K-Drama Review: ‘Yumi’s Cells’: A Perfect Harmony of Romance and Adorable Animation

Yumi's Cells review
Credit: tvN

Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Yumi's Cells review
Credit: tvN

Both worried and excited. That’s how I felt when I heard the news about Yumi’s Cells being made into a TV series. I was thrilled to see my favorite webtoon as a live-action drama, but at the same time, I was also worried about how they are going to portray it. But six episodes in, all my worries have melted away, and I’m gladly waiting for every Friday and Saturday, unable to break free from the charms of Kim Go Eun, Ahn Bo Hyun, and adorable brain cells.

The last time Kim Yumi, an ordinary office worker, dated was three years ago. Recently, her co-worker Choi Woo Gi (Minho) caught her attention, but her excitement ended pretty soon due to her rival (?) Ruby’s constant interruption and Woo Gi’s “secret.” And even before she could properly deal with the pain, she goes on a blind date per Woo Gi’s introduction. But despite wanting to be open-minded towards her date, who is supposedly Woo Gi’s close friend, seeing how Gu Woong showed up in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, she is dead set on never seeing him again after this one date.

yumis cells_gifts

But in spite of the terrible first impression, this guy seems like a pretty good guy. He has zero sense of fashion or humor and is not much of a talker, but he knows all the best restaurants (this is very important to Yumi) and has an easygoing and candid charm. Above all else, Yumi can feel that he really likes her. The gate to Yumi’s heart, which had been tightly shut, slowly opens with Woong’s passion. And like that, the two start a heart-fluttering romance.

Yumi's Cells review
Credit: tvN

The charm of the original webtoon lies in Yumi’s realistic love story, the detailed psychological description of webtoonist Lee Dong Gun, who “knows a woman’s heart better than a woman,” and the personification of emotions as “xx cells.” When a webtoon is adapted into a drama, characters’ daily lives and delicate emotions can certainly be highlighted. However, the problem is the “cells.” How will they express the cells, which are practically the second protagonist? And even if they are created, will it melt into the live-action without awkwardness? This is the point that many were worried about while welcoming the news of Yumi’s Cells‘ drama adaptation.

Yumi’s Cells tried to solve this difficult task by combining live-action and animations for the first time in K-drama. And that choice turned out to be the best choice. Taking the same adorable design drawn in the webtoon, the cells were reborn in 3D animation, forming a flawless harmony with the real world where Yumi lives. On top of that, the voice acting of professional voice actors adds “fun of hearing” to “fun of watching” by assisting us to understand and sympathize with the characters’ psychological state.

As much as the cells that were recreated in 3D, the charms of the actors stand out. Kim Go Eun completed Kim Yumi, whom anyone can relate to, with her delicate emotional acting and realistic performance, while Ahn Bo Hyun looks like he had literally just popped out of the original webtoon. There must have been a burden in acting with animated cells. Yet, thanks to their clever and deft reactions, the gap between the cellular and real worlds is significantly narrowed. Moreover, as the romance between Yumi and Woong begins to unfold in earnest, the chemistry between the two actors awakens our dormant love cells. Lee Yu Bi and Park Ji Hyun, who each play Yumi’s cheeky co-worker Ruby and Woong’s female friend Seo Sae Yi, realistically portray the characters that we are wary of when having a crush or dating someone, adding tension (?) to the play.

Yumi's Cells review
Credit: tvN

Still, the collaboration of animation and live-action, which was chosen as the series’s charm, can also act as an element that could receive reactions like “too childish” or “not good at all.” Yes, it’s refreshing to be able to see the psychological state of a character in real-time through the cells. But sometimes, the animation airs longer than we expected, hence the hindrance in the flow of the play.

From the start, it was announced that the drama would be produced as a seasonal series in line with the vast original story. It’s unclear whether the drama will strictly follow the webtoon’s plot, but if so, the webtoon fans already know how season 1 will end. As a member of “Yumi-Woong supporters,” I’m already sad. But for now, I want to enjoy their love story and enjoy the excitement that awakens my love cells that have been sleeping for quite some time. They’re just so sweet, don’t you agree?


Verdict: The chemistry of Kim Go Eun and Ahn Bo Hyun awakens our dormant love cells (7/10)


Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.

Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.

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