Addicted to Winter Sonata (again!)

It’s no secret that Winter Sonata is one of my all time favorite Korean dramas. The story of Kang Junsang/Lee Minhyung and Jung Yoojin is among the most touching and emotional love stories I have ever followed on television/DVD in its various versions (I saw it with Korean, Chinese and Filipino  dub). I just couldn’t get enough. That was why when Animax advertised the anime remake of series, I was psyched, especially when I saw how the anime was made to reflect the original version if only with a few minor tweaks.

While it is only being shown in most parts of Asia now, the series has aired over Sky PerfecTV in Japan and Korea (where it originated) when it was completed in 2009 featuring 23 members of its original cast including the voices of Choi Ji Woo (Yoojin) and my eternal crush Bae Yong Jun as Minhyung/Junsang.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE. The similarities are uncanny.

I know that I’ve seen this series many many times before but I just could not help but get hooked to its daily episodic airings since it is very similar to the original. The intricate details of the drawings illustrated the artists’ respect for the original material that took Asia by storm almost a decade ago. The cinematography and framing was also top notch, making one want to visit the scenes in the anime or its real life counterpart.

What’s really awesome about the anime is that while remaining faithful to the live action version, it made minor tweaks to the story, not completely deviating from the original but adding small details such as Junsang’s stay in the US,  how Yoojin learned of his true identity and several more changes that made the anime an original in its own right.

HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Finally, the scene fans didn't see in the live action version.

I loved that they got most of the original cast to voice the characters in the cartoon. Viewers immediately identify with the distinctive rasp of Bae Yong Jun and the familiar lilt of Choi Ji Woo’s voice. Park Young Ha, who died of suicide in 2010, was even able to reprise his role as Kim Sang Hyeok in anime before he died. He did not live to participate in the special live action ending filmed for the anime though so that was quite sad for such a great cast reunion (spoiler: The cast shot a wedding as a special ending to the anime. Most of the main cast were present aside from Young Ha and Park Sol Mi who played the scheming Oh Che Lin in the series).

The anime is strong in its own right, retaining the emotional impact of the live action franchise supported by the memorable scoring and music from the original soundtrack. I am not surprised that this same series is forcing me to rush back home every night to see what happens next to Yoojin and Junsang. I just love Winter Sonata. And nine years after it originally aired, it still has the magic to get me hooked to this bittersweet tale of love between two hearts that endured many tragedies but were fated to stay together no matter what the odds. The anime is a whole new experience that fans of the live action will not want to miss.