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[Alternate Endings] Cantabile Tomorrow owes me a kiss

By @raonah

One night about a year and a half ago, I was scrolling through a streaming service looking for something to watch. The poster for Dramaworld caught my eye and the description sounded interesting so I pressed play. Now, Dramaworld is not the show whose ending I want to rewrite but I mention this because it’s a huge part of why I wanted to rewrite the ending of the next drama I watched. But first, Dramaworld. I was completely unfamiliar with K-dramas but found the “rules of K-dramas” according to Dramaworld interesting:

  1. A drama ends with true love’s kiss.
  2. The leading man must always embody the traits of a leading man: confident, handsome, slightly arrogant but always with the leading lady’s interests at heart.
  3. The leading man will take a hot, steamy shower.
  4. There can be bumps and detours but every twist is actually leading towards true love.

After finishing Dramaworld, I was intrigued. Are K-dramas really like that? And, of course, my streaming service was now recommending K-dramas to me. So I picked one that looked fun and pressed play. The drama I chose was Cantabile Tomorrow.

Cantabile Tomorrow introduced me to Cha Yoo-jin: a confident, handsome, slightly arrogant music student who, ten minutes into the first episode was taking a hot, steamy shower. I was practically laughing out loud. Dramaworld was totally right about these K-dramas! Soon, Yoo-jin was showing how he had the best interests of the leading lady, Nae-il, at heart by cleaning her house and fixing her meals, in a very gruff, arrogant way, of course, befitting a leading man. Dramaworld had been so accurate about K-dramas thus far that I knew by the end of the show Nae-il and Yoo-jin would share true love’s kiss just as Dramaworld had promised.

In the second to last episode, Nae-il makes a deal with Yoo-jin: If he goes on a six-hour date with her, she’ll stop bothering him while he’s busy. Towards the end of their date, Nae-il puts a scarf around Yoo-jin’s neck to keep him warm and they suddenly become very aware of their proximity and have a MOMENT.

However, just when it seems like they are about to kiss… Yoo-jin’s alarm goes off signaling the end of their date. I was disappointed but I knew there was still one more episode for them to satisfy the first rule of Dramaworld and share true love’s kiss. By the end of the penultimate episode, Yoo-jin had overcome his childhood trauma of flying to go find Nae-il after she decided to quit music school. When he finally finds her, he walks up to her from behind and surprises her with a back-hug. Finally, Yoo-jin is initiating skinship! Things are looking promising! I eagerly started the final episode.

They are in Germany, and Nae-il becomes excited at the sight of some couple rings in a shop window. Yoo-jin buys the couple rings and when he tells Nae-il that he has something for her, she thinks it’s a kiss and puckers up accordingly.

However, the fountain they are standing next to suddenly turns on, interrupting the moment and causing Yoo Jin to drop the rings in the fountain. Oh well, there was still about half an hour left. Plenty of time for them to have true love’s kiss as Dramaworld had promised.

Later, Nae-il is feeling discouraged about her chances of winning the competition and says she needs a kiss to help her win. The setting is perfect. Finally, it is time for The Kiss. But, as Nae-il leans in, Yoo-jin gets a look of revulsion in his eyes and blocks her forehead with his fingers so she can’t get any closer.

Then he literally runs away from her like she has cooties. What happened?! In the scarf scene, he had looked like he was going to kiss her if his phone hadn’t gone off, but now he looks repulsed by her? He obviously likes her since he bought her couple rings, but this is not how couples are supposed to act! I was getting very annoyed but still had faith in Dramaworld’s rule that every show ends with true love’s kiss. Maybe it’s still too early. After all, the drama is supposed to END with true love’s kiss. Maybe it will be the very last scene. I kept watching…

Nae-il wins the competition and she and Yoo-jin return to Korea. When they arrive, they see all the orchestra members ready with their instruments. Yoo-jin conducts them while Nae-il plays piano and as he conducts, he gives a very moving voiceover about what he learned in the past few months about music and friendship. Very nice, Yoo-jin, but what about the kiss?? I kept checking the time as the seconds ticked down, and I could feel myself losing hope. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… NO KISS?!?!

