Hai everyone! This is my first time writing a review for a drama. Thanks to Joowon Cutie for giving me the chance to write essays every week. My insights are more towards technical stuff, namely the acting, editing, filming and music aspects. Having had (some) experience in all these aspects, I will be as objective as I can. This review will be slightly long, but the next review will definitely be shorter as I don’t need to mention a lot of the things mentioned in this review.
A good drama lies in the conflicts of the storyline. Scripts, production and actors are all interrelated and conjoined in creating a good drama. If only either 1 exists, the whole project will collapse and be forgettable. Either 2 exists, the result can be extremely good, even outstanding. When all 3 exist, we will get a phenomenal project. In my point of view, Tomorrow Cantabile is a project with good actors and possible good scripts, having known the storyline. It is still too early to judge this production. TC has potential to be a really good drama and it promises to deliver from the get-go, something that certain dramas are not capable of doing due to the poor writing and lack of strong conflicts in the storyline.
Reading reviews about Nodame Cantabile, I worry that I will see exaggerated acting and childish sound-effects, knowing how Jdrama humor is. Jdrama humor is definitely different than Kdrama humor. What works for Jdrama does not work for Kdrama. A lot of directors made this mistake which results in lousy adaptations. I was still reserved upon watching the previews, but I happily bury my worries as soon as I watch the first episode. There were no exaggerated acting, the music was beautifully laid down for each scene, the angst was set up amazingly, beautiful scenery, and the humor was perfectly carried out.
I love both angst and funny genres. Better yet, if both genres are mixed together. I love music too, so TC is definitely my cup of tea~ To be honest, before the drama starts, I don’t see where the conflict lies in TC. A genius guy has fear of flying, so he could not travel overseas to pursue his dreams of being a conductor. My first thought: Study locally! End of story. But since Joowon leads, I had to watch the drama. And TC answers me right in the first episode when Yoojin said “None of the teachers are a match to him (Sebastian Viera)”. I somehow understand.
As episode 1 progresses, I’m beginning to see conflicts in the characters. By the end of episode 2, I’m at the edge of my seat, pulling my hair and biting my nails, thinking of the many conflicts Yoojin have coming his way. And I know these are the conflicts that will take a long time to be solved, so I’m on board the plane~
I didn’t watch the Jdrama, so my character interpretation is purely based on the Kdrama. I will do a short one for Yoojin since the focus on the first two episodes is on Yoojin.
I think Yoojin must be a lonely character. He doesn’t seem to have any friends apart from Do Kyung. It’s like he creates a wall between himself and other people. But in Yoojin’s gentle heart, there’s always a rope to let people climb it but only those brave enough to climb that wall can surpass. Naeil, innocent and naive that she is, manages to persistently climb that wall despite having fallen off a few times. Little did Yoojin knows, Naeil is holding on to that rope and is actually pulling HIM to other side of the wall.
Though he may look cold on the outside, but Yoojin’s heart is definitely gentle. I don’t know how his relationship with the other minor casts would be but I sure hope he gets more friends. Yoojin already shows he can be very caring when he wants to. So imagine how caring he can be when dealing with friends or lover. This is one of the parts I’m looking forward to see; Yoojin’s character development in opening up to people around him. This is a crucial personality in pursuing his dream to be a conductor.
A conductor needs to interact with the people he leads. Teacher Do thinks Yoojin could not be a good conductor because of his arrogant attitude, his refusal to listen to him during lessons. Though he is right in a certain way but he did not give Yoojin a chance to prove that he can actually do otherwise, that he can adapt to people. Teacher Ahn chooses to give him this chance in the duet with Naeil. He notices how Yoojin lets Naeil do as her heart desires and harmonizes with her as they go along. This is a major achievement for Yoojin, to realize that he doesn’t always have to FORCE PEOPLE to do as he wishes, that he can let other people lead him too and he can instead listen and ADJUST HIMSELF while guiding others.
