Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

ProDai VS Operation Proposal: Head-to-Head

Finished watching Operation Proposal up to episode 6, the last aired episode. I didn’t see it real-time, and skipped the pilot episode as — based on a recap i read — it’s largely similar to the archetype, but this will be the closest ‘review’ I could get to a currently airing series in a while. A fast released sub helps a lot – streamed them via dramacrazy. The video quality ain’t good, but is tolerable in my book.

I assume we all know that OP is the remake of J-dorama Proposal Daisakusen (ProDai). As it is a remake and I’ve seen the original series, it is impossible not to compare the two of ‘em – just like what happened to countless of other shows which adopted the same move. I don’t deliberately do the comparison though, I just can’t help it =x

To be fair, I have to admit that I no longer remember every bits and pieces of ProDai, yet am reminded of what they are as I go along with OP, prompting me to exclaim voicelessly, “Aahh~ so that’s what it’s all about” and where it’s heading to. To me, following a remake is barely half as fun as that of the original – I know what’s exactly going to happen (ie what Baek-ho’s gonna do or react/respond to the premise).

So far, OP’s been taking a different approach to the scenario but the nub remains the same, down to the way a case is settled. I like OP’s attempt albeit resorting to many cliché and cheesy settings (what’s with piggybacking Yi-seul all the way to hospital under the snow-clad weather? I cringed; not romantic at all. And the oops-i-slipped-and-accidentally-landed-on-your-lips scene is laaame) since it’s no fun to watch a cookie-cutter version of anything.

Onto the story: Baek-ho travels back in time to take a diametrical road hoping to fix his relationship with his love interest, Yi-seul, who in present-time is married off to Jin-won, the new baseball coach during high school days. Yeah, if only we could all do that, how convenient life is. Six episodes in, he has time-warped four times with little effect to present-day. Well, we have yet to find out what consequence his fourth visit makes, but judging that we’re only tierce-way through the series, it’s safe to say nothing major would happen to their present-time. No, not now.

I hitherto favor ProDai’s episodic over OP’s lengthy tho’ continuous format ‘cuz the pace is swifter in the former and is kinda draggy in the latter. As a fantasy drama, ProDai finds its footing rightaway and knows incisively what it wants to do with the concept whereas OP still struggles to place its.

One photo at a time with clear time-frame – the limit as to when Kenzo’s journey will end thus the amount of actions he has to put in before time’s up – whilst Baek-ho’s ill-defined time-limit suggests that he is well reliving his teenage years the second time around. Both versions employ camera flash to bring our jumper back to reality but until Baek-ho gets himself snapped he simply won’t come back to the present.

Next, Kenzo’s stony, rather stiff and indifferent characterization adds to the believable factor of why he couldn’t bring himself to confess after repeated attempts to the past – besides human’s personalities don’t change overnight. Baek-ho on the other hand appears quite normal that his detouring is questionable.

Another difference is that Baek-ho knows Yi-seul’s (past) feelings towards him right from the start – (arguably) a privilege isn’t enjoyed by Kenzo. The discovery of the belated love-letter subsequently propels him to regret the years wasted being merely close friends thus the (supposedly) improbable wish to turn back time. Having his wish granted, Baek-ho essentially returns to the past KNOWING that Yi-seul liked him back then.

Unlike Kenzo who doesn’t know what caused Rei’s sour faces in the photos, Baek-ho realizes what went wrong and is determined to fulfill a specific target with each time-travel. He (1) manages to discover a pair of custom-made mitts, (2) re-recuperates from injury and holds onto baseball, (3) gives a precious second-button to Yi-seul, and (4) overcomes his trauma and tries pitching again.

After all and such a determination, he taking his own sweet time and wavers at crucial points is beyond me – why CAN’T he quickly execute his mission in the past? Or confess his feelings since he won’t be rejected anyway. Geez. His shillyshally gets on my nerves.

What further bewilders me is Baek-ho’s momentary disorientation with the date and situation he zaps into. If you jumped to the future, I’m with you, BUT look: you’re transported to the time when you’ve been there done that, how can you NOT remember when it took place and what was going on!? Need to do a quick check-up on your memory retention, dude.

