Itazura na Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo first impressions

Apparently, I’m in dire need of fluff after That Winter The Wind Blows because I’ve picked up Itazura na Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo, the new Japanese remake of Itazura na Kiss (what is it, the 10th one already?), and it’s delicious. The only other rendition of this story that I’ve seen so far is the Taiwanese version with Ariel Lin and Joe Chang, which I enjoyed immensely, but having no special affinity for the original, I’ve never been too interested in other remakes (well, I did try the Korean version but quit after it drove me into a dead stupor within the first hour). I’m so happy I gave this remake a try though because it’s such endearing and delightful fun. The fact that it’s so intent on following in ISWAK’s footsteps in tone and execution, down to the opening sequence of the heroine chasing the hero across the whole city, is just an added bonus. I’m literally taken back 4 years ago, when I watched ISWAK for the the first time, during a hot summer vacation, all excited and giddy for the heroine’s adorable crush on a perfect, gorgeous jerk from her school and the shenanigans unfolding with the two of them suddenly thrown together into one house.

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As much as I adore Ariel Lin, I’m loving this mystery Japanese actress in the role of Aihara Kotoko about a thousand times more.
She is pouty, she is silly and she resembles a monkey at times but THAT’S OK because she is still incredibly pretty.

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The mystery Japanese actor is no Joe Cheng,

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But still damn near PERFECTION in the role of Irie Naoki.

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Yes, even despite him looking just shy of 13 years old. But then he also looks like Joo Won’s long-lost brother and that’s totally right up my alley.

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He reminds me of someone else too, but I can’t quite it place it yet.

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Now, the only tragic thing about this remake is that Jiro Wang is not in it. There is this guy though –

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This is Itazura na Kiss, life on Mars (if there was any conscious type that is) is familiar with the story, but why is it still amusing watching Aihara Kotoko give Naoki the love letter and then hearing him say “Thanks, but I will pass” EVERY SINGLE TIME?

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This actor speaks legit normal English. Did he actually visit the US or something?

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Since there is the whole “love in Tokyo” in the title be prepared for random shots of Tokyo.

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What I love about this Aihara is that she seems gutsier than Xiang Qin in ISWAK. I don’t know if the remakes are evolving or that was actually in the original but I love how she tells him in his face that she won’t take crap from him and acknowledges very loudly that he is a first class jerk.

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Kotoko’s love affair with food is all sorts of adorable. I foresee it shall come handy as an instrument of seduction.

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Look, I think it’s already working! Doesn’t he look smitten?

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Well, if by smitten I mean, feeling utter contempt and condescension.

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So much chemistry and awkwardness between them every single time they are in a room together.

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“Well, we can start with you taking off your shirt”

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Please, someone let Joo Won know his huyng is on Japanese TV.

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And they are already so domestic and companion-like, drinking coffee in the morning together!

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Like I said, this remake follows ISWAK almost to a T but despite having seen ISWAK twice, I still find Itazura na Kiss~ Love in Tokyo incredibly engaging. There are two reasons for this: 1) the source material is not a masterpiece obviously, but it’s decent enough for a shoujo genre. At least, I don’t have an aversion to it as I do towards Hana Kimi, which I find vapidly insipid in every incarnation but this is also an entirely personal preference and has nothing to do with whether one might enjoy Hana Kimi or any other Japanese shoujo staple. Just so happens that Itazura na Kiss’ story appeals to me more – I like the “unrequited first love” aspect of it, the cohabiting setup, the way heroine’s adorable personality gradually chips away at hero’s carefully constructed facade of perfection and intelligence. I can imagine though, that this preference might have been largely influenced by the characters and by extension the actors themselves. So far I’ve gotten extremely lucky with ArJoe, and now with this couple. And this brings me to the second point of why I find myself enjoying this little drama: 2) I really do think that the actors are breathing new life into the story. They have amazing chemistry going on but beyond that there is an almost overpowering sense of innocence and romance about the whole thing, reminding me what good shoujo is really all about – silliness and youth, and all the awkwardness and splendor of first love.

Mostly though, I’m just happy I’m watching a jdrama for the first time in what seems like years.

17 thoughts on “Itazura na Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo first impressions

  1. I was randomly gonna treat myself ep1 tonite but didn’t get to it. *so I have to scroll down ur lovely caps* knowing this follows ISWAK is such a bigbig HUGE plus!

