Telemad: Worlds collide in spy comedy thriller K-drama Terius Behind Me

South Korean actor So Ji-sub stars in Terius Behind Me.
South Korean actor So Ji-sub stars in Terius Behind Me.PHOTO: VIU

TERIUS BEHIND ME

Viu, new episodes every Thursday and Friday, as fast as 8 hours after South Korean telecast

3.5 stars

DRAGON PILOT: HISONE & MASOTAN

Netflix

3 stars

His name is Bon, Kim Bon.

In television and film, South Korean actor So Ji-sub has often played the alpha male. He was an imperious chief executive in the horror romantic comedy Master's Sun (2013) and a good-hearted gangster in the war epic The Battleship island (2017).

In Terius Behind Me, he plays a spy codenamed Terius in hiding from the National Intelligence Service after a botched mission involving a North Korean nuclear physicist. Only agent Yoo (Im Se-mi from Shopaholic Louis, 2016) believes that he is not a mole.

This could have made for a thrilling drama but writer Oh Ji-young and director Park Sang-hun (A Mere Life, 2012) have a lot more up their sleeves.

Terius' current next-door neighbour is Go Ae-rin (Jung In-sun from Circle, 2017), a woman sometimes overwhelmed by trying to balance parenting six-year-old twins with making ends meet.

When the different worlds collide, the results are most entertaining.

Making small talk in a lift, Ae-rin remarks that Terius does not normally emerge during the day and that he only buys sliced bread. Immediately, his paranoia kicks in and he wonders how she managed to figure out his movements and learn so much about him.

And when he later offers to be a sitter for her children, the energetic moppets wear down the legendary black-ops agent at the playground.

Meanwhile, Ae-rin lands a ridiculously well-paying job as secretary to Jin Young-tae (singer-actor Son Ho-jun from Reply 1994, 2013), not realising that he is involved in some very shady business.

The first few episodes are pretty much setting the scene for what is to come and hopefully, things won't fizzle out as the series progresses.

Fromthe fantastical premise of "my next-door neighbour is a secret agent", we move to outright fantasy in the anime series Dragon Pilot: Hisone & Masotan.

Dragons exist and are deployed as Organic Transformed Flyers by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Of course, these creatures can't simply be flying all over the place, so they are camouflaged as various air vehicles when they are up in the sky in a Transformers-like manoeuvre.

They can be piloted by humans - but of their own choosing. And their favourite thing to eat is mobile flip phones.

Our introduction to this outlandish set-up is through rookie pilot Hisone Amakasu (voiced by Misaki Kuno), who discovers the secret of flying dragons when she is picked by one to be its pilot. She is reluctant at first, not surprising considering the process involves being swallowed by the creature and - after a flight - getting spat out covered in slime.

The animation by anime studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, 2003 to 2004) feels a little dated as it is relatively simple, though that also gives it a certain low-key charm. In particular, Masotan the dragon's bemused look when faced with a frustrated Hisone is priceless.

A smart decision was to ground the story in realism.

We quickly take to the forthright Hisone as she navigates a brave new world while dealing with boorish male pilots and a jealous fellow female trainee Nao Kaizaki (voiced by Tomoyo Kurosawa), and wrestling with self-doubt. But slowly, the socially awkward young woman starts to bloom as she revels in the female camaraderie with the other dragon pilots and takes pride in a task only she can do.

Despite the fantasy element, Dragon Pilot turns out to be a relatable workplace comedy drama.