Surely when you hear the word goblin you imagine an ugly and mischievous little creature. But that’s not the case with Guardian: The Lonely And Great God, or simply Goblin, its literal English translation.
This popular Korean drama deviates from the conventional beliefs of supernatural elements. It focuses on the tale of warrior Kim Shin who disobeys a royal decree, ultimately becoming a traitor, and inevitably losing his life after being pierced in the heart with his own sword. But that is only the beginning, as the almighty grants him with immortality, turning him into a goblin who punishes evil beings and rewards the good ones with blessings and wealth.
Although gifted with other abilities – such as being able to see into the future and teleportation – as centuries pass, poor Kim Shin realises that eternal life is not a gift, but rather a curse… When he no longer bare being continually haunted by the deaths of those around him, he sets out to find the person who can put an end to his misery: the goblin’s bride – his bride. The only one who can see the sword stuck in his chest and pull it out, so that he can return to ashes and finally rest in peace.
It is at the age of 939 years when Kim Shin, at long last, meets his destined bride.
Little does he know, though, that it is thanks to him she is actually alive.
It is no coincidence that 19-year-old Ji Eun-tak has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. It also isn’t a coincidence that she is labeled a missing soul; in other words, one who should not have been born in the first place.
As they spend more and more days together the odd couple eventually find themselves deeply in love, but just as things fall perfectly into place, they are faced with unforeseen, dire consequences way beyond their control.
Three other eccentric characters join the extraordinary cast. We have the amnesiac Grim Reaper, whose memories have been erased since he has committed a great sin in his past life; Sunny, the owner of a chicken restaurant who is attracted to him; and Deok-hwa, the oblivious heir whose family has been taking care of the goblin for generations.
As the story progresses many mysteries are unveiled as all five of their fates are entangled. It is impossible not to notice the contrasting transition from a slow and light-hearted romantic comedy with contemporary fantasy elements, to a darker tone with a very dramatic twist. And since almost every episode ends with a suspenseful cliffhanger, it is practically impossible not to resist watching the next one.
What’s particularly fascinating about Goblin is that the actors’ brilliant performances manage to involve the audience in such a way that emotional attachment is inevitable. The portrayals of the various and rather queer personalities in certain situations will make you smile foolishly, laugh out loud and, without a doubt, shed many tears.
Goblin’s music makes such a significant contribution to this Korean drama that you may well be ordering the official soundtrack CD after a couple of episodes. Whether it’s sad, memorable piano instrumentals with soft vocals and distinctive East Asian notes, or jolly and peaceful guitar melodies, the background music is a substantial part of the plot. It has a sentimental presence.
The comedy is also a reason to watch the series. The undeniable chemistry between the characters, their intriguing interactions with one another and the occasional (and priceless!) breaking-the-fourth-wall moments are guaranteed to have you grinning.
Goblin isn’t for everyone. Aside from the preposterous plot some people simply will be out off by the slow-paced romance and themes of fate and reincarnation.
Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of unique, wonderfully written stories with remarkable acting from both the main and secondary characters, exceptional cinematography with a certain aesthetics angle, and want to be part of a heart-warming, yet heart-breaking experience, then you should definitely watch this Korean drama.
What better way to find out whether it has a happy ending or not?
Review by Gergana Nikolova