At Looney Express, you can find wacky reviews of Asian dramas and movies: mostly Korean, but there are quite a few Taiwanese and Japanese, even some Chinese and Indian series/films thrown in, as well as Japanese anime. Enjoy!
Reply/Answer Me 1994 follows the same basic storyline as 1997. It follows the relationships between a group of friends in the 90s. There are some key differences though: the characters are college students and that bit of maturity was one I could appreciate; they lived together in a boarding house, which made for a lot of fun, heartwarming scenes between the kids; the who's-the-husband game was a lot more intense in 1994 (It wasn't until the very last episode that you knew for sure. The writers did a great job of keeping both prospects in the running as actual competitors.); the story had a more serious and dramatic air to it as the maturity of the characters meant that they dealt with slightly more serious issues than the high school students in 1997. Regardless, what I loved about 1994 was the raw portrayal of life as a 20-year-old in the 90s. Like the 1997 serious, viewers can easily connect to the characters by remembering their own college days and their own lives when they were 20. Being at the tender age of 22, I'm experiencing many of the feelings that Na Jeong and her gang experience and I couldn't help but feel connected to their plights. Reply/Answer Me 1994 is a tender coming-of-age story about friendship, love, family, and finding one's place in this crazy, crazy world.
The characters in 1994 were just as loveable, if not more so, than those in 1997. I appreciated the maturity of college students instead of high school students. However, they were just as quirky and endearing. Sometimes they were absolutely aggravating, but I fell in love with them anyway. It was a joy and a honor watching the budding relationships (both friendships and romance) of this ragtag bunch of boarding house kids. Na Jeong's parents (the same set from 1997, but with slightly different mannerism) were great supporting characters. This method of having a cast of main characters, instead of just two (or sometimes four) is refreshing. I enjoyed being able to learn each character's background equally.
The pacing of the series was my biggest issue with this drama. I felt that 21 episodes that were each 75-90 minutes long was too much. As a result, the story dragged and it was kind of painful. I fast-forwarded through a lot of the episodes in the second half. I had to take a few days off as a break from the drama. And there were a few moments where I seriously considered putting 1994 on hold for a bit because I just wanted it to end.
It's rare these days to find a drama with a bad soundtrack as the k-drama industry seems to have gotten really great at choosing perfect OSTs. Reply/Answer Me 1994 is no exception. The soundtrack is just as good as 1997, with songs perfectly suited to the characters, mood, and era of the drama. However, it's not one I'm compelled to download for myself, nor did any particular songs stick out for me as ones that I love. (P.S. Viki subbers do an amazing job of subbing the song lyrics through the series.)
The last episode was a great way to wrap up the series. It's a replay of all of the 2002 wedding scenes with the groom's face finally exposed. However, it didn't feel repetitive. Instead, it felt heartwarming to finally put a face to all of the endearing wedding moments. The ending of Reply/Answer Me 1994 leaves viewers with a content, warm feeling of seeing dear friends mature and knowing that despite whatever struggles they may face in the future, they'll be just fine.
Reply/Answer Me 1994 is a great drama. It has a great cast with excellent acting ability to portray loveable characters. The storyline is masterfully written and is engaging and enjoyable to watch. The pacing of the series is the only thing that makes this drama less than perfect. It drags quite a bit, but you can't contemplate stopping because it's so good. So you may take a few days off or fast forward, but you'll definitely come back to finish and will love it in the end.