Japan Readies for Another Drama Adaptation of Itazura na Kiss

Does the world need another drama adaptation of Itazura na Kiss? No, definitely not. Is the world about to get another drama adaptation of Itazura na Kiss? Yes, definitely yes. I thought the next country to remake this story would come from China since it hasn’t been done yet, but lo and behold its from the original granddaddy of adaptations having another go at it. Seventeen years after Japan adapted the popular manga to the small screen in 1996, producers are dusting off the stupid-girl-loves-genius-boy story from the shelves and updating it for the modern viewers. It’s called Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo, and stars newbie 16 year old teen actress Miki Honoka in the role of stupider than a sack of potatoes Kotoko, while 25 year old Furukawa Yuki tries his hand at playing the role of robot perfect boy Naoki (if he looks familiar, he played Makoto’s college guy friend in Rich Man, Poor Woman). I have to confess that I’ve loved both the iconic Taiwan adaptation It Started with a Kiss that launched the careers of Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng (which spawned legions of ArJoe shippers as well as a terrible sequel They Kiss Again), as well as the low-rated Korean version Playful Kiss starring the charming Jung So Min and decent-enough Kim Hyun Joong. Honestly the story never ever sounds good on paper since it offends all my female pride nodes – the basic premise centers around a very dim high school girl and her all-consuming crush on the school’s smartest and hottest jerk, winning his heart in the same way a turtle wins the race by perseverance alone. By the stroke of a house accident and their dads being BFFs, they end up living under the same roof and Kotoko gets chance after chance to worm her way into Naoki’s cold cold heart. Yet whenever I’ve watched ISWAK and PK, whether its the undeniable onscreen chemistry of those two pairings or the little touches thrown in that make the OTP seem so made-for-each other, I end up thoroughly won over by the story in the end. This new adaptation will have a larger role for the second male lead of Kinnosuke, here played by 22 year old Yamada Yuki. The dorama premieres on March 29th and airs every Friday on Fuji TV2.

I think lead actress Miki Honoka (above celebrating a birthday on the set) fits the role of Kotoko age- and looks-wise, but that isn’t enough since this is a very difficult role to portray. Kotoko has to come across as endearingly bumbling, sweet in her devotion as opposed to stalkerish and stupid. Both Ariel Lin and Jung So Min put their stamp on their respective versions, so I’m a little skeptical a newbie teenage actress has the chops to pull this off. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised before so here’s to hoping she was chosen for her innate acting talents. I have to give Joe Cheng credit where credit is due – there is no way any male actor will ever make Naoki come alive the way he did, with the aloof disdain mixed with the sliver of acceptance. I’ll probably watch this one as a pleasant diversion when there is nothing else available. Or else I’ll just watch the legions of PK and ISWAK MVs out there.


Japan Readies for Another Drama Adaptation of Itazura na Kiss — 48 Comments

  1. The Taiwanese version is the only one the world needs. It was one of my first dramas ever so I have a soft spot for the story even if I should be offended.

    I don’t care about the 2nd male lead enough to want him to have more focus though. Sounds like they are going to invent a love triangle.

    • I really love this japanese adaptation! i have seen ISWAK but not PK. Miki-san and yuki-kun are great… They are really close to their roles like yuki-kun also studied Science and Technology. I can also feel that Irie-kun is falling slowly to Kotoko-san…… ahhh!!!! waiting for the 2nd season … 🙂 <3

  2. PK was the first drama I watched so to me it is near perfection even though I know some ways it is lacking. (I watched ISWAK and loved it obvs but it just isn’t the same) I think this story is going to have to be laid to rest though eventually.
    And why isn’t there a Cdrama version of this story? it makes more sense for that than a Jdrama remake to me

  3. Honestly, Ariel’s character in ISWAK annoyed the hell out of me but the drama itself was quite addicting… I love Ariel to pieces so maybe that’s what I put up with ISWAK lol. PK wasn’t that bad!! At least JSM’s version of Kotoko was earnest and didn’t upset me in that she seems sincere and not.. stalkery lol. Guess I’ll tune in to this version but my expectations are not very high. & she’s being 16 IRL while he’s 25… mmm. Are kiss scenes even allow? LOL.

