It seems that remakes are a popular trend this year as Something About 1%, My Sassy Girl and Winter Sonata will all be airing within the next year. Another remake, Second to Last Love is currently airing. There has been quite the controversy with remakes; some people like watching their favorite stories being retold from different points of view, while others think the stories are better left untouched because they were great the first time around.
Here are some of the dramas where I’ve seen both the originals as well as the remade version(s), and my opinion on which was better:
Original: Meteor Garden (2001)
Remakes: Hana Yori Dango (2005), Boys Over Flowers (2009), Let’s Go Watch Meteor Shower (2009)
This story is one of the few stories that has been remade lots of times. It initially comes from the Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango, that was published from 1992 to 2002. This story may be called cliché but since the manga is an old manga, I’ll dare to say it was one of the first stories of its genre.
The first drama ever adapted from the manga was the Taiwanese version, Meteor Garden, and that’s why I called it the original version (leaving aside the manga and anime). This drama closely follows the story of the manga and was a big breakthrough for Barbie Hsu, Jerry Yan and Vic Zhou.
And finally in the same year, the Chinese version was produced: Let’s Go Watch Meteor Shower.
When comparing these four versions, it‘s obvious that Boys Over Flowers is the one with the biggest budget. The foreign filming locations were gorgeous; the clothing, the cars and the houses used were all high class. It really showed us a world that only the F4 could live in. The Taiwanese version is the biggest loser here. Like almost every old Taiwanese drama, it looks outdated and very low budget.
Talking about casting, Hana Yori Dango is the winner. For me, Inoue Mao, Matsumoto Jun and Oguri Shun are the perfect Makino, Tsukasa and Rui. Choosing Matsumoto Jun to be Tsukasa, was one of the best casting choices ever. He himself is Tsukasa, as it was said by several people that his temper and personality were pretty similar to Tsukasa’s.
And how about OST’s?? Boys Over Flowers' overused “Almost Paradise” song was ridiculous. There were moments where it didn’t even fit the mood of the scene but was still played. Hana Yori Dango has a solid OST with Arashi in charge of the intro songs and Ai Otsuka & Utada Hikaru in charge of the insert songs.
Verdict: Hana Yori Dango
For me, the clear winner is the Japanese remake, Hana Yori Dango. It was very well made; the actors fit their roles perfectly and were believable. They also did a good job with the story adaptation in order to fit the standard number of episodes for a Japanese drama. Making two seasons and ending the story with a movie was a good choice. I was also really happy when they announced the final movie, because the original mangaka was involved in its development. When I finished reading the manga, I felt like it was missing something but the movie filled that hole. The movie itself was not so great, but it wraps up the story with a big bow of happiness that leaves me pretty satisfied.
Original: Nodame Cantabile (2006)
Remake: Tomorrow’s Cantabile (2014)
Nodame Cantabile is also a manga adaptation; the manga was published from 2001 to 2009. The original version is the Japanese dorama which had 1 season, 2 specials and 2 movies. Then 8 years later, the Korean remake was made.
Storywise, the Japanese version follows the manga closely and does a really good job at it. The main couple, played by Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri, are one of the favorite couples of dramaland. Ueno Juri does an amazing job bringing Nodame to life, which was very difficult for the Korean actress Shim Eun Kyeong to do. Tomorrow’s Cantabile had a problem balancing the comedy and the slice-of-life genres. That’s why the beginning of the drama and the end felt kind of disconnected. Nodame Cantabile, on the other hand, managed to balance comedy and slice-of-life extremely well, making the drama entertaining to watch, and also enjoyable to rewatch.
Both versions had beautiful songs so the musical part of the story was never endangered.
Verdict: Nodame Cantabile
The original Nodame Cantabile wins this, hands down.
Original: Fated to Love You (Taiwanese, 2008)
Remake: Fated to Love You (Korean, 2014)
Fated to Love You is an original Taiwanese drama, and the story is followed closely by the Korean remake. The biggest difference I found is the main lead: the Taiwanese version had Ethan Ruan as Ji Cun Xi. Cun Xi was cold towards our heroine and had this nasty attitude towards her that couldn’t be justified. For god’s sake, she was pregnant and he still cared more for a dog than for her.
The Korean version has Jang Hyuk as Lee Gun. Jang Hyuk did a great job with his role. He made Lee Gun likeable, as he was a caring, sweet and sometimes funny character - who did think about the person bearing his child.
For the female actresses, both versions had great casting and they both did a great job with the Post-it girl character.
Verdict: Fated to Love You (Korean, 2014)
The remake is the better version for me, and it’s all thanks to the difference in the male character.
Original: Itazura na Kiss (1996)
Remakes: It Started with a Kiss (2005), Playful Kiss (2010), Itazura na Kiss - Love in Tokyo (2013)
This story, like Hana Yori Dango, has been remade several times and it’s also a manga adaptation. The manga has no ending as the mangaka died before finishing it, so every version has had the liberty to end it however they wanted to.
The original version is pretty old and it’s only a nine-episode drama. It’s very short, and it’s basically only the beginning of the story. Years later the Taiwanese version was made, and this version has two seasons, which followed the whole story from their high school years till their working years. Ariel Lin does a pretty good job with her character, making you empathize with her splendidly. Joe Cheng perfectly fits the cold, genius character. He does it so well that sometimes you really want to smack some sense into him. Many loved Ariel and Joe’s drama couple, and they even made other dramas together due to people wishing to see them together again. After this came the Korean version, although I’m skipping it as I haven't seen it yet. And finally, the Japanese version Itazura na Kiss - Love in Tokyo was made. With two seasons and one special, this remake was way better than the original version. Like the Taiwanese version, it followed the complete story. This version is a little lighter than the Taiwanese version and there aren’t as many crying scenes for our leading lady.
There seems to be a new Japanese movie remake of Itazura na Kiss coming out this year, so let’s wait and see how that works.
Verdict: A tie between the Taiwanese and Japanese remakes.
Original: The Quiz Show (2008)
Remake: The Quiz Show 2 (2009)
Even though this drama is managed as Season 1 and 2, season 2 is pretty much a remake. If you have watched both of them, you’ll realize that the plot is almost identical and that the characters share many similarities. Although there is only a year difference between these two dramas, it looks more like a five year difference. When watching the original, it has an 'old feel' to it. Both have great characters and interesting stories. This is a suspense drama, hence the difficulty in doing a remake. Both dramas follow the same plotline, but the final twists and the revelation were changed so the suspense aspects of the dramas were not affected.
Verdict: The Quiz Show 2
The only difference for me is the “old feeling” the original drama has, and that’s why I prefer the remake. But I highly recommend watching them both, as they are very good suspense dramas.
So as you can see, there are times when the remake outdoes the original version. Personally, I’m in for remakes when they are well done and try to surpass the original version. Here are other remakes that I didn’t mention, mainly because I have only seen one version of it:
- Dragon Zakura (2005) / God of Study (2010)
- Hana Kimi (2006) / Hanazakari No Kimitachi e (2007) / Hana Kimi Remake (2011) / To The Beautiful You (2012)
- You’re Beautiful (2009) / Ikemen Desu Ne (2011) / Fabulous Boys (2013)
- Zettai Kareshi (2008) / Absolute Boyfriend (2012)
- The Devil (2007) / Maou (2008)
Which is your favorite Asian Drama remake?