From Favorite to Best: The Three Versions of Itazura na Kiss Poll and Discussion

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).

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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.

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From Favorite to Best: The Three Versions of Itazura na Kiss Poll and Discussion — 97 Comments

  1. Ahhh love this ! As a fan and viewer of all three versions, I must say the recent Japanese Itazura na Kiss version really blew me away and became my favorite ! Perhaps yes it was the cutesy of them all, but because honoka miki and furukawa yuki really nailed & executed their parts exceptionally… I grew addictedly fond of it. Both were neither too annoying or drastically mean, which was a bonus.

    For favorite natural acting and couple, would definitely be It started with a Kiss ! And I love the second season even more ! Just a bit draggy first season for my taste.

    playful kiss won my heart already for my love of Hyun Joong and Jung Min! Favorite actor and actress that i want them to date in real life hehe. Plus they are on par with best kissing scenes with They Kiss Again Taiwanese version !

    Now Love in Tokyo gotta get their smooches on next season (hopefully), when Honoka Miki is not as young LOL ^^;;

    Time to rewatch them all !

    • I watched both seasons of ISWAk and I must admit that the second was my favorite 🙂 I actually own a copy of the second season and have watched it countless times. There is just something so natural about the Taiwanese version. I’ve only see bits and pieces from the Korean and Japanese versions.

    • The first season of ISWAK was addicting but a bit dragging.. or not dragging but maybe the relationship while watching it the first time felt too unfair while the 2nd season was more about both main characters growing up, learning how to live and love each other more. PK didn’t win me over. I liked the beginning of it but the characters never grew on me or developed. It wasn’t bad as a drama, but I just watched it and forgot about it when finished, unlike the taiwanese version which I go back to once in a while. I enjoyed LiT way more, some episodes were just too addicting, but there are some parts of the story they skipped that I wished they went over. But it reminded me of the taiwan version a lot. I guess thats a good thing 😉

    • THERE IS A NEW VERSION OF ITAZURA NA KISS!
      IT IS CALLED ‘KISS ME’AND IT IS THE THAI VERSION
      IT IS MY FAVOURITE ONE.
      Full of cuteness, romance, comedy…
      Defeinitely recommend!

  2. ISWAK all the way! Joe and Ariel pulled their characters perfectly, their chemistry is still the BEST, the way the story develops, how Xian Qin helps Zhi Shu to start his dreams. It’s romantic, funny and heartwarming. PK and LiT were also but none captured my heart as ISWAK and till date is my favorite drama.

  3. My order: ISWAK, the jdrama, PK. They are all fine, but ISWAK was one of my first dramas, and has the best chemistry and nuance, plus a great narrative drive. The jdrama was fine but I was never as emotionally involved. As to PK, it was very pretty, but I found it awfully dull and checked out long before the end.

  4. I haven’t seen the Japanese versions, but I’ve seen both ISWAK and PK. I saw PK first and I still hold a candle for Baek Sung Jo and his awkward coldness lol. I know that Ariel was fantastic in her role, but I just for some reason could not stand her version…for me Jung So Min was the perfect balance of being lazy/lacking in motivation for anything but her man and adorableness…I feel like Ariel overacted and I cringed a lot…but then again probably so did everyone in every version haha. Although watching ISWAK I became obsessed with Joe Cheng so I guess that’s a good thing huh?

  5. Haven’t seen the other versions but Playful Kiss is one of my favorite dramas. Among other things, the main thing I like is the positive air in it…..it makes you feel relaxed and for a change, there are no stakes…baddies….and plotting..

    And so much heart and warmth ♥

  6. For me it’s Itakiss then ISWAK. I thought PK was absolutely horrible. So I’m in the minority here I guess?

    Itakiss got all the characters down pat IMO. Yuki IS RL Naoki & this version has the cutest Kotoko. Honoka is adorableeee & she fits the part of bumbling high school girl to the T (because she IS young). Even if her acting is OTT at times but I gave her free pass because of that. & To be fair, EVERYONE was overacting. JSM was actually the most grating for me because I just did not buy her as a student. I don’t even understand how anyone could like KHJ’s character. His Naoki was the douchiest of all versions I think.

    But yea, watched all 3! I’ll probably never get sick of this story~

    • I agree with you: PK was hooooorrible!!! Kim Hyun Joong can’t act, and I’m praying he doesn’t get picked a as lead in any upcoming drama, because it will be a disaster. Joe & Ariel had a very charming chemistry in ISWAK, and you can see how Zhi Shu really cares about Zian Qin. Maybe because the drama had a lot of episodes and a second season, it’s my favourite and I think it reflects the manga better.

      Itakiss, the first version, is too old, and the actors are not my cup of tea. And the modern version, Itakiss-Love in Tokyo… the girl playing Kotoko is too young. But I thing she has a lot of potential. But they had cut too many scenes from the manga, and they dragged the “arranged marriage” thing. I’m hoping for a second season too, I want to see the honeymoon and how Kotoko becomes a nurse.

  7. Personally for me ISWAK takes first in all the polls.
    It’s my favorite version, with my favorite actors and ArJoe is just forever my OTP.
    To me that drama felt perfect, the emotions, the acting, the scenery and the MUSIC!! I always feel a sense of loss after I watch a drama that just captures me, I’ll never get that feeling back. Even though I’ve watched ISWAK more than 8 times since 6yrs ago that I first saw it.

    I saw PK, it wasn’t really my cup of tea but it was a nice drama to watch once and see how a story can be portrayed in different ways. I just felt that Kim Hyung Joon was a little too stiff with his acting, and Joe Cheng just really gave color to his character.

    Haven’t seen yet Itazura Love in Tokyo, but I did see some episodes from the earlier version from 1996… not really my taste either.

    • THIS. ISWAK is still one of my favorite dramas ever. You’ve watched it 8 times?! And I thought having seen it 3 times was a bit too much. You’re a true fan lol. I absolutely love the music as well. I still have Prank and Come a Little Closer in my music shuffle.

      I actually thought Joe was a bit stiff at first but his character and portrayal really grew on me as his feelings for XQ were becoming evident.

  8. I also saw PK first because of Hyun Joong but I prefer ISWAK because the chemistry between Joe and Ariel was perfect. LIT felt a little bland but I guess it was ok. Still Joe will be the perfect Naoki for me why? Cuz he’s hot!

  9. I’ve watched all 3. I just rewatced ISWAK after finishing PK:LIT. I usually rewatch the Korean version if I don’t have the time and/or effort to read the subtitles of a new drama or I just need a easy drama to watch.

    My favorite is PK. Even though KHJ is not the best actor, I thought he portayed a more than serviceable Baek Seung Jo. The best actor was Joe Cheng. His angst and battle with himself to deny his attraction was easy to follow and understand.

    In my opinion, the rain kiss was best executed in ISWAK. I especially liked the scenes leading up to it.

    Although the Japanese version was fun to watch and follow, I thought it was the most bland with regard to the chemistry between the two leads. Perhaps the real age-difference was a negative factor. I agree that I don’t understand why that guy is so popular. He wasn’t “manly” or ” sexy” enough to bring the character to life.

    I’m not a fan of any of the character portrayals of Kotoko. There were bits of pieces of scenes, here and there, of all three versions which I truly enjoyed. My favorite request for permission to marry scene was the KHJ version. I liked his answers best.

    • I found the main actor in the japanese version very wooden, I mean I tend to be lenient with some bad acting but here the boy has just one face from the begining to the end !!! 😮 Big applause.