    I do like Ariel and ADORE her XQ but imo she looked too outlandishly silly and unattractive in ISWAK when I want a more ordinary normal looking Kotoko.

    I need to see this Naoki in action, but he’s reminding me too much of a younger Miss Shin fr K varieties.

    • I was about to holla you about this🙂 I think you will definitely enjoy this if you’ve liked ISWAK, unless you are superbly tired of the story itself, since IT IS the exact same story.

      I agree with you on Ariel. I find her average looking in the best of times but in ISWAK they just made her look downright unattractive (or rather didn’t do a thing to make her attractive?) but that sort of added another layer of hilarity and fascination to the process of watching Zhi Shu fall in love with her. That extra layer is definitely missing in this remake because while Kotoko is dim-witted and silly she is also incredibly charismatic and by all accounts, good-looking. But I think that works just as well for this story as the unattractive XQ.
      I just wish the sidekicks were a bit more exciting to watch, I really do miss Jiro Wang.

      Have no idea who this Miss Shin is but I will take your word for it. I am the only one who sees Joo Won, then?

  2. watching the first two episode and i got hooked! This Kotoko is adorable and totally tolerable as Aihara Kotoko🙂
    Furukawa Yuki remind me of Joo Won too and little bit of Yoon Shi yoon. The producer said that he is the real life Irie Naoki.

    Some facts of Furukawa : Yuki Furukawa moved to Toronto, Canada at the age of 7 with his family and lived there for 11 years. He moved by himself to New York at 16 and returned to Japan at 19. He graduated from Keio University majoring in science technology, the same as Irie Naoki before changing to medical.

    • Oh, I didn’t see Yoon Shi Yoon in him until you mentioned it.

      Wow, thank you for this wealth of info on Yuki Furukawa. It makes so much sense – the actor totally exudes the air of perfection, arrogance and genius in the most attractive way possible.

  3. This actor speaks legit normal English. Did he actually visit the US or something?

    Furukawa Yuki lived in the U.S. and Canada when he was young. BTW, I love your review.

  4. I’m so glad I decided to give this drama a chance because it turned out to be way better than I expected and I have to agree with you on your assessment of this new Kotoko. It’s very refreshing to see a sassier version of her character because if there’s one thing that always irked me about the original series was how she let Naoki walk all over her.

    I feel like I’m the only one who didn’t find Yuki Furukawa plain looking though. If anything, I’m more saddened by what the stylists did to Yuki Yamada because boy is actually cute (http://24.media.tumblr.com/3fc6f1582030281a9c22ec8e7dcbb29a/tumblr_mku7hp11rf1runz6vo1_1280.jpg) but he always seems to sport the most offending hairstyles.

    • I know, I’m so happy I checked it out too – I was set on ignoring it completely when I first heard about it since I was wary of yet another remake but I was in a desperate mood for something light after the agony of That Winter the Wind Blows and thankfully this little dorama started working its magic within the first 5 minutes of me watching it.

      Yeah, seems like this version is rectifying a lot of faults from the other remakes (and the original?) by making Kotoko sassier and also making Naoki less aloof. I approve of all the changes, as long as they keep the general ISWAK storyline because it’s a classic! And would be a shame if the creators of this version deviate too much from it.

      Oh, I don’t find him plain looking. I think he is rather gorgeous. That picture….wow! I don’t know if that’s eyeliner but suddenly I find him 1000x more good looking (eyeliner always does that to me).

  5. It is rather cute. I like you couldn’t make it through the Korean version (I made farther than you but not by much. my problem is she started out a tad spunky but deteriorated into a doormat)
    I can’t say I like this better than Iswak, iswak is everything. Ariel and Joe (and Jiro) were so amazing. I think Ariel was the only one who could play such a ‘ too dumb for life’ character without being insufferable. I found her so endearing and I’ve loved her since i first watch 6 years ago. Actually, i find this drama a tad weak but overall it’s relaxing, light and fun. miki Honoka is really cute and charming. Her kotoko is very enjoyable.

    • Yeah, I couldn’t even make it through two episodes of Playful Kiss – everything about it felt off. I could see an attempt to appeal to a Korean audience while also trying to retain some of the elements of the original story but it just wasn’t working in any coherent manner; although I suspect that a lack of chemistry between the leads and a general failure of the actors to bring life to their characters also contributed. I’m still undecided as to which one I like more, this or ISWAK. Probably ISWAK in the long run for nostalgia factor (and missing Jiro Wang like mad!) but I have to see it to the end.

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