I was so confused by the ending, I literally googled something along the lines of, “Why didn’t Yoo-jin and Nae-il kiss?” and found a recap of Episode 16 written by a person named javabeans (you might have heard of her), which helped to explain some of the reasons why the finale was the way it was.

In case you didn’t figure it out by now, if I were to rewrite the last episode, the almost-kisses would have been kisses and the characters would have acted consistently with their arcs. Overall, I still love Cantabile Tomorrow. The characters are quirky and endearing and I love the friendships that they form as they strive to become musicians. But would it have killed them to just throw in ONE KISS? \rant over

 
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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAAH!!!!!! It's all about that damned kiss!

Well, @raonah, at least you got one from your prince!

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Yes, MDBC was much more generous with the kiss scenes, wasn't it 😉

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@raonah I wonder why of all the possible leading-man screencaps, you chose one with PBG in the background ;)

And yes, the emotional dissonance and distance in the final ep along with the lack of True Love’s Kiss … gah!

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Gotta include PBG somehow 🙂

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Haha, yes! I have always remember this drama fondly as the romcom I love, which doesn't have a kiss scene!

It's really rare for a romcom to not have a kiss scene, but that's what makes Cantabile Tomorrow special too. <3

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I still can't quite believe that my first kdrama happened to be one of the few with NO kiss. 😆

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Nice. Yes, the kiss is what I would have added as well :-) BTW, I think they were in Austria, not in Germany.

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Thanks for the correction!

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This show was unexpectedly one of my favorites. Maybe the music has got something to do with it plus I think Joo Won looked his best in here.

I was disappointed by the last episode, not because there wasn't any kiss but rather the tone was jarring compared the previous episodes. They had filmed the last episode together with the first because filming took place overseas in Salzburg. Those who watched would know that Naeil or rather Shim Eun Kyung tone down her acting as the show progressed. Towards the end, culminating in the second last episode, there was this tenderness and chemistry not evident in the beginning. So it was a total whiplash to find the couple in the finale back to where they started.

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This is also one of my favorites. It's the only show that I've rewatched. Now that I know how it ends, I savor every little sweet moment between the lead couple.

I was disappointed as well by the change in tone. Their relationship had become much more mature towards the end but then it was like they had gone back to square one in the last episode. After reading the recap, of course, I understood why that had happened but it is still disappointing.

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I recall reading somewhere that SEK acknowledged they did film a kiss scene, only that it was never screened. If this is true, hmm!!!

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Really?????? Why wouldn't they screen it 😭

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Oh, that makes a lot of sense! I didn't know about the filming ~ I think that knowledge reconciles me to the last episode much more, before I just didn't know what they were doing regressing the lead couple's chemistry and maturity...

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It is pouring on db with these alternate endings! I love it, and this one is my favourite. I admit, I was laughing out loud that your kdrama kiss wish was thwarted so many times. Sorry that your pain was my amusement. 🤣

To be honest, I also googled out the same thing and was mildly appeased when I read (by a certain javabeans) that the Austria scenes were shot before the rest of the drama. That helped me reconcile with the whole ending, because I was more miffed that Nae-il had reverted to her bratty behaviour and that she was taking the competition so lightly (sorry, musician here), than the fact that we didn't get a kiss.

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Thanks for reading! I'm glad it made you laugh 🙂

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very nice drama latest time i am wating on http://www.dramacools.com/

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LOL I loved Tomorrow's Cantabile...I watched it on a whim on Netflix. Most people seem to hate it but I thought it was cute and entertaining. I loved Joo Won (first time seeing him in a drama) but I was also irritated by the no kiss. I think this is the only kdrama I've seen with no kiss.

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Tomorrow's Cantabile is one of my favorites.
I think School 2017 also had no kiss between the main couple but they had so many cute, swoony moments together that nobody was upset about the lack of a kiss.

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I am actually the same. I started out with Dramaworld and became super intrested and watched Cantabile Tomorrow....and now I am down the rabbit hole. 😅😅😅

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Haha! That's so funny that we fell down the rabbit hole the same way 😅

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Same rabbit hole here too. Watched Dramaworld on a whim then Netflix recommended Cantabile Tomorrow, and well, here I am fourteen months later. It's a deep hole.