  10. Playful Kiss was one of the first dramas I marathon. I started Tuesday night and finally on a Wednesday morning I watched the last ep. For some reason I could not stop watching it. that led to me looking up info and finding that there was a Taiwanese version. So went looking and found it on YouTube with Spanish subs. I fell madly in love with both Ariel & Joe instantly. She was such an idiot yet so nice & he even if he acted like he hated her something in his eyes always said he cared. That was the problem with PK. I never felt that he loved Ohani as much as the second lead did. Oh that boy ( for some reason I call him ducky?) he really loved his Ohani.
    Anyhow.. ISWAK will always be my favorite, them Love in Tokyo, then PK

  11. ISWK wins hands down for me. I watched all three and enjoyed them but ISWAK is the only one I would watch again. I also thought the relationship between the ISWK characters were more passionate and the kisses between Joe & Ariel were more real. PK & LIT was so-so I think because of the acting of KHJ in PK and LIT acting was a little too shallow that I didn`t feel their pain when sad parts were happening. But everyone has their opinions!

  12. ISWAK will forever be my favourite adaptation. The subtle facial changes and gestures that will make you swoon. Its one that i have rewatched many many times. Though one con was ariel lin’s version. I don’t mind her dumbness as that was how the manga was. But i don’t like it that her life was really centered around zhi shu. Joe’s version will forever be my favourite zhi shu.

    I love PK for jung so min’s version is just too cute! Ernest and not overly dumb. Oh han ni is my favourite out of the three female lead.

    As for LIT. I like that they touch more on kotoko and kinnosuke’s friendship. This version showed me that she was really good friends with them and that she made an effort for her friends. Though Naoki was just not my cup of tea. I find that he was abit wooden. I can’t read anything from his face, felt like one facial expression no matter what kotoko did.

  13. love in Tokyo became my favorite version after only a few episodes its the only one that I loved the female lead. in the other 2 (and even the anime) I had a love hate relationship with the character (esp. it started with a kiss, she was just so dumb I couldn’t handle it at times).

  14. MsKoala, so agree with you. I can rewatch PK and not get tired. It’s simply awesome the way KHJ capture and made the character his. The OTP in PK just click so well together, even the side characters are great.
    ISWAK is good but doesn’t click with me or make me go, awwww… so cute or keep that silly smile on my face.
    I’ve only watch ISWAK a few times while I’ve watch PK a dozen times over the last 4 years.

  15. I saw all three. Of course my favorite is and will always be Playful Kiss. Kim Hyun Joong & Jung So Min were perfect. But I got to admit that the one from Japan was cute too. It started with a kiss was ok for me. But either way no matter which country we like .. we got to admit that the story was cute.

  16. My favourite for everything would be ISWAK. I don’t know, that drama is just kinda magic for me and I’ve rewatched it countless times but I always get caught up in Xiang Qin and Zhi Shu’s story, they just give me the warm fuzzies. <3 They honestly hold such a really big part of my heart, the only drama characters that hold anything more than that would be Dao Ming Shi and Xa Cao Shan Cai.

    Actually now making the connection to MG it seems that my love for the remakes are the same for both. My favourites are are the taiwan cast and story who grabbed me by the heart at a young age and still refuse to let go, and then comes the Japanese versions that were both incredibly sweet but doesn't make my heart swell at the thought of it. Maybe it's an age thing since I saw ISWAK and MG when I was but a wee little girl who wasn't as addicted to Asian dramas as I am now, or maybe it's a language thing. As much as I love Kdramas and Jdramas I realize that there are little bits in dialogue that can be lost in translation because some words just don't hold the same amount of meaning in other languages even if technically the correct translation.

    And really director winnie knew what he was doing by putting ArJoe together. Even though I've come to the sad reality that they'll probably never be anything more than really really good friends (probably for life) I still can't help it when my fangirl heart beats a little faster whenever I see a picture of them together. Honestly they're chemistry is like the golden standard that only happens when you have that perfect balance of people who are fantastic at their craft and honestly enjoy the company of each other and hold no qualms about putting a lot of themselves out there because they have that mutual trust.

    I liked the Japanese version well enough and honestly most of that was because of Furukawa Yuki. He's honestly really cute and though his looks may not scream Irie Naoki the way he carried himself was just SO Naoki. Like I don't even really know how to describe it something just clicked and I was like OMFG. HE'S NAOKI. He played it really true to the role whereas I always felt like Joe made Zhi Shu his own. And he did that fantastically, and completely OWNS Jiang Zhi Shu, but if I was going to say who in my mind was the better Naoki then it would have to be Furukawa.

    Honoka Miki was serviceable in his role as Kotoko but she overacted quite a bit and something about her just didn't click with me. I think maybe it was just too difficult a role someone as young and inexperienced as her. There are a lot of small emotional beats that she just didn't seem to quite get which Ariel portrayed beautifully and she didn't have the charm that Jung So Min brought to the character.

    I'm sorry to say that PK was my least favourite adaptation. Simply because nothing about it really clicked with me. In my opinion the only good thing that came out of that cast was Jung So Min, she was also probably the only thing worth remembering from that drama. I like Kim Hyun Joong enough as eye candy but I don't think this was the best character for him. There character was way too nuanced for him to really portray properly. He did well with Naoki at face value but wasn't really able to sell it to me even with Jung So Min hopping around and being the cutest iteration of Kotoko.

    The Korean cast and script just weren't all that memorable. Heck I don't even remember who played Kin Chan in the Korean verison, or… any other cast members other than our main leads for that matter. But maybe that's not as important for this story which entirely belongs to it's main couple and everyone else is kind of just window decoration.

    But really I love Ah Jin. So so so so SO much. And I'm so happy that he was able to have his own story and be able to find happiness with Christine. Jiro was just SO GREAT in that role and he broke my heart multiple times in that drama. I'm almost positive that if anyone other than Joe had been playing Zhi Shu I would've been screaming at the screen "QIANG XIN WTF ARE YOU DOING?!?! AH JIN LOVES YOU SO MUCH. DON'T BREAK MY BABY BOY'S HEEEAARRRTTTT!!!" and the run off to Taiwan to go and take him for myself.

    Kin chan from Love in Tokyo was really cute too. I felt that he just had this I don't know… self awareness that the other versions didn't have. He was still the loveable carefree (semi) idiot but there was a wisdom in the character that I didn't quite get from the other actors.

    But yea back to side characters. I honestly loved every member of the family in ISWAK and I cared A LOT about what happened to them. Especially Yu Shu, there were bits of it in the other versions but I really liked how they showed Xiang Qin and Yu Shu's character grow and especially that episode where

    • omg. I posted by accident, and now I see what a LONG reply I’ve given but erm. Still not done LOL.

      Back to what I was saying that time where Xiang Qin gets kidnapped by those really creepy people and then Yu Shu goes out to look for her with Xiao Ke Ai? Honestly one of my favourite moments. And then his relationship with Non-chan (I can’t remember his chinese name which is kinda sad) but when he still cared about the friend that he hadn’t seen for years it just shows how good a person he really is. (That and Non-chan was played by Wang Zi who I was semi-obsessed with at the time). And then the fact that he ends up with a girl exactly like his Da Shao? Don’t mind me and I’ve just turned into a puddle of goo from this kid’s adorableness.

      The rest of the family was great to, but I find that every version was able to find kotoko a completely AWESOMESAUCE DAD. Like really. Every dad did the role so well and I love each and every one of them. Same with Irie’s mom whose such a loveable busybody. I always find that Irie’s dad is kinda just there though. I never found anything really special about him other than those couple episodes where he gets some attention in the heart sickness arc, though his friendship with Kotoko’s dad is always pretty cute.

      But yea… I think maybe I’ll stop myself before this actually becomes like an essay. I just REALLY love this story and it really doesn’t get old no matter how many times I see it. <3 Kinda like Hana Yori Dango but I guess we'll see how true that statement is once Heirs airs (haha homonyms) because sadly as with itakiss BoF was also my least favourite of the Hana Yori Dango remakes. Seriously Lee Min Ho STAY OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL. YOU'RE BETTER OFF CITY HUNTING.

