[Review] Nae Il’s Cantabile/Cantabile Tomorrow – 내일도 칸타빌레

PLAYING CHOPSTICKS

A Korean remake of the Japanese drama based on the Japanese manga, the drama follows two music prodigies who attend a prestigious music college.  Cha Yoo Jin (Joo Won) is an arrogant music prodigy who is not only talented at playing a number of instruments but is also audibly astute.  He dreams of one day becoming a famous conductor but he’s limited by the education he can receive at his current school due to his fear of traveling abroad.

Seol Nae Il (Shim Eun Kyung) is an eccentric and lively pianist who can play music just by listening to it.  Her approach to music is the polar opposite of Cha Yoo Jin and she is also limited by her fear of performing in public, preferring to use her talent to become a kindergarten teacher.  As they get to know each other, they help each other step outside of their comfort zones and fulfill a bigger musical dream for themselves and their friends.

Shim Eun Kyung’s casting was the main reason why I was drawn to this drama.  She defines quirky so Seol Nae Il was right up her alley.  However, I didn’t read the manga nor was I a fan of the drama so I didn’t quite know what to look forward to.  It’s definitely not a drama that’s going to be a hit with everyone because their reactions are overly exaggerated and silly.  However given the fact that they are supposed to be over-the-top and cartoonish, the drama has a clear-cut moral theme that seems to work in tandem with the drama’s structure.

Ryu Min Ji – 방구송 (The Fart Song)

류민지 – 방구송

The drama is really about dreams and how people achieve them.  It makes sense to place these characters in a music school.  For a character like Cha Yoo Jin, he approaches it through discipline in his craft.  For a character like Seol Nae Il, she approaches her dream through happiness.  In fact, emotions rule if and how she plays the piano, which I will get to in a moment.  Violinist Yoo Il Rak (Go Kyung Pyo) achieves his dream by finding courage by having a solid support system like his friends or his dad.  For Cellist Lee Yoon Hoo (Park Bo Gum), it’s about being patient or holding back, especially when it comes to his nerve damage.  Through each of these characteristics, each character learns when their approach can be a source of strength or a pitfall on their way to achieving their dream.  Although it’s such a corny theme, the writers seem to make it work for their structure and the characters are so likeable that it doesn’t immediately turn off.

It’s really important for us to see Nae Il battle her fear of playing in front of audiences.  She’s had a traumatic past so anything structured makes her think of that past and reignites her fears.  The structure of reading sheet music is also another reminder of that.  I think it’s interesting that Yoo Jin and the other music aficionados make internal comments about her playing.  She doesn’t play the song exactly how it’s laid out on the sheet music but her interpretation of the music is interesting enough that it impresses them.  In that respect, achieving her dream becomes a much bigger stake when she decides that she wants to follow Yoo Jin to study abroad.

In turn, Yoo Jin learns that people can express music through different methods.  It’s not just about practicing or being technically perfect; it’s a combination of emotion and skill that makes people want to respond to the music.  He realizes that he needs Nae Il’s spontaneity just as much as she needs his discipline.

When it came to Joo Won and Shim Eun Kyung’s chemistry, I have to admit being baffled about how the drama would approach the subject of romance.  It’s not that the actors don’t have chemistry but Yoo Jin is so uptight and Nae Il is so quirky I just couldn’t see how the romance would work on screen.  It’s not handled in that typical K-Drama romantic comedy sort of way so it’s something to be aware of if viewers are looking for romance.  I was satisfied in the way the drama handled it as it kept things consistent with their characters.

Overall, the drama keeps things light and entertains.  The best thing about the drama is how well it incorporates well-known classical tracks into the story making it feel cartoonish.  Anyone whose seen Disney’s Fantasia or old Looney Tune cartoons knows how the instrumental tracks does more than merely providing a score.  It works for the overall tone of the drama.  So if you don’t mind having to bear a clichéd theme, it can be a decent drama.

Rating

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