As a short drama, each episode of Thumping Spike comes in at only 15 minutes long, however, it packs in plenty of story by establishing backstory quickly & incorporating parallel plots which occur just off screen.
Kang Se Ra is a well known volleyball star just on the brink of going pro. But she's in a slump. Secretly injured, no pro team has picked her up.
This drama opens with her feeling downtrodden & desperate. She couldn't win the pink teddy bear at the amusement park which meant so much to her, and she overheard her manager say she's gotta get out of her slump.
She tries to drown out her sorrow at a Karaoke Parlor, but fails to remain anonymous & the night ends at the Police Station after she pummels a high school boy, thinking he was trying to abduct her.
Kang Se Ra, and her equally unpredictable manager, try to offer the student money as a settlement, but he doesn't want it.
What does he want? For the "Volleyball Goddess" to coach his high school team. They're currently in last place.
Knowing this is a romance, you might be thinking that the student who dragged her into coaching his team will be the romantic interest. But he's not.
Though, he'd like to be.
It's little moves like this one that kept the short drama well rounded.
Our male protagonist, Hwang Jae, is a returning senior who took time off due to family circumstances. The volleyball team he's returning to is not the stellar one he left. This puts a rift between him & the other teammates who feel inferior.
Kang Se Ra instantly recognizes Hwang Jae. She also fought him during her downward spiral, at the amusement park, over the stuffed bear.
Though he does not recognize her, Hwang Jae does not welcome her either. He has no need for a coach who is only there out of obligation. She does not believe in their team and the sooner she's gone the better.
And then... they get to know each other.
I really enjoyed the chemistry between Kang Se Ra & Hwang Jae. They might not be getting along at first, but we see that their words and actions impact each other. These interactions are humorous and telling of the kind of person each is.
Once feelings change, the humor remains, but an added layer of emotional honesty is tossed in on behalf of Hwang Jae. As a love interest he was great. His character is not the type to let things go when he's sure of them.
Even though the romance plot is progressed through Hwang Jae pursuing Kang Se Ra, it did not feel one sided. These two characters are technically in a Student & Teacher situation so Kang Se Ra had to uphold that boundary whether she wanted to or not.
The way she looked at him and was lenient with his forwardness gave us all we needed to know about her true feelings.
Overall, the acting is good in this series. The scenes with the team were full of humor & bromance, which only escalated when Kang Se Ra decided to move into the Volleyball team's dorm.
The scenes with the manager and his assistant were full of uncertainty.
And I liked the choice to contrast day scenes with night scenes in each episode. Daytime carried plots about the team & Kang Se Ra's career, while nighttime mostly gave us character emotional developments. It created a good rhythm of expectations.
Twists & Turns
Not only does the volleyball team need to improve their skills, if they don't win the Presidents Tournament, their school with disband the team completely.
Kang Se Ra is struggling with what purpose her life will have if she can't continue playing volleyball, but she hasn't yet sought treatment for her injury.
And her Manager fusses over and protects her, but does he really have her best interest at heart?
What this story has to offer you:
High School Athletes
Hate --> Love Romance
An Earnest Male Love Interest
Small Love Triangle
Shared Living Quarters
Honestly...there aren't that many volleyball games in this volleyball drama, which was noticeable once they arrived at the tournament & we were supposed to believe they had improved. But it makes sense due to the time constraint on a short drama.
I enjoyed this one. I really loved the characters and think they could have carried a full length version of the story. The lighthearted, romantic plot, was adorable. Give it a try!
Thanks for reading,
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Images and gifs included to visually support and promote this drama do not belong to me.