The tvN series Melting Me Softly (날 녹여주오) is a lighthearted, but heartfelt romcom with a small sci-fi twist that makes it a refreshing and enjoyable watch.
Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin Ah are 32-year-old Ma Dong Chan and 24-year-old Go Mi Ran, respectively, who agree in 1999 to take part in a 24-hour cryonics experiment. However, a shocking turn of events keep them frozen for 20 years. And they wake up to a very different world in 2019 and family and friends who are now 20 years older.
The series’ science-fiction aspect with the cryonics looks very high concept on paper. But it merely serves as a backdrop and catalyst for what the series is truly about. Melting Me Softly focuses on (and rightly so) relationships and time.
Dong Chan and Mi Ran barely knew each other when they were first frozen in 1999. But once they wake up in 2019, they are the only two people who share this experience. And together, they can only lean on each other to deal with the 20-year gap and the unique side effects of having undergone the procedure.
That of course leads to them falling in love and it is a realistic and believable journey for them as they realize their feelings for each other.
But in addition to their budding relationship with each other, we also see their relationships with their family and friends. The unique situation they are in not only affects them, but those around them. How do their relationships change and/or evolve over the course of 20 years? Especially when their lives are essentially frozen in time while everyone else lived their lives during that same period.
The series does a solid job of touching upon the different relationships, both of family and friends and even lovers, in a way that allows a fuller picture develop for both Dong Chan and Mi Ran’s characters.
Melting Me Softly is very much a romantic comedy. There are plenty of fun and lighthearted moments throughout. Sometimes even flat out goofy and silly moments that still manage to fit in well with the overall tone of the series.
There is a subplot that relates to the cryonics experiment itself. But it merely serves as the dramatic threat that contrasts with the more grounded and relatable tension that arises from people having to adapt to people being frozen for 20 years.
Melting Me Softly is by no means perfect, however. The series could’ve played around a lot more with the idea of two adults from 1999 becoming fish out of water in the very different 2019. We may have been shortchanged on many more scenes of Dong Chan and Mi Ran in comedic situations learning about new technology or cultural events from the past 20 years.
That could have very much bolstered a sense of nostalgia in the story. And that would have played in to the discussion of time and how precious it can truly be in one’s life. For what it did with the idea of time, they did well. But they could have certainly done more.
The series ultimately does a good job of endearing the relatively large cast of characters, especially our two leads, to the audience. A variety of funny side stories and more sincere, emotional stories provide a balanced mix that keep things moving forward and never boring.
Melting Me Softly comes together even more with its strong leads. Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin Ah share a great chemistry and they are both able to shine together and on their own.
After a recent pair of more action-driven series, Ji Chang Wook flexes his versatility in a much lighter role here. It is definitely refreshing to see him in this kind of role instead of being an action hero. But he is able to show off his lighter side while still being able to show his more dramatic side as well. And his experience shines through.
Won Jin Ah, who gained acclaim and recognition for her debut lead role in Just Between Lovers, also gets the opportunity to show both her lighter and dramatic sides. She presents a strong character here that never gets left behind.
The rest of the cast is filled with both experienced actors such as Yoon Se Ah as Dong Chan’s pre-freeze girlfriend Na Ha Yeong and rookie actors like Golden Child member Choi Bo Min as Mi Ran’s present-day college friend Ji Hoon.
It is also worth commending Yoon Na Moo as Mi Ran’s brother Nam Tae. Having just watched him in Your Honor playing the utterly despicable Lee Ho Sung, it is fascinating to see him in a role here that is the complete opposite. And seeing him nailing both roles deserves applause.
The series is also visually stunning. Wonderful cinematography and a great cinematic quality.
While Melting Me Softly could’ve done a few things differently and perhaps elevated some of its concepts a little more, the series ultimately delivers. It is a lighthearted romantic comedy with a touch of science-fiction. But its focus on relationships between family and friends and of course between our main couple are done in a sincere and heartfelt way. And that leaves you with a satisfying and enjoyable series.