Tomorrow’s Cantabile (2014) | TV Series Review

Title: Tomorrow’s Cantabile (내일도 칸타빌레 or Naeildo Kantabille(2014)
Also Known As: Naeil’s Cantabile or Cantabile Tomorrow
Developed by: KBS Drama Production (KBS 드라마 제작국)
Written by: Park Pil-Joo, Shin Jae-Won
Based on: Nodame Cantabile by Ninomiya Tomoko
Starring Joo Won, Shim Eun-Kyung, Park Bo-Gum, Go Kyung-Pyo, Baek Yoon-Sik, Baek Min-Jung, Min Do-Hee, Jang Se-Hyun, Lee Byung-Joon, Ye Ji-Won, Ahn Gil-Kang, and Namgung Yeon
Country of Origin: South Korea
Original Language(s): Korean
No. of Series: 1
No. of Episodes: 16
Genres: Coming-of-Age, Music, Romance
Running Time: 60 minutes
Original Network: Korean Broadcasting System 2 (KBS2)

Yoo-Jin (Joo Won) is a university student majoring in piano. He has a world-famous pianist father, exceptional music talent and attractive appearance, but his one weakness is that he can’t ride in an aeroplane or boat due to a childhood trauma. Because of his phobia, Yoo-Jin is unable to travel to Europe to learn conducting even though he badly wants to become a conductor.

One day, Yoo-Jin gets drunk and falls asleep on the doorstep of Nae-Il (Shim Eun-Kyung). She lives next door to Yoo-Jin. The next morning, he wakes up and finds himself in a room full of trash and he sees Nae-Il. Nae-Il falls in love with him and follows him around. Nae-Il is also a piano major and takes lessons from Professor Ahn Gun-Sung (Namgung Yeon). Yoo-Jin is soon assigned to take lessons from Professor Ahn Gun-Sung as well. His arrogance has led him to take lessons from Professor Ahn Gun-Sung rather than Professor Do Gang-Jae (Lee Byung-Joon) who is renown for instructing many famous pianists. Professor Ahn Gun-Sung then assigns Yoo-Jin to perform a piano duet with Nae-Il. At first, Yoo-Jin insists that Nae-Il follows his instructions, but he soon changes and accepts her way to play the piano.

Yoo-Jin then hears that world-famous conductor Franz Stresemann (Baek Yoon-Sik) will be coming to his university. Yoo-Jin is ecstatic because he can learn from Franz Stresemann without going to Europe. Yoo-Jin is unaware though that Franz Stresemann dislikes his father and his famous childhood musical instructor Vieira.

Like Reply 1988 (2015-2016), I decided to watch Tomorrow’s Cantabile because of Park Bo-Gum and because I kind of interested in the story of Tomorrow’s Cantabile. I always like classical music, so it doesn’t hurt to watch a drama with classical music as the main background story. Don’t misunderstand. I love classical music. I love Tchaikovsky or Chopin or Schübert or Mozart. However, I can’t play any instruments. I suck at music. I can’t even sing without hurting my own ears let alone others. That’s how bad I am at music. But, I can’t lie that I love music. I like hearing music, including classical music. So there I was, trying to watch Tomorrow’s Cantabile.

Unlike Reply 1988 that immediately caught my attention with impressing its stories, settings, and relationship within the characters, Tomorrow’s Cantabile took a bit longer to impress me. Reply 1988 become one of my favourite dramas, but unfortunately, Tomorrow’s Cantabile didn’t. I have to admit, Park Bo-Gum is basically what made me stayed until the end. Don’t get me wrong. I like Tomorrow’s Cantabile, perhaps even love it. The story is very good and very interesting but it wasn’t strong enough. Tomorrow’s Cantabile still can’t get the title of favourite drama.

This drama is based on a Japanese manga and anime called Nodame Cantabile. I haven’t watched the anime but I did read the manga for a while. I don’t know the whole story but I do know the main characters and their story, at least their beginning. Nodame Cantabile is a huge success, or so I’ve heard. It’s rather unfortunate that Tomorrow’s Cantabile didn’t get the same recipient. I think I can understand why.

