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Brother, didn’t you say that “people should take more hardships when they are still young”? It has been too smooth-sailing for the two of us. I think Kotoko is an ordeal that God has sent to us. – Yuki

Year of Broadcast: 1996

Episodes: 9

P   L   O   T

Late for a meeting, Kotoko was running along the corridor in school and bumped into Naoki, their lips meeting. Naoki showed his disgust, but Kotoko started to idolise him, who was good at everything from studies to sports.

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When Kotoko’s house burned down, her father’s good friend Machiko invited them to move in with her family. It was then that Kotoko realized Naoki was the elder son of Machiko, who took up the role of a fairy-godmother to bring the two together…despite the fact that Naoki was disgusted. Not discouraged, the clumsy and not-so-bright Kotoko started to do everything that would change her impression on him. Gradually, the icy-cold Naoki who disliked girls started to feel for Kotoko… (source: DramaWiki)

T  H  O  U  G  H  T  S

Itazura na Kiss (InK): 9.7

Despite its age (and the quality of the video), I have loved this unexpectedly.

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My type of love for this Japanese drama goes beyond the realm of objectivity. It is purely subjective. Itazura na Kiss (the plot in general) is one of my favorite stories of all time so it is understandable if I may be biased but that does not stop me from noticing flaws.

Even with the over-the-top acting and changes in the story, I have enjoyed InK tremendously. I finished it in one sitting (except for two bathroom breaks) and by its end I was left feeling frustrated.

You will not believe how frustrated I was after the last scene. I will deal with it shortly but let me clarify that my frustration isn’t the bad kind.

Characters/Actors

I have always been proud that I wasn’t one of those who were annoyed at Kotoko/Xiang Qin/Ha Ni’s idiocy, but InK tested my patience.

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I still love Kotoko here but there were a lot of times when I wished I could’ve gagged her. She’s so noisy, I can’t even blame Naoki for being mean to her. Plus the actress’ acting didn’t help much, she was over-acting, I think she was trying to act anime-like and it was really annoying because she can be Kotoko even without the loud voice and the eye-thing. However, as I’ve said, I still like her because she’s Kotoko, right?

As for Naoki, damn. I remember seeing a picture of this drama years before and that time I thought the actor wasn’t that good-looking so I disregard watching InK.

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B-U-T how wrong I was. I am absolutely crushing on the actor. He was so nice to look at and for goodness’ sake, he is NAOKI. Naoki/Zhi Shu is my favorite drama character of all time.

Story

There were several differences that this drama had compared to the original.

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The first of which was the opening scene where Naoki and Kotoko kissed. Another one was instead of an earthquake, it was a fire that caused the destruction of Kotoko’s house.

The biggest change though, was the inclusion of Matsumoto Reiko’s character. If you’re familiar with the story, Reiko isn’t supposed to appear until after Naoki and Kotoko graduated high school.

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Which leads me to another big change, the writers (I think) tried to play with the story a bit because they kind of mixed Naoki and Kotoko’s high school life with their college one. Most of the events that were supposed to happen in college, happened when they were just in high school. I don’t know if it was because of the episode limit or if the college arc in the manga was not yet done but in this series, we were only given a glimpse of Naoki and Kotoko in high school.

Again, if you know the sequence of the story by heart, you will find that the scenes were not exactly arrange in chronological order and there were also new scenes that were included.

When I first noticed the changes and disorder, I was a bit disappointed but as I continued watching, I began to accept it.

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Yes, there were scenes that I wish were included (which was vital to the development of the characters) but for some weird reason, I found myself satisfied even without it. Somehow I felt there was something lacking but at the same time I was fulfilled.

You know what made up for those missing scenes? It was the writers’ effort to bring up their own interpretation of the story. I don’t know if it came from the writer  or if it was included in the manga but this version was able to give great explanations regarding Naoki’s character and the story/characters in general that the other versions (anime, taiwanese and korean) failed to provide.

