Nodame gets Kdrama adaptation: Why it's a bad idea

So it seems that everyone and their mother has heard that Nodame is being made into a Kdrama. You know how I feel about that? I feel so strongly about that, I am barely able to keep cool about it and explain my feelings. So please allow me to employ the wonderful usage of imagery to demonstrate. Prepare your bandwidth. And eyes. (Scroll past the gifs for actual discussion, starting off from Nodame, all the way to the disgraceful "Boys Over Flowers")

Please watch this gif with the cat's voice playing in your head. 

Loki explains my feelings on the project:

Dear Group 8:

I am beyond English words...

And human words...

But more seriously...

Let me start by explaining my history with Nodame Cantabile.

I first watched Nodame in anime form, and fell in love with it instantly. I marathoned all the seasons until morning, got frustrated at the whole affair with Rui, skipped to the end and got more frustrated at the lack of development, then slept.

With a calmer head, I rewatched the earlier seasons of Nodame. And rewatched. And rewatched.

After I began watching Jdrama, I noticed the existence of its drama adaptation. While I found pictures of Ueno Juri weird and Tamaki Hiroshi super ugly (I know, what was I thinking?), one day I finally decided to give it a go, since I kept hearing it was so great. I couldn't stand even 5 minutes of the first episode, you know, that scene where Tamaki Hiroshi is just sitting thinking about his past and fate? My brain kept screaming "NO, NO you are not the perfect lovely Chiaki that I know, this is a disgrace!", and I couldn't get over it, so I stopped attempting to watch it, not wanting to ruin my love with the series.

Some time later, upon the insistence of everyone on the internet, and their mother (and their grandmother; and likely fueled by not having anything else to watch) I decided to try again, this time watching the full first episode before making up my mind. So I did. And that was when everything changed.

I loved the drama so much that I think it's better than the anime. I actually tried to rewatch the anime once but it seemed so bad in comparison: The only series where the drama turned out better. All the actors are so perfect for their role, it's amazing. Even though the story is comically unrealistic, it still made such an amazing live-action. I cannot count the number of times I rewatched the drama, and its specials, and movie. Thanks to the live-action, I saw that the Rui thing was not a big deal at all, and now I never skip anything, it's all perfect as one big story.

Ah, forgot to mention, I went back and read the manga too. The manga was even worse than the anime. The music adds so much to the experience, and it's just not the same without it. Again, I think this is the only case where I think the anime was better than the manga.

While I do understand why most people might find a personality like Nodame annoying and want to kick her face not only if she existed in real life, but even as an anime character, I love her infinitely. Nodame will always be the most special to me. I can't really name one favorite Jdrama of all time, but if you forced me to give an answer, it would most likely be Nodame. And most people would most likely think I need therapy for caring so much about a fictional story.

So this group of Kdrama producers, uncreatively named Group Eight (despite their English slogan on their webpage, which calls them "Creative Leaders"), want to take my beloved Nodame and make a Kdrama out of it? Without going into a fit of unstoppable rage, let me explain why I think this is a very bad idea, for us true fans, anyway. Or maybe just for me.

There is a reason that Nodame works as a drama, while showing exactly how childlike abnormal she is, but not to the point where you can't imagine that a person like that would never exist in real life, or at least as real as life gets in the scope of a drama. It's because it's in Japanese. I'm not talented enough to describe exactly why, but if you ever watched some anime, I'm sure you can imagine that it doesn't really stand out when you insert made-up words in speech, and quite a few animes, and even some dramas, have their own meaningless word catchphrase. (Think: Dattebayo, in Naruto; Many many ones in Higurashi such as Nipah! by Rika, Gakkushi for Hotaru no Hikari; though some, like the last one, are not entirely meaningless) A key point of Nodame is her catchphrase-sounds, the most prominent of which is Gyabo! She uses them very, very often and it's a crucial aspect of what makes Nodame speech, Nodame speech.

