Racket Boys brought the best of both worlds in 2021 – a heartwarming slice of life and an interesting sport-based story sprinkled with some amazing cast. Finally, the review of this comfort show is coming today to our blog.
It took me 5 hundred years to give this review to you but it’s finally here. I actually dragged out watching the final episodes of Racket Boys for a while because I just didn’t want this drama to end. It brought me so much happiness and comfort during 2021 and I’m so thankful for starting it because I knew I would love these kids the moment I met them. I ended up writing a whole essay on what an amazing character Yoon Hae Kang was in our special collaboration post before writing this review and I have no regrets – that’s my comfort character and I would protect him with my life. If you like to watch slice of life dramas which focus on family and friendship (similar to Hospital Playlist or Reply series) and don’t mind some badminton plot then this is your drama for sure.
From MyDramaList: A story of a boys’ badminton team at a middle school in Haenam as they grow, both as people and as players. Yoon Hyun Jong was once a very good badminton player, but now he struggles to make ends meet for his family. Therefore, he jumps at a chance to coach a middle school team, only to find a team on the verge of disbandment with only three players: Bang Yoon Dam, Na Woo Chan, and Lee Yong Tae. The three boys struggle along, improving as Yoon Hae Kang, Yoon Hyun Jong’s son, joins the team along with Jung In Sol. Now having enough players to enter competitions, they try to soar to new heights. Meanwhile, Ra Young Ja, former top badminton player and Yoon Hyun Jong’s wife, is the coach of the girls’ badminton team at a girl’s middle school in Haenam. On her team are Han Se Yoon, the #1 ranked junior female player in Korea and Lee Han Sol, Se Yoon’s best friend, allowing them to be one of the best teams among their peers.
No spoilers ahead so proceed:
If I could describe Racket Boys in two words it would be warm hug because that’s what it felt to watch this drama. I adore the fact that it focuses on the friendship between the teammates slash friends slash roommates as well as their families and, of course, their sport – badminton. This felt like a breath of fresh air to me and I devoured all episodes with immense joy. Initially I though that it would be a drag to have so many characters throughout the drama but somehow everyone contributed nicely to the story. In this way, the drama reminded me a lot of Reply 1988 because the focus isn’t only on the main characters (which I’d say are predominantly Yoon Hae Kang and Han Se Yoon) but on their families, their village and people they encounter on their way to stardom. It felt nice to have parents so deeply present in a drama and taking such a big portion of it as well as seeing the grown-ups being involved positively (and sometimes not so positively) in the players’ lives.
The cast is incredible. I cannot praise everyone enough for their acting here as everything seemed very natural and authentic even during overly dramatic or overly ideal scenes. Somehow they made it all make sense and I didn’t mind anything. Tang Junsang, Choi Hyunwook, Lee Jaein and Kim Minki were the ones from the main squad whose acting I liked the most and the characters I connect to the most as well which isn’t saying that the rest of the cast wasn’t fantastic. I loved the chemistry that the main friend group had and it was never not entertaining to see them bicker, fight, make up, make plans, compete together and cheer for one another. It felt like watching them grow up little by little and grow a lot as characters as well.
I’ve already mentioned that Tang Junsang’s portrayal of Yoon Hae Kang was my absolute favourite thing ever. I’ll avoid repeating myself but I loved Hae Kang so much – he was the real glue of the friend group, the team and the family as well. He was such a unique character and to see someone with so much adorable confidence (even when he was faking it) was endearing to me. He was secretly and silently there for everyone, from his parents and sister to his teammates and other people in their village even when it didn’t seem like it and I appreciate the way he kept developing as a person throughout the whole drama. He also had chemistry with everyone which was a joy to see and some of his final scenes with Se Yoon made me cry.
The sport aspect of the drama was fun as well. Badminton is a fun sport and I wasn’t bored watching their matches at all – I was easily sucked in into their competing world and rooted for everyone so much. There were a few storylines that could’ve definitely been a lot shorter but they all had their charms. I think the main reason I didn’t mind the side stories of the coaches or other players, as well as the village residents, was the fact that they were all done nicely and in a way that gets you to actually care about them. My absolute favourite side characters were the city couple Phil Ja and Tae Ho and I was surprised how dark their story arc was in the beginning (so be careful regarding that as you will encounter some potentially triggering themes such as suicidal thoughts).
Racket Boys was with Hospital Playlist 2 the comfort slice of life drama for me in 2021 and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. Tang Junsang world domination.
Header Image Source: Netlfix