Like many others who finished AoY2, there’s a feeling of emptiness. Like being invited to a banquet and you leave still hungry.
AoY2 serves up a good dose of AoY nostalgia, a flair of the young and the restless, the innocence of youth peppered with suggestive dark elements. There’s also more attempts at humour. The bickering and shenanigans in Kang Unni’s car give me a few laughs but it is Ji Won’s impersonation of the sexy goddess that tips it over.
Let’s start with the departure of Kang Unni and arrival of newcomer Jo Eun. Season 1’s focus was mostly Kang Unni and her development. It is therefore appropriate that she’s moved on as her story did get some closure in Season 1. Sad to see her go but Season 2 doesn’t flop from her departure.
New girl Jo Eun starts off standoffish and mysterious but her character grew on me as the lanky, tomboyish girl trying to fit in. A poignant journey of self-discovery that she can be attracted to the opposite sex and can be lovable, though her love story with Jang Hoon is but a side note. The show braves into homosexual territory but doesn’t explore the subject in depth.
I really liked Chef and Jin Myung’s loveline in Season 1 and since Season 1 saw Jin Myung going away to China, my expectation was to see Season 2 pick up where the romance left off. But alas, not to be, all we have to contend with is an absentee boyfriend and Jin Myung trying to balance the reality of a corporate job especially one that’s steep in vanity and elusive dreams. The Haeimdal plotline feels like filler and doesn’t add much to the show. Remove it and I will feel no loss.
Ye Eun’s traumatic experience continues to dominate Season 2 and the show takes us through her journey as she slowly crawls out from her gothic shell into the peppy Ye Eun who can finally stand up to her snobbish family. Unreal, how these people can be considered family. New nerdy boyfriend Ho Chang is a nice twist and contrast to the showy playboy Il Joo in Season 1.
Like many others who have commented on the change in the actress playing Eun Jae, I’m no different. As unbiased as I want to be, I can’t help but compare the two and sadly, Ji Woo just doesn’t cut it for me. It does not help that the writer has made her into a sad, pathetic character in Season 2. All Eun Jae does in AoY2 is pouting and strumming up ploys to get her ex-boyfriend to notice her again. Somehow this doesn’t mesh well with Season 1’s Eun Jae who seemed more down to earth, wide-eyed but sensible. Gotta admit, I did skip quite a bit of her screen time.
The draw of Season 2 is undeniably Sung Min and Ji Won’s development. This relationship picks up from Season 1, a chemistry that borders on the mentor-mentee, bff, and gradually inching towards boyfriend-girlfriend vibes, the latter delivered with Ji Won as clueless as ever of Sung Min’s feelings for her.
The story centres around Ji Won’s search into her past and culminating with the dreaded discovery of the unthinkable and her guilt over what happened to her childhood friend.
Park Eun Bin is such an excellent character actress. As Ji Won, she plays a clueless quirky romantic, openly seeking love and yet she fails to recognize the true knight in Sung Min. She takes it for granted the one person whom in her sub-consciousness will always be there, even more than her house-mates or her family. He’s the first she reaches out to when in trouble or when she needs a partner to participate and execute her sometimes outrageous plans.
The show gives us a Sung Min that’s a person in his own. It is clear that he cares and loves Ji Won but the show does not make him into a lovesick puppy.
What AoY2 does not give us, the viewers, is the closure that sees Ji Won recognizing this fact: that her soul mate is none other than the guy-friend who’s been there all along.
Can’t deny if it weren’t for Sung Min and Ji Won I would probably not rate the show where I did. They were the rock stars. The chemistry, the acting of these two, the promise of what’s to come made AoY2 a worthwhile must watch. (8.5/10)