The 2015 Korean rom-com She Was Pretty, which starred Park Seo-joon, was such a hit that it received not just a Chinese remake in 2017, but also a Japanese remake of the same title, which premiered in Japan in July this year.
In Singapore, the Japanese She Was Pretty is currently airing on cable TV channel GEM, where it premieres every Thursday and Friday at 8.45pm (SGT).
The Japanese version stars Kento Nakajima as Sousuke Hasebe, and Fuka Koshiba as Ai Sato. Sousuke was a dull-looking, fat boy who grew up to become a handsome deputy editor-in-chief for the fashion magazine The Most. On the other hand, Ai was a beautiful student, but lost confidence in her looks when "ugly traits" started showing during her adulthood.
Although they are childhood friends, Ai could not muster her courage to meet Sousuke, who moved back to Japan from New York. Ai begins a tumultuous journey of deceit when she discovers Sousuke is now her boss.
Here are four things to know about the Japanese remake of She Was Pretty.
1. The characters and setting are not as glamorous.
As the Korean version used brightly coloured clothing and more accentuated make-up and hairdoes, the Japanese version may seem less glamorous in comparison. To a certain extent, it feels strange as the characters, especially Ai’s best friend Risa (Yui Sakuma), are meant to look fashionable. At the very least, Risa should have coloured hair like her Korean counterpart, instead of relatively boring black hair.
The setting of the workplace of The Most is also a far cry from the Korean version. Instead of featuring chic technology and stylish furniture, it presents a cramped and messy workplace that does not befit a top fashion magazine. In one scene, Sousuke even had to manually shut the window blinds of his office, when the Korean version uses smart windows that can be changed to translucent with a press of a button on the controller.
2. The pace of the story is a lot faster.
Typical of most Japanese dramas, the Japanese version of She Was Pretty also has a faster pace. What would have spanned four episodes in the Korean version has been condensed into just two episodes. Some of the details have been trimmed, making the characters less well-rounded than they could have been. While the personalities of the main characters in the Korean version are more prominent, the characters in the Japanese version may seem relatively flat.
3. The adaptation is quite faithful to the original.
The Japanese version remains somewhat faithful, making sure to keep the key events that build the relationships among the four main characters: Ai, Sousuke, Risa, and Ai’s colleague Higuchi (Eiji Akaso). It also greatly tones down the hysterical side of Ai — having a screamfest in almost every episode can be really annoying — and introduces a more logical and less exaggerated flow to the events.
4. The actors are relatively younger and newer.
The Korean version features actors born in the 1980s with relatively more experience in the industry, while the Japanese version features actors born in the 1990s, who are newer to acting. Moreover, taking the male lead role is Kento Nakajima, who is part of the J-pop boyband Sexy Zone. As such, the Japanese remake is more like an idol drama, rather than a drama with greater focus on acting. Nonetheless, it is still a good attempt to let young talents shine, as compared to staying conservative by using established actors.
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