Then there is Stresemann. The anime version was cute and I was horrified to see what he looked like in Nodame. But now I wouldn't exchange the drama version for anything. While ridiculous and so obviously fake, he is JUST SO GREAT. In caps, yes. His foreign Japanese accent is really amazing. Because, there is a very specific way most westerners mispronounce Japanese and the way he does it beyond hilarious, I can laugh whenever he says anything at all.

Now, my Korean is not nearly as good as my Japanese, but I can give you a 99.9% guarantee that these can't be replicated in Korean. Japanese does not translate well. Probably many of you think that it would translate better to Korean than to English, which is true to a degree, but the wonderful nuances that make Jdrama Jdrama, there is simply no way to get it in Kdrama. At least not one like Nodame. The feeling of the languages are too different. Not to mention the very name of Nodame, which is an abbreviation of Noda Megumi, commonly used like pet names in Japanese (think Yankumi in Gokusen, or Matsujun for Matsumoto Jun).

You might think, I don't know Japanese, and I don't know Korean, so why should I care? Well, I think there is a difference between merely translating (as in subbing, dubbing) something, and completely remaking it in another language. When you watch something with subs, even if you don't exactly understand from the text what they said in the original show, it doesn't really make the original show worse. But if the show is based around not being able to exactly say something, then it will have to remove/change those parts, and suddenly it's like you're not watching the same thing at all anymore.

Listen, I love Korean, and I love Kdramas. I think that there are plenty of instances where the Korean version of a Jdrama would be better. In fact, if we want to be concrete about it, I think the Korean version of two dramas I love very much, Ikemen Desu Ne (You're Beautiful) and Maou (The Devil) are at least as good as the Japanese version. But admittedly, this is a tricky situation because both are actually Japanese adaptations of original Kdramas. I honestly don't know one example where a Korean adaptation of a Jdrama was remotely good, let alone as good as the Japanese version. But I digress.

The point is, I believe that some Jdramas would most likely be much better as a Kdrama, due to great story, yet subpar acting and production. Even Hanzawa Naoki, although I love it as it is, I think it would made a wonderful high quality Kdrama. Or Last Cinderella, it has definite potential (not that I think this example was lacking in any way, really). Why? These dramas are more generic (perhaps only generic in the scope of Asia) stories that do not necessarily depend directly on Japanese language or culture. However, something like Nodame, depends heavily on Japanese language usage, and drama/anime culture. This is a bad, bad choice to adapt to Kdrama.

But, I hear you saying, give it a chance. Maybe you're wrong, maybe they will do a really great job. Okay, I tell you. Let's see what the chances of that are.

Here are the most popular drama this Group Eight has produced ever, from the list on their website, and common knowledge of what is popular (for the demographic likely to be reading this post):

2006: Goong

Based on a manhwa, this drama was incredibly slow paced and tear-out-your-hair frustrating. No, not the good frustrating like Hana Yori Dango, I want to smash my monitor level frustrating. I watched it because Yoon Eun Hye was cute, and there were about 3 cute scenes between her and the prince in 20 whole hours, but I would recommend it to no one. 10 minutes of cute does not justify wasting 19 hours and 50 minutes.

2007: Goong S

I seriously tried to watch it because, Park Shin Hye. But I just couldn't. It's much worse than Goong, which I barely watched.

2009: Boys Over Flowers

I admit to not knowing where the name came from, but it sounds like some Korean person just didn't know Japanese, looked at the kanji in the title, which reads "rather than flowers, boys" (or "boys over flowers") literally, but the furigana will inform you that it means "rather than flowers, dumplings", which you might remember mentioned in the show itself if you watched the Jdrama season 2. In fact, if you didn't know, this itself is a saying that means to prefer the practical over pretty. So the Kdrama title is really complete nonsense.

I love Hana Yori Dango the Jdrama very much. It was one of my firsts, and it's what got me hooked on Jdrama (and Arashi). I think that the Korean actors are objectively better looking, and I love Lee Min Ho (who doesn't?) for his other projects, it is no lie that he's handsome. However, I found Korean Makino very, very annoying, and the Kdrama really, really terrible. It's like they took this crazy show everyone loves anyway and made it into a crazy show only crazy fangirls would love.

