was waaaaaay more entertaining and less silly than I thought it would be. The fantasy elements are not fully fleshed out, but I'm not usually too fussy about the world building as long as it looks pretty and makes some sense. The show is gorgeous to look at, the leads are fun together, and although I can easily see the story falling apart (I loved both Korean Odyssey and Hotel Luna a LOT for the first the several episodes and then started to get distracted and frustrated), I'll enjoy it while I can. All I really wanted from this one is for it to be fun and not boring, and so far, so good.

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I enjoyed these episodes despite the weaknesses described already by other beanies, including the confusing king/mage soul swap, and patchy acting by the non lead four seasons characters. I'm loving MD/Naksus ever growing kill list as well as the chemistry between the leads. I sincerely hope the 30 episode rumour is untrue, 20 might even be stretching it...

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Alchemy of Souls reminds me so much of an wuxia and i’m loving it!

Also i loved the original Naksu!

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We loved the first two episodes. I wanted to watch it for Jung So-min and she did not disappoint but our ML also delivered. The cinematography is great and the costumes are even well done- and not the "Joseon standard" styles either- making the setting in a mythical land that much more believable.

These episodes were well put together. I hope that the rest of the drama can match it.

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The good – Jung So min and Lee Jae Wook
The bad – hairstyles, idol and inexperienced actors, wooden acting from second lead, jarring transition to slapstick comedy
The ugly – The rape
On the fence – world building and fantasy elements
Verdict – Continue watching for now…
Prediction for the ending – 90% chance of going horribly wrong

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"Prediction for the ending – 90% chance of going horribly wrong"
At least in this drama they burned the body of the FL, so Big won't happen again.

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Oh, no, I've just realised we might still have a case of Mr Queen or Oh My Ghostess 🥶.

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So hero is now both prince (by the king's declaration and will) and magician (by virtue of biology and the body being the chief mage's)...and of course, there are two others (crown prince and assistant gwangu) whom he really outranks, if truth be known. I'm loving this. I see battles and machinations ahead...But ya know...heroes gotta prove themselves.

Heroine is so meta and sardonic. She's sure of herself and her cockiness matches Wook's. I;m hooked.

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I like it but did keep giggling that the 4 Seasons are like F4 (ok, w/one girl) complete with Lee Jae Wook’s Jun Pyo-like poodle hair 😂

Also, is it my tv or is there an amazing amount of jade/seafoam/mint/celadon green being used? It’s everywhere to the point of being distracting but then again I’m just like that 🤓

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I didnt really expect to enjoy AOS this much. Its such a culture shock for me as I am so used to the usual serious tone when it comes to fantasy dramas hence I get so thrown off when there's a serious discussion going on and LJW just throws in a joke all of a sudden, its really enjoyable!

For the beginning, I was really taken aback and disturbed with the sexual factors (also ladies, would you fall for a "you are so beautiful" line??? I mean that was how it was translated for me on Netflix but I'm not sure for other sites) between the soul swapper and the woman as we had just begun and I was not expecting that at all. What is this ongoing theme with kdramas recently??

Also did anyone else find that Yul looked like a discount Cha Eun Woo? I had to do a double take to make sure it wasnt actually him.

Nevertheless, I'm hoping the show carries on well and doesnt divert tremendously, seeing that we have a decent cast here.

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The actor who plays Yul is Minhyun from Nu’est (and also formerly Wanna One). If anything, Minhyun made his debut in the entertainment industry before Eun Woo did.

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I wanted to see of anyone else noticed the Arthurian parallels, and many have. We have our Uther, Merlin and Arthur expys; which makes Naksu Morgana le Fay? she certainly is a poweful magician. If she is the former King's daughter does it count as I incest if you're not biologically related but are siblings by soul swapped parents.

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I noted that too especially since Uther pretended to be Arthur's mom's husband and raped her to conceive Arthur.

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Not going to lie - I have never live-watched a drama before. I usually wait until the drama ends, read a fairly non-spoilery review, and then decide whether to spend time on it or not. I just want to make sure they stick the landing, you know? But then I joined this community, and realized what fun it can be to talk about it as it's going on - even if the drama ends up being a total train wreck. So here I am, tentatively dipping my toes into the live-watching pool, with a drama that might be amazing or might be terrible, but seems unlikely to be somewhere in between. Should be a good ride either way!

And all that to say: I really liked the first episode! I don't have a problem with the costumes/hairstyles like some other folks did, I'm honestly relieved that they made them adjacent to historical Korean garments/styles without copying them exactly - inventing your own culture can be amazing, but can also quickly go off the rails and turn into cultural appropriation or an unintentional parody of something, so it's nice that they seem to be avoiding that here.

I, like so many others, was totally charmed by the interactions of our leads, and I'm excited to see how their relationship plays out! I did find the king/mage body swap a little confusing - I thought that the mage would take more convincing than that, and to do it with his own body seems incredibly risky. I was also not clear if they eventually switched back, but I guess they must have, if the mage has been rejecting his son his whole life? Hopefully we get some clarity about that soon.

The only Hong sisters drama I've watched before this is Hotel del Luna, which I really liked (but I know is pretty divisive), so I'm hopeful going forward!

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There’s something special about live watching with the beanies, regardless of whether the drama is good or a dumpster fire. 🔥Welcome !

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When the king asked the mage Jang to switch he had an evil smirk after he said he only wanted an heir (seemed like he wanted a new body and what better then the strongest/powerful mage). I don’t believe LJW is the kings son due to still physically being the mage. He might’ve thought he could at the beginning but maybe later learned when switching souls one cannot. Also the mage Jang’s wife might’ve been pregnant already and she would’ve realized her “husband” wasn’t not really her husband by mannerism/blue mark. The king cast a spell over LJW in order to prevent his energy from being stronger than the kings. Nasuk boss the one in the black hood seems to be Mage Jang in the Kings Body, he wouldn’t have died that easily or last moment body switch. Mage Jang soul character seems too important to the plot. After all he was the most powerful. Black hooded man ( Jang mage soul) is out for revenge and can’t have powerful mages help “the king”. 😂 too many theories in my head. JSM probably had powers or was something of some kind before Nasuk soul entered. I hope it stays comedic fluffy drama, I don’t want a sad ending. aghhh they always start like this. I’ll keep watching I was expecting 16 episodes! I do love both leads 😍

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Well so far the cgi is better than it was at the end of Hwayugi😅

I’ll watch episode 2 and see how we go; I’m not that good at sticking to costume dramas even if I like them.

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