First is Naoki. I was surprised to learn of what was going on in his head. The dream he had, the reason for him wanting to leave the house, his insecurities, his lack of a dream (because he always gets what he wanted) and his desire to be normal. It made me see a different side of Naoki. Second is Yuki. Out of all the Yukis’, this drama had the meanest one and he was given more attention here.

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Third, the relationship between Kotoko and Naoki’s parents. It went beyond the normal “we are the best of friends” thing. This drama gave a good overview of their friendship and I was caught off guard knowing more about Naoki’s mother. Seriously, before I thought she was just the way she was because she wanted to have a baby girl but the bit about her screwing things up, man she’s Kotoko personified. Fourth is the time when Kotoko was pondering whether what she was feeling for Naoki was love or not, it was a breather to see her mature, even once. Last (actually there are more but I’m stopping here), Kotoko being bullied. I know it never did occur in the manga (or did it?) but seeing it reminded me of Makino’s character in Hana Yori Dango and this drama also gave me an HYD vibe (which is a good thing).

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THEN there were the heartaches. To be honest, even though I love Naoki here, I was so annoyed at his attitude. Forgive me in saying that out of all the Naoki’s, Takashi’s Naoki irritated me most (though he is my number 2 favorite, behind Joe’s Zhi Shu). He was so hard to figure out and I dunno if he ever realized his true feelings for Kotoko. There were so many times that I teared up for Kotoko because of Naoki’s indifference. How could he allow Reiko to be that close to him? Seriously, he seemed to be into her.

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My heart broke during the Christmas scene and the scene in the last episode (the plate-breaking), Kotoko’s too good for him.

Love happens by accident. Happening so suddenly, it may cause injury to the heart.

Frustration

As I’ve said I was majorly frustrated by the series’ end. Frustrated because I wanted more of this show. Frustrated because even though there were a total of nine episodes, I could count on my fingers just how many times Kotoko and Naoki had their moments.

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And frustrated all the more because what kind of a last episode was that?

They gave 15 freaking minutes (more or less) to tie everything up. 15 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I treasured those minutes, but having one more episode would suffice.

15 minutes to witness: Kotoko leaving; Irie being his cold self at their separation;

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a two year time jump; Kotoko seeing Naoki and Reiko’s closeness; Naoki discovering Kotoko being an intern at the hospital; Reiko acting like she’s a part of the Irie family; Naoki tending to Reiko’s injury instead of Kotoko’s; Kotoko leaving again; Irie-mama telling Naoki to chase after Kotoko; Naoki ignoring his mother; Naoki in bed thinking; Naoki realizing that he likes Kotoko; Naoki chasing after her and them making up.

DAMN. DAMN. DAMN. They crammed all of that in that time span. And you know what hurts the most? Naoki realizing everything three minutes before the end. Kotoko got her real happiness only then. The ending gave us the message “see you again” and perhaps they were thinking of having a sequel but it never came. I wonder what stopped them from making one. They should’ve done it straightaway. Kotoko’s life in the hospital is my favorite part of the story and I would never see that for obvious reasons. What a bummer. I WANT TO SEE NAOKI JEALOUS!!!

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We should all remember that this is the forefather of the Itazura na Kiss franchise (if there ever is a thing). It aired 17 years ago. These actors didn’t have any material to look at (except the manga) to base how they will act. I am pretty sure that Joe Cheng even watch this before acting as Zhi Shu. So I am willing to overlook the acting part!😛

If I were to rank all the versions of InK, it will be in this order:

1. It Started With a Kiss (TW)

2. Itazura na Kiss (JP)

3. Playful Kiss (KR)

I really really really like this version and I am sure I would’ve liked it even more if there was a sequel. What I am hoping for is a Japanese remake. I totally don’t get why Hana Kimi gets a remake with only a four-year gap but InK does not. It’s not as if the story isn’t popular and the plot is difficult to carry out.

So Japan, please have a remake? I’m sure it will be a hit and you can never go wrong with a Japanese live action.

Rock-a-meter:

4.5

45

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