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Haha! I wonder how many other people discovered dramas exactly the same way 😆

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My sister's gateway drug was also Dramaworld. I had been trying for some time to get other people in my life interested in dramas without much luck. Then my sister randomly stumbled upon Dramaworld, thought it was cute, and started asking me for recommendations. Now I have someone in real life who is just as addicted as I am, and it is awesome having someone to fangirl with!

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@Amilia That's awesome that you have someone to fangirl with. I haven't had any luck so far but at least I can fangirl with all the beanies here 🙂

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My first taste of kdrama was Stairways to Heaven then maybe a dozen years later, I have Netflix and saw Dramaworld too. I knew about kdrama but Dramaworld's main character is not Asian so naturally I clicked out of curiosity. And like you, that's where I first learned about the kdrama rules. Somehow I watched 12 Years Promise and then Cantabile came up. Joo Won seemed too rough on Nae-il so his foil, Park Bo Gum (because I can't remember his character's name, LOL), was a nice antidote to that. That Netflix rabbit hole led to more kdrama subscriptions and I'm still there. Thanks for bringing up the lack of kiss in this month's theme. I tell ya, I was so frustrated for Nae-il, not so much for the kiss but for only receiving backhanded warmth from him! At least it was a nice introduction to PBG's next projects and GKP.

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FINALLY SOMEONE SAID IT ~ I’ve been mad for so long about this, that their relationship REGRESSED in the last episode ~ Nae Il was more concerned with couple rings, and Yoo Jin was annoyed by her affection... sigh...

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I have always been unhappy with the final episode of this drama, especially that one scene filmed in advance in Austria. Unfortunately when pre-filming scenes in Austria, the writer/director gave absolutely no consideration to the character arcs that the H/h would under go as they filmed the H and h both of acting the exact same way in the final episode as they had in the first few episodes. It was jarring to say the least. The drama would have been better served if the director had left certain of those Austria scenes on the cutting room floor (I don’t care what it cost to film them) and replaced them with more character appropriate scenes between the H/h. I guess the director decided that given the cost to film those scenes he had to show them even if it meant ruining the final episode.

The Japanese drama version of this drama (Nodame Cantabile) also lacked a kiss. If I remember correctly, I had to set through the 11 episode drama, 2 specials and 2 movies before the H/h in that series kissed in the last 5 seconds of the final movie.

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It's unfortunate that they didn't have a better idea of what the character arcs would be when they filmed those scenes. This show could have been really great but the ending kind of ruins it. It's still one of my favorites though.

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Chiaki-sempai let Nodame kiss him by pretending to be asleep, though I guess that doesn't count. IDK if they had that scene in the Korean adaptation though. I loved the Japanese live-action drama too much to get through this one!

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They had a similar scene where Naeil got very close to Yoo Jin's face while he was sleeping but she got scared and didn't kiss him.

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Damn right it does!!!

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I had a hard time with the tone of Naeil's character and dropped the show after a few episodes. Part of it was that the Japanese live action is one of my favorite dramas ever, and Ueno Juri's Nodame one of my favorite drama heroines. You may enjoy that adaptation. Not much by way of kisses, but it's very heartfelt and the music is amazing.

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Naeil's character does tone down after a few episodes. I think I saw some clips of the Japanese version but didn't like how violent the relationship was between the couple.

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I can understand that. The violence never bothered me. The manga roots were showing so clearly, and the whole show was so very over-the-top and cartoony, that I never saw the violence as actual violence. If Chiaki hit Nodame and she went flying, it didn't read to me as a man hitting a woman hard enough to knock her across the room. To me it read as a visual metaphor for his frustration and her resilience.

But I can understand if that is not the way it scanned for you. And the violence is very shocking if taken literally.

Here's a clip of my personal favorite scene for you. https://youtu.be/hA7q_ebAw_c No violence. It's S Oke's first performance. The subs aren't in English, but we're here for the joy of Beethoven's 7th and the spinning cellos.

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Thanks for sharing! It was a beautiful performance.
Tomorrow's Cantabile was my first introduction to any Asian entertainment so I was unaware of the cartoony violence in mangas when I watched the clips of Nodame Cantabile. Maybe if I watch it with that in mind it won't bother me as much but, even though I know a lot of people like Nodame Cantabile better, Naeil's Cantabile will always be very special to me as my first kdrama. 🙂

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I totally get that. Nodame Cantabile was my first Asian drama of any sort, and I adored it. I've watched all of it multiple times. The drama, the TV specials, the movies, the anime. I even went and found scanlations of the manga. Nodame led me to kdramas, and you have no idea how giddy and excited I was when Cantabile Tomorrow was announced. I get another version of my favorite story!!!

