I’m pretty much a sucker for anything Itazura Na Kiss (It Started with a Kiss) and when I discovered that Taiwan has released a movie version of one of my favorite adaptations of this manga story, I was super excited. When I learned that Our Times’ Darren Wang was headlining, I was completely on board.
Synopsis: Jiang Zhi Shu (Darren Wang) is the genius superstar of Dunan University while Yuan Xiang Qin (Jelly Lin) was at the opposite end of the heap at Class F. After harboring a crush on Zhi Shu for three years, she decides to confess her feelings but is publicly rejected by the cold and logical genius. However, fate intervenes and suddenly Xiang Qin finds herself living under the same roof as the boy she loves.
I loved Fall in Love at First Kiss like most iterations of the Japanese classic because even though they limited time telling the entire first season of the manga (and then some more) the movie did a pretty good job covering the salient and memorable parts of the the series within the period of two hours.
Darren Wang also did a pretty good job in bringing to life the iconic character but he put his own spin to it too. His version of Zhi Shu was not as cold and as mean as his predecessors and rather showed the softening of his character at a much smoother pace. The gradual development of his feelings felt more natural and because he wasn’t super mean to Xiang Qin in the first place, it seemed more relateable to audiences. I love how he is more playful with Xiang Qin and teases her mercilessly about her love confession every chance he gets. I am a particular fan of his knowing and crooked grin when he thinks no one is looking. But when things turn serious, he makes the effort to open up to her in a way that only she can understand.
I loved the cuteness and tenacity of Xiang Qin’s character and even though the film only covered bits and parts of the original version’s devotion to Zhi Shu, she was still very touching and relatable as a character. I loved the Zhi Shu bedsheet set. It was hilarious. I also liked that this Xiang Qin looked normal and not too dumbed down like in previous versions. I loved it when she ugly cried too. While it had a different feel to Ariel Lin or Honoka Yahagi’s version, Jelly Lin has her own way of endearing audiences to her character.
There was great chemistry between Darren and Jelly and this worked well for the series because it seemed like they were always on the same page. Their romantic scenes in the mountain and at the school hall were very cute and the revelation of Zhi Shu’s feelings for Xiang Qin, while it did not follow the manga confession to a T was even more meaningful because it turned out he was using codes all along and she was too slow to pick up on it. I must’ve watched the mountain scene and the final scene three times after I’ve finished watching the movie because it was so sweet and so sincere, especially whem Zhi Shu called her 江太太 or Mrs. Jiang.
While there was a big time jump and there were revisions to the original story, it made the story flow better for the movie and it effectively conveyed the same feelings that made Itazura Na Kiss such a huge hit all these years. The film successfully combined certain storylines in a way that made sense and not leave out the essential elements of the well loved series.
I am completely in love with this movie. And that’s that. More projects for Darren Wang and Jelly Lin, please. A romantic series preferably.
PS. I loved that the look and style of the entire series has been updated and that the uniforms and the fashion in this movie was super trendy. It made it visually more appealing.