Theen… he zaps back to reality quite randomly and sees to it that the correction he made alters his present life. It’s largely apparent in his current job and the wedding bell is… yet to jingle.

WHA –? I get it – OP is a fantasy drama so I need to keep my head checking for reasonableness out of the way. AND I get it – the little subtle different actions and decisions made in the past could’ve led us somewhere else/new/foreign unimaginable – but settling back into an unfamiliar setting each time (which prompts Baek-ho yearning to change it even more desperately) is messy. My brain fails to keep up.

How many alternate present-time realities you have in stock, PD? And when will you be contented with what you have, Baek-ho? You can’t control how people deal with their lives. You try shaping up your buddies for the better but your status with Yi-seul. If you keep going back, when will you start moving on with you current life?

[Spoilers ahead] I therefore love the conclusion Kenzo musters at the end of his time-traveling journey: whatever he did in the past cannot change how things unfold in the present; he, however, can make a change in the present and shape his future for the better. Because certain things are bound to happen that no human can interfere with, no matter what – like how Baek-ho couldn’t escape getting injured on the field or losing his second-button… Or how he prevented Yi-seul from tucking the letter inside the time capsule (upon realizing it’d change the course which facilitated his journey back in time). Following this thought process, however, it also implies that he shouldn’t and can’t alter Yi-seul’s impending marriage – the wedding is the root of everything to begin with.

This is what frustrates and despairs Kenzo in ProDai – regardless of his actions, he’s still attending the wedding and Rei’s still marrying Tada-san. He successfully brings his buddy and Eri together, but not him and Rei. And if OP followed ProDai’s leads quite faithfully, I expected similar budding to come forth.

Which OP has been, by the way, seeing how it preserves the staircase kiss (you want to reprise this scene that badly, PD?) to even the second-button plot arc. Those familiar with Japanese mangas, animes, or dramas would’ve cognized the custom of a guy’s giving away his second-button to his love interest (also with V-day, white day…), but do Koreans share this custom as well?

If not, no wonder Baek-ho reneged on the promise as Yi-seul’s request came as random and strange which supports only her trinket-obsessed image (Wanna keep the ball! Gotta have your second button!). Its implication is inadvertently lost (on Baek-ho) and everyone has to explain the significance behind that simple button. It feels plain forced and simply fails to convey the same feeling ProDai did so effortlessly.

I guess this is also why I find the setup in ProDai is built-up nicely and on the right formula – the thing OP’s still trying to achieve. I hope OP instills local-custom stories into the premise more or structures more of its own stories ‘cuz it’ll otherwise be boring. OP is a remake of ProDai, that’s an inevitable truth, but it’ll be nice(r) should OP set itself apart from the archetype. Therefore, I look forward to OP’s story message.


Up to this point I seem to pan on OP only. Before you start throwing rocks at me, let me broach about one thing ProDai irritated me the most (neck-and-neck to Kenzo’s unmanly cowardice): the chanting of “Hallelujah…Chance! Nooooooo~” It’s fun and refreshing the first time around; by midway, this ever-present gimmick replete with a certain pose served as the big turn-off.

Simile to a gag: it gets you rotfl the first time you hear it; the second to third time it still sounds funny; the fourth and fifth time you start wondering what the point of repeating it over and over again; after x times, you get sick of it – disgusted at yourself for putting up with it for so long. I got it – trust me, I did – it’s the magic words necessary to grant the backward leap, but if only we could just go straight to the fun part…

I was thus RELIEVED that OP left the buzzword out, replacing it with “Renovatio. Renovatio. Renovatio! YI-SEUL-AHHH!!” which is less wacky and has yet to chafe me. The fact that I won’t get to hear the call in just every single episode of OP probably helps to lessen the abrasion. But, yunno PD, it’ll be much appreciated if you could give us variations of it.

Just a reminder: this is a comparison done based on what I’ve seen of OP so far – up to episode 6 – thus is in no way a complete look of the drama as a whole. ANYTHING could happen in the course of 10 more episodes, so for now I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Till next time, then.

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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