Once he opens up to Naeil after the piano scene, he encounters another critical moment with Ilrak. He meant for Ilrak to follow his piano lead but the latter chooses to do otherwise, to outshine Yoojin and play as his heart desires. However, Yoojin proves again, as he did in the duet with Naeil, that he can adjust himself to Ilrak’s way of playing, thus guides him along the right path. I don’t know how Yoojin would have reacted has he not had this same experience with Naeil during their duet together. But his experience in opening up to Naeil had helped him overcome Ilrak’s protest to lead, thus creating a beautiful harmony.
It is necessary to mention the chemistry between Naeil and Yoojin. Sparks are flying between them the moment they met in episode 1. Joowon and SEK’s professionalism shows through the chemistry. They hug, push, fight, play piano and converse…all showing good chemistry. I don’t believe that Yoojin has fallen in love with Naeil yet. But he is slowly opening up to her presence despite his protests. He wouldn’t have bought the second fish if he really dislikes her presence, would he? I am really excited to see how his feelings change, and how he reacts the moment when he realizes what his feelings are.
The title is Naeil do Cantabile which indicates Naeil is the main character. As of current, to me, Naeil is still not the main character. Though she plays an important part in Yoojin’s character development, she is still currently quite… ‘plain’. Plain, in a sense that I do not see any conflicts in her future character. I can’t predict what kind of growth planned for her character. So far, I just see her as a bright, cheerful, trusting young woman with a gift in piano skills. I see her as a very loving person (too loving to Yoojin) and put other people’s priority above her own. I don’t know her dreams, I can’t predict her future, I can’t judge her past.
However, there’s a certain depth to Naeil’s past that we catch a glimpse of in episode 1 during duet practice, but we weren’t given more than an arm-bite. Shim Eun Kyung delivers well at that scene and it left a deep impression on me. She has an extremely bright personality, so to have her upset like that, it must be a really dark past for her. I will not comment much on her character development yet for I am not given the chance to judge much in the first two episodes. I look forward to see in what way she can change, and how she changes people’s personality and perspective in life.
I like how boastful Ilrak is when we were first introduced to him. But having met his match in Yoojin, he succumbs to being second best in violin and resorts to ‘force’ Yoojin to be his best friend. Ilrak seems like he will be a good friend to Yoojin, with his straightforward attitude. I hope Ilrak will be there for Yoojin when he needs a friend the most. He has a forgiving attitude. He was embarrassed by Yoojin once when Yoojin walks away from his performance in the hallway, and was told off by Yoojin twice for boasting about himself. Instead of letting pride gets his way, he forgives Yoojin and resorts to follow his lead in the future.
The teachers are well casted too. The dean obviously supports Yoojin, maybe due to her relationship with Yoojin’s mom. But she also has a soft spot for Franz too which will surely put her in a dilemma when the Yoojin vs Stresmann battle begins. I hope this is where teacher Ahn comes in and offer his insight. He’s the second person to discover Yoojin’s wish to be a conductor, the first being teacher Do. Instead of degrading that dreams (what teacher Do did), he suggests that Yoojin takes his dreams seriously. I hope he will provide all the support Yoojin needs later on and helps put teacher Do in his place for disliking Yoojin so much. So far, I like the competitive tension between teachers Do and Ahn.
Franz Stresmann… he’s just a genius conductor, but a pervert. There’s a past relating him to Sebastian Viera and possibly Yoojin’s dad, which magnifies his dislike for Yoojin. I am excited to see what lies in store for Yoojin vs Stressman battle, but I do not wish Yoojin to be hurt… I’m definitely on Yoojin’s side.
There is no more question that Joowon and Shim Eun Kyung are both great actors and their previous award-winning roles have proven that.
However, I was still sceptical when Joowon alone confirmed his role, though I know he can color a role with his own interpretation having followed his previous projects closely. His known reputation has been for angsty dramas, so I’m not exactly overjoyed with just his confirmation alone as the lead. Reading reviews that this is a female-centred drama, the question of casting the female lead is of utmost importance. So I was over the moon when Shim Eun Kyung confirmed her role.
