Winter Sonata (冬のソナタ)

All posts tagged Winter Sonata (冬のソナタ)

The second version of the main male protagonist.

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, the long-awaited K-Drama anime adaptation Winter Sonata will finally be able to challenge the reigning ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ title holder Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. In fact, in the past I have mentioned that, as I know it, this series and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are the two titles that has the highest probability of kicking Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei off its perch. But if you read my short review of the latter above, you will see that it has failed to do so. Saddled with the romance genre handicap, can Winter Sonata do what One Outs has done; which is overcoming the handicap and scored a perfect score?

And this is the main female protagonist's younger sister.

The main female protagonist has fallen asleep in the bus right next to the main male protagonist, causing both of them to be late for school. From that incident, their relationship turns romantic but tragedy strikes after the main male protagonist died in an accident. One time jump later, the now-older main female protagonist is just about to marry her childhood friend when she sees a man that resembles the deceased main male protagonist roaming the streets of Seoul. From that point on, her engagement disintegrates, as she chased upon the impossible…

Split into three major arc, each of them separated by a time jump, the story in this series is very very good. It doesn’t deviate much from the drama version, if at all. The plot in this series definitely lies in the seinen territory, and the romance is nothing like anything seen in any of the titles mentioned here, or in any comparable J-drama/K-drama titles either. Winter Sonata is truly unique in this regard for it to have an intense overall plot with plenty of twist and turns, not to be watched by those with the faintest of hearts.

The second arc (the longest one) in particular is really great. It has quite a few stunning plot-twists and also has one of the best cliffhangers I have seen for quite some time. The first arc served as the foundation of the main storyline very well, and the final arc is even better; it has a tear-jerking subplot within it that come before the admittedly predictable ending (Seoul would have burned if the ending happened any other way). The director used plenty of flashbacks and monologues to show some unseen scenes that is supposed to have happened in the first arc too to help advance the plots in the second arc.

One of them is the main female protagonist. Can you guess which one of them is? HINT: It's the ruder one.

The only minor problem I have with the presentation of this series (that the drama version doesn’t have) is that the 30-minute format did affect story development in a negative way. A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the pivotal episode 16, where scene transition problems is easily discernable and the plot progressed too fast and too disjointed for my liking. This happened only in the second arc though, the first and third arc doesn’t suffer from this problem. Some potential subplots are not told fully in this animated version either, such as the Happy/Unhappy dog subplot and the aftermath of the infidelity by the math professor.

Character development is good overall. There are two outstanding characters in this series, which is the main male protagonist and the main female protagonist’s childhood friend. These two really makes the second arc of this series comes alive with their strong performances. The extremely divisive main female protagonist has done well, but not as good as the two aforementioned characters above. Too bad considering that the main storyline actually revolves around her. The side characters (some of them are quite important too) also plays their supporting roles nicely, although their roles diminished when the third arc arrives.

The innocent victim of the main female protagonist's indiscretions.

Character Design:-
Characters adaptation from a real-life drama to an animation series differs depending on their gender. Male characters in this series looks better than their real-life counterparts, while the other way around is true for female characters (with only one or two exceptions). The hair colors completely mimic what you can see in the real-life version, therefore black hairs can be seen aplenty here. A positive aspect for this series.

Voice Acting:-
This anime adaptation uses the same actors/actresses that also acted in the real-life version of the drama. Therefore quality is going to be as good as it can be. There are no outstanding character(s) here though. Sometimes there are some exaggeration though when certain characters tried to become overly romantic, but this should not be a blot upon the otherwise extremely good voice-acting gigs in this series. Another positive aspect for this series.

The piano-dominated OST used also in the drama version is very good. So are the inserts and the OP/ED themes, all recycled from the drama version. The director sure doesn’t take any risks, and just used what have worked in the past. Another positive aspect for this series.

The main male protagonist has died in this scene as shown by these gizmos…

…but in the bereavement scene that comes right after his death, the same gizmos shows that the main male protagonist being healthy and stuff. One of the screw-ups by the director.

The only blip of this series. While general non-character animations is quite good in this series (inclusive of fast-paced scenes), you cannot say the same thing about the character animations. Lip-sync problems are common, where the characters’ mouth can be seen stopping/moving when the dialogue is still playing/stopped. There are some good falling snow effects though, which is pretty much understandable just by looking at the series title.

Choreography is non-existent in this kind of story. Meanwhile, the director has this weird tendency to use rapid-switching camera angles when showing static scenes. That probably will work in real-life filming but I am not really sure it does in animation. Apart from that, the directing is pretty much spotless.

9 out of 10.
Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei managed to keep the ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ title by the virtue of the fact that Winter Sonata was saddled by the romance genre handicap. Is there any 2009 anime in my queue that is better than Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei? Is the second season of Haruhi Suzumiya better than it?

Proof that love is really not fair.