Boys Over Flowers is such a typical Kdrama. Over the top, angst, blah, blah, blah. Hana Yori Dango was not equally polished, but it was the original. It had heart that the Korean version could never have. And the Maotsujun fandom is still going strong. Because they were perfect.

2010: Playful Kiss

Adapted from Itazura na Kiss, which I didn't know anything about but I tried watching the Kdrama anyway. I couldn't. It was so boring. I have an idea the original Japanese would be much more entertaining, but cannot confirm yet.

2013: Pretty Man

Not saying this was super popular, but I did watch it, it ended just recently. Manhwa adaptation, started out just fine, but... After mid-way through it became so bad, it was literally like no one was even trying anymore. The overall story was so bad it made you wonder why you thought it would be good from episode 1. A complete disappointment that gave me secondhand embarrassment as I watched, because it was just that bad.

To wrap up, it looks like this Group Eight has a very bad track record when it comes to pleasing me. I know hordes of fangirls love Boys Over Flowers, but honestly, if that's your favorite Kdrama, you really need to watch more Kdrama. If you want silly rom-com, or melodrama, there are much, much better ones in both genres. Hana Yori Dango, on the other hand, I completely understand. For Hana Yori Dango, the result is more than the sum of its parts. It's the same with HanaKimi. The story may be frivilous, but the Japanese version had so much heart. Do I need to even say what I think about the Korean version?

I fear that this will be what happens to Nodame. Non-jdrama watchers will probably rave over it, but the actual product will be much worse than its Japanese counterpart. It will probably portray the retardation of Nodame without the realism, and since it's Kdrama, how can we forget the angst? They will probably insert 5 episodes of needless angst (that doesn't even exist in the original version!) that will make everyone want to kill themselves for watching the show. And while it will be cute up to a point, it simply will not have the heart and soul of the original Jdrama that made it such a success in the Japanese domain.

The result will be that it will turn into yet another name that only pretty-boy fangirling crazy teens would watch, and no one else takes seriously.

To Group Eight: I am not against general Kdrama adaptations of Jdrama. I will gladly offer some ideas that have actual potential. But not Nodame, just, no. In case you don't speak English or understand the word "no":

I know that no amount of complaining or explaining on my part will stop this from happening, so what all this really comes down to is...

If you don't understand this gif, do yourself a favor. Do NOT watch the Kdrama Nodame, and go watch Arrested Development instead. Thank me later.


  1. Gotta say, this is really well put. I don't know if I would have been able to explain it that well. I would have probably said, "NO!! Because I said so!" But I am on the same page. Ueno Juri made such a great Nodame because she is so quirky herself. I cannot imagine how they are going to get some of the ridiculousness across. This would be like them trying to adapt Ouran High School Host Club...I just don't think the absurdity of Tamaki, much like Nodame, translates well in Korean. Especially if done by G8...

  2. Shitty korean soup operas just too... shitty.

  3. i can't forbid they to remake nodame, indeed.
    but i can say k-drama wont surpass original nodame's dorama.
    i'm not sure if someone can live up Nodame's character as good as Ueno Juri had done.
    I believe that Nodame existed bcuz of her :D no one can beat her :D
    also, k-drama is so typical with such a formula
    they will ruin original images of character...
    i had watched hana yori dango, meteor garden and meteor shower and of course BBF. BBF is so so typical k-drama..far away from the manga and dorama. they ruin image of Makino. not to mention meteor shower which is like teenage drama
    Playfull kiss. is so far from good compare with itazura na kiss dorama.
    to be honest, i't so boring to watch this more silly hilarious i watched it in marathon mode :D
    even It started with a kiss is better

    so, if they will remake Nodame..don't expect to much.....

