Like other drama-bloggers who (maybe) juggle between Twitter and their blogs, I find myself sharing opinions about shows I’m watching via multiple 140-character quick blurbs. Primarily because it’s quicker and easier that way, but for me it’s also fun to do it this way. My account is (still) public so you can follow unofficially but even so, honestly I keep having this nagging feeling that I’m side-lining my fellow blog-friends and readers who aren’t on Twitter, you folks who’ve engaged in lively and detailed conversations with me about shows way before my Twitter account!
So here’s a (long) summary of shows I’m watching, and what I think about them. I’m mostly hoping to incite discussions between us, if any, about any of the shows mentioned – those that aren’t are totally welcome too, cos tell me I’m not the only one who thinks Fall 2014 is a good drama season both in Jdramas and Kdramas! We’re spoilt for choice. So yes, this write-up’s really a prompt to get the conversation going!
PS I have more time this quarter hence more drama-watching because I’m only taking 2.5 classes remember. I swear I haven’t been slacking off in school!
The last time I wrote about this show, it was up to episode 4. I can’t believe we’ve surpassed the halfway (or going to, this week?) point of the show – time sure flies. I am still really, really liking this show – hesitant to call it love though, strangely – despite realizing and recognizing the flaws of the show, both on its own and when compared to its Japanese counterpart.
For me, some of the show’s flaws are more obvious than others, like the fact that it’s missing the musical aspect that made Nodame Cantabile such a darling or that absence of a particular feel, which I noted in my first impression. There’s also something to be said about their different interpretations of similar scenes namely those that appeared in the Jversion as well.
Generally, different is fine because different doesn’t always equal bad, but it’s more about scenes where say for example, Nae-il’s autonomy to decide and act for herself is seemingly taken away from her. What we are presented with instead, is Yoo Jin doing her saving for her as opposed to she doing that herself. It’s in scenes like that, that I find the Japanese version superior because their approach was always about striking a balance between Chiaki and Nodame, where both are each other’s shadow and light; no one outshines or takes away the merit of the other.
In general though, I still think Tomorrow’s Cantabile is holding its own despite the weak links in writing and characterizations. Although I am optimistic about where we’re headed in this second half, and how much Nae-il has progressed since I last wrote about her, truthfully I do still wish Nae-il is a more layered character. There are still moments where she feels flat and two-dimensional to me and that’s so frustrating, because I continue to be impressed and taken by Shim Eun Kyung. I’m beginning to truly understand that there’s only so much a talented actress can do when she’s limited by an average script, because this is exactly the case here. She’s got gravitas in emoting and conveying her feelings – conflicts, love and what-have-yous – through body language and facial expressions and so I hope the screenwriter takes advantage of what Shim Eun Kyung is capable of delivering, in this second half of the show.
In typical Kdramaland where male characters are more fleshed out than their female counterparts, Joo Won continues to knock the ball out of the park with his performance in this show. I’m genuinely really impressed by him. I absolutely love his Yoo Jin sunbae character, who feels like Chiaki yet distinct enough that he holds his own. What I hope for, going forward in the second half of the show, is for Tomorrow’s Cantabile to prove to its audience why these two fit together like yin and yang.
To me, Nodame and Chiaki’s relationship and connection to each other are rooted in their love, respect and passion for not just music because it’s music, but specifically the music that’s created and played by the two of them. The untapped emotions that they elicit from each other when one listens to the other – it’s a level playing field where they are both each other’s muse. It’s great, inspiring, and beautiful because even though we’re merely an audience to the sonata they weave together, we understand that it is no mere coincidence or fate that draws the two aspiring musicians to each other. What’s crucial is that we understand and recognize that music is their center, yet their devotion and sentiments towards each other alight from a different center – their hearts – and I dare argue that that makes all the difference. So I sincerely hope, hope, hope that Tomorrow’s Cantabile will be able to sell to me this same connection; the reason it’s got to be these two as the end game and not anyone else.
Last note – as much as I groaned at the insertion of a second lead because of Kdrama’s fixation towards love triangles, hot damn that guy playing Yoon Hoo is hella charming, and so is his character with his rather interesting backstory. I really enjoyed watching him conduct Mambo – come on PD-nim, too short! Too short! – because of that glint in his eyes; his expression positively sparkles in the face of music and I love it.
