Asian Drama Review: Star’s Echo
Romanized title: Byeolui Sori / Anata ni Aitakute
English title: Star’s Echo
Broadcast stations: MBC / Fuji TV
Broadcast date: 30 January 2004
CastL Jo Hyun Jae, Nakagoshi Noriko, Lee Da Hae, Tanihara Shosuke, Kurotani Tomoka, Lee Jun Ki, Kim Yong Hee
Synopsis: While on vacation in Korea, Japanese Misaki (Nakagoshi Noriko) fights with her boyfriend and meets the musically gifted Korean Sung Jae (Jo Hyun Jae). He helps brighten her mood, but she still ends things with her boyfriend. However, they get into a car accident which kills her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Sung Jae returns home to find his house covered in red tags and his father is arrested. Needless to say, life has thrown these two people for a loop.
A year passes and Misaki gets into a company that manufactures telescopes. She is then transferred to the Korean office, much to her dislike as Korea holds memories of her dead boyfriend. Meanwhile, Sung Jae is producing Karaoke music for roadside stalls instead of composing his own music. To make things worse, things between him and his long-term girlfriend have reached an end point. It is at this time that these two scarred people find each other and begin a friendship that slowly leads to something deeper. Can Misaki forgive herself and put the past behind her? Can Sung Jae forget his longtime love and find the strength to return to music?
My thoughts: This is not a bad mini series. I did enjoy it, however, I actually thought it could be even better if it was a tad longer. Maybe if it had been 4 episodes like Friends (another joint Korean-Japanese project), it would have had a little better development. Or, perhaps, they spent too much time showing how Misaki and Sung Jae hung out and got even closer versus showing some other developments, like what was going on between Chan Gyu (Lee Jun Ki) and Tomoko (Kurotani Tomoka) or what exactly Ji Young (Lee Da Hae) was actually feeling, because I was never quite sure what was going through her head, and just what was going on with Misaki’s boss.
This short series had a lot going for it. There were some comedic, romantic, and melodramatic moments. Lee Jun Ki shined with his small, yet pivotal role and I actually hated Lee Da Hae’s character. Nakagoshi Noriko did a good job as a woman tortured by the guilt of being the one driving during the accident that killed her boyfriend. Jo Hyun Jae shines as a man who turned away from composing real music in order to do commercial music to make ends meet. Despite the detour from his dream, he is able to help Misaki come to realize that she doesn’t need to beat herself to death with guilt due to the past.
I do like the character of Sung Jae, but admit to not being happy with how his character was when he first reconnects with Misaki. Of course, at this time his relationship with long term girlfriend Ji Young is on the rocks. He should not have kept the necklace (the last gift of the dead boyfriend) from Misaki and his attitude was a little uncalled for, but then again, Misaki never revealed the truth to him. Sung Jae only learns later of the importance through Chan Gyu who learned about it through Misaki’s coworker Tomoko. After Ji Young officially breaks up with him (it seems she had a little something on the side the entire time and chooses the wealthy, successful guy over Sung Jae).
Nakagoshi Noriko as Misaki was good. Sure throughout the series she has the trauma of losing her boyfriend in the accident, which has definitely put a damper on her life, but she opens herself up to Sung Jae (first as a friend) which finally allows her life to get back on track and allows her to put the death of her boyfriend behind her. She always initially refuses any advice that Sung Jae gives her, but in the end, she does what he says and finds that life wasn’t as bad or as hopeless as she initially thought. And when she does the [typical] leaving near the end of the series, she has completely opened her heart up to Sung Jae and has decided to do what she thought was best [letting him go so he could get his ex back].
Lee Da Hae’s Ji Young seemed okay at first, but I admit she didn’t quite rub me the right way. She had no concept of a man’s pride and wished to set Sung Jae up in business with the help of her father (heart in the right place maybe, but still). Also, when things looked like they would never change and that Sung Jae would never come through on marriage, she ends up accepting a guy much better off. Apparently, she had been seeing him for a while. I have no sympathy for characters who play the field like that.
Lee Jun Ki as Chan Gyu was a scene stealer. But then again, I unabashedly love Lee Jun Ki. He is a great actor (not to mention good looking). His role almost seems similar to his role in My Girl, except as much less of a player. He is obsessed with stars (as is Misaki) and is instrumental in helping our couple get together. Despite his immature actions, he is actually quite mature and hands out sage advice. He, along with Misaki, is part of of the reason Sung Jae is able to return to composing music. In fact, the title Star’s Echo refers to the fact that stars do indeed have sounds. When Misaki leaves for Japan and Sung Jae stays with Chan Gyu, Chan Gyu plays the sound of stars for Sung Jae which gets his creative juices flowing.
Kurotani Shosuke could have shone even more if the series had focused a little more on him. As soon as his character Suji meets Misaki, it looks like he’s interested and you can see this throughout the episodes, however, not enough time is given to this development and we end with a proposal after no dating and only a year or two of working together. Sudden, yes, and it seemed a little too unrealistic. I was not happy when Misaki goes back to Japan to visit the grave of her boyfriend and he proposes, saying he married for passion and love once and that failed him, now he wishes to marry for companionship. He wants to protect Misaki and says that she does not need to work to get over her dead boyfriend. Seriously? What kind of bogus proposal is that? He could have done that better.
What I seriously didn’t like is that Misaki goes back to Korea ready to finally accept Sung Jae’s love only to have Ji Young come in to ruin things. She goes to see Sung Jae who doesn’t want to see her. Instead of leaving his apartment, Ji Young stays and sees Misaki coming to visit. Ji Young quickly takes off some clothes and jumps into bed with Sung Jae (how he doesn’t notice is beyond me – maybe he passed out drunk? or maybe he was sick? I don’t know). Misaki sees this and leaves. Ji Young then calls her out later and says that she and Sung Jae are getting back together as soon as Misaki can leave the picture. Misaki gives Ji Young the gift she picked out for Sung Jae and decides not to tell him she’s leaving.
Sung Jae learns Misaki is back in Korea and calls her up. He is surprised that she doesn’t want to see him. He goes to visit her and she tells him she just can’t get over her dead boyfriend and he needs to accept Ji Young if she comes back and apologizes. Misaki leaves, Sung Jae completes his song and produces an album with his rock band friends via Ji Young’s father. With his success, Ji Young gives him Misaki’s final present. Sung Jae learns that Misaki is over her dead boyfriend at last and rushes to Japan to find her.
Seriously. If that was all Ji Young wanted to do, why did she intervene at all? That seriously annoyed me. But Sung Jae’s and Misaki’s relationship that we see over the course of the 2 episodes does almost make up for these underdeveloped plot. It was fun to see them hang out as friend and inspire/help each other. Misaki encourages Sung Jae’s musical aspirations and Sung Jae helps Misaki get over the guilt of the car accident. Watching the growing attraction was fun, too. At first Sung Jae was lonely and tries to almost force himself on Misaki, which was annoying, but at least he quickly snaps out of that phase and becomes his lovable self.
I was happy that they didn’t focus as much on the whole problem with the Korean-Japanese relationship and just focused on these two people healing and helping each other and finding the love they were looking for.