A make believe world begins to crumble when an extra character in a manhwa becomes self-aware of her fictional life.
Eun Dan Oh (Kim Hye Yoon) is a wealthy and bubbly high school student with a fragile heart condition, who thinks she’s the centre of attention and living life to the fullest. Her world soon comes crashing down once she realizes she’s an extra in a cliché romance manhwa. She becomes self-aware of her identity, being physically and consciously aware of the panel changes in the comic and her role as a pitiful extra within the story, who’s meant to be a composite to the story development of its main leads.
As her memories become distorted, she learns of life on the stage and her true personality which showcases itself in the shadow when the comic is essentially turned-off and becomes an existential space where characters interact and live their lives beyond the comic’s descriptions, resembling a behind the scenes narrative beyond the manhwa’s storyboard. Dan Oh is quite opinionated, quirky, and vibrant, but her role as an extra means she’s limited to the author’s character makeup of her. She’s illustrated as an overly kind-hearted girl whose only been in love with a childhood friend who shuns her while her heart condition becomes fatal, marking her as a character that’s to be written off and an example of undying devotion to readers.
Refusing to settle for the author’s outline for her story, Dan Oh tries to change her future but everything becomes ‘reset’ when she attempts to make adjustments to the story. What’s worse, is the humiliation and degradation she feels every time Baek Kyung (Lee Jae Wook) the boy she supposedly has a crush on, acts out impulsively rude towards her, leaving her speechless and annoyed. Little does she know, that an unknown student that’s nameless will be the key to altering the comic and changing the stage. Her encounter with Ha Roo (Rowoon) leads to unforeseeable mishaps as their stories become rewritten but his involvement in the comic might be more costly than either of them could expect and with developing feelings, there’s higher risks at stake.
What started out with me simply checking out this series out of curiosity soon became a guilty pleasure show, but then it quickly proceeded into becoming a part of my weekly drama list quite easily. Based on a webtoon, July Found By Chance the drama addresses the tropes and flawed character makeup of comic book characters, especially within a romance drama set at a high school. It handles these issues in a satirical way with Dan Oh’s opinions and wittiness, as she looks on in the sidelines while the leads of the story live out their cheesy romance story. She calls out the author for having a lack of creativeness and internally mocks the situations she’s placed in. Having no control over her emotions, body, or surroundings during the stage sequences, all she has left are her thoughts and awareness of what’s occurred while all the other characters around her forget anything that’s happened in prior sections of the story.
The intricacies of the rules of the comic create an interesting conflict for Dan Oh because her constant attempts to change things is amusing at first, but we sense her earnest desire to simply be free to choose her own fate. The metaphysical also lends itself to deeper aspects of the story since there’s a lot to consider in terms of the laws that dictate this fictional world; the author or artist may have inserted themselves within the comic, the manhwa Dan Oh is aware of being in may be a single volume within a series, or there could be larger issues involved in relation to Haru’s existence. There’s also a possibility that the manhwa is far more complex than Dan Oh is aware of since she could very well be the real heroine of the story, as she’s the essential heroine of the drama itself.
I like how there’s so much to speculate and uncover despite this being a superficial youth drama on the surface. This may be the most underrated drama currently airing but it contains a storyline and steady buildup of its plot and movement, dropping surprises and proving you wrong in the end. I really did doubt what I had gotten myself into since the characters were really invested in delivering out cringey dialogue, but their real characters reveal themselves in the shadow and we can see this through the way the actors basically act out their roles on and off the stage of the comic world.
Kim Hye Yoon is an incredibly talented young actress and her role as Dan Oh shouldn’t be taken lightly. She’s carrying the entire drama on her shoulders since the first half of the series is heavily centred on Dan Oh’s self-awareness and trying to find her mystery boy who’ll help change her fate. Everything from her mannerisms to expressions are natural and she could easily spit fire and a slew of words during scenes heavy with internal thought or interchanges with other characters. Her performance here is nothing but impressive and she’ll be one to look out for in the future! She breathes life to Dan Oh in a way that seems organic and authentic.
I can’t say much about the mysterious Ha Roo since it’s still too early and because his character is already so non-existent, Rowoon hardly has any lines to begin with so a lot of Ha Roo’s emotions are written on his face and the physicality of his character. What I have seen however, has been solid and Ha Roo as a sensitive and uncertain character that’s forgotten by everyone but Dan Oh makes him the counter definition of the hero written out in the comic, since the manhwa’s male lead is so self-assured about his position and role because of the detailed attention given to the leads in the manhwa by the author.
In terms of chemistry, the drama somehow forms an equilibrium since Dan Oh and Ha Roo are extremely different. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that their polarizing or stark opposites since they get along fine despite hardly knowing each other, but what’s riveting is how much Dan Oh seems to slow down and halt her every movement by the few selective words Ha Roo dishes out. He’s a boy of very few words but that’s all it takes to disarm Dan Oh and leave her flustered, which is a nice breath of fresh air from all the bravado and casanova types sprawling around her in the comic world. We’re presented the bad boys and an internally conflicted second male lead, and then the third alternative which is Ha Roo. So it’s nice to know in advance who’ll be on top as far as Dan Oh’s love story in concerned but there could also be the possibility that Ha Roo may be subject to the stereotypes of male leads as the drama progresses and the manhwa’s story becomes altered.
We’ve gotten our fair share of main leads and even comic book worlds coming to life, but now it’s time to think about the supporting characters on the sidelines and the second male leads who just need to be given a chance instead of their one-dimensional personalities that are lacking in the end because of author intention. The extras of this drama contain material that’s more than worthy of them being the leads of any story, and Dan Oh is simply a lovable and adorable character worth pouring your heart into.
With a compelling and intriguing premise, Extra-ordinary You is an underrated drama full of charms and endearing characters that deserve a chance. It’s turned out to be a hidden gem for me and I’m excited to see what’s in store in the long run.
Realase Date: October 2, 2019 (Eng Sub available on Viki)