The jdorama remains my favorite version, but I have nothing but fond feelings for the kdrama. Except for the weird regressed finale, of course. So thank you for fixing that. 😘

One more Nodame clip. I may have possibly been having fun looking up Nodame clips on youtube today. 😊 https://youtu.be/Q3W2ChSmekg

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@amilia thanks for the clip. I enjoyed watching it 🙂

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Thanks, Amilia!

I forgot how much I enjoyed watching Chiaki conduct. Seeing everyone in the orchestra winking at him is a hoot. And of course, the cellos. ;-)

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Yea, I did notice that Naeil toned down with progressive episodes, but it still didn't have the same heart for me as the original live action adaptation. I think there's often something special about whichever version of something one is exposed to first :p

The violence is, like @amilia said, a literal portrayal of stylized manga and anime violence that doesn't necessarily translate well to live action, especially if one hasn't read/watched much manga or anime. It reminded me of stuff I'd read and watched as a kid, so I mostly found it amusing. The other thing about manga violence is that it's played for laughs between all kinds of characters and in various directions. E.g., in Nodame Cantabile, there are moments where Nodame is the one hitting Chiaki; friends hit each other; teachers hit students, etc. It's a physical gag more than actual violence, at least in intention.

Gotta also add, Tamaki Hiroshi's Chiaki is also mesmerizing and close second for me to Ueno Juri as Nodame. Their chemistry during the performance scenes, and especially when they were performing together, was electric enough to make up for the lack of skinship. Their piano duet scenes are almost uncomfortably intimate at times—basically love scenes in a drama with none. Linked a couple of them below—couldn't find a clip for the Rachmaninoff with english subs, unfortunately. Anyway, this was another part of the Japanese live action I don't think the k-drama quite got—why Chiaki keeps gravitating towards Nodame despite being repulsed by a lot of her personality is this incredible, visceral connection they have through music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3W2ChSmekg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRdORqjS3UM

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Thank you so much for the videos. I'm definitely going to give Nodame a try. The performances were fantastic. I liked that in the first clip there were english subs so I could understand what Chiaki was thinking and how it showed that Nodame's style was very unusual and he really had to understand her to match her style.

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Oh yay, I'm glad you enjoyed the clips! The performances are what really set Nodame apart from other dramas—I'm not a classical music person, really, but even I was totally mesmerized by them. The orchestra scenes are great too. Hope you enjoy it if and when you check it out again :)

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Thanks for ensuring the inclusion of the smooches we were deprived of, @raonah!

Seriously though, the music was great, and it was a blast to see Salzburg, which I visited during high school. Plus what's not to love about Joo Won as an ultra-fastidious tsundere with fear of flying? And Jejudo satoori, IIRC!

Now is there some way you could arrange for Matt Frewer to drop in from EUREKA with a tranquilizer gun to subdue Nae-il when she gets a little too carried away? At times she reminded me of a hyperactive miniature poodle or a levitating Boston terrier on speed. It drove me out of my tree. *shudder*

For connoisseurs of hyperactivity, Shim Eun-kyung dances up a storm in the 2011 film SUNNY. And the music is dandy. Classic, but not classical. ;-)

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I loved the classical music too and the voiceovers that explained some of the history of each piece.
Since it was my first kdrama, I didn't really realize how strange Naeil was. I mostly just chalked it up to cultural differences 😆 Now I can definitely see that she is NOT normal.
I'll have to look up SUNNY. I've only seen SEK in one other thing: the movie Miss Granny. She did a really great job in that playing a Granny who suddenly finds herself looking young again.

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She was AWESOME in "Miss Granny."

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@Ra On Ah,

I can see where you might get the wrong idea about Kdramas if Nae-il was your first heroine! LOL!

