Is it real love if you love a hologram?
Series Review: My Holo Love (2020)
My Holo Love is a new Netflix K-drama series, released on the 7th of February. The Holo of the title is the name of a hologram prototype. And yes, the premise of My Holo Love is a budding romantic relationship between a lonely, socially awkward woman and her A.I. companion. A companion who is for her eyes only.
Stir into the mix, a reclusive, brilliant, profoundly flawed hologram maker, nefarious tech competitors out to steal the hologram technology and more significant issues of a surveillance society. Oh, and don’t forget childhood traumas or the fact that our lonely woman suffers from face blindness. And what you get is one exciting, thought-provoking, very entertaining paranormal romance.
The Lonely Damsel and Her Gallant Hologram
Psychological trauma from childhood has left Han So-yeon (Ko Sung-hee) with the inability to see and recognize faces. The ordeal has left Han So-yeon intensely aware of her handicap, a handicap she keeps hidden from all around her, keeping to herself. All her coworkers consider her an aloof snob. She is socially awkward and incredibly lonely.
And then she finds a pair of glasses in her bag, and she has no idea how they got there. She didn’t notice the frantic woman, on the run from goons, who slipped the glasses into her bag. Putting them on, she meets Holo (Yoon Hyun-min). At first, she thinks she’s going mad, seeing ghosts. But Holo’s persistent in explaining just who and what he is. And So-yeon quickly realizes just how helpful it is to have an unseen hologram by your side.
Yes, with glasses on and Holo’s commentary in her ear, So-yeon can “recognize” faces. Well, Holo tells her who’s who. And with this information, the withdrawn So-yeon is no longer quite so withdrawn. She starts socializing with work colleagues, flirting with her boss, gaining more confidence. And becoming more and more heavily reliant on her faithful and trustworthy Holo to help her navigate all these social engagements.
He becomes her friend and confidant, a comforting presence in her otherwise heretofore lonely life. But with Holo by her side, she is never alone.
But Holo is a prototype, belonging to a tech company, and Holo’s maker is looking to get his hologram back. And those tech rivals are still out there, wanting Holo for themselves.
Holo and His Maker
Go Nan-do (Yoon Hyun-min) created Holo in his image. Childhood trauma has left that tech wizard deeply wary of social relations. He lives his life as a ghost, making no ties other than those of the digital type. Nan-do’s adoptive sister, who is the outward face of their company, understands that Holo is the man that the scarred and scared Nan-do wishes he could be.
Holo and Nan-do are two sides of the same coin. One is temperamental, arrogant, abrasive, bitter, sardonic, and very real. The other is infinitely patient and understanding, supportive, giving, and giving and giving. The perfect boyfriend material.
In seeking to retrieve Holo from So-yeon, Nan-do meets her. She doesn’t recognize him. Indeed, she cannot. But he remembers her. His dearest memories from childhood are those of spending time with the neighbor girl, his only friend. Her name was Han So-yeon. And when she is suddenly before him, all those memories and feelings come rushing back.
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Seeing how much she depends upon Holo, he cannot bring himself to take him away. So, he watches and protects from a distance, even moving into the apartment next door and fighting off goons (all unbeknownst to So-jeon). And he sees So-jeon developing a deeper and deeper relationship with Holo, his creation, a side of himself that he cannot and will not show.
Yes, Nan-do falls in love with So-jeon, even as she is falling in love with Holo, who is developing some surprising and alarming abilities of his own. Yup, Holo, that A.I. without feelings is developing feelings, learning what it is to love.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a complicated love triangle going on here. And just how it all gets sorted is something you’ll have to see for yourself.
My Holo Love is a very engaging and fun series. There’s good chemistry between the leads. There are some deliciously evil baddies. The story works. Sure, there is a point where Nan-do is pretending to be Holo, and So-jeon doesn’t pick up on this. That is craving some leaps of logic to keep that going for too long.
But that said, there is this message in My Holo Love about the seemingly untouchable perfection of digital life. And learning that maybe there is something to be said for the imperfect, the gruff and grumpy and bad hair days of real, hands-on, touchable life. Then there are thoughts on surveillance society and how much of our privacy we share in our search for the latest gimmick. And to what ends that private information is possibly being collated and used to nefarious ends.
Yes, there are lots of apt and imminent threads in My Holo Love. Just as a good science fiction should. And My Holo Love is a solid sci-fi with a good mystery, gripping action, and binge-worthy romance.
Content Note: Rated TV-14
Where to Watch: Netflix.
Photo Credit: Netflix.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”