  4. I agree with pretty much everything you have to say :D Most of the Korean dramas I really really like are the crime/horror type. (I do like some fluff, but NOT when they add 100% more angst than necessary). ...but then I was thinking about a Korean internet drama I recently watched..."Love Poten" (12 eps at about 10 min each) I think it did well? (In its scope at least.) In any case, I would be curious to see the Love Poten production/writing/directing team try something like might actually even maybe be good. (Here's the English-subbed show for reference, if you're interested )

  5. IMNSHO Juri Ueno and Hiroshi Tamaki ARE Nodame Cantabile. Any remake is laughable.

  6. lol this gif surely explain anything

    i hear it and the first thing in my head is "ARE THEY EATING THE WRONG FOOD?"
    well, the most important role is nodame, no one can make nodame live as excellent as ueno juri.
    I watch all most all k drama and movie but there is no actress in korean can act as a nodame.

  7. I totally 100% completely agree with you!!! I love k-dramas, especially since my Korean is so much better than my Japanese, but whenever the same story is made as both a k-drama and a j-drama, the j-dramas are decidedly better. If nothing else, pacing is a huge factor. You pretty much summed up the Boys Over Flowers fiasco -- the title in Korean being nonsense -- Makino's flaky Korean version . . . oh and the beginning of an Arashi obsession. hahaha ^_____^ But Maou was so much better than The Devil. And I'm not just saying that as a biased Ohno fangirl. Maou really was all around a much better-made drama than The Devil. For one thing, the psychic girl's character went through the same transformation as Makino's character. Only this time it was the reverse -- she became a much stronger and likable character when translated into Japanese.

  8. who are the actors and actresses they are planning to play the role???

  9. I agree with everything! I'll probably murder someone once the cameras for Korean drama adaptation starts rolling.
    Also, there are so many Nodame parts that are purely Japanese, like: kotatsu, Nodame's favorite anime, "gyabo!" and "mukya", using "Oke" as a shortcut for orchestra, harisen, and Nodame's own nickname (from Noda Megumi) is unique, how will they translate that to Korean?

  10. im agree with you toooo! even though i love k-drama as much as i love J-Drama but i really don't like when they do the adaptation of manga.. they more focus about love, cute or handsome actress & actor only. you can see what they do to Hanakimi adaptation, its worse!


  12. I agree that it's highly likely that a Korean adaptation of Nodame probably wouldn't live up to the original (and you are right to have doubts about Group 8) buuuut maybe in different hands and with perfect casting, Nodame could be handled well. Regarding some of your points, well, I would have to disagree.

    "Japanese does not translate well." Really...? I seriously beg to differ. As a speaker of both Korean and Japanese, I would argue that there is much fluidity and ease in translation between the two. Do keep in mind that Korean and Japanese have Chinese origins, therefore the nuances in words are extremely similar, and even syntactical and grammatical structures are notably similar.

    "The feeling of the languages are too different." Now that's just plain condescending. They differ in sound, naturally, and due to cultural influences, there are some words present in one language and not in the other, but isn't that to be expected...? There are plenty of situations in which you'll find that translating/subtitling from Japanese to English is even more tricky than going from Japanese to Korean, but does that jump from one language to another greatly affect one's enjoyment or conveyance of the material? More than the language that actors speak in, isn't it most important that actors are suited for their roles and can convey to us believable and sympathetic characters? I'm sure that even if Ueno Juri were speaking (fluent) French, she'd still be the perfect Nodame. It's not about language; her skill as an actor is what makes us believe in her.

    In the end, great acting, scriptwriting, directing and etc. are the things that matter. Will an adaptation be able to top the quality of the Japanese? Most likely not, but I'd attribute that more to inferiority of production, and not so much an inferiority of language as you insinuate here.

    As another note, "Hana Yori Dango" in the case of the manga, anime, and drama does in fact mean 'boys over flowers." The kanji used in the title is 'danshi,' meaning boy/young man, which can be alternately read as 'dango,' as indicated by the furigana. This exact pun is somewhat lost in translating from Japanese to Korean (however, the kanji for boy/dango is used stylistically on posters and promotional material), but there's another layer added when going from Japanese to Korean in this case. Pretty boys in Korean are called "flower boys," therefore it could be said that the title means "pretty (boys) before (regular) guys/boys." Take this as you will.

