I never liked the idea of remakes or understood the point of taking the trouble to tell a story that people already know. That is, until now. Having finished the first six episodes of Itazura na Kiss ― Love in Tokyo, I’m literally counting down the days until the seventh episode comes.
The latest TV adaptation of Japanese manga Itazura na Kiss follows almost the same storyline as the 1996 and 2005 versions: A high school girl named Kotoko writes her first love letter to Naoki, the smartest and cutest boy in the school and, sadly, is turned down. But fate intervenes when the house of Kotoko’s family is destroyed by a meteor. While the house is being rebuilt, Kotoko and her dad stay with the dad’s childhood friend, whose son turns out to be Naoki! As expected, the boy eventually falls in love with Kotoko.
A meteor sounds like a melodramatic and crazy way to initiate a love story, but this time it’s told in a convincing manner.
For the first time, Naoki isn’t a god among men ― he shows human flaws and emotions. Beyond his chiseled cheekbones and flawless hair we are presented with a guy who can get angry, nervous and embarrassed, too. And Kotoko is no longer Miss Good-for-nothing. Slow witted as she may still be, she impressed me with her perseverance and adorable cuteness. After all, who could’ve believed that the perfect, unapproachable Naoki and the thickheaded, plain looking Kotoko of those previous versions are a good match for each other?
Besides this, a fitting cast really brings these credible characters to life. Yuki Furukawa, 25, is tailor-made for playing Naoki. Tall, slim, irresistibly handsome, and with a voice that kills ― there’s nothing any man could do to stop his girlfriend from drooling over him. Then there’s Miki Honoka, who has a real knack for playing Kotoko. The 16-year-old really knows how to keep her cuteness from being cloying.
Another plus is that rather than telling the story only from Kotoko’s perspective, which is the typical approach, this new remake walks a fine line between Kotoko’s and Naoki’s perspectives. This is a smart move as it allows us to see how Naoki’s feelings for Kotoko develop and grow over time. It also avoids the fairytale-like ending becoming an abrupt twist ― a narrative flaw that has afflicted previous versions.
Despite the predictable ending, it’s fair to say that, for a remake, Itazura na Kiss ― Love in Tokyo has its share of surprises.