Due to the Sewol ferry incident, nearly all dramas and varieties are suspended temporarily. Which means, (a) I have more time to catch up on backlogs and (b), trawl through my drama lists for shows which have aired, but I haven’t watch. Pluto is one of them. Produced by EBS (Educational Broadcasting System) Korea, the target group would be kids to young adults.
Btw, I only found Chinese subs for this series at Maplestage, can’t seem to find English subs. If anyone manages to get English subs, pls post a Comment for other non-Chinese viewers. 🙂 Thanks in advanced.
- Kim Ji-min as Kang Ha-ra. A transfer student to Woo-jin/Seo-jin‘s school, daughter of Kang-suk, a gritty and dogged Seoul detective transferred to the small town. I like a girl who can hold her own, and Ha-ra is one of those. She is bright, independent and cool headed, her hobby is playing investigator and reading detective novels.
- Yoon Chang-young as Lee Woo-jin. Brother of Seo-jin. Likes to act all cool and street smart, but ends up tripping over his own feet and embarrassing himself most times (metaphorically speaking). But, he is endearingly proactive and always ready for adventures. Has a secret crush on Ha-ra, after she saved him from the humiliation of being accused as a shoplifter — though it’d probably kill him to admit it. (boys being boys…)
- Tang Soon-jang as Lee Seo-jin. Woo-jin’s kid brother. He possesses psychic abilities (psychometry) that are triggered when he touches certain items. He will be able to see the most recent memories of the item’s owner. His ability is on-off in nature, cos he doesn’t have flashes whenever he bumps into any and everything. But only Woo-jin knows about it, their parents are unaware and think Seo-jin has a weak constitution. Seo-jin is smarter than his older brother, and cutely snubs him whenever he has the chance.
- Hong Tae-ui as Choi Dong-young. He plays the uber cool (or aloof) and popular guy in class, with girls showering him attention left right and center. He is an orphan and lives with his uncle Choi Ki-chan, a small time (and highly incompetent) police officer in town. He shows interest in Ha-ra after learning her dad is Detective Kang and she also likes reading detective novels/comics like himself. (and Woo-jin is a little jealous about that)
- Park Shi-eun as Jin Sun-mi. A devoted fan of Dong-young, she has a MAJOR crush on him. And she is definitely pissed when Ha-ra “steals” her beloved. She comes from a fairly well-to-do background, thus displays the Princess Syndrome rather frequently.
Each episode in Pluto lasts only about 25-30mins, probably to cater to the shorter attention span of its younger audience. (and to allow parents to control their kids’ TV watching time, maybe?) Thus, one case will likely spread itself across 2/3eps, in order for the story to fully develop. This plot synopsis is about Pluto Secret Society’s (or PSS) first case.
It all start with a dark and stormy night, and I’m quite prepared to overlook the cliche opening, cos afterall, this is a children’s show. A man buries a wrapped package that looks like a dead body. But what is more interesting is how the show introduces our main characters using the electric storm as a backdrop.
Due to the lightning storm, Woo-jin/ Seo-jin’s house (and other houses in their town) suffers a temporary blackout. The 2 brothers run screaming from their bedroom looking for their parents. Seo-jin immediately runs to hug his mommy and Woo-jin sneers at his younger brother’s cowardly actions. However, the next boom of thunder spooks Woo-jin to leap into his daddy’s arms. (pwahaha)
In another house, Sun-mi is frightened awake by a white, gloved hand hovering near her throat. The hand belongs to her weird, spooky nanny cum housekeeper cum butler, who has a penchant of dressing up as a creepy Victorian mannequin. In contrast, the only character very comfortable with the storm is Dong-young, who is watching a psycho-thriller flick on his phone in the middle of the night. He is interrupted by a call from his police officer uncle (Ki-chan), who claims to be “checking” on him. Dong-young shrewdly guesses that Ki-chan is frightened to be on night duty alone in the station — verified with a yelp from Ki-chan at the next boom of thunder.
