‘The Heavenly Idol’ Review: Cheesy But Has Its Own Charm

The Heavenly Idol

Edited by Young Jun Yang
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

the heavenly idol review
Credit: tvN

The unrealistic plot, the visuals that look like a live-action of animation, and the cheesy lines – it didn’t take long to realize that this drama requires a “strong stomach.” But the strange thing is, it’s unbearably cheesy, so why can’t I stop myself from watching the next episode? This drama is none other than The Heavenly Idol.

The Pontifex Rembrary (Kim Min Kyu) was living a peaceful life in the Other World, serving the god Redrin. With his perfect looks, personality, and devotional heart, he loved and was loved by all in his world. However, Rembrary’s peaceful life takes a drastic turn when the Demon Lord that resurrected after 100 years invades the world. The moment he was about to defeat the Demon Lord, Rembrary fell conscious for unknown reasons.

But when he comes to, he can’t help but be flabbergasted – he woke up inside a broadcasting station as Woo Yeon Woo, a member of a K-pop boy band Wild Animal. In the midst of confusion, he somehow gets in touch with the real Woo Yeon Woo, but his reaction is lukewarm. He’s quite satisfied with his new life in the Other World, which he thinks is better than the life of a struggling idol. Eventually, Rembrary turns his mind on one condition – Wild Animal wins the Artist of the Year award, but there are still many mountains to overcome. Will Rembrary be able to return to his world after making Wild Animal to be an A-list boy band?

Frankly speaking, I thought that this drama was “a supply without demand.” Although other dramas based on webtoons or web novels became a big topic apart from the reviews they received, I was quite skeptical about whether or not people could accept the adaptation of the highly cartoonish and unrealistic material (I couldn’t even begin to fathom the battle scene against the Demon Lord’s army in episode 1).

Moreover, it’s not like The Heavenly Idol‘s story isn’t new or original. The plot is basically a string of already-expected narratives, including the conflict between the good and the evil, young people pursuing their dreams in the cutthroat entertainment business, the underdog’s rebellion, overcoming trauma, and romance. Though it’s always the “familiar flavor” that gets you, it needs to have its own unique charm to give the flavor a little bit more kick.

If that’s the case, what is the biggest strength of The Heavenly Idol? It’s Kim Min Kyu’s performance. Following his previous work, Business Proposal, Kim Min Kyu once again shows off his presence by brazenly portraying a dramatic character. The flawless pontifex in the other world turns into a clumsy idol who gets hooked on junk food, giving viewers time to laugh while making them want to cheer him on at the same time. Even the cheesy lines sound pretty good when they come out of Kim Min Kyu’s mouth. It’s also his acting that makes us wonder about the story of the real Woo Yeon Woo, who had enough of the competitive entertainment industry.

the heavenly idol review
Credit: tvN

Go Bo Gyeol, who plays Wild Animal’s manager Kim Dal, also showcases an impressive performance. From the gloomy past that left her with trauma after experiencing the dark side of the industry firsthand to the eyes full of love when she looks at Woo Yeon Woo, the only person she relied on for a long time, and how she’s trying to find the balance between a fangirl and a manager, Kim Dal’s narrative was completed with Go Bo Gyeol’s performance. The charms of two actors, Kim Min Kyu and Go Bo Gyeol, are the driving forces of the show.

However, the cheesiness mentioned above goes beyond the limits of like or dislike. It might be an enjoyable and pleasing drama for those who’ve been into a subculture, but for those who don’t, it’s highly probable that they’d stop watching after just one episode. One other letdown is that the actors, excluding Kim Min Kyu, Go Bo Gyeol, and Ye Ji Won, aren’t “shameless” enough to completely blend into the story.

The Heavenly Idol will certainly be spicing things up from episode 5. As the Demon Lord’s soldiers appear in front of Rembrary, who already has enough on his plate trying to adapt to the life of an idol, the conflict of “good vs. evil” will unravel in earnest. Also, Rembrary and Kim Dal are starting to have that subtle vibe between them. I can already picture how the story will progress and what kind of ending is waiting for us, but still, I will be watching it till the end with anticipation. Even if I want to deny it, I’m into this kind of stuff. (6/10)


Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.

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