Director of ‘John and Sun-Hee’ From The Boys Presents: Diabolical Breaks Down the Animated Episode

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Boys Presents: Diabolical episode, “John and Sun-Hee”. Read at your own risk!]

The primary moments of “John and Solar-Hee”present a light photograph of a pair in entrance of a pavilion. Nevertheless it’s not simply any pavilion that is behind them, it is Gyeonghoeru Pavilion in Gyeongbokgung — the royal palace situated in Seoul first in-built 1395. Pictured listed below are John and Solar-Hee, the primary characters of this episode from The Boys Presents: Diabolical written by Andy Samberg. When director Steve In Chang Ahn, 39, first learn the script, the ethnicity of the aged couple was not specified. However he requested for the characters to be Korean immigrants. “It makes them extra on the sting as a hero and it makes them extra determined,” Ahn informed TV Information. The photograph within the opening scene exhibits the couple within the capital metropolis of their nation of start. “They began from Korea, they acquired married in Korea, after which they immigrated to the U.S.,” Ahn mentioned. “The story is concerning the final chapter of their life.”

“John and Solar-Hee” follows Solar-Hee (voiced by Yuh-Jung Youn), a lady on the point of demise from pancreatic most cancers, and her husband John (voiced by Randall Duk Kim), who makes a harmful choice in a last-ditch try to save lots of her — one which ends in the emergence of a lethal monster. The episode is one among eight in The Boys Presents: Diabolical, an animated spin-off collection of the superhero satire The Boyson Amazon Prime Video. The present premiered on March 4 and, along with Samberg, options tales from Awkwafina, Garth Ennis, Eliot Glazer and Ilana Glazer, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, Simon Racioppa, Roiland and Ben Bayouth, and Aisha Tyler. 

The occasions of every episode happen on this planet of The Boys, and, identical to within the live- collection, are startlingly morbid and darkly humorous. “John and Solar-Hee,” which leaves behind the comedic tone signature to the present, is undoubtedly essentially the most stirring of the bunch. It is made all of the extra emotional by means of references to Korean tradition and language which can be intentionally particular, poignant performing performances, and a vivid musical rating.

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An earlier model of “John and Solar-Hee” leaned into the horror style. “However once I learn it I feel the drama was stronger than the horror on this episode,” Ahn mentioned. “As a substitute of specializing in the monster, I feel John and Solar-Hee’s story was extra vital to me.” One specific form of emotion stood out to him: the emotions from a farewell. “Personally, I left Korea once I was a youngster,” Ahn mentioned, “I mentioned goodbye to my grandparents.” Each of his grandparents have handed away, and the director drew on that have for his character design. “Once I draw, I would like a reference to attract,” he defined. “Saying goodbye to grandparents: I’ve a sense, an emotion, a farewell in my reminiscence. So I used to be capable of deliver that to this piece.”

The drama aspect turned extra advanced when the lead characters have been was a Korean American couple, and when Ahn — who was born in Korea and moved to the U.S. when he was 14 — introduced parts of his heritage into the episode. “As quickly as we introduced [a] Korean-American layer to it, it turned extra than simply an outdated couple preventing a monster,” he mentioned. 

"John and Sun-Hee," The Boys Presents: Diabolical

“John and Solar-Hee,” The Boys Presents: Diabolical

Amazon Prime Video

It began with the names: “John is form of a standard identify amongst first-generation Korean-American immigrants,” he defined. And Solar-Hee is the identify he picked for John’s associate. “In Korean phrases, it incorporates purity in pronunciation. And I believed that identify displays effectively who this grandma is,” Ahn mentioned. Within the episode, whereas John is bent on saving his beloved in any respect prices, Solar-Hee struggles to show away from the harms brought on by their choices.

One other reference to Korean tradition in “John and Solar-Hee” is the repeated imagery of gaenari, a yellow flower also referred to as Korean forsythia that blooms within the spring and is the official flower of Seoul. “Coincidentally, Andy wrote [the episode] with a yellow flower,” Ahn mentioned. “I used to be pondering, how can we make it as an emblem for Solar-Hee and the way can we deliver extra subtext to this.” He determined to include gaenari as a illustration of the aged lady’s life. “That is why within the hospital, gaenari leaves are falling,” he mentioned. The flower first seems within the episode when a lone petal from a withering plant falls subsequent to a bedridden Solar-Hee. However on the finish, as she makes the choice to depart John and combat the monster, the couple is enveloped by a glowing, golden forest of the flower. It was a scene of “celebrating her life by means of reblooming gaenari,” Ahn mentioned. “Although it was a tough, immigration life, there was a magnificence to it.”

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The director mentioned that Solar-Hee and John characterize first-generation immigrants. “Numerous Korean American first-generation, they got here for American dream,” he mentioned, including that he thinks second-generation and third-generation immigrants are extra typically those who fulfill their goals. “Normally the primary technology form of fade away, doing all of the work and jobs they did not imply to have,” Ahn mentioned. Within the episode, John works as a cleaner at Vought, the large company that employs superheroes. Working as a cleaner was not unusual for Koreans who moved to the U.S. between the ’70s and the ’90s, Ahn mentioned. 

