Lookism Review

The South Korean webcomic is now a phenomenal Netflix anime.


Image by Netflix

Johnny Chirayil, Social Media Editor

“In a society that favors good looks, a high school outcast leads a double life switching between his two bodies that are polar opposites in appearance.” -Netflix.

Yes, you read that correctly. A high school student, Park Hyeong-Seok, has been switching bodies day and night to see how other people treat him based on his looks. As many viewers likely expect, everyone treats Hyeong-Seok better in his model-like form. On the other hand, he also has his original body that is shorter and fatter, and he would get bullied brutally. 

Many shows on Netflix never really caught my interest, especially whatever anime suggestions they offered, but “Lookism” was one anime something that stood out from the rest for me.

So, how does Hyeong-Seok switch bodies during the day? How it works is that whenever he sleeps in one body, he’ll transfer onto the other body. He would go to school in his model form during the day and work at a convenience store in his fat body at night.   

At first glance, I thought this show would come off as offensive since it represents fat-shaming, but then again, you never know once you’ve actually watched the show. Even if Hyeong-Seok is in his model form, many boys in his school still treat him poorly, primarily due to their jealousy, and some would make assumptions about him.

Throughout the show, he eventually meets a boy named Pyeon Duk-Hwa, who’s also being bullied for his weight. As Hyeong-Seok witnesses the situation, he tries to stand up for Duk Hwa, but Duk Hwa simply walks away, worrying that Hyeong-Seok will start treating him just like the bullies do.

Hyeong-Seok tries his hardest to befriend Duk-Hwa, but Duk-Hwa keeps pushing him away and assumes that he was just using him to make him look good and friendly in front of others. This situation could’ve happened differently if Hyeong-Seok had been in his fatter form. Deok-Hwa eventually meets the fat Hyeong-Seok during his first visit to the convenience store.

After Hyeong-Seok and Duk-Hwa’s first encounter, the school day ends and Hyeong-Seok returns to the convenience store in his fat body. Hyeong-Seok reminisces how Duk-Hwa judged him because of how he looked similar to the students who bullied Duk-Hwa. As mentioned earlier, Hyeong-Seok was still having trouble getting along with the other boys because they envy him for his looks, talents, and the attention all the girls give him. As he looks back at these events, he looks at his original fat body and reminisces the times he would get treated poorly in that body. 

Hyeong-Seok brings these events together and learns that no matter which body he’s in, nothing will ever change how the world keeps treating him. He is still one single person in the end. 

As time goes on, Hyeong-Seok and Deok-Hwa form a bond. Deok-Hwa reveals to Hyeong-Seok that he wants to become a rapper because of how much Eminem inspires him with his songs about being poor and bullied. Every time Deok-Hwa gets picked on, it helps him create more lyrics. Hyeong-Seok also reveals his singing talent, and the two boys decide to work together on an inspirational song for the school festival.

Once the boys finish practicing, they perform their song at the high school festival, and everything seems to be going successfully. All the students love the song, and Deok-Hwa is now living the life he’s been dreaming of. After that, the manager from LK:S Entertainment goes to the boys and wants to sign a deal with them. The only catch is that they’ll only accept Hyeong-Seok since he’s better-looking. Hyeong-Seok turns down the deal because he doesn’t appreciate the manager treating Deok-Hwa poorly. Deok-Hwa starts leaving the scene, and Hyeong-Seok returns to his original fat body.

After the festival, Deok-Hwa meets with Hyeong-Seok again–in his fat form– at the convenience store, and they talk about how the world will always judge people based on their looks. Although, that doesn’t matter to them because Hyeong-Seok learns that “your looks, which had once divided you, didn’t really matter anymore.” 

Overall, I find “Lookism” one of the most phenomenal animes ever. I feel like this show can definitely relate to those who don’t feel socially accepted and wish they could do something to make them feel accepted, such as switching into a fancier body. If you were to switch into a fancier body, will everything change? Will you be living the life you’ve been dreaming of? You may think it’s a straight yes, but I believe the biggest moral “Lookism” managed to execute is that no matter which type of body you’re in, the same judgment will still occur on how people look at you. 

This anime really touched my heart, and I loved the song Hyeong-Seok and Deok-Hwa made at the end because of how much they’ve brought out their perspectives on how the world sees them. I loved what Kwang Il Han, the director of this show–and also one of the animators for “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra–”, managed to execute as he brought the famous South Korean webtoon into animation. 

Although, I never read the webtoon before, I can infer that it’s an absolute must-read if the anime managed to become this successful towards its audience. Even Taejun Park, the original webtoon creator, has commented his overall impression of how the anime turned out from his recent interview with Netflix Anime

If you’re an anime or Korean drama fan like me, this is one of my top recommendations. If you enjoyed it, then be sure to look into the webtoon, which is still available online with over 400 episodes, and it’s still running today. I hope they can make a second season soon. 

“Lookism” – 10/10