Music is in the air- Cantabile Tomorrow, KBS2’s new Monday/Tuesday drama, premiered this past week. An adaptation of a manga (a famous Japanese drama was also based off of the manga, airing in 2006) Cantabile Tomorrow has thus far shown a quirky and cute side. With a solid cast and a whole lot of buzz pre-premiere, this show has been a whirlwind of expectations. Time for a Stone Cities first impression post. Cheers!
Meet the players
Cha Yoo Jin (Joo Won)
Yoo Jin is an uptight perfectionist. Obsessed with classical music, form, and order he dreams of becoming a composer – all while sticking it out a as a slightly rude piano student.
Seoul Nae Il (Shim Eun Kyung)
Nae Il runs around like a crazy person – throwing out random emotions and always ready to show the unexpected. A mess when it comes to hygiene, or her personal life, Nae Il seems to hide a more serious – staid side. She is a piano major at the university.
Yoo Il Rak (Ko Gyung Pyo)
Il Rak is a violin player. Rak needs someone, anyone that has talent, to help him earn a passing grade. Once he hears that Yoo JIn is the best of the best he hunts him down – which facilitates a friendship with Nae Il.
Our Story thus far (in brief)…
Cha Yoo Jin has a lot going for him. He spent his childhood in Europe, where he learned to love classical music (and studied with a maestro). Now, as a student at a university, he is musically gifted and popular with the ladies (who he ignores). He pines after his childhood and his time studying under the maestro. Unfortunately, due to a traumatic plane ride as a child, he cannot fly – so he will never return to Europe to study.
Yoo Jin is frustrated with his piano teacher and decides to quit school. His girlfriend tells him he cannot (they go out for drinks) and then breaks up with him. Yoo Jin drinks more, eventually passing out in front of his apartment door. His neighbor Nae Il, a fellow piano student, finds him that way.
Nae Il helps Yoo Jin into her apartment, where he passes out. When he wakes up in the morning he is disgusted (her apartment is a mess, complete with cockroaches). He freaks out and runs back to his neat and tidy abode (he cannot stand germs), where he tries to shower away the memories of ever being in Nae Il’s house.
Nae Il is now crushing hard on her neighbor, which means she struck gold when it is revealed she has to do a piano duet with him. Yoo Jin has been dropped by the professor that he argued with and is now a student of the same professor (the one who takes in the lost cause) that Nae Il is.
Yoo Jin is initially frustrated at how Nae Il’s playing lacks form and order, but as the episode progresses he finds that this is actually a good thing. He participates in the duet (if he does he won’t have to show up to practice and gets an automatic A), and as he plays alongside Nae Il he sees beauty in her ability to be impulsive, to not follow order. We hear his internal monologue explaining that while he always thought Europe was the only place he could find joy and meaning in music, he may just have found something here to do the same.
The character of Seoul Nae Il has me on the fence- there is a part of me that loves her quirkiness and naïve approach to life while another part of me wants to slap her silly. I read a review this week that basically described her as a set of quirky character traits- not a character- and as of episode 2 I tend to agree with this opinion. I think there is a lot in store for this character when it comes to the “fleshing out” bit – the small flashback we were treated to of her piano training days hints at a more multi layered, serious person hiding behind all of the frivolity.
The camera work in this drama is interesting. While I am not sure if the approach is a compliment or a detriment to the story it is trying to tell it is certainly interesting to say the least. From extreme close ups to angled long shots the view is never boring or mundane.
One thing that immediately struck me as of the end of episode 2 – this is a very episodic. While the over arching plot is continuous the main conflict of each episode is a mini plot arch in and of itself. While this element may change, at this point I can see this drama continuing the episodic dynamic through all 16 episodes. I am actually thankful for this – it has been far too long since I sat down and watched a show that I consider as compartmentalized (but fun) as Tomorrow Cantibale has proven to be in only two episodes.
I am eager to see more of the supporting cast – we were treated to multiple hints of who would be joining the super bestest orchestra ever (and here be our ensemble cast). It can be expected our scope of characters is a bit vague as of episode two, the first two entries in the series should highlight our main characters and give us some background regarding events to come. There is a lot of promise when it comes to the students we were given sneak peeks at thus far – they all seem interesting and spirited.
I feel that I am at a bit of a disadvantage having not watched the original Japanese series (which E-kun swears is awesome). I have heard a lot of buzz about how great the original series is, and that has given rise to big expectations for this Korean adaptation. I am watching with a fresh mind, no previous knowledge of the story, and no way to know if this show turns out as a total disappointment considering the original telling of this tale. So far I like this drama – but I have no clue how it stacks up to the original Japanese drama. But count me in – I am having too much fun watching this to stop any time soon.
Have you watched the original drama? Thoughts? Hate it, like it, want to punch it in the face? Let us know in the comments!