I have seen all the live action adaptations of this popular Japanese manga series Itazura na Kiss (イタズラなKiss, Mischievous Kiss) written by Kaoru Tada –the 1998 first Japanese drama version, the 2005 Taiwanese -drama version starring Joe Cheng and Ariel Lin, and the 2010 Korean version starring Jung So-min and Kim Hyun-joong. I like all the versions, although each have their strong and weak points, but I will save that discussion for a future review. For now, I would say that I found this 2013 Japanese version–Itazura na Kiss, Love in Tokyo– the most “refreshing” and “cutest” version of all, thanks to the good performances of the actors who portrayed their roles well, the cinematography and good editing.
When I learned of this latest version, I viewed the trailer and postponed watching the drama because I thought that the actor who portrayed Naoki Irie (Yuki Furukawa) was not my ideal of a “handsome” Naoki compared to all the lead actors who portrayed him in the past versions. On the other hand, I found the actress, Honoka Miki, who portrayed Kotoko Aihara, as the “cutest” and closest to my ideal of the adorable and charming Kotoko. The latter gave me the incentive to watch the series. But after watching the initial episodes, I was in for a pleasant surprise.
Yuki Furukawa is so far the “perfect” Naoki–the reserved, unaffected, detached and bored, all-around genius who at first rejects the love proposal of Kotoko because he “hates dumb girls” but later falls for her because of her perseverance and determination. Yuki’s “handsomness” grows on you as you watch him through the series. The confidence he exudes, very well shown when Naoki introduces himself to his father’s company’s prospective investor, strengthened by his very well modulated voice, his fluency in English, his stolen glances at Kotoko, his relaxed gait–all these won me over. Yuki Furukawa’s profile is proof that he may have some similarities with Naoki –he is currently a student of the prestigious and elite Keio University’s Faculty of Science and Technology in Tokyo, speaks fluent English and Japanese, has lived in Canada and US and was on the basketball team of his high school. He has even joined breakdance competitions. His mature aura despite his boyish looks would probably stem from the fact that he is already in his late 20s (born 1987).
The cute Honoka Miki, was 17 years old when she starred in the series, about the age of a senior high school student, so I should say she comes closest to being the appropriate Kotoko in terms of age (and perhaps, the characteristics of a bubbly senior high?). She has round wide and innocent eyes, and is really pretty by any standards.
With the lead stars perfect for their roles, the chemistry between Furukawa’s Naoki and Miki’s Kotoko is “enchanting”, despite the 10 year age gap. Even though the celebrated “kiss” is actually just a “peck”, I swooned and gasped everytime Naoki “kissed” Kotoko. The camera angles were done in such a way to capture the “magic” of that “kiss.”
The rest of the cast who acted superbly include the father of Kotoko, Mr Aihara (Yoji Tanaka) and Kinchan Ikezawa (Yuki Yamada).
The cinematography was also fantastic, in particular the changing seasons that marked the passage of time and the third kiss rain scene–where the camera focuses on the transparent umbrella that fell on the rain drenched pavement in slow motion before the change in mood from a reserved Naoki to a jealous Naoki who kissed Kotoko for the third time. For a romance- comedy Japanese drama , this is about the longest I have encountered, that is 16 episodes, compared to the usual 10.
There is a Season 2 forthcoming in the last quarter of 2014, and I look forward to watching it.