The director needed the couple’s challenges to be mirrored within the artwork type, too. Every of the episodes in The Boys Presents: Diabolical has a special aesthetic, and “John and Solar-Hee” is markedly extra subdued in its palette. “John and Solar-Hee, even their colours are a bit of bit light away,” Ahn mentioned, “form of portraying how their American Dream has been tough for them and so they’re preventing until the tip of their life.” This message is conveyed by means of the traces drawn, too. “Nothing is ideal, we did not even use a ruler to attract something within the animation to deliver uncooked illustration of those two characters,” Ahn defined. “In distinction, in the event you have a look at Vought or the monster their colours and features are extra stunning.”

"John and Sun-Hee," The Boys Presents: Diabolical

“John and Solar-Hee,” The Boys Presents: Diabolical

Amazon Prime Video

The voices of John and Solar-Hee have been additionally rigorously thought out. Ahn knew he needed to deliver a Korean solid to the present. “There are a number of Korean animated characters, however normally they’re performed by non-Korean actors,” he mentioned. Randall Duk Kim was solid as voice John, and Yuh-Jung Youn as Solar-Hee. “After we solid [Youn], we heard the information that she acquired nominated for an Oscar,” Ahn mentioned, referring to the seasoned performer’s nod for her position in Minari. And her recording day for The Boys Presents: Diabolical got here proper after the weekend in April 2021 when she turned the primary Korean actress to win an Academy Award. “It introduced a number of strain to us to fulfill a brand new recent Oscar winner,” Ahn mentioned. He described weeping behind the monitor, together with different crew members, upon listening to the recordings from Youn and Kim. “Their colour already carries the length of the life,” he mentioned, including that their performing introduced out the feelings of the characters. 

Youn and Kim’s voices weren’t the one sonic aspect that conveyed John and Solar-Hee’s emotions. Hyesu Wiedmann, 41, composed music for the episode and needed it sounds to observe the couple’s emotional journey. “There is a solo cello all through the rating,” she informed TV Information. “We had two completely different ranges within the cello — decrease register representing John’s and better register representing Solar-Hee’s voice.” Widemann aimed for the 2 melodic traces to convey John and Solar-Hee’s emotions that weren’t expressed in phrases. 

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The supervising director of the episode, Giancarlo Volpe, had reached out to Wiedmann within the strategy of discovering a composer of Korean descent for the music in “John and Solar-Hee.” “I solely knew very, very primary details about the venture. That it is about [a] Korean couple, and issues go in a means that may be very sudden,” Wiedmann mentioned. “The large query of the episode is, how far are you able to go on your family members?” 

Wiedmann was born in Korea, moved to the U.S. for school, and now lives in Los Angeles. Upon listening to the episode’s theme, she instantly considered “Arirang,” a well-liked Korean people music regarded as greater than six centuries outdated. “One of many producers informed me that is precisely what Steve [In Chang Ahn] thought,” she mentioned. Although there are various variations of the music, the themes of separating from a liked one and eager for a reunion seem repeatedly. “I organized it in a mode that I believed can be most becoming for John and Solar-Hee saying goodbye,” Wiedmann defined. “That is the model that you’ll hear over our finish credit score.” 

The ultimate phrases that Solar-Hee says to John on this goodbye scene are additionally full of which means. “Gwaenchanayo,” Solar-Hee John, the Korean phrase which means “it is okay.” “Remember to eat on time. Do not skip meals simply because I am not there,” she says in Korean earlier than launching into an assault in opposition to the monster. “Simply saying goodbye, I believed it wasn’t sturdy sufficient to hit that emotion,” Ahn mentioned of the scene. “We have been pondering, what if there are Korean traces which have a which means of farewell.” Phrases about consuming have been the reply. “Numerous foreigners, after they journey to Korea, they ask why so many Koreans ask them in the event that they’ve had lunch or dinner,” Ahn defined. “It is form of a beneficiant means of claiming, ‘How are you doing?'” He mentioned that relating to goodbyes, folks in his group typically share reminders about meals as an alternative of explicitly saying farewell. “We share love and concern and care by means of asking, confirming the meal,” Ahn mentioned. Due to this, the final moments between Solar-Hee and John felt good to him.

Ahn has labored in animation for 15 years and mentioned it is his first time engaged on Korean characters as heroes. “That is nonetheless occurring in The Boys world, however I believed it was an excellent alternative to deliver some Korean-American and Asian American illustration in animation,” he mentioned. “I took it extra personally than only a job.”

“I undoubtedly need to be a kind of Asian administrators who can deliver extra [s] of Asian group,” Ahn mentioned. “We’d like extra illustration, particularly in animation.” Whereas the director has seen extra variety in live- tales, he mentioned he feels that extra Asian voices may very well be heard in animation. 

“Personally, I by no means knew I might be introducing ‘John and Solar-Hee,’ such an emotional piece, to this world. It’s extremely completely different,” he laughed, referring to the diabolical world of The Boys. If the viewers can really feel the emotion that’s coming from the victory of those two unsung heroes, then I feel I succeeded.”

All eight episodes of The Boys Presents: Diabolical can be found to stream.

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