Overall Rating: A
Subtitles: I was impressed with these Viki subs! There were definitely occasional spelling/grammar issues but the fact that the Just One Touch team got the English subs up in under 24 hours for every episode and the subs were readable and fluent and made the show very easy to understand just blew my mind. A+ to that volunteer team, you all rock.
Brief Synopsis: A boy who loses his parents in a tragic murder-arson case gains a strange ability to read the memories of people and objects when he touches them with his bare skin. Over a decade later, when he encounters the daughter of the man framed for the murder-arson case, his abilities are strengthened and the two set out to find out the truth about what happened that night. Watch it on Viki here.
**Full show spoilers below the image. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not proceed**
Ending Type: Overall it was a satisfying and appropriate ending, happy in many ways but also very bittersweet given the circumstances. The final scene is a really cute and sweet moment between our main couple that was extremely bright and hopeful.
Characters: Major shout out to this show for featuring two pretty much entirely new leads, and especially for placing a true rookie in a leading role. They both smashed it, and I love that the writers and directors were willing to take the risk and let our leads shine.
Our primary lead is Lee Ahn (Jin Young), a boy who lost his parents in the tragic murder-arson that took down the majority of an apartment complex when he was a kid. Just after the accident he developed the ability to read memories by touch, either skin to skin contact with other people or skin to object contact with inanimate things. This ability is uncontrolled and, for the most part, he sees bad memories and terrible things which makes him avoid touching other people and isolates him from everyone except for his adoptive older brother, another orphan from the fire, and his older brother’s friend and budding detective. By high school he wants to use his ability to help solve violent crime cases even though he doesn’t really know how to use it. He’s sweet and quirky and more than a little cheeky but he has a heart of gold and that really shows. Lee Ahn goes on quite a rough journey throughout the show as he begins to learn the truth about his adoptive brother/guardian and what really happened during the murder-arson that killed his parents. Jin Young really sold the part, and Ahn’s charms were easy to fall for and the emotional journey he went on was clear and poignant.
I was even more impressed by Yoon Jae In (Shin Ye Eun) who went on a really, really rough journey and sold every second of it like a pro. Her father is framed for the murder-arson case which isolates her socially as she’s growing up since she’s the daughter of a convicted criminal. As a result she doesn’t trust anyone and applies her time and energy to her studies, which she excels at. She’s brilliant and determined and constantly battling between the guilt she feels over the pain her father has caused and her conviction that he was framed and her subsequent pursuit for justice and the truth. She comes across as cold or aloof in many situations but that exterior cracks really quickly to reveal her warm and vulnerable side, which she shares with anyone brave enough to get close to her. She goes through a lot on this journey and Shin Ye Eun really brings all of her emotional range to life–you feel what she’s feeling and understand what she’s thinking, from the cute fun moments to the really intense emotional ones. She was fabulously determined and resourceful and confident and I loved everything about her.
Lee Ahn’s older brother figure/guardian, Kang Sung Mo (Kim Kwon) first needs a shout out for his cheekbones because those were UNREAL. On a more serious note, this was a truly fascinating character that straddled that line between hero and villain. A thoroughly abused kid, beyond what anyone should be able to endure, Sung Mo carries his demons with him. He’s unable to feel emotions but his mother diligently trains him and wants him to be different from his father. At first all we know about him is that he’s emotionally distant, took in Lee Ahn after the murder-arson took both their remaining parents, and financially supports Yoon Jae In secretly despite their less than ideal financial situation. Slowly you begin to learn that he has lots of secrets, and many of these secrets suggest a much darker side to him. By the time the truth is revealed it’s not shocking, but it is surprising. He is, at heart, a good guy, pursuing truth and justice. But he’s been majorly fucked up by his circumstances and his fight to keep his mom safe and it means he’s done some truly awful things. He was both ally and adversary throughout the story and you really got to understand him and feel for him, even while feeling horrified by a lot of the choices he made. I was really into this character in general because of how hard it was to tell whether we were rooting for him or not; he was so deeply complex and unexpected and I was just really into it. Kim Kwon’s portrayal was also entirely on point.
Relationships: There were a lot of great relationships in this one, and the best thing about all of them was how real and nuanced they were. The bbf side romance (I don’t have time to talk about those characters in general) was really sweet but also felt realistic. All of the family relationships were dynamic and complex. The professional relationships ranged from contentious to friendly and everything in between. It was awesome.
At the heart was the relationship between Lee Ahn and Kang Sung Mo. Initially they are very much brothers–Kang Sung Mo is protective of Ahn and affectionate, even if he is often disappointed by how cheeky and out of hand Ahn is. It’s fascinating that Sung Mo is the only person Ahn can’t read with his ability, and it’s fascinating how badly Sung Mo wants him to develop it. You really feel the care these two have for each other and the bond they have, which is what makes it heartbreaking when Ahn has to be the one to discover the kind of abuse Sung Mo suffered and when Ahn starts to realize Sung Mo might be capable of murder. When the truth comes out and Ahn discovers Sung Mo is the culprit behind his parents’ deaths wow, it’s devastating. Honestly the way the whole thing was done, and the way the characters handled it, was incredible.
Ahn and Jae In’s romance was also wonderfully handled. The connection between them is immediately clear, so much so that, when Jae In disappears from their school after her father’s identity is revealed, you really feel Ahn’s pain, and when he finds her again several years later you feel that joy and relief fully. The two of them exploring first love, with all their missteps and sweet excitement, was absolutely fantastic. The hardships they experienced, first when Ahn believed her father had killed his parents, and then when both their lives were in danger and the truth was being revealed, were tough and heartbreaking, but their affection for each other, the care they had for each other, and their trust in each other was constant and beautiful. I was all about this romance, and appreciated that it also took a back seat a bit while the case was coming to its climax. The ending, with the two of them making new, happy memories together in the bright sunlight, was absolutely perfect.
High Points: +30 points for the opening credits because I love them the end. In general I just thought this was a very strong show and I loved all of it, even if some of the stuff they were doing with the sci-fi pieces was a little unbelievable.
Low Points: I didn’t love how much of a non-character the Detective lady was. I enjoyed her when she was in a scene but I didn’t feel like I knew her as a person at all which made her death not have the kind of emotional impact I think it was supposed to. Instead it was just something for the other characters to be sad about, and I don’t love when that happens.
Final comments: This was a really fun crime drama with a sci-fi edge. I have to admit I’m into how often Korean crime dramas are about fighting corruption and huge conspiracies because this adds a fun edge to the amateurs who are doing the investigating and it also paints a powerful picture about the dangers of power in the wrong hands. I wish American crime dramas went there more often, as I highly doubt corruption is a bigger issue in Korea than it is here, but alas, alack, I can’t have everything I want. Instead I’ll enjoy stories like this when they’re told and leave it at that. If you’re into crime dramas and you like it when little powerless people stand up to The System in the name of justice, this show will be your jam.