Death is one of the big themes, and how could it not be? It is the destiny of basically every being on earth to die and make way for new life. Thus, it is logical that storytellers around the world have been tackling the subject over and over again without rest. There’s no definitive answer to the problem of death, so as long as the subject remains an enigma, we will have stories about it.
Because it is such a big topic, storytellers have been able to tackle the issue in all sorts of ways, from comedy to tragedy. Tomorrow, the new South Korean TV show on Netflix, manages to do both with a very high degree of success. The show might not be the next Squid Game, but it doesn’t matter; it is fun, engaging, and it will make you think about what your life and others’ are worth.
Tomorrow is directed by Kim Tae-yoon and Sung Chi-wook and stars Kim Hee-sun, Rowoon, Lee Soo-hyuk and Yoon Ji-on. The cast plays the role of a group of grim reapers with a mission, to save people who are just on the edge of giving up on their lives. The show is a mix of fantasy, drama, and comedy, and it is based on the webtoon of the same name published by Naver.
Tomorrow is what Japanese manga would call an Isekai story, where the main character travels to another world and then gets recruited by some force or organization from that world into a new job or quest. This is the case for Choi Joon-woong, a young man looking desperately for a job, but the opportunities don’t seem to come.
When, sadly, Choi Joon-woong falls into a coma, he’s recruited into the crisis management team of death angels, as they work to help people before they commit suicide. If he does well, then he can wake up from the coma in just six months and spare his mother her suffering.
South Korean and Japanese stories love to mess with the supernatural and such. Manga stories like Bleach also make their versions of grim reapers the protagonists, so having another one around is really no surprise. For those who watched it a long time ago, Tomorrow feels very much in line with an American comedy show called Dead Like Me.
That show was seriously underrated, but ended up becoming a cult classic. Tomorrow has the same vibes, and it will probably have the same future, as its themes and execution might make it a niche show for a niche audience.
Thankfully, just like in Dead Like Me, the cast makes the show what it is. Even when, in terms of production, the show is throwing a lot of visual effects and overly dramatic music at us every second, the actors ground the show in a reality that we can comprehend and relate to.
For example, Kim Tae-yoon takes on the role of an overly serious grim reaper who hides a secret. Kim Tae-yoon delivers a very nuanced performance that goes from charming to intimidating in a second, and yet, she makes it work, and it feels like her character could be a real person.
Rowoon, the male lead of the show, is also quite a wonderful presence. The actor isn’t just a pretty face, but his comedic timing is quite good, managing to make even the most serious moments into a more palatable experience. His characters make a great contrast with Tae-yoon’s character, and they make for one of those perfect odd couples.
Visually, the show does look like your standard K-drama affair. The show uses this type of pristine cinematography that makes things seem a bit too clean. It would have been nice to mark a difference between the spiritual and physical worlds through the visuals, but both places look basically the same. The filmmakers are not really seizing the story’s potential when it comes to the visual style.
The music is loud and overly dramatic most of the time. Silence can sometimes be as powerful as sound, but Tomorrow doesn’t really understand that, especially when it comes to an action sequence. For example, when things are supposed to get dangerous, the music gets so loud and bombastic that it might distract you from what’s happening on screen.
Tomorrow is a fun ride. The stories might not be really original, but they will surely find audiences that relate to them on a deeper level. Give it a chance, and you might find something to watch for the next couple of weeks.