Hello everyone! I have decided to start a mini series for my drama reviews. For the last couple of years, a lot of manga/anime have been turned into a live-action drama by many Asian countries and they have been so popular to fans all over the world. There are also famous dramas recreated/adapted by other SEA countries.
There are actually 3 major South East Asian countries that creates the most popular versions: Japan, Taiwan and South Korea..Asian Drama fans were always on the look out for the next drama to be out every season from these 3 because majority of the time they are really good!
I am gonna start this series with the manga Itazura Na Kiss by Kaoru Tada because it was the last drama I have reviewed. This is definitely one of the most famous manga ever because aside from having an anime version, it have also been created into a drama 4x already since 1996! I guess the story of an ordinary girl falling in love with a rich handsome bad boy and getting loved in return really attracts a huge audience :)
Now, I haven't watched the first live action created by Japan in 1996 so I didn't include that in this comparison review. I have also not read the manga because I'm not fond of the drawing style. BUT I have watched the anime multiple times and since that is very true to the manga, I will base my opinions on the anime rather than the manga.
I have first watched the Taiwanese versions IT STARTED WITH A KISS (ISWAK) and its second season THEY KISS AGAIN (TKA) consecutively in 2007. I have watched this because of curiosity...Whenever I search for "best drama" online, the search results always include ISWAK in the top 10. After watching ISWAK, I fell in love with the love story of Zhi Shu and Qiang Xin right after the 2nd episode because Joe Cheng and Ariel Lin are superb actors and they really portrayed their role very well. I got lucky that after I have finished watching ISWAK, TKA begun airing a couple of months after.
I really believe that this is still the best version out of the 3 I have watched. Since it is made in Taiwan, the romantic scenes were not toned down. You can see the development in the characters from being high schoolers to becoming adults. Even the intensity of the scenes developed from being innocent to more serious and mature. No one would believe that a 20-something year old couple will still kiss like they were still teens right? haha well, I wouldn't even consider a simple meeting of lips a kiss which is so common in Korean dramas. So yeah, if you are looking for some real love story, this is definitely the version to watch.
I especially love the fact that the Taiwanese versions consisted of 50 episodes in total (ISWAK 30 + TKA 20) so they were able to showcase a lot of the scenes and the story felt complete and not rushed after the 2 seasons ended. The first one focused on their high school life until their marriage, while Season 2 tackled about their married life. I really think that having 2 lead actors with great on/off screen chemistry is the driving force behind the success of this drama. Fans can really fantasize about these two because they are really close friends and as a fan of the drama you can't help but ship them.
The only gripe I have with this version is the ending of Season 2 wherein Qiang Xin got a terminal eye disease which created a big ? to the viewers on how their story will end. That is so not in the story line because in the anime version, the lead female Kotoko only had pregnancy hypertension and it got resolved too. Also, the manga is actually not finished because the author died so the anime was given the ending that the author wanted so that's why the anime have an ending. I just hope TKA didn't made it more dramatic than necessary.
OVER ALL RATING: 4.5/5 - This is still one of the classics. Everyone should watch this version because all the other versions are so not there yet when it comes to the acting department.
The second version I have watched was the Korean version titled PLAYFUL KISS/MISCHIEVOUS KISS (PK) that aired in 2010. I have reviewed this version here so if you want to read my thoughts on it after I have finished the series 3 years ago, click here.
This Korean version only have 16 episodes and 7 Youtube specials. The drama focused more on their student life and have ended with the early period of their married life. The company then created 7 specials that were released through Youtube to show some events in their married life like the mistaken pregnancy and the difficulties of Oh Hani as a nursing student. Although this drama did not get a high rating in Korea, it did have a lot of international fans and so the company decided to just focused on their international viewers thus the creation of the Youtube channel. I don't have a problem with that and I'm glad for those special episodes. I also loved the Baek Seung Jo Diary part because it showed the emotions and thoughts of Seung Jo throughout the drama. That special touch is what made this version so special.
