A world of fiction inside a work of fiction? That’s interesting.
A manhwa that writes itself? That’s intriguing.
A combination of both? That’s mind-blowing.
And that’s what we get in W: Two Worlds. It’s like dramaception.
Not only that, the pairing is novel too. A drama couple hailing from different time, era, or even species aren’t new, but one whose one-half is fictional? It’s likely unheard of before.
Without these atypical setups, W could very well be a very typical drama whose heroine a supposedly average(-looking) idealistic girl and hero is an ultra-rich incredibly-handsome genius, which wouldn’t even make it to my maybe list. Particularly since the heroine’s profession and personality are pretty similar to Descendants of the Sun‘s Kang Mo-yeon; she wasn’t terrible but let’s just say that megahit drama didn’t leave a good impression on me. Here, the girl is Oh Yeon-joo (Han Hyo-joo), cardio-thoracic resident doctor with sunny disposition, while the guy is Kang Chul (Lee Jong-seok), shooting-athlete-turned-chaebol with tragic past and life-long mission to find his family’s murderer.
Their first encounter is when she saves him after he’s ambushed by a mysterious hooded man. Nothing’s extraordinary thus far — that kind of run-in is quite common in dramaland — except for the fact that Yeon-joo was pulled into the screen and stumbled on the lead character of the webtoon she’s a fan of, who’s dying but breathing and alive. That’s the same exact scene she saw on her father’s computer screen, which was supposed to be the ending scene. Yup, Dad is the famous author Oh Sung-moo (Kim Eui-sung) who for some reason is determined to end his bestselling series by killing off the protagonist.
Upon returning to the real world, she discovers that there’s continuation to that final frame — he is saved, by a new character named Oh Yeon-joo looking very much like her. The subsequent development is progressing in the same exact way as what she did inside the screen, as if the manhwa is writing and drawing by itself. When confronted, Dad refuses to acknowledge this bizarre happening, but can’t deny it when Yeon-joo slips into W universe the second time and what happens there is again translated frame for frame onto the published pages.
Naturally, the uncanny incident fazes the involved parties, especially Dad who sees the drawings transform itself to something else right before his eyes. As the creator, losing control of his brainchild inflicts a lot more damage than anticipated, the more since the hero is after him for concocting those contextless murder attempts. The sudden appearance and disappearance of omniscient Yeon-joo also makes Chul believe she holds the key to his life, the meaning of his existence, that he’s set on finding her and ultimately the truths. As for Yeon-joo, entering the manhwa and witnessing how real it looks turn her world upside down — it’s surreal yet exciting at the same time.
It seems she’s there to foil Dad’s death scenarios at first, but that isn’t the case for her third crossing. She has figured out the way to zap back to reality but not how (or why) to slip into fantasy. However, when she’s stuck there as she can’t create an effective scene for the third “to be continued” cliffhanger and is beginning to get used to living in W, not to mention enjoying the whirlwind romance, she is apprehended — more like handed over by Chul’s secretary friend Yoon So-hee (Jung Yoo-jin) — by the police as the prime suspect of the stabbing incident. The only way out is to appease Chul’s curiosity of her origin AND deep knowledge of him. The revelation stuns him at first, and when it finally sinks in that his entire being and universe are unreal, everything but him freezes. Soon, a screen materializes before him, and upon realizing that he can pass through it, he does so with a determined look.
It was Chul’s desperation and strong will to live that opened the door to another dimension in both instances instead of Yeon-joo’s motivation to save him, right? I mean, it was strong enough to alter the story the way he wanted it to! I guess everybody would’ve guessed it started with the bridge incident, though it would be interesting to find out if he’s been the ghostwriter for Dad thereafter. I hope Show will explain how and why he became alive too. But for now, i’m most interested to know what he’s gonna do in human world, if he’s gonna confront Dad for his misfortunes, if he’ll ever make it back to his world — i bet he will, otherwise any other character from the webtoon will be for naught, and i want to see more of Seo Do-yoon (Lee Tae-hwan)! — and if he is as invincible on earth as Yeon-joo is in W.
I’m excited for what’s next albeit also wary that the plot is moving fast — a bit too fast perhaps — because past drama watching tells me shows whose stories unfold quickly early in the game tend to run out of steam toward the end and resort to cliched tropes to fill in the gaps…
I am by no means jinxing it; i’m liking it thus far despite the reservations i had about the first two episodes. I can’t put a finger on it, but something didn’t sit well with me. I however found myself forgiving a lot of things — the dramaticness, over-the-topness, cheesiness — because it is a manhwa after all. I could look past Yeon-joo’s bumblingness and random shenanigans too as she’s trying to create an exit. Those escapades are fun to watch though i did wonder why she tried so hard escaping when she’d be sucked right back in soon. Take your chances while you’re at it, huh? Furthermore, i can’t help wondering how W’s avid readers would react to tonal shift from action to romance as well as heroine switch from So-hee to the new girl. Not to mention the erratic turns. Some of them are represented by Dad’s assistants, Park Su-bong (Lee Shi-un) in particular, whose comments are somewhat snarky yet so spot-on.
It’s too early to tell how good the writing, but i’m already loving the cinematography. Sometimes i kinda prefer the sketches to the actors’ versions — it’s probably the transition, which is flawless. But i guess we’ll see less and less of that since the hero has stepped out of the comic book. Quite literally.