The first review for the upcoming Apple TV Plus series Pachinko was released today. And while they’re almost universally enthusiastic in their praise, there’s at least one thing you should probably understand about Apple’s adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s novel from the start. The title of the story is a metaphor, referring to both the game of Pachinko and the magnitude of an uncertain gambling life.
Especially for the story’s heroine, Sunja, who grew up in Korea under Japanese control and then spent her retirement years in Japan reflecting on her life. “Why did his family think pachinko was so terrible?” Lee writes at some point in the novel. “His father, a traveling salesman, had sold expensive life insurance policies to single housewives who couldn’t afford them, and Mozasu created spaces where adult men and women could play pinball to money.”
The story continues: “The two men had made money through chance, fear and loneliness. Every morning, Mozasu and his men tinkered with the machines to fix the results – there could only be a few winners and a lot of losers. And yet, we continued to play, because we hoped to be the lucky ones. How could you get mad at those who wanted to be in the game?
DO NOT MISS : 10 deals you need to see on Sunday: $20 Echo Auto, $4 smart plugs, $189 AirPods Pro, more
Is Pachinko a true story?
It’s a story about fate, chance, how we play the game of life. And how the rules are seemingly stacked against certain people from the start. Pachinko, both the novel and the Apple TV Plus show, is historical fiction. But as they follow a fictional Korean family who immigrate to Japan, the narrative is grounded in all the real-world obstacles a 20th-century Korean family would have encountered in Japan. Like racism, prejudice and much more.
The “and more” includes sometimes tricky stuff, at least in the book. Like an intense torture session that takes place at a given moment, during a stay in prison.
That said, “epic” is a word that is often mentioned when talking about this series, which has a languid pace in the storytelling. So much so that we quickly become immersed and invested in a multigenerational story. And the results are sometimes breathtaking.
There’s fun and immense depth of feeling to be found in the storytelling here. Aided by the lavish visuals and atmospheric backing score. The verdant greenery of Sunja’s younger years unfolds in a sort of pastoral dreamscape. Replaced, eventually, by the uglier, more industrialized modern present.
“One of the best things on TV”
“The highly anticipated series, based on The New York Times The acclaimed bestselling novel by author Min Jin Lee chronicles the hopes and dreams of four generations of a Korean immigrant family. “Epic in scope and intimate in tone, the story begins with forbidden love and crescendos in a vast saga that travels between Korea, Japan and America to tell an unforgettable tale of war and peace, love and loss, triumph and judgment.”
Here’s a taste of the rave reviews the show has garnered so far:
- rolling stone: ‘Pachinko’ turns an intimate story into a historical epic – and one of Brest’s things on television
- Collider: ‘Pachinko’ Review: A Masterful Tapestry Of An Adaptation Made Brilliant In Every Thread Of Love
- IndieWire: ‘Pachinko’ Review: A Gorgeous Family Drama That’s TV’s Closest to a Shared Memory
- decision maker: ‘Pachinko’ Review: Apple TV+’s Sweeping Korean Epic is TV’s Newest Masterpiece
Pachinko debuts on Apple TV Plus on March 25. Three episodes will be available immediately, followed by new weekly installments every Friday during the eight-episode season until April 29.