Commentary: The Thai Adaptation of “Cherry Magic” and Why There’s Room for All

I am very much looking forward to the Thai adaptation of Cherry Magic starring Tay Tawan and New Thitipoom. For one, because they were the first Thai BL pairing I ever watched and followed. And seeing them reunited finally in a new project is very exciting. But also two, I watched (and enjoyed) the Japanese series adaptation of the manga a few years ago because it starred Eiji Akaso who I knew from Kamen Rider Build, one of my favorite seasons of that franchise.

So when my two worlds collide like this, it is very exciting. But the news of the Thai adaptation definitely brought about some mixed reactions from people. And really, reactions on the exact opposite sides of the spectrum too.

The original Cherry Magic story, written by Toyota Yuu, centers around Kiyoshi Adachi, a 30-year-old virgin who wakes up on his 30th birthday to find that he can hear people’s thoughts just by touching them. Though this strange power, he learns that his co-worker Yuichi Kurosawa is actually in love with him. And the story continues as Adachi struggles with what to do with this information while Kurosawa does what he can to be near Adachi, even if that means just helping and admiring him from afar.

The story is of course a romantic tale for our two leads. But it also touches upon overcoming insecurities and learning how to open oneself to be able to connect with others. Especially in a world where it seems like that can be the most difficult thing, particularly for salarymen like Adachi and Kurosawa.

The Japanese series adaptation really hit the jackpot with Eiji Akaso and Keita Machida as Adachi and Kurosawa, respectively. Their great chemistry and their respective talent as actors definitely helped to successfully bring the fun, cute and meaningful story to vivid life.

It’s easy to see why the series became so popular when it first aired. And to this day, as evidenced by the varied reactions to the announcement of the Thai adaptation, it still enjoys a large, dedicated fanbase. It was a really fun and enjoyable series.

Being a Filipino-American, I definitely can understand the fear, worry and apprehension of a local adaptation of a foreign concept or format. (I wrote about the Philippines’ mixed bag on such adaptations here.) And being a toku fan as well, I too have experienced disappointment and regret by adaptations of a Sentai or Kamen Rider.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve come to also understand that an adaptation’s creative success or failure should have no bearing on the original work. Now, disrespecting that source material is another story. But having an adaptation that is not to your liking isn’t necessarily disrespecting the original. It’s really more on annoying your own feelings using boundaries you’ve set on your own. It is a bit of gatekeeping for something that should be shared with and enjoyed by all.

So when it comes to Cherry Magic Thailand, even if I don’t agree, I can understand where some are coming from when they are horrified that this adaptation will somehow harm the original series that they loved.

What I can say from my own experience is that no matter how this Thai adaptation turns out, nothing will take the original series you loved so much away from you. It will still be there and still be the awesome thing you love and care about. A Thai, or any country’s adaptation of it will not change that fact.

It’s also worth noting (and I’ve seen conveniently ignored online) that Cherry Magic Thailand is adapting the manga and not the television series, which itself had differences from the source material. So if anything, this Thai adaptation could be completely different. And that should be a good thing. An “adaptation” requires one to adapt the source material to fit the audience it is being created for and even the cast and crew that will be working on it.

Again, that’s not disrespecting the original work or other adaptations of it. It’s just something different.

There will of course be universal themes that all different Cherry Magic versions will have. Whether it is the idea of tackling insecurities or making friends or facing the uncertain world or just simply falling in love for the first time; those will still be there. But there will also be different touches and approaches. And if you keep an open mind, those twists can be just as refreshing and enjoyable as whatever you might have read or watched before.

Without even a trailer yet for the Thai adaptation. It’s hard to see how some fans on the internets have already managed to judge it and dismiss it. But even more so, it’s hard to judge a television series that hasn’t even started production yet.

Ultimately, the manga’s creator is looking forward to the Thai adaptation and even many Japanese fans are excited as well. That’s of course in addition to the fans of Tay and New and others who are just looking forward to a fresh new series to enjoy. I guess I just want to hope that everyone can have an open mind. And remember that no one is taking what you have loved away from you. There’s plenty of wonderful, great stories for everyone to enjoy. And Cherry Magic, whether in a manga or on Japanese television or in a Thai series, is just one of those stories. In three different ways, of course.

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