Thank you for landing on this post (or given this blog’s SEO fail, you have no choice but to land here.) Let me warn you that this is a lengthy post because the concept of brevity is very alien to me and a short post will not suffice explaining myself without sounding like a Dong Bang Shin Ki anti-fan.
Seriously, I’ve even followed them in Taipei to watch their concert and acquired this illegal fancam!
I’ve removed my previous entries regarding this drama because, I’ve read the post over and over again and the more I read it, the more embarrassing flaws and seemingly anti-fan sentiments came up, AND it wasn’t loooong enough to explain everything.
If you don’t like long posts, then you can read this review instead.
In this post, I’ll be comparing the original avant-garde movie “M” to its TV counterpart to Littlewood’s Law.
THIS POST IS RIDDLED WITH TONS OF SPOILERS!!!
Are you sure about this?
Then, read on.
TV VERSION: In a nutshell
Minwoo is a 28-year old webtoon author of a famous web series “December 8th,” it was all fine and dandy until a commenter under the username “Fire Warrior” wrote “This is based on real events.”
Y U DO DIS?
Like any overly sensitive creator on the face of the internet, he suddenly suffers writer’s block and harasses his manager to hunt down his troll
I don’t remember you, but I will find you, and when I find you, I will kill you.
Only to find out that his troll just lives across his apartment and it was his a-hole bully classmate in high school.
Just like old times.
Fire Warrior only has to say one thing to make him go on a wild goose chase with his past ghost.
Hopeful that the chase will answer how in the heck three months of his 18-year old life was gone and get back his mojo.
No seriously, HOW? I want to forget it too!
After several road trips, “cleansing sessions,” suicide attempts, smoke inhalation from lighting several matchsticks, bad hangovers, purgatory-zoning his pretty editor who’s clearly into him, a lunar eclipse, and a breakdown on his friend’s wedding, he finally concludes that the “December 8th” comic was the three months of his life that disappeared ten years ago that keeps on creeping back in his subconscious mind. That, the very reason for his amnesia (and unexplained depression) was Mimi’s ghost striking a deal with the Angel of Death to exchange her life over Minwoo’s in an agreement that he must never remember her to make things easier for him, since — in Minwoo’s world, everyone he makes a connection with, DIES!
Why does everyone I talk to DIES!
Big screen to small screen
The drama was adapted from the movie “M” starring Kang Dongwon as the original Han Minwoo and Lee Yeonhee as Mimi. It is an experimental avant-garde psychological thriller that leaves a bittersweet taste and is a must-see movie for every visual arts student out there. Director Lee Myungse refrained from using computer graphics but instead focused on using lighting techniques to achieve a dreamlike scenery.
As an artists myself that thinks of nothing but rainbows and dragon unicorns, the richness of color and representation coupled with deep heart-wrenching quotes landed a spot as one of my memorable movies I’ve watched.
The drama version has promised to keep it’s experimental charms and avant-garde(ness) but will be changing some of the plot to make it suitable for television. This time, Han Minwoo is played by Shim Changmin and Mimi by upcoming actress Moon Gayoung.
Consistencies and Changes
If my memory is correct, the original Minwoo was a novelist suffering from writer’s block, while the TV version made him into an online webtoon writer. Movie Mimi is a vibrant 18-year old slow-witted high school student, while TV Mimi is a smart home-schooled sickly 18-year old girl who has psychic abilities.
The symbolisms and famous lines remained but was diluted to make it more friendly to Cassiopeias or younger audiences — which, if it was the first one, I wouldn’t get it since our average ages range from very late teens to early 30’s. I wouldn’t know if their intention is to recruit younger fans, but at first glance, the adaptation wasn’t really my cup of tea, or if it was, maybe if I was 13?
The addition of the match box is likely inspired by the fairy tale “The Little Match Girl” wherein the girl lights up a match to see the soul of her deceased grandmother in heaven. On this one, Minwoo lights up a match to see Mimi’s ghost and asks away.
Umbrella man’s role was turned multifunctional. In the movie, he’s just a novel stalker following Mimi around, while on this one, he plays both the stalker, the Lupin bartender, and… SPOILER ALERT — Angel of Death.
In terms of screenplay, it is a combination of Ghost Whisperer’s Love Never Dies and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In Love Never Dies, the older sister trades her life in exchange for her brother’s, and Eternal Sunshine’s Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey having messed-up memories as a side effect of a new neurological procedure that deletes painful memories.
What they’ve also changed is the plot of the story, instead of the entire series pondering on Mimi’s death, they’ve also added some generic time travel “save your bae in the past” thing.
