Based on the Korean Drama of the same name, Yoo Jin falls in love with Joon Sang as a young girl. After losing him in an accident, she decides to marry her childhood friend. However, Yoo Jin meets someone looking exactly like her lost love, putting her in a bind. The program featured 23 members of the original Korean cast voicing the characters and was broadcast with Japanese subtitles.
There is a sweet, succinct Korean word that sums up the core of this series: makjang. For the uninitiated, makjang is an element that infers the use of unbelievable, often extreme plot elements that are not limited to: incest, rape, adultery, and terminal illness. Korean dramas often utilize this to keep viewers in suspense, interested in the outcome of the storyline—and Winter Sonata is no stranger to venturing in this territory. If anything, it swathes itself in layers of these extremes, and yet despite sounding ridiculously unbelievable as a result, there is something addicting about the series.
The plot plays out like a melodrama; star-crossed lovers who want nothing more than to be wrapped in the embrace of one another while the whole world is seemingly against them. If that seems too reductive it's because it's quite honestly that simple. While there is nothing inherently impressive about the setup, the payoff is obvious because Winter Sonata was not an international hit without good reason.
This series knows how to lure you in with subtle appeal in the beginning, and while the setup isn't novel, it's refreshing in that it wastes no time in pairing our couple together from the outset. Winter Sonata is nothing if not efficient with its pacing, although it does begin to drag a bit near the end with supplemental material that seems to verge on being shoved in to drag on the episode count. Regardless, if you're concerned over whether or not the plot will catch you, if the synopsis has genuine appeal to you and you don't mind the makjang elements, then this series will catch you from the moment you start and you will be hooked. If you have difficulty buying into or enjoying some of the tropes that were mentioned above, then Winter Sonata will feel far too heavy, unbelievable, and clunky for you to enjoy.
A defining feature of the main quartet of the series is that they are all obsessed with something, and as a result they are riddled with flaws. That on the one hand means they carry some measure of depth but they are just as equally frustrating for it. Yu Jin pines after her only love to the exception of all else; it's as though it is humanly impossible for her to consider the consequences and repercussions of her single-minded obsession with one man. She would sacrifice anything and everything—her childhood friend, the mother that adores her—if that means she gets to be with the one person she wants to be with. Yu Jin is just one example, however, and when I say obsession I mean these individuals verge into the very extremes of the word.
One unique aspect of the series is the animation, which is decidedly different from many of its likeness (read: shoujo). It's a more realistic style that matches perfectly with the essence of the series. It's not flawless, but it has an undeniable quaint charm to it. For those unaccustomed to variant styles of animation and more adapted to the mainstream, it may be an adjustment with Winter Sonata—but once you sit through a few episodes, you quickly grow to appreciate how unique the art is.
Sound is perhaps one of the biggest redeeming qualities of the series, as its opening is absolutely enchanting and perfectly describes the emotions of our main couple as they struggle to reconcile the past and the present. It is an added bonus that Winter Sonata stands out as especially unique because it's one of the very few Korean dubbed animations. The soundtrack helps set the mood, and the voice acting is done by the original cast of the drama. While that might not mean much to original viewers, its still an incredible enjoyment to watch on account of how talented the actors are at infusing emotion in each scene.
Although I am a huge Korean drama enthusiast, and therefore accustomed to the manner of cliches and tropes—many of which are utilized in Winter Sonata, I have never viewed the original series. That said, I think the animated series pays a great tribute to the original. It is very entertaining with a suspenseful edge that has you waiting on pins and needles at the end of each episode as we are thrown yet another wrench in the fate between Yu Jin and Joon Sang. As much as I can laud the series with praise for being as enjoyable as it is, however, it is greatly riddled with flaws and not without cumbersome material that does tend to drag with a longer episode count. The quick, snappy pacing is a wonderful bonus as the material of the original had to be somewhat compressed—but that also means the emotional, poignant scenes tend to rush by too quickly and leave us unsatiated rather than appreciative of the true weight of the tragedy occuring on screen.
The characters themselves are almost poetic in their anguish at least until we realize how ridiculously selfish they are being in their individual obsessions with little regard for any of the people around them. How the plot essentially boils down, at the end, to one person's obstinate mistake—and that is perhaps the most frustrating realization in the finale. It does little to reassure that the episodes of suspense were well-deserved.
Having said all of this, Winter Sonata is indeed a unique series that warrants some measure of positive acclaim and praise for what it does accomplish. However, it is not a flawless series deserving of quite as much hype as it seems to have garnered with a small base of users. Perhaps it is something that has flown under too many people's radars—because as a love story, it is sickeningly addictive in the worst way possible and enjoyable as a result of that. In a way, it's almost like a cautionary tale because it displays the worst traits of human nature—a willingness to sacrifice everything in a single-minded, self-centered attempt to achieve self-satisfaction.read more
I read some reviews of this show from other websites and though that maybe some poisnts need to be put down for viewers to choose or not to choose to see this anime.