My first Kdrama was DR. JIN, and luckily I didn't know any better, or I might not have watched another one. Har! Except that there were enough characters who caught my eye in a good way. (The king was my first glimpse of a Korean monarch, and he exudes a regal dignity that made a big impression on my.) Thankfully, I was not scared off by Joseon-era gats! LOL. I do prefer Three Kingdoms era sageuks replete with manes of glory. ;-)

Since then, I've seen the good doctor in other shows in which Song Seung-heon has done much better, including SAIMDANG, LIGHT'S DIARY (with his younger self played exquisitely by Yang Se-jong in the Joseon timeline). He is absolutely terrific in the dual role of Detective Mu-gang and Reaper 444 in BLACK, which wraps up this coming weekend.

Shim Eun-kyung was fantastic in MISS GRANNY, which was one of my first Korean films, I think on Netflix. What a terrific voice! And I loved those old pop songs. Beautiful. "White Butterfly" was one of them. The story was dandy. ;-)

SUNNY is a bona fide classic. Just make sure you get the right one. The 2008(?) film of the same name is not a comedy.

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Thanks for the heads up. I'll be sure to watch the 2011 version.

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Ah! Miss Granny was another kdrama that Netflix led me to. It was really cute. LOL!

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Am I the one who has never seen both the dramas you have written about. But I found the post amusing and loved it a lot. Though I couldn't get your frustration (bcoz I haven't seen the drama) it was cute seeing how upset u were bcoz of that.

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I'm glad you were able to enjoy it even though you hadn't seen either drama. Thanks for reading!

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Pleasure is mine ☺️

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Same here! Didn't watch the show, but enjoy your writing nonetheless. I am of those k-drama watchers who always waited for THE KISS, you know, the first one where the realisation of feeling is there, overflowing emotions and culmination towards actionable physical affection. I'm pretty sure I'll be frustrated to no end if I were you! At least, you received the best one, from Lee Young... Hehe...

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Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! Yeah, it was frustrating, especially since Dramaworld said a drama always ends with true love's kiss. I'd still recommend watching it though. It's very cute and has lots of great classical music and sweet friendships. Just be prepared for a severe lack of kisses. Even when one of the secondary couples became a couple they sealed their relationship with... a firm handshake 😆

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Cantabile Tomorrow has a special place in my heart. I love Nodame's Cantabile but Cantabile Tomorrow had its own charm. I especially love it when it decided to be a show own its own and decided to be a different. The last episode was such a downer because all the character development Nae-il experienced and how Yoo-jin was mellowing towards her were just erased. Knowing that they were couple was not enough. I curled up and cried when the credits rolled.

I needed to feel the satisfaction that the 6-hour date and that back hug gave me. I hated how the last episode was filmed before everything that aired. I hated how I did not get a kiss.

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It almost would have been better to end it at ep 15. That backhug is one of my favorite moments because it is the first time that YooJin has actively chosen to initiate skinship and chosen to be with her. Before he always tolerated her existence but that time he made a choice to do something that was difficult for him (fly) because she was more important than his fear.

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Nodame Cantabile ended the first season anime and the first live action with the back hug, and it felt good/right since it became really the start of something new for them. Ep 15 just showed how matured they have become and was ready to take their relationship into a different level. But they made Nae-il and Yoo-jin into such a childish couple so ep 16 just felt so out of place.

I have tried to reason out that it would had been a waste of money and effort for the actors, the crew, and production team if they decided to scrap the entite Austria plot. But really, it was also a waste of potential and build-up, and the drama suffered from it.

(CT's ending just make me so emotional and frustrated that I can help but right something long)

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I have to agree that the overall lack of skinship in Tomorrow's Cantabile was a huge source of frustration for me. They were all in college, living on their own, sleeping over each other's houses, yet no physical intimacy...at all? They most have been the most well-behaved 20-somethings ever! But what ruffled my feathers more was that Nae-il always but herself out there for skinship and he never responds. I recommend the Japanese version if you want the kisses and more, especially the movie.

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Thanks for the recommendation. I kind of want to watch the Japanese version but I worry that I wouldn't be able to enjoy it on its own. I would always be comparing it to the Korean version.

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@Ra On Ah
They both work on their own merit. The Japanese version has a lot more depth than the Korean version.