Still awesome. Though I have to admit that despite the show’s A+ performance from script to directing to acting, surprisingly I am not at the edge of my seat with this show, forget obsessing over it. I like it because I always appreciate a good story and solid execution, but I’m not going ga-ga. I’ve no idea why… maybe it’s got to do with having watched the Japanese version and remembering enough about it that I know what’s going on? I really like the show though and am enjoying it heaps, even if it’s also true that Nam Da-jung gets on my nerves… like there’s naïve and there’s… stupid? She’s testing my patience with her overly gullible personality. If anything though, to her credit, I can’t remember if Nao was like this or worse.
Also! Ha to everyone who’s only now noticing the hotness of Lee Sang Yoon! HA! Teri and I totally called dibs on that side of him way earlier from Angel Eyes!
Everyone’s talking about this show, and rightly so. I love it so, so much.
I don’t know if I have anything to add to the already weighty and meaty discussions across blogosphere about this show, but I concur that this show deserves all the accolade and buzz. I admit that the first two episodes were so tonally depressing that I almost dropped it – mirrored real life too much that it suckered punch me to the pits – but it’s been on an upward trajectory ever since.
When the first two episodes aired and there were lots of buzz about it, I came across many people claiming it to feel like a Jdrama. It took me up until episode 4 or 5 to finally realize why they think so – I didn’t feel the same way when I watched the first two episodes – and I think it’s because it’s a character-driven show, as opposed to plot-driven which is Kdrama’s typical go-to modus operandi. Sure it’s a slice-of-life drama that’s reminiscent of all the Jdramas under that genre, but to Misaeng‘s credit, the show goes a step further by holding firm and rooting its story to its ensemble of well-fleshed out characters, acted by an amazing team of actors.
Lee Sung Min is just… an inspiration (though when is he not) and I am so glad they chose Kang So Ra as the sole female among the male-centric ensemble. She is kicking ass, let me assure you that, and definitely holding her own. As for Im Shi Wan, he is adorable and perfect for the role. I find that he conveys his emotions best through his eyes and it is truly something, the fact that he shines brighter in the quieter beats of the show than the obvious scenes. My 2014 gem i.e. best diamond-in-the-idol-dominated-rough find, Kang Ha Neul, continues to impress us all by giving us a restrained performance that’s affecting and impacting. His character Baek-ki spent most of the first six episodes in the background and yet he’s never once forgotten. He’s also not the er, nicest character and yet I find myself rooting for him anyway, because while I might not like him or someone like him in real life, I understand his motivations.
And that’s exactly the thing with Misaeng: the show’s characters feel like everyday people in your and my lives, with intentions, motivations, and backstories that’s uncannily familiar to us. Personally for me, I respond to each character viscerally, legit, and I think that’s saying a lot as is. Be it Im Shi Wan‘s adorably innocent Jang Geu Rae to the calculative and superficial Baek Ki, I finding myself caring for these fictional characters in the same way that I do with real people because you know, it’s crazy but in my mind they are real people and this, well- this pretty much explains everything.
As for the plot, I am honestly still amazed that it takes on the blandest and most common setting ever: the office. Yet the show has managed to paint such a realistic picture – if not in conflict then definitely in the dynamics and climbing-the-corporate-ladder struggles – and my favorite part is how the writer cleverly and insightfully inserts the relevance of baduk both in this mundane, everyday life as well as in Geu Rae’s inner monologues. This insertion gives the show and many of its key scenes an added layer of complexity and nuance, and the result is nothing short of impressive.
I’ve been live-tweeting – kinda – my watching experience with Misaeng and at the end of each episode I’ve pretty much been saying the same thing, and meaning it each time: best episode yet! Best Misaeng episode yet! The show keeps upping its own game and I love it. I friggin’ love it.
Also! Last but not least, Han Suk Yool people, Han Suk Yool! I love this character to bits and have noticed him from his very first scene. I feel like he’s not getting enough love and I want to change that. Han Suk Yool is portrayed by newbie (or not so newbie? Limited information about him online) Byun Yo Han and he is totally a hoot and a riot, my god why aren’t more people talking about him?! HAHA I genuinely love him so much.
Pride & Prejudice
So I picked this up on a whim – totally didn’t plan on watching it because I’m not a fan of any of the actors, but I had time and so I decided to give it a try. Episode 1 was actually pretty good, entertaining at least. Episode 2 was cute and although both Caitlyn and me scratched our heads at the fact that he remembered her so clearly and emotionally, over a single it-almost-happened date i.e. not enough, in my opinion at least, to justify five years’ worth of grudge and bitter feelings, that aside the chemistry between Choi Jin Hyuk and Baek Jin Hee is really, really cute.
