MARS: Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru Episode 1 Recap
At long last there is a Japanese live action adaptation of popular manga series MARS. It is interesting in that in dramaland, Taiwan actually had live action adaptations before Japan, i.e. Hana Kimi, HanDan, Peach Girl, and Marmalade Boy (the last two to my knowledge don’t even have live action versions in Japan as of yet). Mars the Taiwanese drama aired in 2004. 12 years later Japan is airing their own version. Unlike the Taiwanese version, MARS ~Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru is actually being left in a high school setting.
I was excited to see a new adaptation being done for Mars. It is a darker manga about people with tragic pasts finding love and happiness. Fujigaya Taisuke (Kis-My-Ft2) has shown some promising acting so I was happy in the casting of him as Rei as I thought he could more than likely pull off Rei’s dual personality. I am not familiar with Iitoyo Marie at all, so I can’t say I had any expectations coming into this for her acting as Kira. But…I was really excited to see Kubota Masataka in a starring role. From Death Note, you know he can do dark and crazy and he’s a wonderful younger generation of actors. How is he doing two series airing at once? He must be crazy busy.
Anywho, as this series is only half hour episodes, the plot has no time to sit around and lag, thus everything so far kind of seems to be on fastforward. Upon thinking, it was probably not a good idea to cover the Taiwanese and Japanese versions simultaneously. The Taiwanese version is deliciously dark so it’s hard not to compare the two dramas, but I’ll try not to.
We open with Aso Kira [Iitoyo Marie] happily sketching at the beach when Kashino Rei [Fujigaya Taisuke] roars up on his bike, lost. He asks Kira for directions to some hotel which startles her, causing her to slip. Rei is quick to catch her and they get a little too close for Kira’s comfort. Rei knows she’s frightened and tells her not to worry and asks her for directions. Instead of answering him, Kira quickly sketches a map and runs off leaving Rei bewildered. He gets a call and says he’s almost to the hotel. He then goes to fold the map and sees the drawing of a mother cradling a baby. He’s immediately taken with the sketch and looks at Kira’s retreating back. Rei gets on his bike and heads out, holding up the sketch as he goes by.
We then cut to the opening of the school term. It’s actually weird to watch a Japanese drama where the students aren’t wearing uniforms. Of course, Aso sticks out like a sore thumb with her more frumpy, proper clothes and her withdrawn attitude. Girls look down on her for not speaking or looking at them. We then cut to outside the classroom where Rei rides up. Girls are immediately goggling him. Of course, Rei is a smooth-talking player who taps his helmet against a girl’s bottom and says the first years have caught his attention. Of course this leads to squealing.
As soon as Rei enters the classroom, the popular Sugihara Harumi [Yamazaki Hirona] pounces. She’s so happy they get to be in the same class for another year. Rei could really care less and says she’s the only one whose happy then asks where his seat is. Kida Tatsuya [Inaba Yu] points out where the seat is and it’s right across from Kira’s! Oh, she’s totally shocked, by the way, to see that she and the boy from the beach are in the same class.
The teacher enters and that’s when Rei notices Kira. He recognizes her and tries to get her attention, but Kira’s busy doing her best to avoid his gaze. Rei, of course, will have none of that. He keeps talking, asking her name, which he learns when she answers roll. He then asks how she spells it. This is when Kida speaks up and tells Rei Kira is spelled in katakana. Rei, armed with this new knowledge, keeps trying to talk to Kira with no luck. He then grabs her arm and pulls her towards his seat. When she’s closer, he takes her chin in his hand and, pouting, asks why she’s ignoring him. The teacher then scolds him for hitting on girls at the start of a new year, earning the class’s laughter. Of course, Sugihara is less than please that Rei is showing attention to another girl.
Later during a break, Kida tells Rei to forget about Kira as she seems to have a phobia against men. Say what? Kida explains that he went to the same middle school as Kira and whenever he accidentally brushed her hand or something like that, she acted like she was touched by something filthy. Rei’s retort is that his friend is dirty, isn’t he? lol.
The next class is English and when asked to read aloud, Kira speaks so softly that her classmates can’t hear her and they tease her. The teacher of course scolds them for treating their fellow classmate like that and chooses someone else to read the exercise. When Kira sits back down, Rei nonchalantly tosses a note onto her desk. When she opens it, Kira reads that Rei still has the sketch she drew. This makes Kira exclaim out loud and Rei happily notes that she can have a loud voice.
During lunch, Rei talks with Kira about the drawing. She wonders why he didn’t throw it away and Rei talks about how beautiful it was. This seems to please Kira. He’s then called away to play basketball with Kida and crew. After he leaves, Sugihara shoots daggers from her eyes while her friends complain about how Kira is light years out of her league in trying to talk with Rei.