  13. Well, I appreciate your opinion, but I just can't stand it the way you 'humiliate' korean dramas. I can't see the light of your opinion. So i guess you really don't like remakes. Well, guess what? I watch many dorama (Including Hana Yori Dango, Itazura Na Kiss and Hana Kimi) and those drama are so Over-Humor. The Slapstick was Abnormal and not funny at all. But, I agree with you that Nodame Cantabile dorama is Irreplaceable. Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi.... they are PERFECT as Noda and Chiaki, but I find those 'Gyaboo' and 'Mukyaa' things are a bit too Over-reacting.
    But, I don't agree when you said "Korean Itazura na Kiss and Hana Yori Dango are not Good or Terrible" because, I have the proof!!!
    In my country, DORAMA never explode (I think it's because of the Humor didn't matched up with my country and also the actor were Not fit. honestly, that Tsukasa Domyoji in Hana Yori Dango was so Skinny and SHORT! How could they cast him anyway? Meanwhile the korean version was so Perfect. The Cast??? Korean is the best. ). the lighting team of Dorama are terrible.
    I heard that Joo Won is the Chiaki and Shim Eun Kyung is going to be Nodame. I know Joo WOn is the King of Ratings. He is the best actor in Korean Drama. And I know Shim Eun Kyung In a movie titled 'Miss Granny,'. They're good. Please, don't say that Korean adaptions are sucks or NOT GOING TO BE SUCCESS, because, In my country, korean dramas rules the TV, not dorama. Japanese may be good on making anime, but drama? I don't think so.

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  15. I totally agree with you. I love K Drama and J Drama but for me K Drama are too 'drama'. It's more dramatic and because of that sometimes it's less of humor. For me, 'Gyabo' and 'Mukya' it's a must in Nodame, without that it's not Nodame then. You will know what I mean if you read the manga, watch the anime and the drama. For some people whose not familiar with J Drama, they will think that their humor are little bit weird. But that's because their comical culture it's so strong. For me their humor it's quite fun. Sometimes I prefer J Drama than K Drama because we can relate their stories and character with our life while K Drama are way to melancholy and serious. I mean..have you watch Long Vacation, Beach Boys, Mayonaka No Panya-San, Orange Days or Trick? All of them are really good dorama and we can relate their stories in our life. In my opinion, some K Drama stories are still in Cinderella Story style. Well, it's just my opinion, I just wanna to share it and I'm sorry if you have difficulties to understand my English, I'm still not that good. =p

  16. I used to like dorama when I'm still in senior high school, but for now I like Korean the most. The recent dorama I watched and have wonderful story in my opinion is Rich Man Poor Woman, that's all. I used to like Hana Yori Dango and Hanazakarino, but these years Kdrama getting pretty good, the acting, the setting, the sory, the humor, so I get stuck in them now. I used to love Nodame live action and still rewatched some part of it now, but I skip the slapstick scene. Beside, if you want to talk about realistic, Kdrama acting are more realistic, though I agree sometime the story just Cinderella-like, but it just sometimes, you just have to choose a good drama. Dorama actor/actreses not that good in realistic acting, I don't know why. I just can say a name, Oguri Shun, he so good and consistent. The rest, I can't expect from it. But if you want me to name Kdrama actors/actresses, I have many, and they are good in terms of acting. No offense, its just my opinion, just like you shared yours.

    I agree that remake of Itazura na Kiss and Pretty Boy was a bad bad result, something wrong in that. But, I dont't think with Hana Yori Dango, they pretty good. And I've watched Nodame's Korean version, its not bad, beside its really good for me. It realistic and I'm starting to like Chiaki version of Joowon. Ueno Juri's Nodame is such a thing, but Shim Eunkyung's Nodame also unique in a good way. The story and humor also matched each other until now. So, I think you should try to watch the Korean version too. Ah, and yes, the video and setting editing for Kdrama get much much better now. ^^