Yumi’s Cells (유미의 세포들) is a sweet, whimsical and grounded romantic slice of life. The television adaptation of a popular webtoon by Lee Dong Gun is able to bring to life a colorful, yet wholly relatable world in the most creative and refreshing way possible. Kim Go Eun and Ahn Bo Hyun are absolutely charming and compelling as two 30-somethings navigating life, love and career. And alongside a large cast of immediately loveable little friends, the series ends up being one of the most enjoyable series of the year.
Kim Yumi (Kim Go Eun) is a 32-year-old office worker living a pretty ordinary life. A few years after a painful breakup, she meets game developer Goo Woong (Ahn Bo Hyun) with whom she slowly opens her heart to. The two soon embark on a romantic relationship that they must balance with having to deal with the everyday.
On its own, that simple premise may seem as ordinary as Kim Yumi’s life might be. But on the contrary, Yumi’s Cells ends up being much more. And as the title suggests, the series includes a welcome focus on, well, Yumi’s cells. Interspersed with the live-action rom-com shenanigans of Yumi’s life are 3D animation scenes depicting a village of Yumi’s countless cells that represent pretty much every aspect of her body.
Whether it’s Rational Cell making sure Yumi is of sound mind and makes sensible decisions, the easily excitable Emotional Cell who is many times the opposite of rational, Hungry Cell who is responsible for Yumi’s appetite or Love Cell, Yumi’s “prime” cell who takes the reins of her romantic love life; these cells actively work for Yumi and her physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Yumi’s cells determine how she reacts and eventually deals with every situation or encounter. The village of cells are a sort of well-oiled machine that isn’t immune to unexpected occurrences or disasters. Their decisions dictate Yumi’s response. It is this creative depiction of the intricate goings-on inside a human body that makes the series so compelling. And perhaps even more importantly, makes the series so fun.
Again, that’s why what might be a pretty ordinary premise gets an endearing breath of fresh air by way of the cells and their colorful world. Aside from the cell characters being absolutely adorable, the whimsical nature of their characters and scenes end up being deep, thoughtful insights at what makes someone who they are. And that’s a countless number of factors that aren’t perfect, but will eventually help the person grow as well as move forward with their everyday life.
Yumi’s Cells is presented as a series of vignettes, mirroring the chapters of a webtoon. And that enhances the series’ perfectly executed slice of life feeling. Through everyday situations, each episode further develops the romantic relationship of Yumi and Woong, while also building the foundation for personal character growth for each of the characters.
Though we check in with Woong’s cells from time to time, the focus is of course on Yumi’s cells. And as Yumi’s cells take care of their responsibilities, Yumi is able to grow as a person and move forward from past stumbles.
The pairing of live-action and animation never feels jarring or out of place. And that is a testament to the excellent writing. The relatable, down to earth nature of the stories make the animated scenes all the more affecting. Sometimes even more so than the live-action scenes, to be honest. But the playful cell scenes are seamlessly integrated into what is otherwise a traditional, realistic romantic comedy.
Much kudos to the excellent voice cast who help bring those cells to vivid life.
And of course, kudos to the live-action cast as well. Most especially to our two leads.
Ahn Bo Hyun is a talented actor and has been a dependable performer whether it’s playing a devilish antagonist or the noble second lead. Finally! He gets the chance to be a romantic leading man and he more than delivers here as Goo Woong. It is a long time coming, but he finally gets his chance. And it’s even more of a wonder why it’s taken so long for it to happen.
As Goo Woong, Ahn Bo Hyun is able to bring to life the kind, but straightforward and honest character in a way that makes him immediately likeable and endearing. As we don’t get to see Woong’s cells as often as Yumi’s, Ahn Bo Hyun must do a bit more on his own to express the similar inner workings that happen in the village of his own head. And he does so with a natural charm that, again, shows how he deserves many more roles as a leading man in the future.
Kim Go Eun has been able to bring many memorable lead characters to life. Heroines of all types, whether in film or on television. As Yumi, Kim Go Eun takes on another different role. And facing a different challenge as her leading man, she must find a way to match and then articulate the expressiveness of the cells inside Yumi’s brain. And of course, she is able to do that. Quite effortlessly as well.
Overall, Yumi’s Cells is a warm slice of life romantic comedy. Relatable and sincere, endearing and fun; the series offers up a refreshing and whimsical twist on everyday life.