So today, let’s talk about the growing success of web dramas also known as web series. Web dramas have become a hot topic lately and this new trend has a name, the « snack culture ».
With internet, consumer habits have totally changed. Many of us no longer watch TV, instead we watch our favorite shows on the web using our computers, smartphones and tablets. At some point, I became so bored to watch regular TV shows that I started to look for new formats, shorter formats that would help me to start focusing again.
What is a web drama?
A web drama aka web series, are short episodes, generally between 10-20 mins, exclusively available on the web. The perfect format for a population highly connected who’se consumption habits and trends tend to evolve at a very fast pace, attracted by easy-to-consume web contents.
Video consumption can be seen as an individual act but web series gained in popularity among young audiences because what viewers look for is : proximity, sociability, feeling that they are part of something. In addition, this format is free, short (encourages people to focus), accessible through mobile devices, tablets and computers. Young people (in their early 20’s till late 30’s) are more inclined to consume short contents on the go, therefore they can enjoy their favorite shows wherever and whenerver they want. It has the potential to reach much wider audiences, the engagement is immediate and it takes inspiration in the manga culture.
In addition, thanks to internet, it has the power to go viral more easily, indeed web dramas are mainly available through video platforms such as Youtube, Naver, Youku, Tudou and so on. These platforms already engender great traffic, hence viewers are more likely to like contents and share them on social network pages, comment and interact with each others. Finally, it helps audience loyalty since the episode format creates a regular meeting point by airing an episode a week. This new way to consume contents lead to the introduction of a new term, identified as « snack-culture« .
What does it have to offer to the Idol industry?
First, entertainment industries are always looking for new ways to promote their artists. They pay close attention to what is or isn’t trending in this ever-evolving media environment. The web drama format has become a new marketing tool for Idols as for a change, it’s not music related. It’s not completely true for « DREAM KNIGHT » though. But still, this new tool is used to market Idol group members to new audiences and more specifically, younger audiences.
Then, there are seen as the perfect compromise between giving the chance to Idols to start acting and engage in fanservice. Indeed, for Idols aiming the acting carrer, this experience would be considered as a transition. For my part, it’s more a guilty pleasure and fanservice than a first attempt to act. Indeed, between you and I from what I’ve seen so far, they lack of acting skills but at the same time, it’s so nice to see your favorite artists, GOT7, for instance, in a new environment, actually taking real risks as they are out of their comfort zone.
In addition, from the producers and entertainment companies point of view, they are smart projects since they aren’t expensive formats compared to regular TV shows. They are usually cheaper to produce and allow producers to take more risks, by featuring subjects that would be deemed on TV networks (PRINCE OF PRINCE – homosexuality context for example) and freer with product placement policies.
Finally, as they ride on the Idols popularity it helps to increase image awareness in order to reach an international level.
Naver, the largest web portal in South Korea launched its first web drama in January 2014, untitled « AFTERMATH » starring Kim Dong Joon from ZE:A and within a week, the drama counted more than 2 million views. Naver then launched a segment for web dramas under TV Cast as web dramas multiplied.
The Big 3 (SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment & YG Entertainment) didn’t take long to invest the market too and it’s more likely nowadays to see web dramas featuring big names coming from the music industry.
DREAM KNIGHT (드림 나이트) REVIEW
This is what you’ve all been waiting for, right? ! Well I hated it. Period.
« DREAM KNIGHT » if you don’t know yet is a fantasy-romance web drama featuring all-7-mem-bers-from-GOT7.
It is about an orphaned girl, Joo In Hyeong (Song Ha Yoon), a high school student, who’s contantly bullied by her a rival school-mate Jenny (Min – Miss A). Following the loss of her mother she refuses to let life and fate get her down and maintains strong positive attitude. One day she meets a group of mysterious boys (GOT7) who without any reason start to follow her and protect her. They will soon appear to be her magical knights…
Just for the record, this web drama is a co-production between JYP Entertainment and China’s Youku Tudou. The web drama premiered in January, 27th, 2015 on Naver TV Cast and Youku & Tudou platforms. The first episode met a great success with a total of 3 million views (2 380 000 views for Youku and 770 000 views on Tudou). The web drama also features many cameos from other artists such as Lee Guk Joo, Clara, 15&’s Jimin, 2PM’s Chansung, and 2AM’s Changmin and J.Y. Park.
If you haven’t watched it yet, go for it. If you are a huge GOT7 fan inside, go watch it now! It is total fanservice and I liked it.
The opening credits says it all and brings you in a fairytale world where good and bad knights fight for a girl. She’s all dressed up in a red gown and represent temptation, the knight’s rivalry is put at risk in a perfectly choreographed dance battle and as tention grows for the mysterious girl on whether to choose right or wrong it finally closes on an almost kiss scene… Yes, you may now breath. It was just the opening credits of « DREAM KNIGHT » and my heart flinched too many times already.