      • Pretty much agree with everything you said.

        Plus the taiwanese version had awesome kiss scenes!

  17. Iswak for me. Watched it while it aired in tw in 2005 and totally fell for it. I can still remember the day and where I saw ep 1. Actually I had no idea what to expect having no background at the time about the manga. Needless to say, after just 2 episodes, I went and found the manga. Arjoe is my favorite tw OTP as well. Watched 1 and 2 over many times. It will always have a place in my heart.

    I remember coming to the playground at the time of the pk recaps. I tried to get into pk but somehow couldn’t really love it the way others did. I adore jsm though. Same with remake of a remake recent Japanese version. Just didn’t really love it. But I am happy that there is so much love for all of the versions as I grew to love the manga itself.

  18. ISTWAK had the best male lead imo, while MK had the best female lead, and love in tokyo was the best in balance.

  19. I have yet to see the latest Japanese version, so I’m going to make comparisons putting that one aside. I don’t know what it is about this story, normally I would have given up on a Kotoko like character a million years ago like you (God knows it took me forever to watch each episode of ISWAK because I’d have to pause every time Xiang Qin did something cringe-inducing) but I still like. Maybe its because there something so adorable about an earnest first love succeeding that wins me over each time. That said the best adaptation of the manga taking into account all the story arcs is definitely the Taiwanese version. The writing was at times too saccharine but I think the directing tones it down well and adds a sense of realism to the proceedings even if its far from realistic on paper (Props to director Winnie Qu there, still a big fan after all these years). As a whole I was more invested in the acting of this ensemble as well, especially when it comes to the chemistry of the whole family and not just the leads. That said my favorite Kotoko is definitely Jung So Min, I love Ariel but I think she took the character’s cluelesness a little too literally at times, whereas Jung So Min had more balance. On the other hand I think Joe made the perfect Zhi Shu whether it was in looks or acting, definitely his most memorable performance for me (and I wanna add that I’ll probably feel the same way even after seeing bits and pieces of LIT, like you Koala unni I don’t feel like the male lead has that Naoki feel to him). Joe and Ariel still win best chemistry among the leads too. Also think Jiro made a better Kinosuke than Lee Tae Sang, but I blame that on PK’s writer for making him feel more like a caricature than a character. Overall PK looked beautiful and had that manga feel down pat but I think ISWAK wins for best OST amongst these two adaptations.

  20. I thought Honoka Miki wasn’t bad in the role – I preferred her take on Koroko more than Ariel Lin and (a lot more than) Jung So Min. The ISWAK and PK Kotokos felt like adults trying to act like children, whereas Honoka Miki was trying to act older. Personally, Xiang Qin and Ha Ni made me want to pull my hair out so many more times than Kotoko in LIT.. but Ariel’s portrayal of Xiang Qin’s /growth/ was definitely the best, hands down.

    And for Naoki, I believe that Joe Cheng’s success in the role also had a lot to do with Winnie’s directing. Out of the three versions, the only time when the director gave Naoki a monologue before the confession in the rain was in ISWAK.. which I hadn’t realized was so instrumental in selling his feelings until watching LIT. That being said, I liked Furukawa Yuki in the role too – I just wished I could have seen his Naoki under Winnie’s direction.

    Favourite: LIT
    Best: ISWAK

    • What you said in the last part is so true. Its the Irie Naoki’s monologue scene in the rain that sells it. I didn’t even try to watch PK because no one can beat ArJoe!! But I did watch a couple eps of it(finally) and its cute–I love the little brother–but watching the rain scene made me stop and decide to just drop it. I was wondering what was so different with the rain scene, and them I finally noticed it just now–The Monologue.
      There was seriously no heart in it. He just said it with his hand in his pocket and then kissed her. And the abrupt cut away made it less convincing because that was suppose to be the moment of moments!!! Sigh, I still rewatch ISWAK and TKA. I just it. I was so looking forward to a third one….but boooo

  21. Super love ISWAK, though I have to admit that I haven’t watched LiT and I only follow PK from reading recaps.

    My biggest reason for loving ISWAK would be A Jin. How could you not fall for his earnestness? I really felt his broken heart I wished I could have been there and mended it myself LOL.

    I feel the urge to shake Xiang Qin and my lil sister real hard for their fondness of Zhi Shu. Why would they like such a jerk and toss the sweet A Jin aside? He’s not even as good looking as A Jin in my book. (Though Zhi Shu redeems everything in the sequel by being the sweetest hubby ever I secretly want one like him =D).

    I’ve liked Jiro’s character in Taiwanese Hana Kimi and really like him as A Jin and those two roles make him my favorite Fahrenheit member. Sadly I don’t like any of his other series.

    ISWAK has fabulous soundtracks too and thanks to this article, I’m now listening to them. Say that you love me, say that you care…

  22. Lol so technically you’re missing the C-drama version Say That You Love Me, but probably with good reason. It’s HORRIBLE and was the only one I couldn’t even get through the early parts of. The J-drama never got me invested either, mainly because the characters were really shallowly written and acted (the downside of the short episodes, but also just plain overacting by the leads).

  23. What…? Ok we have difference of opinions then because I found Honoki Miki a better actor than Furukawa Yuki. Not saying she’s perfect, she could tone down the exaggerated facial expressions a bit during her silly moments, but I thought she really shined during her quieter moments when the sincerity that she conveyed during those moments reminded me a lot of what I love about Jung So Min’s portrayal. While watching Furukawa Yuki, I was always half-expecting him to pass out suddenly. There’s a certain lethargy about his portrayal of Naoki that I don’t like compared to Joe Cheng’s portrayal. Is naoki in the manga like that? Idk, never read the manga. All I know is that when it comes to the female lead, I like Jung Somin and Miki’s version. And god bless Ariel Lin, but her version was such a stupid character, I was yelling and scowling at the screen all the time. I love Ariel Lin in general though, just not in ISWAK. And for the male lead, I like Joe Cheng’s version. I’m not even gonna start on Hyunjoong, he’s a bad actor. Period. Oh, as for Joon gu, I like Lee taesung’s.

    • I’m actually not a fan too much of the Itazura na Kiss storyline (never grabbed me as much as Hana Yori Dango), however, I ended up watching all three… no all four versions (the earliest one, made in the 1990’s with Kashiwabara Takashi and Sato Aiko). For me, Jung So Min did the best job portraying “Kotoko” and seemed to make her character appear a little smarter and not as desperate as some of the other versions… I have to agree that I did not like Taiwan version of the character because Kotoko seemed more useless and not a strong female lead that I wanted to cheer for. As for Naoki, I liked the original with Kashiwabara Takashi (who at that time, played a lot of “cool” and “aloof” type of characters in his other dramas). The character fit his image (at the time) really well, although the drama as whole was not that great.

      Overall, I think I liked the Korean version the best. I thought there was less overacting, a stronger OST and it was adapted really well with additional scenes that I thought were really funny and cute.

  24. oh my goodness, PK was 3 years ago?? time really does fly…
    I absolutely love Ariel, but Kim Hyun Joong somehow caught my interest more than Joe did. I know that Hyun Joong has the acting ability of a rock and is limited to making two different facial expressions, but he’s come a long way since Boys Before Flowers (shudder).
    And Jung So Min and Lee Tae Sang did a great job, along with the crazy and lovable Jung Hye Young as Baek Seung Jo’s mom.
    PK was a hot mess, but it was an amusing hot mess.

