Pachinko is a show like no other. The sprawling drama on AppleTV, based on the best-selling book by Lee Min-Jin, does a great job of telling this story that spans several generations. This period drama is a must-see, even though it has some flaws. It has great cinematography, great acting, and smooth transitions between English, Japanese, and Korean dialogue.
If you don’t know why the game is called Pachinko, the name comes from a story about Koreans trying to make a living in Japan in the 1930s.
Pachinko is a game of chance where you hope to get lucky and win big. The problem is that the machines are set up so that you never win, just like the claw machines at the arcade. It’s important to remember this because we’re told this right away, but it’s unlikely to work on the first try if you don’t know what these characters are up against.
Pachinko feels like a mix of Roots and Mr. Sunshine at its most basic level. Pachinko’s story, on the other hand, is not like either of those. Instead, it cuts and changes parts of the book’s story to make a new one. This part of the show is both the best and the worst, but we’ll get to that soon.
The main plot revolves around Sunja. We follow her through the years and see how all the ups and downs have made her into the woman she will become.
The first story takes place in the early 1990s and shows Sunja when she was a teenager. She is the daughter of a fisherman who was hurt and can’t walk, and her life is about to change forever. Part of this is because I met a handsome stranger named Hansu down at the docks.
As they get closer, he tells her he’ll do anything for her, and they end up sleeping together. Only… Sunja falls pregnant. When she finds out that Hansu is married, she refuses to be his secret mistress. Instead, she marries Isak, a kind minister who just happens to show up at her door. She decides to move to Japan with him, which sends waves through her family for many years.
This trip is then interspersed with scenes from a different story that is happening now and involves Sunja’s grandson Solomon. He works for rich Americans and wants to get known as much as possible. The deeper he goes into his work, the more he realizes that the game is set up against him. This leads to an interesting bit of soul-searching as Solomon tries to figure out who he is and what his fate is.
All through the season, these two stories weave in and out of each other. Most of the moves are well-timed and in sync, but there are a few mistakes that feel like bad choices by the director.
In the Solomon timeline, a character dies early on, and it seems like a death that doesn’t matter. Only, as the episodes go on, we soon find out that this person was a very important part of Sunja’s upbringing when she was younger. If the story had gone in a more straight line, these small moments would have had more emotional impact. And the fact that the show has already been renewed makes that even worse.
Ironically, episode 7 is the one that stands out as the best. It is a stand-alone chapter that serves as a bottle episode to learn more about Hansu’s past. It’s a fascinating look into the mind and soul of a character who had only been mentioned briefly up until that point.
That doesn’t mean that this show’s editing is bad or that this is the wrong choice, though. There are some really great parts of the story that make it make a lot of sense to tell it this way.
Words of wisdom are taught to Sunja in the past, and then Sunja tells Solomon the same thing in the future. This is a great way to keep the idea of passing on knowledge, honor, and family ties at the forefront of this show’s storyline. And it’s quite a run.
Along with the great story is the way it looks. Now, I’ve already talked about how great the visuals are, but the music is also great. Nico Muly, the other co-composer, did a great job with this piece, which has both sad, introspective string parts and beautiful piano instrumentals. This is one of the more subtle parts of this show, but it’s still a very important part.
Pachinko is a beautifully written, tragic, epic period drama. It’s not only one of the best Korean dramas of the year, but it’s also a strong contender for the best TV show. This is a must see and a real standout among the growing number of shows on AppleTV.
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Where Can I Watch Pachinko?
AppleTV+ can be used to stream Pachinko. This is an exclusive original series, which means that you can only watch it on this site.
is pachinko renewed for season 2?
Apple is said to have picked up the trilingual drama Pachinko for a second season. The show’s creator, Soo Hugh, is said to have a four-season plan for the drama, which is based on the best-selling novel by Min Jin Lee.
Reports say that Apple picked up the show for a second season right after the finale of the first season. Hugh, who is in charge of the show, has said many times that she has a bigger plan for four seasons of eight episodes each to tell the story of several generations.