Joo Won basically nailed his character. He got the arrogance even to the point of me annoyed by him. Cha Yoo-Jin is indeed a very arrogant man, though eventually, his heart softened as the story went by. Behind that arrogance, Yoo-Jin has some funny and cute side. Unfortunately, he’s not my favourite character in the drama. Joo Won was great in Good Doctor (2013), Yong-Pal (2015), and My Sassy Girl (2017), so I was hoping a great performance from him too in Tomorrow’s Cantabile. Sure, he did very well in portraying his character. He looked good in playing the piano or when he’s conducting. Since I am not an expert in conducting an orchestra nor do I understand what a good conductor looks like, I can’t judge whether Joo Won did a great job in performing the conducting. However, I’ve seen enough people playing the piano, so I knew Joo Won’s performance in playing the piano pretty much looked natural.  From what I’ve heard, he did practice piano, violin, and conducting for his role in Tomorrow’s Cantabile. His hard work did pay off because he looked natural in it. Whether he did play the songs is another matter. I’m sure they used hand-double or some sort because let’s face it, there’s no way he could master all the music in a few months when other people need their entire life to master it. It doesn’t seem fair, don’t you think? At any rate, Joo Won still did a great job in portraying his character and looking pretty much very natural when he played the piano. However, I don’t really like his style when he’s conducting. More like, I don’t like his facial expression. Too serious and too much frowning. I know every conductor has their own style but in my defence, I too have my own liking as well and certainly, Cha Yoo-Jin’s conducting style is not my favourite.

By now, if you have read my review on Reply 1988 and Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (2016), you’d know how much I love Park Bo-Gum. How much I adore him and it’s not just because of his good look but also because of his great acting. Tomorrow’s Cantabile is one of Park Bo-Gum’s earliest drama. Seeing his performance in this drama made me realise how great Park Bo-Gum is. His acting skill is beyond outstanding and worth to be reckoned even more than he already is now. Even though he only played the second male lead, Park Bo-Gum has already stolen the heart of the viewers with his charm and his great acting skill. His performance stood out despite showed up late in the drama and only as the second male lead. He managed to catch the attention of the audience. I’ve always said that Park Bo-Gum’s most astounding skill is that he can speak with eyes. Joo Won is great, but when it comes to facial expression, I have to say Park Bo-Gum won by a landslide. I know it feels a little bit subjective but seriously, you just can’t deny the fact that whenever you see Park Bo-Gum’s expression, you can feel his emotion. His eyes really speak a thousand words. Even when he’s feeling jealous, he didn’t have to do anything. His eyes said everything about his jealousy.

“I told you I performed this music before, right? So I have the full score memorised. Will you leave it to me? A pianist did well as a conductor, too. Give a cellist a chance, too.” – Lee Yoon-Hoo

As a student in the musical department, Park Bo-Gum must have the advantage in playing the instruments. His musical talent is not limited to singing but also in playing the piano. However, from what I’ve heard, he never played the cello before. Piano, yes, but not a cello. He also has done some conducting himself. That’s what I’ve heard. In Tomorrow’s Cantabile, Park Bo-Gum played the character of Lee Yoon-Hoo, a prodigy cellist from Juilliard School and Park Bo-Gum managed to play the cello himself. He can play the songs that he played in the drama by himself. I must say, he looked very natural. Even the way he conducted in Tomorrow’s Cantabile was very fun and natural. I am not saying that Joo Won’s Cha Yoo-Jin didn’t look natural, it’s just the way Lee Yoon-Hoo conduct is more fun and delivered a more natural appearance. Park Bo-Gum looks so cool when playing the cello or when he’s conducting. I always adore someone that can play musical instruments. It’s so unfortunate that I can’t see Park Bo-Gum playing the piano, because of all the instruments, the piano is my most favourite. At any rate, I look forward to seeing Park Bo-Gum played piano in a drama next time.

Now I understand what it feels like to have the second male lead syndrome. My sister has it a few times before when watching some Korean dramas. I, myself, never experienced up until now. Until I saw Park Bo-Gum in Tomorrow’s Cantabile. The way he showed his gentle side but also extremely cute side has always been Park Bo-Gum’s charm. He managed to bring his charm comes to light just perfectly. The charisma of a prodigy cellist is brought differently from when Park Bo-Gum played Crown Prince Lee Young in Moonlight Drawn by Clouds or Choi Taek in Reply 1988, but he is still as charming as ever. He still pulled off the nerdy spectacles and managed to look so cool wearing it. The way he made the charisma in his voice different from each character he played is just amazing. Nonetheless, his voice is still swooning and soothing to hear. Park Bo-Gum has shown us that he is indeed a versatile actor that can do different roles with different charisma perfectly and flawlessly. Park Bo-Gum is still a rising star when playing the role in Tomorrow’s Cantabile, but now he has truly become a star and definitely, he still has a brighter future in this industry. I look forward to another of his performance in the future.