  25. Apparently love in Tokyo is more loyal to the manga compared to all the other versions. But of course the TW version worked with the mangakas husband because she unfortunately passed away before creating a end to the story.
    Iswak was one of the first TW dramas I watched and also one of my favorites. Loved the chemistry between Joe and Ariel.
    PK, I thought I’d hate in but but was adorable. KHJ one emotion face really suited for him to portray Naoki and JSM was cute.
    Love in Tokyo, I like it but the only one I’m really liking is Kin-chan, he is the best Kin-chan out of all 3 versions.
    Furukawa Yuki’s big plus is he’s fluent in english and he really does have the qualities that Naoki has but I have to say he’s not the strongest actor I don’t know if it’s the character or just his portrayal of Naoki. (cold, smart and a bit emotionless)
    Favorite Kotoko, I like all 3 actresses but the one who was the least annoying was JSM. Honoka Miki though has this energy in her Kotoko that makes you admire her tenacity. And Ariel of course was great even though Kotoko is quite the idiotic character.
    Best chemistry between leads goes to Iswak, Joe and Ariel have great chemistry. In 2nd place we have PK kiss and well Miki Honoka is very young, 17 I think and Yuki is 25 so there definitely is a age gap that shows in the chemistry. Their bickering is cute but I think the leads to feel the age gap even though Yuki mentioned that he is quite close with both the actors to Kin and Kotoko.
    Best Kin-chan, Yamada Yuki wins! He’s become my favorite one. I really feel bad for him not getting the girl.
    PK has lovely cinematography, it helps to have the budget that it had.

    • I think INK: LIT’s Kin-chan was the fleshed out really well, compared to all the other versions.

      Funny thing is, I watched ep 16, and when I went to youtube for some more ItaKiss videos, I stumbled across an anime version of the exact same rain scene. The dialogue in the scene was 90% similar to the drama’s scene!

  26. For me it’s definitely Love in Tokyo the best version. It completely grabbed my heart. I liked that Kotoko was strong and not such a doormat. And I liked the little moments which showed Naoki’s interest in Kotoko. True, I didn’t like much ep14 and 15 when they gave too much time to the other engagement and no time to show that Naoki actually cares for Kotoko… but all before that I loved. The best moment for me was when Naoki comforted Kotoko after his little brother had to be ushered to hospital. When he saw how agitated and desperate Kotoko was…and he just put his hand on her forehead from the back and let Kotoko lean on him…and then she turned and hugged him…

    PK was fun, especially Jung So Mi. But sometimes boring… and awkward… But I loved the specials on Youtube.

    ISWAK – sorry, but whenever I tried watching it I got frustrated in 5min and had to stop.

  27. Itakiss, hands down for me.

    I haven’t watched the 1996 J one, but both the TW and K versions make Kotoko so irritatingly dumb that I ended up tearing my hair out. Sure, the chemistry is the TW version is good, but I just find the characters frustrating (not the actors – Ariel’s fine of course).

    Itakiss meanwhile:
    –Kotoko had backbone. I really, really liked this Kotoko. She had a silly crush, but she took things seriously, caring about other people (not just Naoki) and learning to understand her own limitations (i.e. the need to give up a relationship, but also understanding that it doesn’t come with the click of a finger, but that it’s okay to hurt for a while). I felt she grew a lot as a character and was a lovely person through and through – not a second of manipulating Sahoko when she had the chance in ep. 15.
    I found Honoka Miki just very endearing. Yes, the face-pulling is over the top and particularly at the beginning just weird, but I just grew to love it.
    –Kinchan. Do I need to say anything? Kinchan had a purpose in this story. He wasn’t just some forgettable side character used for silly comic relief like in the other versions, he was actually a valid love rival and, most of all, kept demonstrating what true friendship is about. Sometimes he was a silly boy with a crush, but whenever it mattered, he was 100% selfless and put Kotoko first. And was just there for her, no matter what. And: Kotoko never led him on, which I greatly appreciated as well.
    –The overall message: we’ve still got the same story, which indeed is just a bit dumb, but I feel there is a very strong message in the version about love and friendship – what it means to support those people who really care about. Unselfishly. Kotoko demonstrated that, Kinchan demonstrated that. Naoki had to learn that (and still does – the final episode was too rushed for me to be compelled that he really understood it). Generally I think this version had more reflective moments than others, which I really liked.
    –Naoki was okay: I don’t mind the actor (and I do think he’s beautiful, just younger looking than all other versions of his character. I can see why he’s not a “stud”, but then only Joe Cheng would fit that description. KHJ is… too cookie cutter pretty), but it was more difficult to get insight into his character. This version didn’t always allow us to see what was going on with him.

    Some people have criticised Itakiss for not having the same kind of chemistry as the TW version, where particularly the after-marriage scenes were rather passionate. No, Itakiss doesn’t have that, but Honoka is 16. Of course there was never going to be a passionate kissing scene like that! Itakiss is like a “younger” version, the TW a more “mature” one. And I’m fine with that.

    • i agree! I have watched all 4 versions (yes i am THAT old, even to the 1996 version) and whilst PK made me feel warm and fuzzy and grateful to have been a part of the love and ISWAK/TKA only drew me in in the second season (sorry babes joe cheng in a moppy hairdo just wasnt cutting it for me) because of the additional little sweet coupley bits — ItaKiss managed to beat everything in one fell swoop.

      Granted, when the first 2 episodes came out i grimaced – Furukawa Yuki isn’t the kind of guy I’d walk past in school and start having massive crushes over, but as the rabid C fandom placed it romantically –> directed and supervised largely now from Naoki’s viewpoint as Nishikawa Mao(Kaoru Tada’s husband) == that even whilst she was centering her life around loving him as Kotoko, he had already begun to love her – and OMG did Furukawa Yuki and ItaKiss nail it through the many little subtle meticulous touches –> from the glances to the way he gradually changes the way he talks to her, it was a breath of fresh air from the otherwise truly maddening classic character description. The show brings new life and meaning to every little detail i notice each time i watch it (YES I’VE WATCHED IT 12 TIMES~! :p for now!) and i must say i’m very impressed with this small budget adaptation. Of course, being the english nazi i am, his was the most bearable to listen to in crisp americanised english with a sexy nihongo intonation that basically slayed myself (and from what i can tell, the entire c fandom).

      Honoka Miki was not as impressive as Jung So Min in making one go “yea, I would definitely love her” from the word ‘go’, or as true to the manga as a really annoying and silly Xiang qin in Ariel Lin or just plain “all i remember are her ears and shrill voice” Satou Aiko..but she grows on me and her facial expressions of a gazillion are really entertaining too ha. And i do like Yuki’s and Miki’s kisses, artfully tastefully crafted from the *SPOILER*>>> swoonworthy kiss in episode 10 to the last episode’s rain kisses even the bedroom dry up scene to the wedding <<<*sPOILER* i walked away thinking my life was complete even if the last episode was too fast haha!

      so yes, my favourite and best version is the heartfelt swoonworthy ItaKiss or LiT (love in tokyo), the one that makes me sigh and reanalyse and click replay incessantly and hang upon every analysed episode and ache for loves that came together and were lost like the mangaka and her husband—ItaKiss, a bottle of good aged wine that gets better with each rewatch 🙂

      • Haha, are you one of the “On Purpose” fans?

        My fav is still 1996, for nostalgic reasons. I was so surprised to see Satou Aiko and Kashiwabara Takashi appear as cameos, though I would have liked it more if 1996 Irie-kun had more purpose in the show. 🙁

        P.s. I loved the towel scene in Ep 16!!!

      • Love and agree with your comments. Yuki Furukawa as Naoki really grew on me and his acting was very subtle and spot on. Enjoyed all the different versions of this but liked this LiT version the best.