While Rei plays basketball, Kira sketches in the art room. Enter the English teacher who compliments her drawing. He then rubs his hand down her arm and clasps her drawing hand while his other arm embraces her. Kira freezes. Slowly the teacher’s free hand starts inching inside her shirt. Enter Rei. The teacher immediately springs away from Kira and asks why Rei is doing there. Rei wonders the same thing since he and the teacher both aren’t in the art club. The teacher says that Rei can’t possibly join the art club, but Rei says he might have hidden talent like a teacher who pretends to be nice while harassing his female students. Rei then grabs a box cutter and slides the blade up. What’s he doing? He’s just going to sharpen a pencil…not slice the teacher’s face to ribbons. Of course the teacher runs.
Kira starts crying. Rei cannot believe the girl just sat there and took the teacher’s molestation. Next time she should at least get some money out of it, shouldn’t she? Rei then sees her sketch of the statue and is again impressed by her talent. He then goes over to the sculpture which is called “Mars.” Kira explains that it is not the planet, but the Roman god of war. Rei looks closely at the statue and ponders how someone so fierce could have such a gentle face. He then leans in for a kiss, startling Kira and something about this really seems to spark an interest in her.
The next day Rei smoothes out the sketch for Kira and apologizes for wrinkling it. Kira tells him its okay as once she has the sketch on canvas, she won’t need the rough draft anymore. Rei cannot believe she’ll throw it out. If that’s the case, can he have it? Of course! This makes Rei very happy. It makes him even happier when Kira tells him she’ll give him the finished painting. Enter the unhappy Sugihara who tells Kira to stop trying to get Rei’s attention like this. Rei scolds Sugihara, saying the other girl shouldn’t be like that just because she’s jealous of Kira’s talent. Rei then turns to leave and calls Kira to come with him.
During English class, the teacher decides to exact revenge on Rei by calling him to write a sentence in English on the board. When Rei sleepily goes up to the front of the room, the teacher makes a snarky comment about how Rei is only good in PE. Rei smirks and says it’s the teacher’s fault for waking him up. He then rights a sentence on the board about how the seemingly nice English teacher secretly sexually harasses female students. As the teacher rushes to erase the board, Rei tells him that he lived abroad in the US for 8 years starting from when he was 6.
After school, Rei gets ready to leave and Kida has to tell him how he thinks Kira is kind of cute when she smiles—something he’s never seen before. Rei teases Kida and asks if he’s fallen for Kira. Kida replies no, just that his opinion of the girl has changed a bit. Kida then tells Rei that he’s changed. Rei says it’s Kida’s imagination and roars off. The light turns read and Rei tries to brake. Nothing. Rei keeps trying the brake, as a semi enters the intersection. We then cut to the English teacher smiling evilly.
Kira is diligently finishing her sketch of Mars in the art room when the English teacher appears. Kira tries to make a run for it, but he blocks her. The more he sees of her, the more he wishes to do bad things. He then tells her that Rei won’t be rushing to her rescue as he should already be in the hospital. This freaks Kira out and she angrily shouts and asks him what he did to Rei. Then English teacher doesn’t get to gloat for long as Rei rushes in. He’s out of breath, but otherwise fine. He is surprised by the teacher’s actions, but he’s willing to play this game. The teacher drives to school, right?
Rei then leaves the room followed by Kira. Rei cannot believe that he heard her raise her voice at the teacher like that. Kira says that is only because the teacher did something to Rei. This surprises him. He turns back and tells Kira that she is surprisingly stronger than he originally thought. The then walks away complaining about the expensive repair to his bike and how he’ll have to take on another part-time job. Kira smiles and runs after him.
The next day a new student arrives at school. Kirishima Makio [Kubota Masataka] has been hospitalized for half a year. The principal tells him to take his time adjusting to school and the young man goes outside to look around and spies Kira and Rei talking. The English teacher has quit and gone on to a cram school. Kira feels badly about the incident, but Rei assures her she doesn’t need to as it was not her fault. Rei then tells Kira to let him know if anything happens to her as he’ll protect her. He walks away and Kira calls after him as she has a request. What? Can he lend her his body? Eh!? You mean…for sex? Kira quickly shoots that down. She wants Rei to be her model for a painting. Rei is still taken aback, but quickly agrees as it will be his way to pay for the painting of the mother and child. The two part ways after arranging to meet during lunch. All this is witnessed by the expressionless Kirishima. Just wait. Things are only going to get more complicated from here on out!
Overall, not a bad adaptation. It’s weird, though, because although this does have serious subject matter, the drama doesn’t (to me) have the same darkness and seriousness that the Taiwanese version had from the beginning. Might be all the bright and sunshiny scenes… I’m also not 100% liking Iiotyo as Kira. She’s not a bad actress, but I guess her portrayal is just not quite how I see Kira after reading the manga and watching the Taiwanese version.
This drama is based on a 15 volume manga. I don’t know how far we’ll get in the manga’s plot as I’m sure this will probably be an 11-12 episode drama and there’s a lot to cover in only half an hour.