What Came First? Itzura na Kiss/Playful Kiss Edition

Did you ever wonder where your favorite drama came from? Well sit tight and find out. I really don’t think there should be a lot of people who don’t necessarily know the origins of dramas, especially those based on manga, but at the same time, I’ve read some comments about the Thai lakorn Kiss Me (reuniting the leading couple from the Thai version of Korean drama Full House) which talks about how the stars are filming yet another Korean drama remake. Now, it’s probably entirely possible it’s going to follow more of the Korean version called Playful Kiss or Mischievous Kiss, but…the root of this popular Korean drama happens to be a manga and there was a Japanese and Taiwanese drama long before the Korean one.

The first incarnation of Playful Kiss is in book form. Itzura na Kiss was serialized from 1990 to 1999 in shoujo magazine Margaret. This manga series gained huge popularity and officially launched it’s author to mangaka stardom. The mangaka Tada Kaoru never completed the series as she died in an unfortunate accident. To this day, though, her widower allows adaptations to be created and released. He even states that the anime which ran for 25 episodes in 2008 followed how his wife desired the manga series to end.Itzura na Kiss by Tada KaoruSo what is the story about? Well we have a young girl named Aihara Kotoko who isn’t necessarily the brightest crayon in the box and she has an unrequited love towards the ever-popular ikemen (super handsome guy) Irie Naoki who happens to be super smart. Things go awful for her when she confesses and Naoki ridicules her letter, but fate throws these two together when Kotoko’s new house is destroyed in a small earthquake and Naoki’s parents (who are good friends of Kotoko’s father) invite the Aihara family to move in with them.

So midway through the manga’s run came a nine episode Japanese drama. For once, the Taiwanese version did not come first, lol. The original drama was more campy with lots of exaggerated acting which you usually do get with lots of manga adaptations of comedies, but I still did find it charming in its own way. This 1996 drama starred Sato Aiko in the role of Kotoko and Kashiwabara Takashi as Naoki. I think fansubbing group DoReMii did English subtitles for this series.Itzura na Kiss 1996Next came the super popular Taiwanese version that was broadcast from 2005 to 2006. This drama starred Ariel Lin as Kotoko (aka Yuan Xiang Qin) and Joe Chen as Naoki (aka Jiang Zhi Shu). As it was so popular, a sequel (They Kiss Again) was later made starring Ariel and Joe once more as our leads and picking up where the first season left off. The sequel ran from 2007 to 2008. I think, before the Korean version, this was (possibly still is) the most popular version of the manga. There were also tons of rumors that Ariel and Joe would reunited for a third season, but I that was really nothing but rumors. This drama is streaming legally with English subtitles on DramaFever and Hulu.Ariel Lin, Joe ChenThen there is the 25 episode anime that ran in 2008. It has only finally just been licensed and released in the US in fall of 2014. In fact, Hulu just added this anime to it’s lineup this month! Usually, it seems the process is manga -> anime -> drama, but this time the dramas came before the anime. Remember, the mangaka’s widower did say the anime ended in how his wife wanted the manga series to end.ItaKissFinally we get to the Korean drama in 2010 which starred the lovely Jung So Min as Kotoko (aka Oh Ha Ni) and popular idol Kim Hyun Joong as Naoki (aka Baek Seung Jo). This really did become a very popular drama. I guess Kim Hyun Joong was smart to take manga to drama adaptations when he first started his acting career. This popular series did have 7 special episodes made available on YouTube. And these were just short little episodes (such as Ha Ni’s quest for a driver’s license). You can find this on YouTube (for the special episodes), DramaFever, Hulu, and Netflix with English subs.playful-kissThen in 2013, the Japanese entertainment industry decided to reboot Itzura na Kiss. Thankfully, it fared better than the 2011 reboot of Hana Kimi that was just plain awful. This drama was actually longer than normal Japanese dramas (which usually have between 8-12 episodes) as season 1 had 16. Since this version was so popular, an SP came out in fall 2014 (~ Love in Okinawa) and then a second season came at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. This series incarnation starred Miki Honoka as Kotoko and Furukawa Yuki as Naoki. This can be seen on DramaFever, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.ink-loveintokyoAnd now, according to rumors, Thailand is making it’s own version. Well…it’s not just rumors, there’s an official trailer and everything already, lol. The rumor part is that it might be slated for release this September. Given that the Thai version of Full House was highly popular among international drama fans, I wonder how this one will fare? Mike Pirat goes platinum blonde for the role of Naoki (not sure what the Thai name is yet) and Aom Sucharat is our Kotoko (again not sure of the Thai name for the character). This would be cool if Viki could officially get the license for this drama. Or some other streaming site.kissme-series

So…any surprises? Probably not if you are a diehard drama fan. But I figured this would be interesting to see. I highly recommend trying out the original drama. I myself still haven’t watched the Korean, Japanese reboot, or Taiwanese series, so I can’t really recommend any of them. Or rather…when it comes to the new Japanese series and the Korean series, I only watched a few episodes of each. Not because they are bad, but because I’m a horrible drama hopper. I watch a few episodes here and there and hop to other series and repeat over and over again. It’s actually quite rare for me to sit down and finish anything.


  • The Taiwanese version is my favorite so far. I’ll definitely give the Thai version I try as I loved the two leads in Thai Full House.

  • It irks me when people don’t know where the original story came from. Especially when they act like a later version was the “original” one. T_T” All it takes is a quick search to figure out what a drama is based on!

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