Perhaps, of all the characters in Tomorrow’s Cantabile, Shim Eun-Kyung is the weakest. Even how ridiculous Go Kyung-Pyo as Yoo Il-Rak can be or how silly Jang Se-Hyun as Ma Soo-Min, they did it just fine and even entertaining. Min Do-Hee also did great in portraying Choi Min-Hee. Unfortunately, Shim Eun-Kyung executed her character, Seol Nae-Il, badly. I don’t know if it’s the actress or the character that made it worse. It just doesn’t work. All those reactions from Nae-Il were just too much, too exaggerating. I know that Tomorrow’s Cantabile is based on a Japanese manga and Japanese manga tend to be exaggerating. However, manga is manga and not everything in it couldn’t possibly be happened in real life, including the exaggerated reactions and actions. When I thought she has toned down a bit, those exaggerated reactions and actions came back. Making me disappointed all over again. I think Shim Eun-Kyung didn’t know how to tone it down. She didn’t know how to look ridiculous but at the same time not too ridiculous or at least too exaggerated. Her facial expressions were just wrong to the point that I got bored of watching her. Nae-Il was supposed to be a genius pianist, yet Shim Eun-Kyung’s poor performance didn’t succeed in convincing me. Her plays were great but since we all know they weren’t really all played by Shim Eun-Kyung, I can’t say she did a great job in portraying her character. I really am sorry to say about this.

Not only Shim Eun-Kyung, I think Ye Ji-Won, who played the character of Song Min-Na, the college’s dean, also didn’t know how to be cute. She’s doing just fine when she acted as the dean but when she has to show her cute side, she didn’t look cute at all. At least, in my eyes, she didn’t. However, Baek Yoon-Sik pulled off the character of Maestro Stresemann. He’s the combination of a funny and firm teacher. His ridiculous actions were funny and not at all felt like they were made up or fake.

“This is a great performance! Of course, it’s Lee Yoon-Hoo! He knows how to possess people’s hearts. He already has the members on his side.” – Lee Yoon-Hoo

Despite the weak performance of the main female lead character, if the story was great, everything can be forgiven. Surely, everything seemed to be just fine until the big reveal. What’s the real reason for Cha Yoo-Jin’s phobia of flight or why Nae-Il was a bit childish and not enthusiastic about learning piano further despite her great talent. I thought those reasons would be strong and solid but it turned out to be weak. So weak that I was very disappointed when I found out about it. The interesting stories of Tomorrow’s Cantabile are perhaps about the college orchestra and their performances and the reason why Lee Yoon-Hoo moved from a prodigy music school such as Juilliard in New York to local musical university in South Korea.

I always look forward to seeing the main couple on screen, but not this time. I can’t say the chemistry between Joo Won and Shim Eun-Kyung is bad, but seeing how poor Shim Eun-Kyung’s performance was, I can’t really decide. However, I like the chemistry between Joo Won’s Cha Yoo-Jin and Park Bo-Gum’s Lee Yoon-Hoo. Their love-hate relationship somewhat funny at some points. Both Cha Yoo-Jin and Lee Yoon-Hoo are very competitive, either in music or in life. That’s why they are like frenemies but very cute frenemies. Even the relationship within the orchestra member is also great. I like the relationship between Maestro Stresemann and Cha Yoo-Jin because they are quite funny at some points. It’s funny that I like the chemistry between Go Kyung-Pyo’s character and Bae Min-Jung’s character more. I mean, they weren’t supposed to be the highlight couple but because Shim Eun-Kyung delivered her emotions rather poorly, her love story doesn’t come out strong enough in the female ends. Joo Won did his best but Eun-Kyung couldn’t quite keep up. I am not saying she was fallen behind, it’s just like I said before, Eun-Kyung seemed not to know how to be ridiculous without looking too much. In the end, it’s the friendship that really matters. I wasn’t too excited about the romantic relationship, but I do love how they built their friendship, including how Park Bo-Gum’s Lee Yoon-Hoo finally found his true friends among the orchestra team member.

Overall, Tomorrow’s Cantabile is a good drama. The story idea of using classical music is interesting, indeed. The clothing wasn’t special except Song Min-Na’s and Maestro Stresemann’s. Their clothes are a bit too colourful and eccentric. The campus filled with many gardens looked very beautiful. It’s a scenery needed by those who took music classes or any other art classes. Not everything in Tomorrow’s Cantabile is perfect. There are certainly many flaws here and there but at certain points, Tomorrow’s Cantabile is pretty much entertaining. My favourite scene is perhaps when Park Bo-Gum as Lee Yoon-Hoo conducting the S Orchestra and did the song of Mambo by Leonard Bernstein. Joo Won did a great job in portraying his character but Park Bo-Gum is indeed the scene-stealer. Lee Yoon-Hoo may not be the first lead character and didn’t get the girl, but he still got what he wanted. He got friends and got the chance to explore a new passion. Lee Yoon-Hoo’s character is much more interesting to explore. I always enjoy whenever Park Bo-Gum is on screen. Tomorrow’s Cantabile may not be my favourite drama but Park Bo-Gum’s performance will always be my favourite. 😍 😍

In summary, I give Tomorrow’s Cantabile 7 out of 10 stars.

😘  Toodle-oo,

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