To be honest, I was hesitant to watch this live action adaptation of the popular manga Itazura na Kiss. I have already watched the anime, so I just simply felt it was already enough, and also, I haven’t had the chance to fully watch the other live action adaptations, such as Playful Kiss (Korea) and It Started With a Kiss (Taiwan), so what’s the point, I asked myself. Since it is one of the best romantic comedy anime I’ve ever watched, I thought I should give myself an opportunity to watch the Japanese live action adaptation of the manga, and it would be more interesting if the characters will come out in flesh especially when it comes to the portrayal of the average-minded yet determined, Kotoko Aihara, and the handsome, intelligent but flat affect, Naoki Irie.
Meet Kotoko Aihara, our not-so-smart girl who has a big crush on Naoki Irie, the good-looking and intelligent student with around 200 IQ, or to simply define him, he is everyone’s idol. In a way to express how she truly feels, Kotoko personally sends a love letter to Naoki, but he rejects it. One day, Kotoko and her father move to their newly built house, however, it is eventually hit by a shooting star which causes destruction. Luckily, a childhood friend of Kotoko’s father invites the Aihara to stay in their house, but, it turns out to be the Irie family. Could it be the start of Kotoko’s challenging love life?
Based on the popular manga by Kaoru Tada, Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo is a 16-episode romantic comedy Japanese live action. It is actually a remake of the first Japanese live action adaptation in 1996. The series is a typical story about unrequited love yet it gives the viewers a high level of excitement because the determined persona of the female protagonist, Kotoko, who tries her best to win Naoki’s heart makes the viewers look forward more and more for the upcoming events, whether Naoki will love her back at the end. It’s really challenging for Kotoko to love a person like Naoki because apart from his close-to-perfection physical and mental features, he doesn’t express much of his feelings which makes him unpredictable though in the latter episodes, there are actions that could imply he takes interest to Kotoko. After all, their no-progress relationship, as Kotoko thinks it is, makes the series even more exciting until you will be satisfied with Naoki’s growing heart for Kotoko. Though you have already watched the anime or read the manga, you’ll even get more thrilled by the scenes, like taking a glance on realistic romance more than how you have enjoyed the art of the manga and anime series.
Most of the time, the series features the typical scenarios when you get so hooked up with the person whom you truly love, even the dumbest yet the funniest thing will be done to catch that person. Sending a love letter might be a conventional method in this generation yet I personally think that it is rather expressive and is filled with strong feeling of love as how Kotoko has expressed his romantic feelings to Naoki. Most of the viewers, especially those in their adolescent stage of life, can reflect themselves to the drama as Kotoko mirrors the different kinds of emotions of these young people nowadays who are deeply in love.
As what I’ve mentioned, I haven’t fully watched the other live action adaptations of ItaKiss, so as of the moment, I am not capable to compare them from this new live action, or even just give my simplest critics. I am only familiar with the actors and actresses, especially the so popular Korean idol Kim Hyunjoong who takes the role of Naoki in Playful Kiss. However, according to drama fans, well, most of them, stated that Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo is the best among them, and at the same time, has the best cast ever who successfully performed an excellent job in portraying their roles realistically.
Speaking of the cast, when I found out that the role of Naoki will be portrayed by Yuki Furukawa which I’ve known for a long time since I have already watched some of his roles, I felt a little nervous since I’ve never seen him doing a poker face character as Naoki. I mean Yuki is undeniably handsome as Naoki, but can he really make the role? Until I started watching the drama, I was so impressed with his acting performance and the way he expresses the role enthusiastically is just beyond the outstanding level. I met a new Yuki Furukawa. I started to fall in love with him more than just the character of Naoki Irie.
Due to his excellent performance, Yuki Furukawa makes the exact parallelism of Naoki’s overall persona, like Naoki is already a part of Furukawa. The expression of the face, the gestures, and how he deals with the people around him, Furukawa does an impressive performance for the role as Naoki, in which, I believe, makes him the best Naoki Irie among the actors in other live action adaptations. Added to that, Furukawa speaks English so fluently with good accent which creates him the edge among other actors. No wonder why he is continuously gaining a lot of fans because he is definitely an actor to admire in every amazing things he does.
On the other hand, Honoka Miki is the type of actress who seems cheerful with a light hearted character, and more likely, has the determination towards her goal as Kotoko Aihara which makes her acting performance very realistic. I believe she enjoyed the character so much. For some fans, it’s hard to believe that she is 10 years younger than Yuki Furukawa which is obviously a wide gap, but it doesn’t bother me at all, because their couple is close to perfection, and admit it, they look so good together that you even wish they will end up in reality.
Yuki Yamada who plays the role as Kinosuke Ikezawa is also a good actor. His fighting spirit to win Kotoko’s heart is quite admirable. He expresses the role with dedication as he seems to possess the strong persona of Kin-chan. The teasing yet energetic expression of the character suits his overall physical appearance and the way he communicates with Kotoko seems like a normal conversation in real life. Yamada is just being with himself while performing the role. He is simply an amazing actor.
While it gives the anime-like tune, the opening song mainly features the energetic personality of Kotoko Aihara and what to expect in her role. I really like how she looks physically and emotionally in the opening theme including her gestures, and how she dresses up as a young woman in love. She is what I exactly imagined before watching the drama, like the Kotoko in the manga that pops out in the real world. The ending theme has a cute shoujo-like melody, too, and has a heartwarming sound while it features a quick glance of the episode.
I always believe, Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo would be the best romantic comedy J-drama of the year. It’s fun to watch, and you’ll easily get hooked to it.