Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

After 8: Head-to-Head (part.2)

(by ‘part 2’ i referred to this)

Just rewatched the second half of ProDai and fell in love with it once again. Not only was I reminded of why I loved it the first time around but also how – being more critical this time towards acting and such – I still find the execution and writing impressive. And I am further convinced that Operation Proposal isn’t likely to surpass the enamoredness I have for this drama.

Or perhaps that’s just the downside of an adaptation that is lengthier than the original work – it feels unnecessarily fleshed out and the roundabout wears me down. Conversely, (re-filming) a shorter version may feel rushed. Either way you go is no-good apparently, but the former poses more of a problem for me. As for the latter, I watched only 11-eps Jap-version Maou (then tried and dropped the original 20-eps Mawang afterwards at only episode 2), still sitting atop of my favorite list, and reputed its pace to be incredibly fine.

Let’s face it, by episode 8 ProDai has started to wrap everything up while it’s just a halfway point in OP – Baek-ho’s away serving in army and Yi-seul-Jin-won’s relationship is still in budding phase. I appreciate OP’s effort to spend more screen time on sidekicks’ developments as well, but… the drama as a whole just doesn’t – or should I say ‘has yet to’? – reel me in.

I want to root for Baek-ho the way I did Kenzo, but I keep getting peeved by his procrastination. Kenzo is no better, but the situation often goes against him, interrupting him at crucial moments when he’s about to speak up, thus the growing ruth for him – and later his helplessness. Much of the blame goes to super-duper bad timings, momentum is then lost, he couldn’t finish what he’s started. I moaned alongside and cheered for him whenever he feels like giving up. He has only less than a day in past per time-slip after all, whereas Baek-ho gets longer and more infinite time and the situations often work for him so it’s frustrating when his own self cannot buck up, having so many people pushing and pulling him out of pitfall.

Kenzo’s better memory span snatches another point for me to side with ProDai. The voiceover works wonder in carrying the mood of the show and the flow of story progression. He gives insight information of the setting he’s venturing into, and of what happened then. It’s nice to be sure that the jumper has a clear grasp of past events and acts accordingly rather than, yunno, following Baek-ho reliving his past all the while hoping epiphany to knock him out sooner as to WHY he’s back in the first place. My patience meter is old and rusty. Yeah, I’m talking to you. Better put voiceover to good use – another shot of your moanful gripe, I’ll punch you right on that cute face of yours.


[Spoilers, ending discussion ahead] Ok, now I have to express this: I do feel sorry for yet salute Tada-san’s courageous act at the end, though it shatters his heart to the extent only he knows. I was annoyed that he has to back down for them to step forward, yet it’s also one of the sweetest things ever. I revere his wise lines, but his bigheartedness just wins me over it breaks my heart.

I mean, no one in their right mind agrees with Rei’s wavering after stepping over threshold of lifelong tie, just because the words she’s awaited for years are finally uttered. Which begs the question if a woman would date/marry a man who hands her his heart. I don’t say she should’ve said it instead – well she could’ve – but does love need to be declared (besides felt) to be valid? Just because none would confess, two people loving each other are not meant to be?

Of course it depends on Kenzo’s disposition toward Rei throughout their friendship. In OP, Chan-wook clearly bemuses Baek-ho’s hot-and-cold act around Yi-seul, which would not only confuses but also hurts her. If so, it’s little wonder if Yi-seul can never see through Baek-ho’s intention.

Sooo… in this drama (both series) we get to see two diametrical men: one who couldn’t bring himself to express his feelings verbally but through sweet little gestures and one who couldn’t stop declaring his undying love for the girl to the whole world. We get to witness that either way it’ll reach the destination eventually, in its own mystical way.

I thus don’t understand so many people complaining that the end is left open-ended. And they keep telling the other to watch the SP for the ‘real ending’. Because it IS NOT! It’s very conclusive: the heavy door of miracle has successfully been thrust open. Rei calls out, “Kenzo!” after stop doing so since accepting Tada-san’s proposal, and Kenzo hears it, turns around, and smiles a happy smile before the screen whitens. THAT is no way open-ended, right? If one waits till after the end song finishes and watches this final scene I guess not. The question is: did they see that last scene?

I am happy with this ending, but of course having a SP doesn’t hurt. It just ain’t that necessary. I am no fan of clear-cut finish, that happy ending has to end in marriage. The SP doesn’t end that way; it nearly does. For me, it ties any loose ends together, sealing off the needed affirmation. No more, no less. Too bad Yamapi totally pulverizes the romantic scene/atmosphere.

Which brings me to the final discussion: acting chops. For those battering on Yamapi and Masami’s acting, I have to defend theirs. The latter is expressive and quite natural, the former however… let me set this straight, I ain’t saying their acting is superb, but is good enough as far as the story requires them to be.

Yamapi’s voice inflection is spot-on but his facial expression often doesn’t align with it. At times I blurted a chortle due to the words or his intonation. He emotes better – if not well – with his voice BUT really needs to flex his facial muscles much much more because the final scene of the SP totally missed me at face value. I got the underlying worthiness, but when the visuals work against it sometimes I cannot get past it. To his credit, however, I was able to feel and root for the character. His performance was enough to pull my heart strings at the right place and timing – his crying scenes are heart-tugging too.

The same goes for the other characters’ portrayals. Some are exaggerated, perhaps for comical relief, but for the most part are pleasing to the eyes. More credit must be awarded to the excessively cute Tsuru-Eri couple though. They’re just cute beyond words X-)

Back to OP, I hope they’re working harder to make the drama work. Cuz it’s kinda hanging on the loose right now. It’s still far from entrancing for me as it has a lot to improve on. I cannot really point out what’s missing but the feeling isn’t there. Watching them isn’t quite as enjoyable as I thought it’d be. For the last two episodes, OP scratches out its own stories – giving Yi-seul a Christmas gift and outrunning Jin-won’s confession…

Ermm, this got me to think that my statement might be wrong – that the incantation doesn’t take place in every episode. I may’ve lost count of how many times Baek-ho has time-slipped because OP drags it till mid-episode which then gives us (ineffective) cliffhanger as the story ends in midway too. So far, none of the cliffhanger is gripping, and not having a good one is bad for attention-retention. Mine is not intrigued and I just couldn’t care less for any of the characters at this point. The initial focus was heavily on Baek-ho’s continuing baseball and now that it’s sorta accomplished, what’s left on the plate?

Not sure whether I’ll stick out to the end.

Gosh, I may just overthink it. It’s just a fluff teen fantasy drama, what am I expecting??

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