[Alternate Endings] Cantabile Tomorrow owes me a kiss
by Guest Beanie
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:
- A drama ends with true love’s kiss.
- 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.
- The leading man will take a hot, steamy shower.
- 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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