Are You Human Too? is an interesting take on a common theme, the almost human Robot. This drama centers around an AI proficient robot Seo Kang Joon, who portrays a robot created to replace a rather bad fellow in a coma. The rather bad fellow is (again the same actor) and is a chaebol heir who is in a coma. This takes place during a corporate power play where the robots human version, Nam Shin is a powerful, greedy and not so nice person. The robot, Nam Shin III is essentially the exact opposite.
Now begins the drama, let’s look at the main players.
In this lovely series, Seo Kang Joon plays two roles expertly. His depiction of the ever learning and “kind” or considerate robot is an expose of contradiction to his portrayal of the selfish and hot-tempered human version, which you can choose to blame on his upbringing or on his natural genetic makeup. Irrespective of whether you like him or not, the coma that Nam Shin is in places him in more than just a debility state, but in a life and lifestyle threatening situation.
Nam Shin III was created by Nam Shin’s mother who wanted an active son, and as such is not a direct replacement to secure the son’s position, but rather a mother’s emotional device to fill in a void. The end product is a robot that “loves” his mother and actually cares about her and the people around it.
To make things a bit more interesting, the series writers added the female role in the form of Nam Shin’s bodyguard, Sp Bong, who is played by Gong Seung Yeon. She is a not so honest individual that has had a hard upbringing. The role she takes on portrays a cynical, money-grabbing individual that is slowly changed by the new Nam Shin, and over time she becomes protective of Nam Shin III.
Another interesting role played in this series is that of the self-aware and manipulative secretary, Ji Young Hoon, Nam Shin’s secretary played by Lee Joon Hyuk. In this role, he portrays a confused individual since he is loyal to both Nam Shin and Nam Shin III.
Now, no series is good without a bad element, and in this series, we have Seo Jong Gil, played by Yoo Oh Sung. In this role, Yoo acts out a greedy competitor that is out to destroy Nam Shin and take over more control. In this role, and due to Nam Shin’s personality, you start to consider which side you want to root for, making the villain an optional hero.
With this villain comes an even more interesting “baddie” in the form of Nam Shin’s grandfather who is the head of the company and puts the company before family, which is weird, since the company was created for the family. In this role, Park Young Kyu portrays a grey, cold and political anti-hero.
To top all of this off, there is the original reason for Nam Shin III’s existence, Nam Shin’s mother Oh Ro Ra, played by Kim Sung Ryung. She is a capable robotics engineer brilliant and heartbroken due to the state of her son. Her devotion is to Nam Shin, and her product Nam Shin III is only a tool in her eyes.
The Plot and My View
This is a classic melodramatic sci-fi style drama that tries to mix AI with real life, and if you are ready to forget the improbability of an emotional robot with capabilities to understand process even the deepest emotions such as love and hate, then you will enjoy this series.
The drama is actuated by the “love affair” that develops between Shin III and So Bong. In this relationship, Shin III learns about the concept of love by trying to understand what makes So Bong happy. In this quest comes the core of the AI dilemma, can a robot be human? What are feelings and emotions and do robots have a personality that develops over time? In this story, the robot does learn to evolve personal traits, which means that the AI algorithm is an adaptable one. Over time, Shin III learns to be protective of So Bong out of feelings of “love” from caring for her happiness, that it develops.
So Bong, as a predictable human falls in love with the “concept” of the human Shin III, after all, it looks and acts human, and even maybe feels human too. It also sees and respects her for whom she is, which is her trigger to fall for him.
The drama and family dynamics are a bit messed up, but then this is a messed up family, as such the activities on a daily level are always interesting and each episode delivers great excitement as well as melodrama.
The bottom line, I feel is that you need to forget the analytical and scientific fantasies presented here, concentrate on having fun and enjoying how a robot can be manipulated, but can also manipulate, and also how a human looking robot can be effective in society.
Finally, the meeting of Shin and Shin III is what we are all waiting for, and how does Shin III react? In Shin’s case, not so well, he is not happy that there is a robot that looks just like him and is causing him much consternation, which is really annoying since Shin III actually presents a useful tool in the hands of a great person, which Shin is obviously not.
Overall, Are You, Human, Too? Is a fun and enjoyable series that has its highs and lows, which is what you want from any series that is designed to be fantastical. This was a great Sci-Fi melodrama that let me look beyond the fallacies of AI emotions and focused on the antics a human looking robot can have in society.