  4. It Started With a Kiss, Kiss Again, Playful Kiss, Itazura na Kiss, the Manga version- I’ve seen it all over and over again since 2006. Still my favorite drama ever, regardless of the quality of the show. Something about the plot is endearing and pretty. Sigh, let me add this new version to my MUST.WATCH.AGAIN.AND.AGAIN. list.

  5. Iswak is the best adaptation. I loved both leads and they were convincing like they popped out of the manga. Didn’t finish PK cause I just don’t like the leads. I liked the previous jap one too cause kashibawara is so cute there but the girl was annoying and had huge ears but it was good too. This new guy here doesn’t look as handsome as naoki, joe or khj. I will see the first ep…

  6. not interested in this one, on the other hand the drama adaptation of xxxHolic that has started airing three weeks ago is quite interesting so far, even though they ruined one of the most graceful and sensual adult female manga characters ever (yuko) by making a HUGE casting mistake. they are adapting what corresponds to the first season of the anime and that part was really good. as usual with jdramas the story is original mixing the supernatural with psychologial themes
    but most importantly the drama has hot male leads and more precisely a very very hot second male lead !

  7. Oh, Mrs. Koala, China has done a version of Itazura na Kiss called 爱情是从告白开始的. It’s loosely based and not an exact adaptation, I would say inspired by Itazura na Kiss. It stars singer Genie Zhuo as Kotoko, Sun Yi Zhou (of iPartment) as Naoki and Wang Zhuan Yi (also of iPartment) as Kinnosuke. It’s wacky and different, just what you’d expect of China.


  8. Heee!!! Um, Imma have to disagree and say that the world could do with just one more adaptation…especially since the first J adaptation did not exactly stick to the manga unlike the Korean and TW versions that I love nor was it that good….ISWAK/TKA is still my go-to rainy day TW drama and in imo the best TV adaptation so far…that’s a surprise even for me considering how many times I initially dropped it and then picked it back up because I hated the lead character at first (and Ariel as an extension)ans I suffered so much second hand embarrassment on her behalf but I kept going back to check out how on earth she got Zhi Shu…despite that I somehow ended up rooting for them and especially with TKA I really came to love them….PK also still my favorite Jun So Min drama..can’t wait!!

  9. Up to date, I cannot agree with you more than this!

    Yep, I didn’t watch any of the adaptation or watch any of the anime or read any of the manga that has this title.


    Totally ruin my girl pride. :”>

    Your description, “Stupider than a sack of potatoes” cannot be truer!

    • My personality would definitely agree with you, and I don’t usually watch much taiwan drama, but I just got addicted to ISWAK 😛 I was sooo annoyed throughout the first season, but the actors gave did a good enough job to make me care about them.
      I actually prefered the 2nd season cuz both characters mature, make new friends, make mistakes, learn from them… I felt that the 2nd season was less annoying and more about how 2 people live together and adapt to each other.

  10. I treat dramas/movies as my diversion from real struggles of life. This is why I prefer rom-coms/hilarious/comedic ones over the melos and the heavies… I came to love PK (not really ISWAK).

    One of the realities of life is the existence of not-so-smart people like the female lead and the 2nd male lead.

    This drama shows how the not-so-smart people are able to succeed in their dreams/goals in life…

    Furthermore, there are some men in this generation that still want/prefer ladies who are fresh/natural/innocent. How these men show or express their feelings are also portrayed here…

    This is maybe the reason why fairy tale stories maintain their magic in captivating the hearts of the viewers/readers…

  11. Wonder why I never watched the actual j version. Probably becuz by that time I had my quota of INK full with anime,manga,t-version and some of the k-version.

    This story is the first one where I hated the male lead. So.Much.

  12. PK is still my favourite, although I loved ISWAK too. I hated the original japanese version, so I’m kind of hoping this one will be a good replacement. You’re absolutely right about why PK & ISWAK works despite the premise… I loved Jo Sung Min’s rendition. Her Oh Ha Ni just had a lot of heart!

