“Once Again” First Impressions (Ep.1 & 2)

It isn’t often life gives people a second chance. And it never offers the opportunity to erase a death that’s already happened.

Trauma affects everyone differently, leaving scars that aren’t necessarily visible to the people around us but are just as viciously deep.

In the new Korean BL Once Again, Shin Jae Woo (Moon Ji Yong) is a man who suffers from childhood trauma, the pain and guilt over the death of his respected senior Kang Ji Hoon (Lee Hyun Jun) following him into adulthood. He’s walking a fine line between living in the present and grieving the past.

Until he is suddenly offered a miracle.

In a shocking twist of fate, Jae Woo reconnects with the deceased Kang Ji Hoon after visiting the dormitory Ji Hoon once lived in, the phone that allowed them to communicate bringing them together in person.

The line between the past and the present blurs, placing two men bound by a traumatic event squarely back in the year it happened: 2007.

Told in alternating POVs, the first two episodes of Once Again paint a vivid, lonely tale that immediately captures the heart. Actors Moon Ji Yong and Lee Hyun Jun offer moving performances that make it easy to connect to Jae Woo’s pain and Ji Hoon’s uncertainty, as does the actor portraying the younger version of Jae Woo. He steps into the part brilliantly, seamlessly creating the foundation for Ji Hoon and Jae Woo’s past.

I have a special place in my heart for second chance fantasies, especially about grief. There are many things I wish I could go back and say to the people I’ve lost through the years, particularly my mother. The scene where Jae Woo picks up the broken phone to express his guilt and pain to a man he doesn’t expect to find on the other line touched the part of me that called my mother’s phone over and over after her death just so that I could hear her voice mail. Anyone who has lost someone unexpectedly and who has been scarred by it will relate. That need to reconnect and hear the voices of the ones we love made the phone’s power to connect with the past in Once Again that much more painful yet beautiful.

Once Again is well-paced, well-acted, and beautifully written thus far. I’m emotionally invested in the heart-rending story it has prepared me for and equally prepared to fall even more deeply in love with the secondary characters, such as the dormitory mother and Ji Hoon’s friend.

For an emotional story about second chances, check out Once Again on Viki, Gagaoolala, Heavenly, and iQiyi.

Rating- 4.5 out of 5

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