    • Copy and paste every single of your word except Naoki’s part since like all other character, this Naoki is my most favorite interpretation from all 4 Itazura na Kiss adaptation 🙂

      • Oh, he is my favourite Naoki as well, but there were some episodes where I felt they didn’t write his character as well as they could have.

        Like up to episode 10 (the one with the hospital/overnight scene) we see him slowly, subtly develop, but then, esp. around 13-15, he regresses. Of course, it has to do in part with the arranged marriage, but they could have revealed a bit more of his suffering/conflict. Plus, episode 16 was just too fast-paced because suddenly he was wearing his heart on his sleeve. Plus, he was quite cruel at times (that outburst at Kotoko both in ep 15 and 16), so I wouldn’t have minded a full episode of making him suffer visibly.

    • Please watch the 1996 version!!

      Ok scrap that. Having watched so many versions, I’m sure 1996’s would seem to have many, many flaws. But it was the first of all the remakes to come, and I watched it first, so it holds a special place in my heart. For me, it is the best…..until ItaKiss 2013 came along, and now they share the same position.

      I agree with all you’ve said!

      • haha i’m not but i do find i get the most satisfying reads from their awesomeness hahahaha! his enunciation makes it a more enjoyable watch:) but that said, weird and shaky shooting angles and skills aside, i mostly started ItaKiss unimpressed but its interpretation has surprised me and caused me for once to think “damn, these 2 belong together” and not just root incessantly-“kotoko u need a better man, smart and sporty just isnt enough. every girl needs a communicating partner in real life.” It has become a fairytale ending not just for the guy, but for the female protagonist finally (TKA took one whole season to get there -.-)

    • I like Naoki best in this adaptation. Think he’s best portrayed here, almost everything about him, his slow facial movement, him ineptness towards his own feeling and that only Kotoko can set his heart racing (a bit) and that he has everything except the emotion part. I’m dying to check out the real Yuki if he’s really so motionless in real-life and yes, if he is, then he’s a really damn good actor.

  28. Have not watched the japanese one yet, so most of what i’m about to say is for ISWAK and PK.
    Most nostalgic feels = hands down, ISWAK. Watching the iswak-related videos had all the feels come flooding back. This proves that iswak definitely got me more on an emotional level, and this is coming from a general k-drama viewer. It’s been longer since i’ve last watched this show compared to PK but I could remember the experience I had while watching ISWAK whereas the PK experience was such a blur.
    Most cute = Playful kiss. I think it’s the prettiest to watch in the short term. Kind of like admiring abs. Shallow and delicious but not in any way substantial. I think i liked the characters that inhabited the world of PK more, with the exception of kim hyun joong’s char. You cannot beat joe cheng there. Oh, or jiro’s.
    One i’d rewatch = playful kiss (not that it’s better than ISWAK but because it’s simply an easier/fun watch.
    That’s also because there’s less amount of seasons(and episodes) and because of Jung So Min’s endearing portrayal. I disliked the heroine for so many reasons(and Ariel’s portayal didn’t help at all), but i thought no other k-actress would have been able to play that character without me smashing my computer screen because of the idiocy and desperation of the heroine. I figure if any k-actress as that kind of skill i’ll like her. So i started to like Jung So Min.
    Overall, I preferred ISWAK because there was so much more good stuff in that show compared to PK.
    Can we do a Boys before flowers/hani yori dango/meteor garden poll? Now that i’d like to see!

  29. Okay, have nothing more to add than LOVE THIS POST! Hopefully “post-appreciation” is a good enough reason to post a comment!

  30. Thanks Ockoala for giving us this chance. 🙂

    I would have liked to watch all of ISWAK but I’m afraid I can’t stand the background noise of Taiwanese dramas. I tried. I’m ok with HKdramas and Cdramas, not just Taiwanese dramas.

    Sorry!

  31. One of those dramas, I criticize severely, but at the end of the day, I’ll watch it (perhaps, to torture myself). The story makes me want to scream in frustration at the main leads: the first (only?) aloof drama hero that got on my nerves like no other drama hero before or after. And obviously, the heroine is in a league of her own, in terms of naive, devoted, and stalker-ish behavior.

    Despite all that, I have watched the anime, read the manga (I think, finished it) and watched both seasons of the taiwanese version. I will say the first time was the best, so ISWAK with Ariel. I have watched the good parts of korean version and I never plan to watch any more version of this drama. Ever. Hopefully.

  32. It Started With A Kiss, definitely!! I wasn’t a fan of the Korean one and I liked the Japanese one 😀 The Taiwanese one was just so so awesome!! Ariel Lin quickly became my favourite Taiwanese actress~ I loved how she managed to show the clumsiness/ idiotic tendencies without coming off annoying 😀 And the chemistry was… so cute :’)

  33. Definitely ISWAK. Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng’s acting and chemistry was wow. I laughed and cried so much while watching ISWAK and TKA. I was expecting a lot from PK and I was really disappointed. I felt that the drama was just full of pretty faces instead of the actual story. Nothing memorable about it. And InK:LiT was unexpectedly good, I liked it a lot and the ‘Ah Jin’ in this one was not as annoying but Kotoko in this one really annoyed me. She over-reacted too much. My friends were just watching with me while I watched it and thinks she is crazy. But I still liked it better compared to PK. ISWAK and TKA is the only dramas I’ve rewatched again, with the exception of Journey to the West (favourite childhood drama :D)

  34. I haven’t watched the Taiwanese version. But I think Playful Kiss the funniest version, the story turns to be kdrama story and I love that. Itazura na Kiss with the main characters is good too, and Furukawa Yuki acts so well, but honestly it rarely shows romantic scene between Irie Naoki and Aihara Kotoko kk ^^

  35. I have always wondered at the scene from Playful Kiss where Oh Ha Ni is on the park bench and BSJ comes to kiss her. Oh Ha Ni looks suspiciously plump … like maybe the actress was pregnant? Can anyone confirm or deny my suspicion? Sincere apologies to the actress if she just put on weight or the outfit made her look heavy.

  36. After watching LiT I realized I don’t actually like the story. But all in all it was my favorite. It was the best for me personally based on Yuki’s portrayal of Irie alone. None of the others are that attractive to me either so this wasn’t an issue. But at least Kotoko made a bit more sense to me in this version.
    Ultimately, just Japan had a redux that was successful and made sense unlike some of the other remake choices theyve made, cause the first was bonkers and bad.

  37. not agreeing with your choices Koala. Ariel Lin in ISWAK was just painful to watch though the plot stayed true with the manga which made it so dragging. Im not going on how unemotional the male lead was. As for the second male lead HORRIBLE.lol Playful Kiss I must say i didnt like the editing but Oh Hani was adorable and Kim Hyung Joong cannot act to save his life. Overall playful kiss was watchable when you are bored.

    Love In Tokyo is special in my opinion, the reason being is that it showed the input of the late manga writer’s husband. Which showed in a sweet subtle way Naoki’s adoration with Kotoko. Furukawa Yuki isnt as dashing but he’s a good actor. Since this series is more of “personal” view on the writer’s work Yuki’s approach to the Naoki character was superb. As for Kotoko, i adore the girl. She did a good job tbh, not as pretty as Oh Ha Ni but she held her own. I have to say this is the first adaptation that I wasnt annoyed by the character Kotoko.

    But then again, whatever floats anyone’s boat.lol

    • You float my boat. Took the words from my mouth.

      It’s great to compare the 1996 and 2013 Japanese adaptations, because the mangaka was the advisor to the former, and her husband to the latter. In the 1996 version, we saw more of cool Irie (via the wife’s POV), and in the 2013, we saw how Irie was actually warming up to Kotoko over the span of the show (via the hubby’s POV).

      I really hope for a part 2 where they show the marriage life….but I guess it not being a huge hit in Japan, plus the low budget, makes it quite an impossible dream.

