CUTE!!! If there is one word that can define Girl Who Sees Smells for me, it is this. The cute romance salted with murder mystery about a serial killer and punctuating everything with a supernatural ability — the result is a show which isn’t flawless but manages to find a place in your heart.
The drama centres around two people who have many things in common. Our hero is Moo Gak who lost his sister when a serial killer killed her while the same person kills our heroine Cho Rim’s parents. They both suffer from this tragedy which results in amusing consequences as she gains the ability to see smells while he loses ability to feel physical pain and tastes. Their paths cross and then starts a journey where they not only solve the mystery of the serial killer but also find peace and love in each other, and realise what they really want to do in life.
As I said before, the piece-de-resistance of this drama is its main pair of Moo Gak and Cho Rim. They are charming individually as well as together. Cho Rim is a girl who is bubbly, helpful and brave. The way she is willing to help Moo Gak in his investigations and also later, willingly wants to help the police by keeping herself in danger, all this shows how much courageous she is. She is someone you would want to be friends with — she is that sweet and loving. Moo Gak is one of the best male leads in dramaverse. His only mission was to search the man who killed his sister but I love that the drama didn’t make him a jaded, hungry-for-revenge angry young man. In fact, he is very innocent and naive, with determination but he is not a genius. He is respectful and totally sweet. I like that in the end, both realised what they really wanted to do in life.
The couple is admirable as Moo Gak and Cho Rim are both understanding and supportive, and always think and work together, without keeping the other in dark. They bicker but with a lightness. I love how normal their relationship is. They joke around, tease, do lots of cute things together and also have emotional talks. Yoochun and Shin Se Kyung charge the screen with their charming chemistry and form one of the cutest on-screen couples I’ve ever seen. You just want to squish them as they keep on being adorable. This is a couple which came out of nowhere and knocked it out of the park. The scenes where they practise or perform the comic skit, they are truly mirthful.
The drama maps out its run with a mix of development of romance and police investigations. At first, we see some episodic cases as Cho Rim becomes useful to Moo Gak but then the plot gains momentum as the main killer comes into picture again. The drama throws some red herrings in the mix to keep us guessing but ultimately lifts the curtains on who the real culprit is. It’s a risky step but drama handles it quite well as the show turns from whodunnit to a showcase of how our team of cops will find and catch the murderer.
There is never a dull moment in this completely entertaining show. Apart from cute and comedy, it has lots of chilling moments and also fast pace. The modus operandi of the cops is outrageously incompetent to the extent that I’ve never seen such policemen acting with stupidity. I blame the writing for being so lazy when it comes to painting decent cops, as I don’t expect it to be top-notch but at least give us something acceptable. Also, there are lots of loop holes and illogical sequences, especially in the second half which mars the enjoyment somewhat. Also, it’s crystal clear at the end that the writer was running out of ideas, which led to a very underwhelming last episode.
But despite its glaring flaws, the drama is charming and entraining enough to keep us in its company. There is no lack of cute and thrills in every turn. One more disappointing feature was incomplete and half baked explanation about the killer’s motives. Even if the team of cops was very inept, I still loved it! I love how much the three cop buddies grew since we first met them. They insulted and disliked Moo Gak initially but later adored him so much. These four, along with Cho Rim and detective Yum Mi — they are fabulous as they plan, act and enjoy together. A lovely family indeed! The formation and growth of relationships is one of the highlights of this show.
I love that the drama does not have the archetype of involving second leads into romance. Detective Yum Mi is a badass cop who never flinches in front of danger. I loved that sequence where she shows no sign of nervousness when faced with the killer but then actually breaks out in cold sweat when left alone. This was such a realistic emotion. I also liked the little bonding that was formed between her and Cho Rim.
[SPOILER] How can I complete this review without talking about our chef. Nam Goong Min brings his best game to the drama as the creepy serial killer who remains as calm as a midnight sea. But when he shows his true colours, I always got shivers down my spine. He always talks like a gentleman but still manages to scare you. I think the drama should have shown some back story leading to his deeds but alas, we only got some bits and pieces that didn’t clear the whole picture. Finally, the motivations for murder and his feelings for Cho Rim remained more or less ambiguous. [SPOILER ENDS]
The cinematography is good and I especially loved the sparkling smells that Cho Rim sees — they looked beautiful and like something coming from a Disney movie. The fantasy element about smells is nicely woven along with the story of the show as the ability comes in handy in investigations. But explanation for how it came into being is avoided altogether. The music is sunny and sweet.
Shin Se Kyung is winsome in this drama — exuberant, bubbly, vivacious — she makes her character come alive and makes us to fall in love with her. Yoochun is one the cutest actors, hands down. I had this urge to pinch his cheeks on several occasions. He efficiently shows humour (those comic lines for stage were HILARIOUS) as well as emotional bits. This couple is simply love. Nam Goong Min lends a class act. Yoon Jin Seo does a wonderful job for a role which initially looked thankless but later picked up some weight. The three main cops — played by Lee Won Jong, Choi Tae Joon and Jo Hee Bong — provide lots of funny moments, sometimes intentional and unintentional at others. Song Jong Ho leaves a strong impression even in a small role.
Overall, Girl Who Sees Smells is a perfect place if you want to smell something delightfully sweet and cute. Just don’t take its mystery-crime genre seriously. This might sound like a broken record but the drama has one of the best couples of dramaland!
My Rating: 8 out of 10