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I'll add it to my watch list 🙂

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I also kept waiting for it when I saw it first. 😡 I don't know, I never watched the mangha, so I don't know the original. But yes, I was also disappointed.
same with prime minister and I, which "True Ending" I wanted to write for this month's theme, but I was wrapped in work again and couldn't write a single word.
Anyway, cantabile left me exactly like it left you, waiting😢.....
And I loved the characters, and I enjoyed the story, except of course noble idiocy.
But I also wanted a kiss, and.... same as you....

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I haven't seen Prime Minister and I but I've heard about the ending. I can't imagine watching a whole show only for it to end like that.

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While i don't mind about the no-kiss *let say that some people not really fond of PDA* but i remember being dissapointed of that filmed-first last episode. Something about concert (can't remember tho.) And no Blue Rhapsody! Bummer.

Lets scream it once again: ORABAAANG!!!!

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Haha 🙂 ORABBAAAAAANG!

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So much wasted potential in this drama!

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This was also my first Kdrama, although I came to it through the classical music theme. I've also watched the Japanese version (including a 2-part movie) which I felt was a bit better, overall.

I do not know this "Dramaworld" show. Will have to check it out, apparently.

Like a lot of viewers, I have a problem with the manga-inspired dramas as they are so over-the-top campy and the violence is kind of jarring.

For me, if wasn't just the lack of a kiss at the end, but the feeling that maybe they weren't quite suited for each other, after all. I mean, if the guy can't display some tenderness for her then, well, when can he? Is he even normal?

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Dramaworld is really cute and the episodes are short (15-20 minutes). I watched it all in about three hours. It was really fun as an intro to kdramas but I think drama fans would enjoy it even more and understand all the jokes and tropes (piggyback rides, karaoke, trucks of doom, flower boys, etc...) 🙂

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@zarzamora You articulated the exact feeling I had by the end of the show. I was asking myself if the lead was really that much of a prize for Nae-il to endure the tsundere facade that people seem to like. In this case, that facade seemed too thick to get through and she was like a tearful puppy or blissfully naive puppy bouncing around him. It took WAY TOO MUCH EFFORT to warm him up for so little visible-to-her reward. LOL, sorry Nae-il.

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Omg I can't believe it was your first Korean drama! Well I can actually, you have to start somewhere. But this was a fun read and I'm so sorry for the lack of skinship/kiss. I never got around to finising it but I might give it a second chance now. 😉
Btw I don't think the Japanese version had any either but that'd be less surprising tbh. Off to google that...

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Ok, so so sorry, please ignore the last bit.

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Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! At first, I thought "Maybe they'll kiss in season two..."
*googles "Tomorrow's Cantabile season 2"*
Google: no results
*Throws computer out window*

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Haha that was good one XD
This is one of my favorite dramas because its based in my most favorite many/anime ever, & I wasn't surprised by the lack of kisses, in the manga & 3 seasons of the anime I got like 3 kisses max which is saved in my laptop btw, & since I never got a kiss in season 1 of the anime....no kiss in the drama ending just got me like....oh...fine... -_-

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For you need look at the Japan version

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Haha.. I so love this! I didn't watch Cantible Tomorrow, but I'm familiar enough with the Japanese version, so I wanted to read this alternate ending. So glad I did!

I would be equally frustrated with all the cock-blocking of kisses, by the lead man's reservations (repulsion?), a phone alarm, and...water fountain?! Maybe the actors expressed their desire not to actually kiss, and the director agreed?

I guess this is one case where you actually want the trope to play out, and it doesn't.

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I'm glad you enjoyed it! I think I heard somewhere that the lead actress doesn't do kiss scenes so that might have been part of it. Also, they filmed the end at the beginning because it was shot in Europe along with some scenes they needed for the first ep that were also in Europe. That is why the characters seem out of character in the last ep.

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I love this drama too. Joo won is perfection, as is Park bogum, go kyung po and the rest of the supporting cast. I can see all the hard work the cast and the crew put in to play all those wonderful pieces like professional classical musicians. I enjoy every bit of the music, play-off, petty disputes, oh and the music campus is so beautifully filmed too. The only jarring bit is Naeil , I think the character is not handled very well.

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Thanks for sharing your really hilarious journey to dramabeans. I loved the manga so watched most of Cantabile, but I don't remember the ending. It must have been lackluster due to LACK OF KISS

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I read somewhere that the lead actress didn't want to kiss on screen or something, that's why there was no kiss in this drama.

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