Apple TV+ is no shortage of epic. “See” is a good proof of this. But this example is fantasy, and ‘Dr Brain’ or ‘Foundation’ plunge into science fiction. With ‘Pachinko’, the catalog launches a historical epic. Something that could well be the story of any family for several generations.
The cultural and historical context as a pillar of a series
Korea, like Europe and many other countries, had a very bad first half of the 20th century. War, occupation and oppression that have forced many families to flee their land in search of a better life or to endure life in a regime in which everything they stand for is forbidden and punished. “Pachinko” is effective because it focuses on something as simple as a family’s experiences during those difficult years. A family that could well be any family.
The beginning of the first chapter already warns us: the original voices of the series mix japanese and korean. There are characters who even mix the two languages in the same sentence, something that can be seen marked with colors in the subtitles. Blue is Japanese, yellow is Korean.
This differentiation is important and is one of the reasons why (yes, again) it is absolutely recommended to watch this series in its original version without dubbing. Seeing it dubbed and without subtitles makes you lose all the cultural and historical context of the series, which in this case constitutes all the foundations of it. The characters speak Japanese for one reason, they speak Korean for another, and they mix the two languages as a product of years of historical events and cultural influences between the two countries. Each language change brings with it a very strong symbolism.
‘Pachinko’ wouldn’t be half as good as it is without this care for the original languages. It would be limited to telling the story of a family and one would not understand the drama that some of their decisions and actions entailed. From there, we have a few early episodes that set an interesting story and we want to keep learning more about.
If we add to this a breathtaking level of production and scenography and very successful performances from the cast of actors, we come across one of the series to consider in the Apple TV+ catalog for this spring. Our colleagues from Espinof are clear on this, they describe it as wonderful and raise it to the rank of the best series of 2022. You can already see its first four chapters. And if they hook you, don’t miss the interviews we did with their directors and one of their stars.
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