In this version, Minwoo can be pro-active with whether Mimi is gone forever, or will she return again?
But… I’m too EMO to actually do anything.
It’s unique point of being a feast in the eyes was kept in both versions. The movie has it’s beautiful visual typography and contrasts that makes the color burn through the screen, while it’s counterpart experimented on how a parallax webtoon works when a user scrolls down and the clean crisp color treatment on the final film. Though, Kang Dongwon’s Minwoo is much more gritty, violent, and disgruntled than Shim’s sappy, suicidal, emo rendition of Minwoo.
“When I’m sad, I go cross-country hunting down the ghost of my past because, EMOYOLO!!!”
Which brings us to the low points of the drama…
M’s simple, yet bittersweetly heart-wrenching story is a promising material for any adaptation. It’s story gives a lot of room for creative experimentation of visuals and non-linear storytelling. However, the producers’ attempt to maintain it’s avant-garde charms didn’t blend well with their goal to make it digestible for an ordinary TV audience. The first two episodes abused too much foreshadowing causing too many threads to follow. If the aim was to simulate a man’s really messed-up memory, well, it really messed up the story thread. Some of the clues to Minwoo’s memory were either too much giveaway or was introduced all at the same time without giving much needed processing time for the audience.
Second is the editing, there are some scenes that could have been better if some of them were clipped or was added on later episodes. Making the actor’s performance suffer or look like they are working too little or too much.
It seems like the drama was made for young Cassiopeia fan-service, or… in my case… a fulfillment of my fantasy of seeing Shim as a comic artist.
MY KIND OF FAN-SERVICE
Third, Mimi’s character was turned into an stereotypical Korean tragic love story, which in my opinion, they should have kept her healthy. It might bear more weight since Minwoo’s character who is already a lethargic emo kid. It will have more impact if Mimi was bouncing off walls smiling like Joker without holding her chest than both of them having a scenic pity party on each other’s loss. Besides, the young lady will die from a car crash, not from heart failure.
Why so serious? — BEST. PICK-UP. LINE. TO A GUY. EVER.
Fourth, it seems that this is like a big SM Town billboard, only promoting their ballads and their newest rookie singer Wendy of Red Velvet. The soundtrack is nice and all, but it didn’t have the same haunting effect as BoA’s “Mist” which was used on the original.
Does the forever cross-dissolve and panning a part of the story? I’m confused.
You see, even though I laud SME for developing memorable groups, I agree with Heechul’s remark of SME is bad with dramas.
AMEN BROTHER, AMEN!
Which also makes me think that part of the reason the three left the company is because of sh*tty drama projects!
“If I didn’t leave SME, I wouldn’t be able to turn into a Choseon Prince that you all love!”
Shim is perfect for the role, his statuesque physique coupled with his school boy looks that can turn dark in any moment is a manhwa fan’s dream. However, it wasn’t the acting — it was poor directing.
If I were to compare his role as Momo to this, he has potential to play such disturbing characters, but the director wasn’t able to realize this potential.
In the hands of a good director, Momoko is an Osaka seductress.
Not against Shim here or any of the actors and actresses but the writing was so poor and the revelations were hurriedly incorporated to fit four episodes. Minwoo’s character doesn’t have anything to redeem himself to prove that he’s more than just a sappy emo troubled guy, and what disturbs me the most is in reality, a person who exhibits Han Minwoo’s behavior is likely suffering from mental illness, I don’t know how serious given I only have four years of Fine Arts education but this may look severe! There was nothing the actors can do to save this poorly written fan-service drama even if they try.
Watch this drama if you are a really, really, undying fan of Changmin that you love the guy so much you’d be willing to jump off a tall building in a jiffy if he tells you to.
Honestly, the first two episodes were so confusing, even several bottles of beer and coke rum didn’t help my brain to appreciate it.
The struggle is real!
But, I won’t be writing this entry if I didn’t give it another chance.
“Thank you noona!”
I mean… this is part of my love-hate relationship with Shim.
Aside from the pilot’s web-toon treatment, the good thing about the drama is it’s richness in sappy emo quotes. The kind of stuff that you see on internet memes.
As I mentioned before, if the soundtrack was judged as an SME album, then it sounds pretty nice.
Lastly is their depiction of a visual artist at work. It took the liberty of showing what it’s really like to be a present day artist:
Glossing over Wacoms.
Spending relatively sleepless nights and foregoing personal hygiene.
Replacing food, water, and medicine with coffee.
Worse? Sloshing down one year expired concentrated pressed coffee!
Being harassed by editors when deadlines are looming!