The following day, Woo-jin and Seo-jin escape chores duty by claiming they need to get a birthday gift for Dong-young. At the supermarket, Woo-jin chooses a furry bunny-head pencil as the present. (lol) Woo-jin races his shopping cart throughout the supermarket and rams into Ha-ra. Later at the checkout counter, Woo-jin is held back because the sensor picks up an unpaid item on him. Ha-ra comes to his rescue and points out that the price tag for her bananas has transferred to the sole of his shoes, thereby triggering the anti-theft sensor. Woo-jin is secretly impressed with Ha-ra’s deductive ability (which earns the kids a free cone each from the supermarket’s management). However, he pretends to dislike her, claiming she is too “bossy” and “egoistical”. (look who’s talking)
Ha-ra joins Woo-jin and Dong-young in class as a new transfer student, sitting next to Dong-young and behind Woo-jin — much to Sun-mi’s annoyance. After school, Dong-young invites Ha-ra to join him to ask their policemen family members about the murder case (the buried body got washed up in the rainstorm). Woo-jin and Seo-jin tag along when the four spot a mysterious man whom they observed purchasing spades, a oiled canvas bag and ropes yesterday at the supermarket. While tailing him into the forest, Seo-jin picks up a watch and immediately has a flashback of 2 men fighting over a document, and one man falls down in the struggle. He falls into a faint.
Woo-jin and Dong-young are used to Seo-jin’s fainting spells, as they know about his ability. Ha-ra quickly guesses that Seo-jin possesses psychic ability to read images left in personal artifacts. The boys bring Ha-ra to their hideout in the woods, and sorta initiate her into their “secret investigative society” — yes, the PSS. They agree to try crack the murder case themselves, using their deductive skills and also Seo-jin’s psychic ability.
Ha-ra and Dong-young waylay Ki-chan and manage to extract information of the foreman’s hostel. Dong-young sneaks in and takes incriminating pics of the document — a ledger showing fishy monetary dealings. He was nearly caught in the act, had quick-thinking Ha-ra not trigger the fire alarm to allow him to escape. Meanwhile, Seo-jin bumps into a man whom he recognised as one of the two in his psychic flashback while on his way to the clinic with his mum. He immediately alerts the group, who are at their rendezvous and pouring over the ledger’s images that Dong-young captured on his phone.
Together with information from the police (obtained craftily by Ha-ra and Dong-young), the group piece together what could have happened. The foreman (spotted earlier in the supermarket) and the construction company’s boss have been embezzling the workers’ salaries. Their deeds were found out by the deceased and his friend (the man Seo-jin saw) and they managed to get copies of the company’s ledger as proof. The deceased wanted to go to the authorities about it, but his friend was scared to report it. Their arguments turn heated, and one man ended up dead.
The kids wisely decide to leave the capturing of the murderer to Ki-chan, complete with the evidence they collected. In return, Ki-chan submits their names for the “Helpful Civilian” award.
Pluto is actually pretty fun to watch. There’s something about child actors — when they immerse themselves in the roles given, they really put in their best 200%. And these 4 (or 5, if you include Sun-mi) cute detectives are reasons enough to tune in to Pluto, although the bad guys here are pretty “mild” and gore is non-existant. I doubt we will get the sinister, genius psycho in God’s Gift with his penchant for torture-murder here, cos the young audience may freak out. (but if the show does serve me a really sick psycho later on, i won’t complain)
Back to the highlight of the show — the kids. They are simply adorable in their earnestness, and dedication to crime solving. I love the idea of their “secret society” and their forest hideout, with furniture procured either from the local dump or from their houses. Brings back really fond memories of Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew detective novels (or maybe you are too young to have read them). But don’t be mistaken and think they are only playing make-believe. The boys (and girl) mean serious business. And given how inept the ADULTS are in the show, I will bet my money that the kids will solve the crimes faster than them. Like with all children shows, there is a little bit of ego-stroking, with mediocre adults or totally incompetent ones. Ki-chan belongs to the latter, and you really wonder why the force will employ an officer who really does nothing but watches K-varieties on his mobile phone all day.
Throwing in a character with ESP ability also falls into the ego-stroking category. Raise your hands — how many of you as kids have imagined you have a “hidden” ESP power? (ok, maybe only me) And granting the special skill to the runt of the litter — Seo-jin — is also significant. Cos compared to the rest, he is not the coolest, tallest, most athletic kid. Instead he is heavily shortsighted (he wears these really adorkable Harry Potterish glasses), has a weak constitution and not as agile as his older brother. Plus, he faints frequently. (that is due to his ability…but i imagine this fainting may get him in harm’s way in future) In other words, he is the representative of all the nerdy (and maybe victims of bullying) kids out there watching the show, and they probably will identify with him and rejoice that weak as he is, he is the linchpin in the group. After all, being able to access the recent memories of victims (or killers) is an advantage even the police don’t have.
Pluto Secret Society airs once a week on Fridays’ dinner times (1830h) in Korea, and I’d continue to track it for further reviews down the line. 🙂