Imitation ending explained: Ma-ha and Ryeok on TV are nowhere close to the comics, fall flat in the end

A still of Ryeok in Imitation (Image via KBS2)
A still of Ryeok in Imitation (Image via KBS2)

Imitation Episode 12 marked the end of a Korean show that failed its webcomic version. Initially, fans were excited, especially with the stunning star cast that included some popular idols from current active acts, including SF9.

There were hopes that the show would depict the dark underbelly of how K-pop idols were trained and worked to the bones. However, these hopes were dashed.

The comics had, of course, touched upon drugs, sponsorship, dating scandals, corrupt CEOs, and an influential chaebol brother.

Imitation ending explained

The show's climax saw Eun-jo take the stage for one last time to sing the song that he had composed along with his late girlfriend, Annie.

It was revealed the Eun-jo's girlfriend was forced to sleep with rich men to get a sponsor so she could make her debut alongside Ria and Hyunji. When she refused to hand out sexual favors, her manager blackmailed her about her relationship with Eun-jo. He also said that a dating scandal would ruin her.

Ryeok, Ma-ha, La Lima, and the Sparkling boys' endeavor to bring to light the struggles of trainees is seen as an act of making things right. It is a way of clearing the bad reputation that Annie, Eun-jo's girlfriend, had received upon her death by suicide.

Imitation attempted to be heartwarming by freeing Shax from their contract. They also tried to tug the audience's heartstrings with that final performance. But none of it worked in the show's favor.

Why was the Imitation television show a failure in comparison to the manhwa?

The comic had also outlined a brilliant character arc for all of the characters. It had a depth that seemed missing in the show from the very beginning. The most intriguing plot point of the Imitation manhwa was Ryeok's family.

By removing the struggles that came with keeping the influential chaebol family out of his professional and personal life, the Ryeok on television became a mere caricature.

This was similar for other characters as well. One of the characters that lost its shine entirely was Ma-ha's bandmate, Hyun-ji. In the comics, she is a young girl who suffers due to burying her insecurities for too long. She also suffers from body dysmorphia and stress which influences her actions.

However, none of these complexities were added to Hyun-ji's character on the show. Another character who lost his charm in this comic-to-television adaptation is none other than Shax member, Eun-jo.

In the comics, he quit the band after Ryeok's brother intentionally made him a druggie. It had less to do with dating and more to do with how idols were used as pawns in bigger fights. The comics also saw Eun-jo return to being a composer after he received treatment in the US.

All of this was absent from the show. If it were a standalone piece of work, the show might not have failed on such a large scale. However, compared to the manhwa that the show was based on, it failed viewers and fans of the manhwa.

In short, the show barely fit into the shoe of the webcomic. Imitation was expected to become as famous as True Beauty, another Korean show based on a manhwa of the same name. The show achieved cult status among young fans globally and also featured Hwang In-yeop's breakthrough performance.

Imitation, however, ironically ended up being a pale imitation of the webcomic it was based on.

Edited by Ravi Iyer