I mean, I could look at that Creative Suite on that Cintiq with a touch-free glove for days. Ahhh~
I kinda felt sad that I’d always tell people I originally dream to be a comic artist while I was in college. I trained for about two years just to get it right, but several years of hand dormancy has significantly diminished what I’ve learned before. It wasn’t because of lack of opportunity in my country, but because I couldn’t find the time and courage to do so.
Why? Here is when I somehow realize that I am looking at a part of me on the screen.
It gets creepy… real creepy.
During Mimi’s press conference, Shim says that “it will remind you of your first love.” I’ve seen that theme in almost every Korean mainstream material there is, which, if you ask me…
… their fixation…
… over their first…
… love at all!
What could possibly be so nerve-rackingly different about this?
Seriously, I don’t get it at all. Call me bitter but, I’ve never seen (or at least within my circle) whose fixated over the guy / girl they’ve dated during their teens. Hormone-fueled decisions should be forgotten for LIFE!!!
That time when Shim first discovered tragic love story drama.
I mean… what could you possibly want to remember when you were…
18 years old… WAIT!
Raining… WAIT!What he said!
Car accident, and it was raining… WAIT!
Something that happened during the 8th… WAIT!
A calendar… WAIT!
And a fine arts school… HORY SHET!!!
My hands started to get clammy, my heart begins to sink, and my lips suddenly craved for more alcohol. I started to suspect that SM Entertainment has planted a bug on me since 2005. Why in the world would my ultimate bias do that? WHY?! JUST, WHY?!?!?!!!
Let’s just say, while I was in fine arts, getting all obsessed with becoming a comic artist, I was 18, I met this really tall guy who’s kinda emotionally troubled, and during the 8th of September, got into a car accident, made a legendary calendar and comic book, and was in it for another two and a half years.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! *throws beer bottle*
I wish I was lying about this. But the good thing is… NOBODY DIED — TWICE!
Yep! ‘Cos that will haunt me forever.
I mean, I’m not gonna deny nor confirm the accuracy of this drama of my 18 year-old self.
You know, there was this room at the 5th floor of the fine arts building wherein we stack all our paintings and… AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! SHIM, STAHP, DIVULGING, MORE DETAILS!!! YOU’RE CREEPING NOONA OUT!!!
In Watase Yuu’s Tohoshinki fan account, she shared that one of the reasons why most of her colleagues were Changmin-biased is because if they were reborn as male, they wanted to be him. In my case, part of the reason was every time I was doing generic flower boy guys and it kinda looked like Shim. It’s like seeing my imagination come to life. I didn’t give it much thought back then and totally forgot about it.
In 2005 (06) – the year I started training to draw comics, we saw the Samsung Yepp CF set playing at the college auditorium, and it seems that the guy I was dating then remarked it’s good to see a spunky girl that can keep up with the other guys — only to find out years later that the spunky girl, was indeed — a spunky guy!
With nice racks!
I wouldn’t say much about the eerie coincidences because that will make me sound like a crazy fan, but there is this thing that we call Littlewood’s Law which is a concept that if you think an event is so extraordinary, there is a big chance of it happening in an average of every 35 days.
For example… I’d never think that Shim will go running around as a centaur to greet the year of the horse…
…until I retreated back on my computer chair and say “I stand corrected.”
And after that, I’d never thought Shim would dress up as a girl again until…
I… stand corrected.
Coincidences, according to Michael of VSauce is our mechanism to find a sense of connection. The eerie coincidences just keep on flowing until I had it, paused the video to go to the bathroom walking like an angry zombie, returned to my chair and plays at this, exact, moment.
Even though it was creepily similar, the good thing is… I’m not Minwoo or Mimi after ten years.
“They are first, because it is imperfect”
I am quoting the original movie here because this is my more accurate opinion about the topic. Even if the drama was basically a role play of what happened to me ten years ago including the ghosts and psychic dreams. I’d completely forgot about it years ago. My Minwoo already have his Eunhye, while I just have gone Mimi’s path to freedom.
Although I am not wishing to meet the person again, the last part of the drama did really hit the spot. When you were foolish, the only thing you wanted to say is sorry and make sure numerous times that they are doing okay. The damage was done and there’s nothing you can do about it even if the universe gave you the chance to go back in time.
Maybe I was so creeped-out that my eyes started to well-up during the last bar scene.
But you know what, this is one accurate depiction of what the first is, it’s imperfect, you’re kinda hormonal about it, so you mess up really bad, but that’s okay, it’s meant to be like that. Because, it paves a way to the next one.
As for me, well… I don’t want to follow Minwoo who wants to find happiness in being with another person.
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