First Impressions: The Uncanny Counter

An average high school boy is recruited as a demon hunter and thrust into the world of the supernatural, turning his ordinary life into pandemonium.

Based on the popular webtoon Amazing Rumour by Jan Yi, the drama centres on So Mun (Cho Byeong Kyu) a crippled high school student who gets possessed by a Yung spirit (a heavenly being that resides between the afterlife and the human world) to be a host body for her and becomes a Counter, a demon hunter who tracks down evil spirits that try to attain immortality through murder. Gaining supernatural abilities such as super strength and speed, So Mun joins three existing Counters, Go Mo Tak (Yu Jun Sang), Do Ha Na (Kim Se Jeong), and Choo Mae Ok (Yeom Hye Ran) who run a popular noodle restaurant that serves as a base for their demon hunting.

The thrill of battling evil turns personal as So Mun discovers that Mo Tak and Ha Na turned into Counters on the same day as the car accident that crippled him seven years ago. To their surprise, Mo Tak and So Mun’s pasts collide as they begin to unearth the death of his parents which threatens to excommunicate So Mun from his position as a Counter.

The drama series becomes truly enjoyable once you’ve worked out the logistics of both the supernatural and all the players involved in the investigation the Counter team conducts. I made it as far as episode 8 and was finally able to put the pieces together, comfortable with the terminology and intricacies of the show.

To readers of the webtoon it must have been easy sailing but as someone who hasn’t read the original source material, this one had my brain working overtime. To begin with, Yung spirits need to be compatible with their hosts and work together as partners to bring balance to the afterlife. I’d consider them more like Grim Reapers (but ones gleaming in blinding white) who have human counterparts that help them in their work. The Yung spirits and Counters can communicate with one another, while the spirit’s existence is dependent upon the life of the host.

Counters of course, have to remain secretive since their identities can’t be revealed. Each of them have a common trait, and that is to be selected by Yung beings once they’re in a state of comatose yet So Mun defies this and is chosen while fully conscious. They’re also prohibited from using their abilities for their own gain or interfering with human affairs – a rule that is broken once the Counters decide to delve into the past and refuse to become impartial to the injustice they unravel.

Another thing that needs to be established is this demon hierarchy that exists. The evil spirits are categorised into various levels, level 3 being one of the most dangerous. The souls of the victims the evil spirits kill become a consumable life source for them but like Counters and Yung spirits, the demons need to be compatible with their hosts who must contain a desire to kill and do evil. Depending on the level a demon is, Counters determine if they have to work as a pack or can handle an evil spirit alone but this is also conditioned by a Counter’s unique abilities.

A Counter’s ability is directly linked to characterisation and how they function as a team. Ha Na has the ability to sense an evil spirit’s whereabouts, Mo Tak is abnormally strong, and Mae Ok has the gift of healing and erasing memories. The three of them can read memories but that still remains as Ha Na’s forte since she can quite literally experience the past if need be. So Mun has his former human predecessor’s ability of creating a ‘territory’ which is essentially a zone that allows the Counters to maximize their strength and weakens a spirit’s mobility.

The investigative processes of the drama mainly deal with the human realm since Mo Tak was previously a Detective whose memories are lost. To clear things up though, he is not, and I repeat, he is not suffering from a typical case of amnesia since there are fragments that he remembers. Plus his determination to unearth the truth helps him reclaim his life prior to falling into a coma.

The crime and investigation of the series is essentially developed around corruption that originates from the top. Throw in evil spirits that either accelerate corruption or effect the plans of dishonest humans, the drama portrays a duplicity between the realms of the supernatural and that of humans. The two worlds merge, generating complexity that will have you scratching your head at times to make heads or tails out of things. And this is when the pacing of the show truly shines, since the slower segments give the audience a respite to make sense of everything.

I actually think that because the story itself and the plot takes so much of your time and energy, that it’s difficult to even focus on other facets of the drama and it’s best to simply allow it to do its thing – like most OCN dramas which are heavily action-plot based.

Sky Castle’s Cho Byeong Kyu returns to the small screen in this webtoon adaption that brings the supernatural world crashing down on a simple boy who turns into an adversary for demons. The Uncanny Counter is swift, youthful, and conjoins the genres of supernatural and crime.

Release Date: November 28, 2020 (Eng Sub available on Netflix)

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