Mischievous Kiss After War

­­After putting up its own successful spin of already successful Chinese and Japanese versions of the hugely popular Japanese manga series, Hana Yori Dango (Boys Before Flower), the Korean production company, Group Eight, hopes to repeat the same commercial success using the same tried-and-true formula, namely remaking yet another hit Japanese comic that has already been audience tested by Taiwan and Japan and deservedly met with summary success. The company had even offered the lead to the star of its previous Boys Over Flowers venture, Lee Min Ho, who politely turned it down. Who did they finally cast then? From the same drama the other F4 (flower four) star, Kim Hyun Joong! Despite all their public persuasions and rational rationale arguing otherwise, it can’t be far from the truth that the root of this production stemmed from the old adage ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’

This time around, the manga in demand is Itazura na Kiss, possible translations being Mischievous/Playful/Teasing/Naughty Kiss. The general story starts with an overly ordinary high school girl harboring a one-sided crush on her school’s too extraordinary boy wonder, who is not only gorgeous looking, athletic, popular, but also brilliant with an IQ of  200. They accidently kiss one day during a mad dash due to X-situation (differs with each version) using the trite drama plot devise- colliding-cause-who-needs-to-look-where-they’re-running- giving the characters’ their first kiss. Needless to say, the girl is tickled red while the boy is wholly disgusted. Then due to the collapse of the girl’s family home, her family is invited by one of her father’s friend to move into his house for the time being. Take a wild guess who is the son of her father’s friend? Yep, it’s perfect boy wonder. And that’s the conveniently coincidental setup for this sugary romantic comedy.

The manga is written by the late Tada Kaoru, who died before she finished the series. This open end in the storyline allowed past anime and drama production teams the creative freedom to independently conclude their versions of the story without fear and pressure of literalist fans’ critique and wrath. However, in 2009 it had been revealed by the late artist’s husband that a conceptualized ending had actually been sketched out by Tada-san and with the family’s permission, the sketch and notes will be used to guide an officially published volume to bookend this series. Creatively, this will not impact the Korean production since, first, as the schedule of its production planning and broadcasting are ahead of the release of the manga volume it can’t be expected to stay true to the final arch of the story and second, it has no more privy to the contents of the private sketches than the public does, and thus should be safe from fans’ expectation of the ending.

With all that said, still there’s always pressure when you’re last in the pack, especially when the forerunners have set such high fans-lifted bars to reach. The Japanese and Taiwanese versions’ success owed in great part to the palpable chemistry between their respective leads, the distinct pop-culture landscape of their respective country enticing and educating the audience, and lastly, in figuring out that elusive equation of pacing, directing and editing. The upcoming Korean version will no doubt have high production values given Group Eight’s past record and the endorsement power of Kim Hyun Joong’s sheer popularity, as well as, have a differential Korean stamp on the story. But, will the acting, chemistry, and writing be able to power and sustain the drama throughout its whole run after initial episodes review and celebrity-brought fanbase support? That remains to be seen.

Playful Kiss will air this September 1, taking over Road Number 1’s time slot on MBC Network in Korea, but for the rest of us not living in Korea, tune in to your favorite k-drama viewing websites.

Summary Comparison of the Live Action Productions from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea for Itazura na Kiss
Title   Itazura na KissイタズラなKiss It Started With a Kiss惡作劇之吻 (Er Duo Ju Zhi Wen) Playful Kiss장난스런 키스 (Jang Nan Su Reon Kisu)
Broadcast Year(s) 1996 2005-2006 2010
Number of Episodes 9 20 20
TV Network TV Asahi CTV & GTV MBC
Cast-Role Male lead: Kashiwabara Takashi- Irie Naoki Cheng Yuan Chang (Joe Cheng)- Jiang Zhi Shu Kim Hyun Joong- Baek Seung Jo
Female lead: Sato Aiko- Aihara Kotoko Lin Yi Chen (Ariel Lin)- Yuen Xiang Qin Jung So Min- Oh Ha Ni
2nd Male lead: Aoki Shinsuke- Nakamura Kinnosuke   Wang Dong Cheng (Jiro Wang)– Jin Yuan Feng Lee Tae Sung- Bong Joon Gu
2nd Female lead: Ozawa Maju- Matsumoto Reiko Hsu Wei Ning (Tiffany Hsu)- Pei Zi Yu Jang Ah Young- Hong Jang Mi
Successful? Oh yeah! Mega huge! -TBD-
Sequel(s) No They Kiss Again (2007-2008)ISWAK 3 – No official title yet (end of 2010?) -TBD-



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