On the acting, I liked Oh Hani compared to Qiang Xin because she is not too dumb in this version. Jung So Min were able to portray the role of idiot-innocent Oh Hani without becoming irritating which sometimes happens to ISWAK.
My problem lies with Kim Hyun Joong, actually. I love him but his acting here is kinda lacking. He can't really portray the role properly, in my opinion, because I did not feel any of the emotion needed on his dialogues and expressions. Example, the rain kiss is supposed to be the highlight of the whole drama and the timing was so off during the dialogue delivery. Just watch Episode 13 and you'll know what I mean. BUT its is not too bad that it was unbearable and I was still able to enjoy the drama and I can still watch it over and over just because Jung So Min were able to carry him with her great acting.
Saying all that, I still want to give credit to Hyun Joong and Jung So Min because theirs was still a real kiss and it made the whole love story believable. Their rain kiss and the honeymoon scenes were so sweet that you will still feel giddy after watching it.
OVER ALL RATING: 4/5 - This drama gave a more subdued and innocent kind of feel to the story. This is best watched by teens because event he kisses here are mild and sweet. I guess they are really aiming to show the innocence of a first love. The added Baek Seung Jo Diary for all the episodes is what really made this whole drama a must see for Itazura Na Kiss fans :)
And lastly and the most latest version of Itazura Na Kiss is the 2013 Japanese version Misschievous Kiss: Love In Tokyo. I have just reviewed this so if you want to read my detailed review of this drama, just click here.
My main comment to this one is that Love In Tokyo is definitely the most true to the anime among all 3 versions I have watched. The whole thing is really like watching a live action of the anime because even the emotions portrayed are the same and that's not counting the similarities in dialogue. If you have watched the anime, you will definitely agree with me.
I also liked the fact that they were able to make this drama really concise and smooth flowing without making it feel incomplete. Even though they did not include all the conflicts in the story, the director was still able to create a good live action with just 16 episodes. And by ending this with the wedding ceremony, it gave a good opening for a second season or an OVA to show their married life in the future (which I hope they do have a plan haha).
I also think Furukawa was able to portray Naoki's character perfectly and that Kotoko here is the best among the 3 versions. Their rain kiss is perfect and I really really love the towel scene right after. I hope I can find a clip for that scene to show you. It was so romantic.
The only disadvantage I guess is that in real life Furukawa and Miki have a 10 year difference in age so fans can't really ship the two that much. And since Miki is only 16 y/o, they can't really have a heavier kiss or dialogue. Maybe that's the reason why they haven't done the marriage life yet because she is still underage hehe.
OVERALL RATING: 5/5 - I so love this version! True adaptation from the anime and I really hope they will create a season 2 and end it the same way.
And for all the fans of the 3 drama, I really recommend you all watch ITAZURA NA KISS anime version if you haven't already. You will know the real story from the moment they met to the time where they already have a child. No need to imagine what their life would be like anymore because they really wrapped the story up very nicely by following what the author has planned before she died.
Once you've watched this, you will see that Love in Tokyo is the nearest live action version :)
GALE AWARDS this based on my opinion and preference
STAYING TRUE TO THE STORY
Love In Tokyo
MOST MEMORABLE VERSION
It Started With A Kiss/ They Kiss Again
MOST ROMANTIC VERSION
It Started With A Kiss/ They Kiss Again
BEST IN ACTING
Naoki: Joe Cheng (It Started With A Kiss/They Kiss Again)
Kotoko: Ariel Lin (It Started With A Kiss/They Kiss Again)
BEST IN ON-SCREEN CHEMISTRY
Joe Cheng and Ariel Lin
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE of Characters that I think matched the drawing
Naoki: Yuki Furukawa (Love In Tokyo)
Kotoko: Jung So Min (Playful Kiss)
That's it! Watch out for more Drama Versions post in the future.
Thank you for dropping by my blog :)