      • me too me too me too 🙂 i love how the warming up started from as early as episode 3 in the drama.:p i must be extremely feminist cause I actually agree with how little stalking kotoko does in this show, plus his early warming up makes me feel a bit more justified on the poor girl’s behalf of having to put up with his social ineptitude haha.

  38. I agree that ISWAK is the best adaptation, with amore details an all. Joe Cheng and Ariel Lin were perfect together. I knew it was the most beloved version of the fans.
    But still my favorite version is Playfull Kiss. Oh Ha Ni is so sweet and cute, that touched me in a way that Ariel didnt. I also Loved Baek Seung Joand his family in this version.

  39. I have managed to get through all the three versions, but unlike Hana Yori Dango (Japanese version was a clear winner for me) I really can’t choose the best Itazura na Kiss. Each version has strengths and weaknesses.

    Taiwanese version:

    Strengths: hands down, Ariel and Joe had the best chemistry. For me the best part of ISWAK is actually after the marriage, especially Zhu Shu’s gradual transformation from a very cold and egoistic man to a wonderful loving husband. Taiwanese version was the only version that explored that. Overall, it just felt that this version just had more heart in it..

    Weaknesses: In the first season of ISWAK the characterisation was way over the top. Xiang Qin was not simply stupid, she was borderline retarded. Zhi Shu was an ultimate asshole, so it was unbelievably hard to root for him. Ah Jin’s character was never explored properly in the first season.

  40. Korean version:

    Strengths: one word – Jung So Min. As much as I like Ariel Lin as an actress, Oh Ha Ni was just written better. And Jung So Min played her brilliantly.

    Weaknesses: surprise! surprise! Kim Hyun Joong can’t act to save a country. He wasn’t awful like in BOF, but….bleh.

    Japanese version:

    Strenghs: the only out of three versions that has properly explored relationship between Kinnosuke and Kotoko.

    Weaknesses: painfully low budget. The leads had no chemistry whatsoever, I suppose because of the age difference between the actors. Unsatisfying ending.

  41. yay finally, a post on itazura na kiss love in tokyo! well, my favourite version is of course lit because i find miki honoka’s version of kotoko the least annoying out of the 3. somehow, i couldn’t stand kim hyun joong in pk, probably cos of how his character was written – he just seemed quite jerkish to me :/ i especially liked the first 10 eps of lit and even though i didn’t quite like the pacing for the last 6 eps, it was still really good imo. haha, furukawa yuki’s voice played a part for my love for lit

  42. This is a hard choice. But after seeing the Love in Tokyo version, I think it’s my favorite.
    Even though they all have different strenghts in every drama adaptation.
    I so liked Jung So Min in the korean and the indie vibe and bye bye sea were all very adorable. And I liked the details in the t-version, and those kisses, but I sincerely hated Ariels performance in it, too much full blown idiot.
    Well, and the japanese is just all together feel-goody and happy, oh, and the way Irie-kun smiles and make those glances, melting.

    • Agreed. 2013’s Kotoko is more real, because while she still sucks at studies, she’s a normal girl with enough brains for getting through each day in 1 piece.

  43. ISWAK always gonna be the masterpiece of Itazura Na Kiss world. I love every bit of this.
    but yes…PK is my fav. I can feel the sweets, the sadness and the love of Oh HaNi to BSJ.

    Itazura Love in Tokyo…yep not so hooked me but keep watching it just to fulfill my thirst over this story.
    I even watch the anime thousand times…I just love it !

  44. Why no Itazura na Kiss – 1996 Japanese version?

    =(

    I loved that version, despite it being, perhaps, one of the least polished version around. It’s the first version I’ve watched and remains THE INK live action remake for me. I enjoyed the TW remake It Started With A Kiss and at one point was going gaga over it, but it never stick to me the way INK1996 did. It Started With A Kiss, should start with a kiss – how Kotoko met Irie in the INK1996 version, where they had an accidental kiss along the corridor on the first day of school. <3 lol

    I love Kashiwabara Takashi's Irie-kun and Sato Aiko's Kotoko so much that I didn't bother to watch INK: LIT when it started airing. It was only out of boredom that I gave it a shot, and I'm really surprised how much I enjoyed it.

    The directing was easy on the eye, and there were many beautiful panning scenes. I was surprised to learn that the entire filming relied on 1 camera only due to budget constraints! This version's Kotoko was also less baka, which took the manga-characteristic away from her, but made her more real and relatable. Naoki in this version many not be as dashing as Kashiwabara, or Joe, or Kim Hyun Joong. But boy did he grow on me!

    All in all, in my opinion (and anyone is entitled to their own opinion), ItaKiss, having originated from a Japanese manga, is best told in Japanese with all the puns and cultural references intact. 1996 and 2013 versions saikou!

  45. I couldn’t stand the actress who portrayed Kotoko in Love in Tokyo. The way she exaggerated her eyes and lips made me want to pull out my hair. I liked Playful Kiss’s portrayals the most because the characters were less true to the manga so that Seung Jo didn’t seem that cold and humorless and Ha Ni didn’t seem that stupid and annoying. But ISWAK’s portrayals are the best and most true to the manga and somehow, they managed it without me hating the characters. As for Japan’s adaptation, I could only like Naoki and found Kotoko to be the most annoying female lead I’ve encountered in a long time.

  46. ISWAK is still my favorite and the best for me. The longer length and time spent together really made the cast click for me and I think the director nailed all the emotional scenes.
    My second would be LinT. I agree that FY isn’t gorgeous but I felt he brought such subtle emotions to the role that I really saw him fall in love with Kotoko. I think the actress who played Kotoko could have toned the facial expressions down, but I liked how she was more independent than the other versions. The chemistry between FY and HM was okay, but I think HM age made the romantic scenes seem a little awkward though a lot of Jdramas have awkward skinship.
    PK just never clicked for me. I never saw any romantic chemistry between the leads and the acting in general seemed stiff. PK was definitely the most professionally shot and easy to look at.

  47. I am still melting from the perfect ending of LIT.
    The execution of the rain scene was the BEST for me.
    Really, LIT nailed it. Right on the spot.

    And personally, I like FuruYuki’s execution of Naoki the most in the graduation kiss scene.
    The way he said the line “Serves you right.”… Gah!!!
    And really, the graduation kiss and the rain confession was all that I cared about from the different versions. (Come on, it’s called Mischievous “Kiss”!)

    Either way, I really like the 2013 LIT cast.
    FuruYuki is the type that really grows on you. He may not be good looking at first glance but in no time you find that you can’t take your eyes off of him. The way he portrayed Naoki’s emotions while holding the poker face was just amazing.
    Honoka really has her set of charms too! Cute, brave, and a Kotoko that has brains. Sometimes clueless and clumsy, but not to the point that you can’t stand her. Even as a female, I think she’s super super cute.
    And Yamada’s Kin-chan!! This is the first version where I grew fond of Kin-chan. Other versions made him a little clingy for my likings. LIT’s Kinnosuke actually knows to keep his distance sometimes – which is nice, and the way Yamada Yuki portrayed Kin-chan’s one-sided devotion was also very noteworthy.

    Though it’s true that Joe and Ariel had much more chemistry in ISWAK.
    When I watched it 7 years ago, there were butterflies in my heart every time they interact!
    But I DID feel chemistry in LIT as well, although not as strong.
    Perhaps it’s the age difference. (Honoka’s so young…)

    BUT CONCLUSION IS… LIT has truly won my heart over.
    Best adaption yet to date!! 🙂 Woohoo!