To be honest, I really wish the writer had gone ahead with a different title because it’s like… kind of insulting to the original namesake, but anyway on the plus side I’m happy to note that this is the same writer who gave us the surprisingly introspective School 2013. Frankly the overall storyline and conflicts thus far of Pride & Prejudice aren’t anything to drive home about …but this writer sure has a way with characterization because just like how she gave us poignant and emotionally nuanced characters in School 2013, she does so again with Pride & Prejudice. Admittedly, at the moment it’s really only our leading characters who are well-fleshed out but I think it’s only a matter of time before she’ll dig deeper into the side characters.
In general this show is low on my list because while it’s not bad, it’s not oh-my-god-it’s-great either. Still, it’s such a breezy and easy watch that I keep tuning in anyway. I like it enough to keep watching …for the group dynamics and that the leads stay in a share house (I love share houses!). I am looking forward to the hijinks that I’m sure will ensue; please happen! I also think that the sparks between Choi Jin Hyuk and Baek Jin Hee‘s totally there, just waiting for the right time to crackle and ha, I want to be there when that happens! Last but not least, as for the backstory involving her kid brother and her motivation to seek revenge, I’m curious… enough… to keep tuning in.
I would love to talk about this show so if you’ve things to say about it, I’m all ears!
Roommate Season 2
I’ve meant to write about this show, or maybe more like mention that I’m watching it and that I’m surprisingly enjoying it a lot – more than the first season. Who knew? Maybe the right recipe does lie in the right casting, because the dynamics and relationship between the current residents are friggin’ hilarious to watch. I think it’s a smart move to cast more extroverted people because they really keep the mood lively and jovial – even if yes, they do come off as annoying every now and then. Yes, I’m mostly talking about Joon Hyung and Jackson Wang. You could probably factor in Guk Joo too, but so far she hasn’t elicited a response from me where I mentally go, “Oh my goodness stop attention-seeking!” which I consider a good sign, because yup, sometimes I do mentally react that way with the other two.
Still, in general I am really enjoying watching this group bond together and I’m glad – SO GLAD – they did away with any forced love lines. Because come on, how much do I(we) love the friendly banter between Ji Young and Jackson? If ever something happens between them – I doubt it, not publicly at least, but let’s say it does and if so, I would much prefer an au natural development.
I also want to applaud PD-nim for finally getting it right with the format, showcasing three or four brief stories per episode. Please keep the show this way PD-nim! There’s a cohesive enough format that the hour doesn’t just feel like we’re and they’re aimlessly meandering yet at the same time, there’s enough liberty for the casts to act as themselves and engage in activities which are entertaining to them and to us.
In short? Win-win!
Last note – I feel for Park Min Woo who’s mostly just swallowed into the background because the new people are so lively and outgoing, while those who are quieter like Seo Kang Joon, instead exude a presence and charisma which Min Woo unfortunately lacks. Some people just have it in them, I guess that must be true. I want to notice him, truly I do, but he just keeps being overshadowed by the new people – even Ryohei! Surprisingly even by the quiet Ryohei! – especially when they’re assembled together, so I hope PD-nim will do something about this. I mean, even Se Ho gets more screen time. Not… that I’m hating on Se Ho or anything, just y’know, Min Woo‘s gotta take the initiative to stand out, which Se Ho is pretty much all about.
Gomen ne Seishun!
So I gave this show two episodes to convince me because on paper, it has all the right ingredients:
- Kudo Kankuro is the show’s screenwriter
- Leading man is the only J-idol I still have a soft spot for, Nishikido Ryo
- Leading woman is the ever-awesome Mitsushima Hikari
- Mitsushima Hikari is oh my goodness totally rockin‘ that bob hairdo
- The male students are sweethearts, in a clever gender-norm switch!
- It’s tonally slapstick funny, not stupid funny
- In typical Kudo Kankuro style, the show’s dialogues are zippy and hilarious
- The show’s tone is lightweight and breezy, with just enough heart to ground itself meaningfully
…but guys, unfortunately it’s not working for me. I find it more zany than slapstick, and even though I love both the leading man and woman to bits, just the thought of continuing episode 3 is like this big burden I don’t want to bear. So unfortunately I am dropping it… but if the above checklist appeals to you, I totally recommend that you try checking it out because hey, maybe it’s really just me and not the show!
Okay, that’s it from me. Love to hear from you guys about any of this or just anything else you’re watching and would like to share with me!