« DREAM KNIGHT » is kitsh and cliché. It’s not very original and pretty predictable but GOT7 helps to pass out. You have the mean girl, Jenny, who is not that bad afterall and ends up putting up a front. You have the nice girl, Joo In Hyeong, who’s bullied by Jenny and keeps being nice even though she keeps being bellitled. A classic in Asian dramas and it has the gift to drive me crazy, when you just want this poor little girl to wake up and assert herself. Then, you have the perfect guys (JB, Mark, Jackson and Youngjae), they are cool, flawless and of course devoted to the bullied girl. And to make things a little bit more exciting, you have the mean guys (JR, BamBam and Yugyeom) cool, flawless, darker and of course they are all, Joo In Hyeong can see. As a matter of fact, girls love danger…
The web drama knows where to aim when teasing us to stick around for the next episode. For example, my jaw literally fell at the end of episode 1 when Joo In Hyeong, in her sleep grabbed JB’s side. It was one of these WTF moment when you go totally territorial over them. Or this dramatic ending in episode 3 when fooling around, they brake Joo In Hyeong’s camera, she breaks into tears and chases them from her trailer. Her pain was truly tangible and truly leaves us with great tension.
Unfortunately, it’s during these moments of pain that I would have loved more credibility in their acting skills. The boys are charming but still they seemed out of place as if they weren’t really there. The good knights are overshadowed by JB’s presence. They have all these lame quotes and when they speak in English it’s even more awkward than usual, it’s not natural. JB has this tendency of being mono-expressive and I’m sure that with a little bit more work he could overcome it. The same goes for the dark knights team, overshadowed by JR. Actually, Junior was a total revelation to me. He deeply moved me and was really into his fallen knight role. Junior evolved a lot since « DREAM HIGH » and so his acting skills, he’s more confident and it shows. Unless the others, I really felt pain, rage and resentment. I’ve been pleasently suprised by JR, who’se character personality unwinded episode after episode and grew more and more interesting and complex. He actually has the best development and showed the best presence on screen and played on a wide range of emotions thoughout the episodes. Also, he’s the best in terms of evolution compared to JB, since both of them have already been face to face in « DREAM HIGH ». JR totally stole the screen in « DREAM KNIGHT ». The tension between both leaders is real and you acknowledge the leader inside JR, while JB is lost in his cold demeanor, personality feature he is well known for.
« DREAM KNIGHT » stays hyper entertaining, during the 12 episodes you have to chance to go over all GOT7 hits and they don’t hesitate to show their dancing skills, sometimes in unreal situations. There are indeed, these hilarious moments that make you laugh to tears how silly they are, for example Lee Guk Joo cameo and this awkward moment when they all start dancing on the hit Bounce, all of a suddent in the middle of the street. Seriously? Is this for real?
Same goes for this unrealistic fight between the nice knights and the mean girls, where they actually get beaten. HI-LA-RIOUS. Or the best of my top WTF moment, the fight between JB and his mates and when coming from nowhere Jackson turns into a ninja and the best is coming, Mark puts JB K.O with one single punch when I don’t even remember seeing him around when JB faced Youngjae and Jackson alone. Once again HI-LA-RIOUS.
Finally, « DREAM KNIGHT » stole my heart because it’s cheesy to death. I am a JB fan no matter what, so you can imagine how I reacted when first Joo In Hyeong grabbed him in her sleep (I chocked), then fell in his arms awkwardly and nearly kissed him, then kissed for the first time (my heart exploded). I kept smiling like a retarded and finally the best scene to me, in episode 10 (Spoiler Alert), when Joo In Hyeong is supposed to go to Chansung concert with JB but arrives too late. There is this amazing scene when she realizes how much JB means to her. It starts with the first piano notes of Forever Love (JB’s solo), she describes him with teary eyes and someone slowly approaches the crowd. Then, JB appears, walk up the stairs to her, she says « he’s such an important person to me… », he stands up in front of her, forgives her, stares at her smiling and she faints. That was some kind of moment you only dream of and it deeply moved me. JB’s magic operated at its full.
« DREAM KNIGHT » has definitely stole my heart during these past few weeks and I never got bored at all. It was an emotional rollercoaster. A guilty pleasure I loved to watch every week, it made me smile, it made me sad, it made me happy. All 7 members of GOT7 were a pleasure to watch in a new context. They worked hard in order to offer us this dreamy web drama. I highly recomend it because it’s good for the eyes and the heart and I hope that GOT7 will prove us again what they are capable of.
I leave you with Forever Love, the song I listened to a thousand times since I first heard it on « DREAM KNIGHT ». It is beautifully sang by JB and I’m sure you’ll love it too.
If you too, loved the drama, do not hesitate to comment below.