  13. I have a soft spot for the Taiwanese version since it’s one of my first dramas, although the female lead character played by Ariel Lin did make me want to reach through the screen and choke her. And what do you mean “decent enough” Kim Hyunjoong? He is just plain BAD.Acting-wise.

  14. Miki Honoka was actually really really good playing the bratty but sweet little sister in Clone Baby. This may be her first lead role but I think she might have the chops for it! She’s not a complete firstie on the screen!

  15. I love both the Taiwanese version and the Korean version. Both have their good points. I like Joe Cheng portrayal of Zhi Shu and Jung So Min’s portrayal of Ha Ni. Ariel Cheng becomes less annoying as time goes on. The leads in both versions have amazing chemistry which makes each drama works.

  16. This drama is sooo cliche but the leads of ISWAK and PK make the drama soooo lovable. Here’s hoping the Japanese version will be just as good. ^^

  17. Takashi Kashiwabara from the original Japanese version fits the ‘Irie Naoki’ role best, so does the child actor who acted as his brother in the show.

  18. I loved ISWAK, Playful Kiss and Itazura na Kiss(anime),so another Japanese version sounds good to me! Just love the story!
    And Dear Koala… Are there any news from Langling Wang??? ’cause it looks amazing and romantic!!! Please let me know!

  19. I think a lot miss the end point of the drama or story. It is that in the end the guy comes to the enlightenment that while the girl could live without him, he could not live without her. This is shown even more in the follow up drama, where he totaly loses it when he fears she going to leave him, I do agree was not as fun as the first story though.

  20. I was led to your article because I was searching about this drama and I might say, it has exceeded expecations. I myself was iffy about watching it but wow, this version is set on usurping the TW version, which used to be the best one for me….

    Too many reasons to love this version: actors who can act, actors who look good and finally, legit English in a Jdrama. Please try it out! Hopefully you can recap it as well. 🙂 you’ll surely enjoy it. Highly recommended.


    This is slowly becoming my favorite version, the pair here imo so much better in acting even than the ArJoe pairing.

    What I find amazing is that the actors are so different in reality. Also, they have a huuuuge age gap. Furukawa Yuki and Honoka Miki are totally rocking their roles here because you just don’t feel that…they become Naoki and Kotoko for real.

    The most amazing thing is that they imbibe the chemistry closest to the manga – innocent, impulsive and awkward yet very very endearing most especially felt during moments of silence between the two characters. Will not be surprised if these two new actors will be big soon.

    I have been a long time lurker in your site Koala until I remembered you had an entry about this when my friend showed me. Really, really hope you give this drama a shot 🙂 Thanks!

    • Long time Playground lurker here as well and I have to agree with you. I also just finished watching episode 4 and I can’t wait for the next episode. I am also a big fan of ISWAK mainly because of the hotness that is Joe Cheng. As much as ISWAK has a special place in my heart, I didn’t really understand how the lead guy could fall in love with lead girl as Xiang Qin was the most annoying version of “Kotoko” ever. I guess it says a lot about ArJoe’s on-screen chemistry to carry it through.

      You are so on-point about not feeling the big age gap between the two leads which points to how well they have interpreted their roles. Aside from their chemistry, I also love the fact that as the viewer I can totally believe how Kotoko will manage to win over Irie later on. You can actually see how Kotoko slowly chips away Irie’s armor. You can see despite how Irie is such a genius and all-around perfect guy, there is something lacking that you just know Kotoko might be the person to help him find it.

      I have seen ISWAK and PK but with just 4 episodes in, I am making a bold prediction that this version will turn out to be the best for me.

  22. i have watched this drama till latst one..episode 5..and i think this drama is so cute and make me giggle..the storyline is very similar to manga and that make me love more about this adaptation.. koalasan.. i really hope u can recap this drama..the age differences actually ahave no problem as the male lead is totally babyface and their chemistry is over the top!!i am actually shipping this ouple so hard!!

  23. I actually love the Japanese remake so much! (don’t judge & hate because we have different opinions ok) The leads are made for their role, like seriously. Also, I like this series because Irie shows signs of jealously like omg!! Yuki Furukawa (Irie) is good-looking. Even though there’s a huge age gap between him and Kotoko, they have a great chemistry! Yuki Furukawa doesn’t even look 25! His baby face is so coooool! Give this version a shot, I love it so far.

