Comparing kisses…

Existential crisis solved (for now…) — I’m going in!

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I watched Playful Kiss (the k-drama version; and one of the first five K-dramas I ever watched ever) a long time ago. And I liked it in a mild, not one I’d highly recommend to others, kind of way. It introduced me to Jung So-min, who played the love-lorn, adorable, not incredibly bright, female lead. It was a thankless role in many ways. The lovable dimwit is not my favorite flavor of female character — to put it mildly. pkphoto photo pkphoto_zps056b5490.jpgBut Jung So-min was so likable and she managed to dig some depth into what seemed a fairly shallow character. She’s the reason I kept watching.

Unfortunately, Kim Hyun-joong, playing the male lead, wasn’t skilled enough to bring much depth to his character. Doubly unfortunate because his character was cold and emotionless on the surface, but per the way the story unfolded, should have had more going on underneath. However, as a viewer I had to more tell myself it was there (because I like her! and she likes him! so there must be a reason!) then finding it through his portrayal.

Finally, the directing itself was heavier handed than I think it needed to be. Comic hijinks were played at a pretty high level of wacky (to cartoon levels, at times) which fought against the quieter moments that were the drama’s high points. At least for me.

That’s why Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (the J-drama version, currently airing) pulled me in. There’s no wacky-hijinks. The comedy is definitely there, but it’s not broad. Which means the female lead, Aihara Kotoko, (played by Miki Honoka) doesn’t come across quite as… well… stupid. photo1 photo photo1_zpsd5ebbb07.jpgShe’s not studious and she often charges ahead without quite thinking things through, but she’s not dumb.

And then there’s Irie Naoki, the male lead (played by Furukawa Yuki). He is so, so, so much better than the K-drama version. I can actually read him — his thoughts and reactions — and they make sense given the situation and his personality. It helps (a lot!) that the actor is good at his job, showing enough emotion to allow viewers to see he’s confused or surprised (or even pleased!) while the character himself is hiding his feelings.

But it’s also down to the directing. Because the scenes are played straight, rather than unrealistically wacky, character interactions are given more space to unfold. Which means simple reactions have weight. For example, after interacting with Kotoko and being careful to show only annoyance and dismissal, Naoki watches her be happy with her friends. And, for the first time ever, he agrees to go to a cafe with fellow classmates after school. That’s it. It’s not mentioned again and we don’t follow them to the cafe so nothing momentous happens. But Naoki actually sees reason to socialize. And it’s because of Kotoko, though she has no clue and he’d probably scoff at the idea that he was influenced by her.

I’m only 5 episodes in, and I’m planning to wait for more episodes to come out so I can enjoy another mini-marathon. But thus far, I’m really enjoying the J-drama version. It’s a quiet little love story being told, and Love in Tokyo is handling it with care.

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18 thoughts on “Comparing kisses…

  1. Well, Playful Kiss is one of my most favorite dramas as it’s completely feel good and adorable 🙂
    Haven’t seen any other versions so I can’t say much about them…..

  2. Ok, I had no intention of checking out the J-version until reading this post. If I end up watching it, BetsyHp, it’ll be all your fault (or credit?) XD You have a way of describing the scenes in a way that completely intrigues me. And I had zero interest in this show before. Take responsibility, chingu! ;D

    • Yay! And thanks! Hopefully it stays as good and then you’ll watch it and like it and everything will be great! 😀 I’ll totally be responsible for great. 😉

  3. I was trying to decide whether this one was worth watching, and now I think I’ll marathon it once it’s done. Playful Kiss was frustrating for the reasons you mentioned — I have some fond memories of it, but won’t watch it again. The Taiwanese version, It Started With a Kiss, is better but suffers from low production costs. So I’ve been hoping third time’s a charm, and it looks like it is.

    • As of right now I think it’ll make for a great marathon. I’m very interested to see how things go when they get to college — and where they end it for that matter. Hopefully it’ll be perfect, low-key, awesome. 🙂

  4. Ah, I didn’t know whether to watch this or not…i didn’t like original jdrama adaptation of “Itazura na Kiss” , TW version was cute (Ariel and Joe were perfectly cast); “Mischievous Kiss”was light and fluffy enough for a breezy watch. I like these slice of life dramas; though bumbling Kotoko got on my nerves more than once. Have you read the manga or watched the anime? The latter was really cute. I look forward to your posts!

    • I’ve heard about the manga and anime — and the first J-drama and T-drama for that matter. But I’ve not seen them. (Well — bits and pieces of the Taiwanese version, but not enough to make an informed call on it.) However, I will say I’ve liked Kotoko, thus far. Her bumbling is more of the awkward teen level than over the top comic opportunity.

  5. Haha, this is just one story that I can’t like. I hated the TW version. Their sequel was actually okay. I decided to give Playful Kiss a try because I knew they would do things differently… it was still really difficult for me to get through, (can’t believe I did it! lol). I’m thinking about watching this one if I have time… I don’t know though.
    Let me know if the guy isn’t a complete detached jerk like in the others. If he’s not as bad, I really think I’ll give it a try.

    • I’ve seen only bits and pieces of the TW version — not nearly enough to judge it. I liked the Korean version well enough… though it definitely had issues so I wouldn’t easily recommend it. (There’d be a lot of caveats if I did.) So I totally understand your dislike. (Heh. I’m kind of like a neutral party with PK.)

      But this latest Japanese version… I’m seriously loving it. 🙂 I’m only up to episode 5 (going to wait until ep. 10 is out so I can enjoy another mini-marathon — if my discipline holds up) but so far it’s pretty awesome. The guy isn’t so much a detached jerk as just detached. He only starts to behave like a jerk in scenes where unfamiliar feelings start bubbling up and he’s not sure how what they are or how to handle them. Also, when he’s a jerk Kotoko sees it as him being jerky and reacts accordingly. Which mitigates it for me. Again — this is just through ep. 5 at this point. Opinions may change! 😉

      • I think I will give it a try then, haha. I just feel like there has to be a version that does it better than the others, and you make a good case for it, (though yeah, I understand it’s still early. Still, it sounds better than the other versions were at ep. 5 so maybe there’s hope!)

    • I’ve only seen Furukawa Yuki in “Mischievous Kiss” and I’ve heard Kim Hyun-jung is doing really well in his latest drama. But when it comes to this particular character, I much preferred Furukawa’s take on it. But! Different strokes, for different folks, after all. 🙂

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