I see similarities in Joowon and SEK in that both of them are not very popular actors among their age generation. But they are certainly more talented than they are given credit for. Their ability to analyze a role and their natural expressions and vocal intonation has placed them far above their peers. May I just point out that his reaction to insects mirrors mine…
Having closely analyzed Joowon’s acting for two years, I’ve trusted his acting ability. His acting range is very wide and his ability to be in depth in his character is amazing. It’s like he has a switch where he can do different face expressions. He can act with the smallest of expressions and the message managed to shoot to our hearts. What I love the most about his acting is that he’s not embarrassed to do expressions that other actors may have tried to do so in a manly way. He goes out of the way to express the exact emotion he’s feeling at that time. This is definitely down to him fully understanding his character interpretation.
I highly respect the amount of research he does for each of his characters. His hard work definitely paid off in the form of the awesome Cha Yoojin role with his various expressions and intonation, definitely different than Tamaki Hiroshi’s version (or so I read). I’m glad that a lot of people praise Joowon’s portrayal as Chiaki despite having doubts about him before the drama starts. Joowon definitely interprets the character in his own way. He was told not to watch the Jdrama, but he did so anyway, in his quest to interpret the character differently than Jversion.
SEK on the other hand, receives a lot of unfair criticism for her portrayal. Before I watch the drama, I just know the female lead has a bright cheerful personality, a slight pervert, and that she’s a genius in playing piano without looking at music sheets. I didn’t expect her cheerfulness in the form of dancing in the park, running and yelling out Yoojin’s name, and her absolute messiness too. But all these traits tally with her personality. She has to act out over the top since it’s a drama. In the first few minutes of the episode, I find her weird and disgusting. I have fear of insects! But as the episode progress, I find myself relating to her bright personality (minus the messy persona). This is definitely down to SEK’s ability to make people empathize with her character.
Some people say she is over-reacting. Overreact is defined as ‘to react excessively to something’. I disagree that she over-reacts, because her actions and reactions each scene are perfectly in line with her emotions at that particular time. And she’s consistent regardless if the camera is filming her directly or not. I see a lot of over-reacting and more under-reacting in kdramas. SEK as Naeil in TC is definitely NOT one of them.
I find SEK’s reactions spot on. Her reactions are what we were THINKING of doing, but we didn’t have the guts to act it out in real life. Naeil is a girl who doesn’t care what people think of her, thus she is able to react whichever way she likes without actually feeling embarrassed about it. For instance, was she over-reacting when she plays piano for the kindergarten children with that funny expression? Yes, of course she has to. That is why she is able to rouse laughter from the children. Over-react is what made children loves adults. What other parts were she over-reacting? Her reactions/expressions when Yoojin pushes her around? Her constant wriggling whenever she’s with Yoojin whom she loves so much and wants to hug? No, she’s just a bundle of adorableness packed in a bubble of happiness. I would do much more than what she’s doing if I’m in her position.
As for the side actors, I’m really surprised at how much I like the casts this time round. I’m familiar with some of the older casts, but I am unfamiliar with the younger casts. Go Kyung Po is doing well in portraying his role so far. Within 2 episodes he managed to convince me that he’s quite a good actor for he can convey his personality well. Even Yoo Mi (Do Kyung) is doing a believable role, the typical arrogant second lead. Her role is not exactly difficult, but I’ve seen worse actresses in easy roles before, so she’s doing a great job now. As for the other future S-orchestra players, I could not read them as they appear for such a short time.
I’m a tad bit confused as to which orchestra member Shi Won (Bae Min Jung) will be in. I notice her hanging out with Ma Soo Min (S-Orchestra) and rival conductor Seung Oh (A-Orchestra). So she could be outcasted by A-Orchestra and join S-Orchestra later on. Maybe…
Double actors: Let me see a show of hands on who doesn’t know the production use double-actors for the music instruments…? *counts*. All of us know the production has to use double actors for these scenes. It is the norm in all action and most music dramas to use ‘stunts’ as a representative to make the scene as realistic as possible. Thus lies the problem: how realistic and efficient can a double actor be? Is it really necessary to use a double actor? If not done properly, this can be a major turn-off for a project.