The anime is a remake of a Korean Drama of the same name. So comparsion of this anime with the original show is inevitable maybe for people who have seen the drama. (I havent). The story chronicles the hardships the main protagonists go through due to past mistakes of their elders.
Story[10/10]: Very innovative story. Plus its a full romance series of unconditional love between the main male and female protagonist. And quiet an assertive one in expressing the exact rosy lines every romance series lover wishes to hear at some point of time while watching, in my opinion. I loved the series exactly for this point. Its not a typical high school romance or the normal slice of life genre show. It is a romance between two grown ups (25+ age) so many of the fans of teenager/highschool romance might not feel it very welcoming. But still I insist to watch this really nice story. There's a love traingle invovled but these relationships have been shown extremely well and every bit believable.
Art[10/10]: The art again though not of the typical shoujo anime as simple yet beautiful. And I think the charm of each character actually is brought out nicely in the art. background scenes, though landscapes are not too many in the show are nicely done.
Sound[10/10]: The language is Korean for the anime which is difficult to adjust to in listening at the beginning but you'll get a hang of it eventually. I only felt that maybe a younger sounding voice for the main male and female protagonists could have suited better. I mean they are grown up but not like 40-50. But the strongest point in the sound section definitely has to be the beautiful Piano peices and the OP, ED and insert songs. All again romance theme based which help out a lot in building the atmosphere even more in the episodes. Especially the OP is very catchy.
Character[10/10]: Wonderfully developed again. Very strong and believable. Even the supporting cast has a good impact on the flow of the story for most of the time.
Enjoyment[10/10]: I personally thoroughly enjoyed the show with some sudden twists in the plot executed aptly. Plus it was the first time I have seen an anime where the main characters are assertive about their feelings for each other. It really moves you to tears sometimes.
Overall[10/10]: 1) Very innovative story
2) Full romance series
3) May not be liked by a younger audience below 20 since the story itself contains characters who are a bit older.
4) Very soothing Piano pieces
5) Well developed plot and good continuity of the story.
Usually I'm not much into writing reviews, nor reading them. But watching this anime makes my fingers dance across the keyboard trembling abnormally, with tears flowing down my cheek. This is surely going to be the next anime review for the newspaper I write in.
Story: Not like other typical shoujo romance, very unique and heart-rendering. It beats the spot of Itazura na Kiss to me, becoming the best romance anime I've watched till now. It has the complexities and suspense you need to go on watching a romance anime, if the outlook of the anime looks like a common story telling and it is not a comedy like the aforesaid anime or Maid Sama!. The story has much depth to it than any other shoujo anime. But I don't recommend this anime to those who solely prefer rom-com. This anime has tragedy, drama, romance and NO comedy. I say, watch the drama before watching the anime. They use the same composed music for both OST's.... I know someone who watched the drama first, she says that when the anime opened her eyes ferociously teared up. And at the end you will realize that how much better it'd be to watch the drama first, so you don't want to regret it like me. I watch Korean dramas too, I'm a K-Otaku, so I can tell how better it'd be to watch the drama first and then the anime.
So I rate the plot a 10/10.
Art: What else can I say, if you see the trailer or the starting song you are to realise how beautiful it really is. The actors from the Korean drama are portrayed beautifully. The expressions are drawn very nicely and unlike other anime, the tears look real. Outstanding art and colouring, the atmosphere is just perfect for the rom-drama-trag anime.
10/10 it is!
Sound: The lead actors of the drama gave their voices, and they did it nicely. But, the background musics and OSTs blew my heart away. As I said before, if you watch the drama first and then the anime, you'll understand the theme's significance. But still, it is soothing and will play itself in the back of your mind when you think of your lovelife :p.
Well, isn't it obvious; 10/10.
Characters: Very mature characters; unlike any other typical shoujo anime or manga. Eu Jin and Joon Sang were very sincere about everything from the beginning to the end. The deuteragonists who happened to be somewhat rivals to the protagonists were very appreciable too.
The character should be rated 10/10!
Enjoyment: If you're up for something heart-warming and tear-jerking, nothing can be better than this anime.
I'll rate the njoyment 10/10, only if you're away from spoilers.
Overall: The language is in Korean, and as a K-Otaku I'm comfortable with both Japanese and Korean. It may tick you off a bit at the beginning, but you'll get used to it anyhow. Everything about this anime is a masterpiece, so this Josei anime in a 100/10read more
Just an FYI this Series is not complete this is just a short review on whats been shown so far. First of all im start with one of my biggest problems with this is the time schedule. This show has been rocky since the start with creating and putting out certain episodes on time. Also the subs are very delayed the raw versions are like 6 episodes ahead. Now to the better parts, i think this is a good story so far i have enjoyed it. I have not seen the drama but from what i know i think it strays a little from what the drama was like. Although the characters are portrayed well as well as the story line is better than the average drama storyline. Lastly this is in korean which is not terrible but takes few episodes to get use to and imo it should be in japaneseread more