  48. it is hard for me to choose. i like all of them. PK nailed me and until now i never bored watching it for nth times. ISWAK was good but i’m not hooked maybe the episode was too long. TKA is very enjoyable. for IKLIT, it will be better if they expand the episode because some scenes especially the ending was too short while actually it can be expand the scenes to make the viewers feel it… (i don’t know how to describe it… hope you will understand my point). Jung so min is the best kotoko while Joe cheng is the best irie naoki.

  49. Got bored with ISWAK because it was too long in my opinion. I loved PK the most but INK~LIT comes in close second. The last 2 I could watch over and over again.

    Best chemistry: ISWAK, but then I really didn’t like the kissing scenes for some reason.
    Best Naoki: PK – Say what you want about KHJ’s acting but he’s my favorite Naoki.
    Best Kotoko: PK with INK~LIT in close 2nd again. Jung So Min was great and she shined as Kotoko. Just couldn’t stand Ariel Lin’s version. Honoko Miki’s also good especially during some of the quiet scenes where she was showing sadness about her one-sided love and she was so graceful when talking to the girl Naoki was supposed to marry. I did admire her quiet acceptance that Naoki would be marrying the girl who was talking to her.
    Best Kin-chan: INK~LIT. This version also has my fave Kotoko BFFs.
    Best Mrs. Irie: PK of course!
    Favorite rain scene: PK
    Favorite after-the-rain-kiss scene: INK~LIT. I liked how Naoki in this version asked Kotoko’s dad for her hand, plus the way Naoki hugged Kotoko in her room when they were changing.
    Favorite wedding: PK

  50. For me the best and favorite version definitely ItaKiss LIT.
    I watched it by accident and i’m hooked..
    i haven’t watched ISWAK/TKA yet, some years ago it aired in station tv local in my country, i tried to watched it but i don’t know, i not interested at all.
    i just read all PK episodes recaps and just watched some episodes while aired in station tv local in my country. when i watched it, i just can’t stand with KHJ acting…(sorry, no bash). Jung so min is just ok.

  51. Iswak is the best in everything! Even the supporting cast was better than the other 2 versions. It’s one of the dramas which made me ‘rebelieve’ Taiwanese dramas. My sisters and I cringed with the whole dramaverse upon watching Xiang Qin’s brazenness to fight for her love but we also felt with her. We hated Zhi Xu initially but we always understood where he was coming from (not easy being smart). We love the drama to pieces! Haha. Whereas the other versions, although good, never had that special ‘wham’ that ISWAK had.

  52. I love all the version. but i will always re-watch the Japanese one even when i’m old and senile…lol….but it took me many year to actually watch the Taiwanese one. i gave up in the beginning because the girl was too damn stupid. but i saw all the version even the 1996 one and the anime.

  53. It will be forever Taiwanese version for me (though, I prefer TKA than ISWAK, which was in every way touching and heartwarming, with all the love between the whole family).

    I guess since I watched the Taiwanese version first before I watched the Korean one, PK disappointed me a lot. In the sense of chemistry, characters, and the over-all production. I was never a fan of KHJ and it was my first dram watching JSM, so I guess the love wasn’t just there initially when I started watching but I REALLY gave it a chance and even watched the YT parts but I just really felt more and more disappointed as I continue to watch. (I respect of course those who say they like PK the best, maybe it’s a matter of personal judgment and attachment)

    I could say that Ariel Lin’s performance is the best in terms of being the dumbest of all, and I too had a love-hate relationship with her character. But having TKA in her belt, I believe that Xiang Qin certainly grew up. And I’m like a proud mom while I was wathcing her stay on her ground in TKA. <3

    Joe Cheng.. Joe Cheng. My first love. <3 (Who doesn't want a husband like him?)
    I haven't watched any other production of Joe Cheng, (except Love or Bread which has Ariel Lin in it also) scared that it will ruin my forever love for him. But I guess the love he had shown in his characterization of Zhi Shu towards Xiang Qin was so evident (talking about TKA here) that it made people believe that an ARJOE relationship in real life could actually work (I believed and prayed for so long).

    Best line for me of Zhi Shu in TKA (while talking to XQ's father): She just doesn't know how much I love her. (*sniff *sniff)

    Anyway, I'd try to make time to watch the Japanese version and weigh again my options. 😀

    Thank you for this post, it revive my love for ArJoe. <3

  54. I’ve seen the results and it looks like I’m in the minority. Haha. But definitely it’s InkLIT that won my heart over. But ISWAK comes close second. And as for PK, I’ve only watched the first few eps but couldn’t finished it anymore.

    I think it’s also slightly unfair for InkLIT to be compared to the other versions because it didn’t have the marriage arc (yet). But setting their marriage aside (which for me is the best part of the story), again InkLIT hands down. The acting was perfect. I don’t know why some people don’t find the chemistry between the leads or maybe because they kept thinking about their age in RL but it didn’t bother me at all, I think it’s another point of InkLIT because despite the age difference of the leads, they’d captured the audience’s feelings of love, sweetness, and innocence.

    I also don’t mind which/whoever wins in this poll. 🙂

  55. Each version had something standout to me. I think Oh Ha Ni was everything that character needed to be. Optimistic, perky, youthful, but in the end she found herself aside from her guy.
    Zhi Shu was phenomenal. He was bored, snarky, silently in love, and just perfect! Seung Jo was those things but just not to Joe Cheng’s level.
    I wasn’t crazy about ItaKiss~LiT it was cute and hit the right points but I feel like I found a lot of little issues with it. HOWEVER, I was crazy in love with Kin-chan. He NAILED that part. He was the perfect mix of friend, devotee, and obnoxious. I also really liked that he put Naoki in his place more than once and for the right reasons.
    All in All I love this story and I’m always sad when it ends. We need another new version NOW!!!

  56. Definitely Itazura na Kiss~Love in Tokyo is the best one out there for me.
    TBH the storyline of INK(manga) never really hooked me, in sense that I never really, once did try to immense myself in the storyline…just read it to fill in some free time. But man did IK~LIT changed that for me…I mean they nailed it to the very last pieces. The whole story got me hooked from the very first moment in the very first episode. Liked episode 10 the best and although the story seems a bit dragging esp ep 14-15 it’s still heavenly endearing to me.

    IDK for others but the main OTP DEFINITELY have a sweet innocence vibe of chemistry compared to other version that I could actually buy that they indeed really fall in love with each other. Furukawa Yuki as Naoki won my heart over like gazillion times…I mean just look at every bits of those subtle expressions he made, the way he gaze at Kotoko(I was like, man, this guy really have fallen in love with her!) For me acting doesn’t mean that you’ve to shout out loud that you love her or even an exaggerating pull-my-hands stuff and jealousy much, but it’s all about expressions, I mean just look at the boy, he loves her, and that’s for sure. Miki Honoka as Kotoko is so cute and bubbly and she gives a new breath of freshness to the character…The other versions I’ve seen, KOTOKO characters are totally clingy on Naoki and it was like their life just revolved around Naoki, but for this version, at least for me, it felt like Kotoko was independent, not too clingy and has her own life that’s not so heavily involved and revolved only around Naoki. They have a 10 years gap??? Nahh, didn’t feel like it…well maybe bacause I wasn’t skeptical while watching it ( didn’t even know they have a 10 years gap in RL until recently)

    ISWAK and TKA I’ve watched it like years back, the story is ok, but it was so looong and draggy that without realizing it I was skipping most of the part. They do have sizzling chemistry, but that didn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling in romantic-sense that IK~LIT gives me….and face it, I was so mad at Ariel’s potrayal of Xiang Qin she made the characters look utterly dumb that made it fine even if I don’t root her character to be with Zhi Shu.

