First Impressions of ‘Hotel Del Luna,’ A Ghoulishly-Fun Hong Sister’s Drama
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Hong Sister’s k-drama, and my anticipation was mounting. Could they learn from their choices in Hwayugi (yes, holding a grudge and still bitter over the last couple of episodes.) and rise up with a new, masterful drama? Well, the official verdict is in here at It Started With a K-Drama. Keep reading to find out if my first impressions of Hotel Del Luna met my enormously high expectations.
“Hotel del Luna” is a fantasy drama about a hotel where spirits wander. The story revolves around an elite hotelier becoming the hotel’s owner following a fateful incident with its beautiful, but ill-tempered manager, Jang Man-wol. –HanCinema
The Hong Sisters always find a way to enchant me with their magical stories that have a one-of-a-kind feel. Watching the first episode of Hotel Del Luna feels more like an epic movie masterpiece than a television drama.
The style, music, and aesthetic of this drama are right on par when I think of a Hong Sister’s drama. It’s dark, sets up unique world-building, has a great comedic underbelly, and is chock full of colorful characters. Let’s not forget to mention how strong the cinematography is here.
Whether it’s the awkward, scaredy cat Go Chan Sung or the cold, no-nonsense Jang Man Wol that’s utterly bored with her never-ending life, I find myself liking the leads in Hotel Del Luna. Chan Sung is a fish-out-water. Sure, he’s been prepping for this moment all of his life. His father may be a thief and poor role model, but at least he didn’t sugarcoat the truth of Man Wol and Hotel Del Luna.
Nonetheless, he’s so overwhelmed and horrified when he’s gifted with seeing ghosts for the first time, that I can’t help but laugh out loud. His situation isn’t that funny per say, but Yeo Jin Goo plays Chan Sung as such a soft and delicate guy. He’s the polar opposite of IU’s Jang Man Wol who is sharp-tongued has grown hardened to the world and all of those around her.
As far as first impressions go, Hotel Del Luna is not a flawless drama. Like in Hwayugi (aka A Korean Odyssey), the CGI can be a bit cringe-worthy at first. I do like the campy, horror element, but when the CGI is so blatantly obvious and lacking, it has a tendency to throw you out of the drama for a minute. I appreciate the effort, but wish the CGI blended more naturally into the drama. The elevator sequences prove to be the most problematic and awkward of all the CGI. The rest was okay for the most part.
Speaking of the hotel, this is the equivalent of a premium one-stop-shop for ghosts before they move on to the afterlife.
Have unfinished business? Not ready to move on and want to cling to the mortal world for a while longer?
No problem, there’s Hotel Del Luna. And boy, does it certainly leave first impressions because Chan Sung’s dad is utterly terrified of that place after his experience.
This is where aimless, lost souls run rampant. They have the golden opportunity to fulfill their needs that they couldn’t when they were still alive. Also, with the help of Man Wol, ghosts that have unfinished business have the opportunity to, well, finish their business before they head off into the afterlife.
As far as the hotel, it’s 5 star quality. It’s more high class than run down and creepy. There’s a whole room that opens up to a sandy beach with a massive ocean, a classy sky bar with a mod/vintage-era style, a huge grandeur lobby with a pretty chandelier, and probably more that we haven’t seen yet.
In her years of manning the ghostly hot spot of a hotel as the owner, Man Wol’s done pretty darn well for herself. She doesn’t help her ghostly guests for free–no there’s always a price. Sure, it costs money to run a hotel, but her extravagant lifestyle is the true budget breaker. This is how she’s been able to live a luxurious life and been able to amass a garage filled with expensive and exotic sports cars.
Despite her boredom and many years of serving as the hotel owner, I don’t think she got too bad of a deal for her sins. Speaking of her sins, I really can’t wait to see what truly happened to her in the past to cause her to become the way she is. Also, I’m curious to see how the Hong Sisters will reveal what Man Wol is. She’s obviously not human, but she’s not exactly a ghost either. Yet, she has powers. What does that make her? Some kind of supernatural being? (This is currently my biggest burning question.)
I couldn’t stop myself. I fell hard for this drama. Yes, it isn’t perfect and could use some work in particular areas. Still, I like it enough that I can roll with the imperfections for now.
I feel it’s worth noting that the ghosts have an interesting look. Their skin color is a deep gray and I love that they’re not just shown as translucent beings that you can see through. Speaking of looks, I love Man Wol’s old-fashioned, Victorian-era style dresses and fashion. It really adds to the dark, ethereal style of her character.
I think we didn’t get enough time with Chan Sung to develop his character, but we have a whole drama to see him grow and evolve. While skittish and rightfully scared of ghosts, he’s not one to easily let Man Wol win. He certainly knows how to put up a fight and, dare I say, get past Man Wol’s icy exterior.
It didn’t quite match my expectations, but I thought it was a pretty solid beginning. This drama really needed to spend the critical beginning half world-building and bringing us up to speed.
The director also did some interesting work with camera angles, wide shots, and screen panning. It instantly caught my eye as it was different than what I’m accustomed to. Yet, the style seems to suit this type of drama so far.
All in all, as far as first impressions go, I’m all in with Hotel Del Luna. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Man Wol, Chan Sung, and the remaining staff of the hotel.
Stay tuned for a more in-depth review! Tiff and I will both be covering this drama on our Weekend In Dramaland podcast. Hotel Del Luna is currently available to watch on Viki. For more First Impressions post, check out some of my recent thoughts on Her Private Life.