Everyone has their own favorite flavor of ice-cream, and even the exact same flavor of ice-cream can taste different despite the same basic ingredients of milk and sugar. I look at the various drama adaptations of the Japanese manga Itazura na Kiss (It Started with a Kiss) as basically different ice-cream shops doing their own strawberry ice-cream. It’s sweet, pink, and goes down easy, but a little too much could make it cloying, and not enough oomph makes it bland. The story of a really dense and not particularly bright high school girl with the most gigantic crush on the smartest and best looking boy in school seems anathema to the repeated cycles of remaking it. The narrative is rather childish and simplistic, and the message behind it all fairly screams for feminists to want to rip the heroine’s hair out for being such a doormat. I concede all of the above, but even knowing this I still liked watching the various ItaKiss dramas. Now that Love in Tokyo has wrapped up, let this be a forum for discussion on which version was your favorite, which Naoki and Kotoko and Kin-chan was your favorite, and which performances was your favorite. I confess that the latest version Love in Tokyo never hooked me, despite being a lovely fun version that tried so hard to capture the original story and essence. I found rookie actress Honoko Miki a serviceable Kotoko but she’s not a very good actress and it shows, whereas I am truly baffled by how much love there is for Furukawa Yuki (he is so popular in C-fandom right now it’s crazy) as Naoki because he’s a good actor but physically he just doesn’t cut it for me as the school stud Naoki. I watched InK:LiT intermittently and it never burrowed into my heart the way Playful Kiss did nor did it really wow me with its technique and acting the way It Started with a Kiss did. In the end, I’m glad Japan did their own ItaKiss again because the original back in 1996 was really terrible then and dated now. After all is watched and done, my heart will always belong with PK while my appreciation will forever be award to ISWAK. Now have some fun watching an MV from each version and then take a poll and let the winner forever be validated.
Here are my personal picks:
Favorite version: Playful Kiss.
Best version: It Started with a Kiss.
Favorite versions of the cast and characters: icy but smirky Baek Seung Jo (Kim Hyun Joong), earnest but dim Oh Ha Ni (Jung So Min), manly and forward Joon Gu Lee Tae Sang).
Best version of the characters: aloof and exasperated Jiang Zhi Shu (Joe Cheng), stupid and means well Yuan Xiang Qin (Ariel Lin), bumbling and sweet Ah Jin (Jiro Wang).
Playful Kiss MV “Breathess” (Part 1) and “Just the Way You Are” (Part 2):
[youtube id=”MVnG0KPIfvw” w=”635″ h=”420″]
PK was the first drama I recapped and it will forever hold a special place in my heart for being so sadly lacking in technique but so utterly captivating in spirit. I never thought I’d have another opportunity to write about PK since it ended nearly four years ago and goodness it’s been so long! Back then it had a small but rabid fandom but its narrative blips did made it a slow go for the casual drama watcher. For those who have never seen it, I like to suggest watching it in one go now and I think the episodes and story will flow so much better without the week-to-week wait. Go in with an open mind, it’s a cute high school drama that actually tells good lesson by the end. Plus there are the bite-sized 7 Youtube episodes as dessert afterwards. Settle back and enjoy the delicate and wonderfully realized chemistry between Jung So Min and Kim Hyun Joong, and even his acting limitations doesn’t take away from it.
It Started with Kiss MV:
There is nothing to nitpick about this version. Nothing at all from directing, writing, acting to music. The only frustrating thing was how good of an actor Ariel is, so that her version of Kotoko was so utterly stupid and dumb as a rock but perfectly capturing the manga original. But sometimes a bit of a revision would have been nice. Ariel won Best Actress at the Golden Bells for TKA (They Kiss Again), but I thought Joe in ISWAK and especially Jiro was just as good. Just as good. Jiro literally broke my heart and shattered in into little Ah Jin sized pieces.
Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo:
There is nothing wrong about this version, but in its well-oiled execution I couldn’t find the bumbling sincerity that lurked inside PK or the effortless presentation behind ISWAK. For a newbie to the InK universe, this would be the version I recommend, but it’s not the one I would ever re-watch.