    PK- Honestly, I’ve never managed to finish the story…watched the first 2 episode and I was like pulling my hair out…skipping most of the part and then gave up and never watched it again till now…I find absolutely zero chemistry between Oh Ha Ni and Baek Seung Jo, they made the bond between the characters felt so awkward that it made me feel cringe to the very last part of my toes, it didn’t hit me that their character are supposed to fall in love and even worse even love each other. and Kim Hyun Joong for god sake, that guy cannot act! Its not cool acting that he made, it was just bad acting (foot-acting) the expression he made was dead TBH…never really connect with the characters in PK.

    so in conclusion , InK~LIT is the best version out there for me…so endearing!

  57. love in tokyo because IT MAKES SENSE. haha
    Kotoko is normal,independent not TOO stupid, but average student. You know, the type of student who daydreaming alot in class. If she puts her effort more, she’ll get better. Plus, in the anime or manga, kotoko in this version really potrayed it nicely. Warm and fun.

    Naoki is cold, not cocky. Have that arrogant. He looks sincere and care for kotoko.

    Kinchan is my favorite. He care for kotoko, and he is not really annoying. I mean, most of the cast seems normal to me. The character i mean, its everyday life. You see this type of people around you. *or maybe it just me* haa

    overall, although the story is too short and there are not so much romantic scene, it’s quite pleasant. I like this version because it’s kinda normal. It’s the kinda LIFE that actually might happen and revolve around us. It also have that special vibe that attracts you. I mean, to be honest, Playful Kiss for example, oh man IDK why but the drama really screwed up. I wanted to watch it because of kim hyun joong ( which previously I watch on BOF) I actually expected too much maybe, in the end it dissapoint me. The kotoko oh well… ok-so-so but she doesnt really had that feel, *u guys read the manga * and naoki,, oh god.. i cant even say.. I dropped the drama on 3rd episode.

    • The first few episodes of Playful Kiss are kinda dumb, but the rest of the drama is really good, so you can’t say much about Playful Kiss unless you’ve seen the whole thing.

  58. I’ve seen all 3 versions and hands down the best one is ISWAK. Joe Cheng’s portrayal of Naoki was phenomenal. He had the perfect mix of that cold arrogant handsome genius, but what I love the most is the warmth in his eyes. You can see he cares truly for XQ despite his cool demeanor. BSJ of PK was the worst portrayal tbh. He was TOO cold, I barely believe he loves Ha Ni til the very end. His eyes were blank and emotionless. Naoki of LIT almost came close to Zhi shu of ISWAK imo. There are times he’s hard to read but also there are times I actually saw his love for Kotoko. As for the best version of Kotoko, it would be a tie between ISWAK and LIT. I think Ha Ni from PK wasn’t too attached to BSJ, I didn’t feel like she liked him THAT much (especially compared to XQ). Best Kin-Chan would definitely be from LIT. I didn’t mean to but I found myself rooting for him. He was so lovable and his speech at ep.16 was just perfect.

    Best first kiss: ISWAK. It wasn’t expected, and wasn’t done just for the sake of teasing XQ. I love the expression of shock in Zhi Shu’s face, I feel like this is the first time he realized he actually likes XQ, and therefore gives justice to the title ‘It started with a kiss’.

    Best second kiss: LIT. I’d say it’s a tie between ISWAK and LIT but the smile on Naoki’s face after he “shhh” his brother won me over.

    Best third (rain) kiss: ISWAK. Like do I even have to explain why?? IT WAS JUST EPIC. The way Zhi shu delivered his speech, the way he kissed her, the look on XQ’s face, the short narrative of XQ, everything was just perfect.

    In conclusion, ISWAK is the best version for me. It had amazing build up and chemistry between leads. It also has the most heartwarming scenes. It truly showed what a beautifully long journey Zhi shu and Xiang Qin had. It will always be my favorite version.

    • I totally agree with you on every aspect, and I’m glad someone was finally rating the first kiss, the secret stolen kiss, and the rain kiss! And you nailed it directly on the head.
      Personally, I started a little late in this game, and did not discover ItaKiss until a few months ago. I watched the LiT version first, and that’s how I fell head over heels for the story despite Miki Honoka’s overacting, and Yuki Furukawa’s underacting, the story grabbed me, and I will always give that version a ton of respect.
      Now, after that, I watched PK, and just could not get into it, despite the uber hotness of Kim Hyun Joong. Sorry, I never thought he was that good of an actor, even in Boys Over Flowers.
      You rated the kisses perfectly, except I don’t think the second kiss would have been a tie imo. The best second kiss goes to LiT for the reason you mentioned, but I think the ISWAK one was a little like “1,2,3,GO!” It just didn’t resonate with me like the LiT one did.

      Now, another 2 key points in the story I’d like to rate are the reactions to Kotoko dating, and proposal.

      Best reaction to Kotoko dating: Initially, when I watched LiT, I thought Irie-kun’s “heart sinking” reaction was spot on, but then I saw the ISWAK reaction, and I think Zhi Shu’s “quiet but angry” reaction was better. I loved the throwing the newspaper several times, and banging the coffee cup on the table….LOVED IT!

      Next, the reaction to the news of Kotoko being proposed to: I saw all 3 reactions, and imo Irie-kun’s reaction gets my vote. I didn’t not like being able to see Zhi Shu’s facial reaction to the news, nor did I like Baek Seung Jo’s “no expression whatsoever” reaction, while Naoki’s was perfect. Pure shock and disbelief, and it was the first time he realized that he was losing Kotoko, and he did not like that feeling.

      All in all, ISWAK FTW. You summed it up in your comment. Best version of this beautiful story.

  59. I just watched ISWAK season 1 and I thought it was terrible. I’ve seen Playful Kiss 3 times and loved it. The only thing better about ISWAK is the love scenes because they allowed for more passion with the kisses and hugs. I ended up fast forwarding through a good portion of ISWAK because it was so SLOW. I’ll watch the second season. Many said that it’s better. Hope they are right.

  60. I just finished watching LIT and OMG i loved it!! The first version of this story that i watched was PK but i dropped it halfway before finding enough motivation to continue watching it. I couldn’t stand Ha Ni and Seung Jo. Ha Ni was too dumb and clingy and Seung Jo was kind of jerk. I loved Furukawa’s Naoki very much. I can really feel how he fell in love, and when he smiled…man, was that heart-melting. And although i feel Kotoko facial expressions a bit too much at times, i like that this Kotoko is not as dumb. And the towel scene at the end was just so lovely.

  61. I haven’t finished watching all of them because I’m afraid it might get boring :/ especially when I already so familiar with the itazura plot.
    I’ve watched 5 eps of Playful Kiss and drop it because I really want to watch the INK:LiT. Because I thought Japanese Version is better (at least in my opinion) and also learn a little Japanese by hearing.

    I like Jiro Wang from Absolute Boyfriend drama, but not sure if I gonna like him in this.

    when I watch the japanese, I really like it. It has many comedic event. Even though sometimes the plot go quicker than I anticipated.
    I already finished the second season.
    there’s definitely a nice development on season 2.

    I like both Furukawa and Honoka. Furukawa has a cute face. And Honoka made so many funny expressions, lol
    and on season 2, at least Kin-chan get a girlfriend.

    The japanese version is shorter in each episode duration than the korean.
    sometimes the plot feels a little forced, especially when Kotoko house ruined.
    it’s more natural in Korean version in this case

    Still, I really like it.

  62. IMO, the winner is ISWAK..yeah! I don’t wanna talk about the other two. But, alright, KHJ is good, but not great. And, the other two versions were a bit shabby. But, PK’s OSTs were good. And, the youtube version was a dessert. But, still!

    ISWAK, man!!!!! That’s acting and that’s direction. I really really loved the actors in bits and pieces. And, that too 2 seasons. 2nd one was even better. I am a die-hard kdrama fan. But, in this case, nope! Sorry, PK. ISWAK is the winner.

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