  24. Wow this drama totally surprised me. It’s so good making me want to see more. The storyline is fast paced and not draggy at all it follows the anime very closely. I must say its actually better than the tw drama, which was my favorite before. Didn’t like Korean version couldn’t finish the first ep. Really recommend this one, everything is close to the original even the hair and clothes and an added bonus because they have is their jap names makes me feel nostalgic for more

  25. when i heard this remake version i thought it will just like the first Jversion, but after i watched 3 episode last night, i was hooked!
    it’s totally surprise me. the acting was great and natural, the age gap is not important because the main actor face is just like 17 years old.
    maybe this is the best version of itazura na kiss.
    damn, now i have to wait patiently until next week for the next episode.

  26. When I heard about a remake of It Started with a Kiss or Itazura na Kiss, I was like, ‘What another remake.. bleh!”

    But because of curiosity, I just download episode 1 of the drama. Surprisingly, I like it. Hehehe… Eventhough I already knew the story line having read the manga and watched the Taiwanese and Korean version, even the Japanese version, I still wonder why I this 2013 remake cause giggles and smiles as I watched the episodes. Yep, I finally caught up with the latest episode. I kept on watching one episode after another.

    And oh, only today when I read your post above that the leads have 9 years gap. On the screen it doesn’t show. They look good together and for me they have the chemistry despite the age gap.

    I really love this version of ISWAK! <3 <3 <3

  27. You’ve got to watch this remake!!! The first episode is kinda slow with the setup in my opinion but the 2nd episode reels you in but it was the 3rd episode that totally got me and from thereon there’s no turning back I’m absolutely addicted with this new remake. I have a soft spot for ISWAK and in my heart nothing will replace it but this version, I can say is at par if not better. You’ve just have to experience the awesomesauce that is EP10 and you’ll understand why everyone or at least most people are so into it.

  28. It’s fantastic! I marathoned through it up to the latest episode 14 in one day – suffice to say it’s great! I’ve watched both the Taiwanese and Korean versions – enjoyed them both; but I must say the two leads in this J-drama version are wonderfully cast. The acting, especially of Yuki, the male lead, is so subtle, it’s wonderful. He’s such a baby face for his age that he looks very compatible with 16 year old Miki. Miki the female lead’s acting is very good as well. She’s also easy on the eyes and has natural charm. What is particularly endearing about this version is that you can see little signs of Naoki falling for Kotoko and as the drama unfolds, you can also appreciate why Kotoko becomes important to Naoki. Enjoyable drama thus far!

  29. hi there..!me also becomes addicted with this drama.I’ve watched the K-version and T-version, between the two i love watching the K-version.

    But this one INK Love in Tokyo (J-version)!!love..love..love..so much.!Being adapted many times before can be a disadvantage for the new series, but Furukawa Yuki and Miki Honoka create excitement and nailed the whole story..!!I love Yuki’s acting very much, I think Yuki Furukawa as Irie Naoki is the closest character to the manga. I like Naoki’s character played by Yuki not like the actors from the other version. You can really see the moments where he is becoming more attractive to Kotoko, and OMG!!!when he becomes jealous to Ikezawa, you can see in his eyes.

    Yuki Furukawa also looks much younger than his age. His “baby face” is one of the most notable qualities. Yuki and Miki are very compatible despite of their age gap.He can also show lot of emotions thru his eyes and facial expressions.

    I like also the role of Miki Honoka as Kotoko in the story. Not so annoying compared to other version.Her acting is very good and she has this natural charm.

    What I like and love most about this version is that you can see in the story how Naoki falling for Kotoko little by little, and how Kotoko becomes important to Naoki.

    For me, they are the best couple..I really hope that there will be a season 2 and with the same cast of course. Definitely! I will wait for that one.

    I hope also that they will have another drama or movie together. And I’m, also hoping that they will become real sweethearts..OMG!!they are really cute together!!bagay talaga sila…(very compatible).Love them both.! from Philippines with love.!

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