In this drama, the most obvious double actor would be ex-gf’s Do Kyung’s vocal practice with Yoojin in episode 2. Though she actually use a double voice, but it was just so obvious. Naeil’s piano parts are surprisingly very well done, I can barely tell the difference. My only concern is when she is not looking at the piano but staring at Yoojin instead. So during those parts, I’m sure she’s not playing herself. But I love her joy expression whenever she plays.
I like Yoojin’s piano double-player too, but it’s obvious when it’s Yoojin or the double coz the pianist is slightly chubby than Joowon. But my favourite so far has got to be Yoojin’s violin part. Though obvious, but it looks quite real to me. I especially love it when they show close-up of Joowon playing and I can see his left hand vibrating. I didn’t see that in Joowon’s practice videos, so I’m really impressed he included this detail during filming. The violinist cover for Ilrak is not bad either because Ilrak moves his body so much that we can’t see the left hand difference anyway.
Generally, I think the double-players are executed well. However, the editing could’ve been better. On close-ups their body movements don’t really match the beat of the music. Pianists and violinists have different movements when they play, and we can see both Yoojin and Naeil move their body. But because the editing wasn’t properly executed, the scenes don’t look very believable. I hope the production improves in this aspect.
Now, we can’t talk about Tomorrow Cantabile without actually discussing the music. It is a crime to do so! I have not been a fan of classical music because the music piece is very long. So it is quite difficult for me to decipher as to where the sections are adapted/adjusted in the drama compared to the musical part. I can’t tell one music piece apart from another. So having the detailed narrative and comments by Yoojin, especially, is very helpful because it caters for those who didn’t know classical music to tell the difference in adaptations they made for this song. I will listen to the playlist and hopefully I will gain some knowledge on classical music.
I think the background music is really spot on with the situation. Thumbs up! I love the cheeky tune whenever Naeil is at her most mischievous and pervy moments, or else chasing him around. The intense moments peak with the use of heavy orchestra tune, a soft melody whenever Yoojin and Naeil have their sweet moments, and the best yet is the use of Beethoven Symphony No.5 at the Best Smirk of The Year moment. One of the good things about being a classical music drama is that the music pieces that students perform presents as OST/Background music too, so the songs are different for each situation. I do notice the repetitive use of certain music piece, but they are used perfectly in line with the situation. I am very much in love with the music pieces played throughout the first two episodes.
If I am right in thinking, there might be battle of orchestras coming our way. There is A-Orchestra which consists of the good ones and S-Orchestra which consists of the yet-to-be-polished ones. The S-Orchestra members seem to be those misfits who have minor issues such as lack of confidence, a small body frame, etc. But when polished, they are the ones who will be outstanding for they know each member lacks in a certain way so they play together to support the others. This can be better than those really good ones who tend to outshine other members. If there IS a battle, I’m all for the misfits~
There has been slight controversy over the OST ending song used in both episodes 1 and 2. The song is called Listen To My Heart by Melody Day:
Stand up now
It’s starting right now
Do not shout
Don’t look back
You are further again from me this time
I love you
Because of you
No matter everything you do
No matter what answer you give
Because you’re always by my side
Incomplete and rough translation by a fan. I will post a complete/revised translation when we get the full version.
I happen to really like the song. It has been playing in my mind the whole week. I think the song suits the love story between Yoojin-Naeil and also the fighting spirit of S-Orchestra whenever they’re feeling down. Some prefers classical music as in the Jdrama. But this is Kdrama where they set a high standard for their OSTs. Each OST has to be unique in terms of lyrics and melody, catered for audience to remember memorable moments from the drama. The lyrics were written in line with the storyline, and the composer must have read the script in order to convey the exact meaning and emotion of the song. This is why most OSTs are not suitable when matched with other drama scenes; because the emotion and lyrics are not suitable.
I could not go further than this for my interpretation. I only watched 2 episodes. There is still so much to interpret as the weeks pass by. Until then, everyone~ Hope you enjoy Tomorrow Cantabile as much as I do.
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