We’re back with our All-Time Favourite Asian Series. We’ve written about this series before. We had a post about this series way back, talking about how much we loved the series after a friend lent the DVD set for us to watch. Many years have passed and since then, we’ve watched so many more Asian series; and still, this Slice of Life/Romance/Comedy series remains as one of our favourite Asian series of all-time.
It Started with a Kiss, the Taiwanese adaptation of Tada Kaoru’s Itazura Na Kiss manga, is our latest entry to our All-Time Favourite Asian Series blog series.
A recap on our All-Time Favourite Asian Series first post:
As we look at the series that feature on our list and think of why they are our all-time favourites, three things keep on popping up as the reasons: the story, the characters and the relationships in the series. The series in the list are ones we consider to have an interesting story that progresses well and logically; they have strong lead characters that make the story the reason it is interesting; and many of them have an interesting romance storyline as a main focus or as a sub-plot.
So instead of simply writing up posts about our favourite Asian series and why we like them, we decided we’d write it like a profiling of the series, using the aforementioned three reasons—the story, the interesting characters and the interesting relationships in the series—as the basis for the posts. We figured if we wrote it this way, it’d give a chance for those who haven’t seen the series or are new to the world of Asian series to go see it.
IT STARTED WITH A KISS / 惡作劇之吻
Joe CHENG / 郑元畅 as JIANG Zhi Shu
Ariel LIN / 林依晨 as YUAN Xiang Qin
Jiro WANG / 汪东城 as JIN Yuan Fen (Ah Jin)
Based on Itazura na Kiss / イタズラな Kiss manga written by
TADA Kaoru / 多田かおる
Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy
Ever since Yuan Xiang Qin saw Jiang Zhi Shu confidently and articulately give his welcoming speech at their high school’s opening ceremony two years ago, she has liked him. She tries to confess to him through a letter, but is coldly rejected and criticised for her lack of purpose in life. As if this was not deflating enough, her poorly constructed family home is destroyed in a mild earthquake that only brings down her place.
She, with her Dad, is forced to vacate and temporarily live at a home kindly offered by her Dad’s good friend and his family. To her surprise, the family’s eldest son is none other than the guy who had rejected her, Jiang Zhi Shu.
Yuan Xiang Qin
Likes to daydream. Is impulsive. Intellectually challenged. She is an F-student who struggles to understand basic concepts and meanings; however, what she lacks in intelligence, she makes up with determination, persistence and optimism. Through sheer hard work, persistence and sincerity, she achieves tasks beyond her ability.
Jiang Zhi Shu
Cold, harsh, aloof and serious; yet also has an inner playfulness and innocence. Possesses an IQ of 200 with the ability to remember everything down to the word with just one look or listen. He is capable of becoming anyone he desires in the world; yet he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. Feeling the desire to achieve and having a goal to work hard towards is something he desires and envies in others.
Jin Yuan Fen (Ah Jin)
F-student and only one in the F-Class not to graduate from high school. He appears to have no prospects in the workforce, but within him is surprising dedication, focus and passion in the culinary arts.
Yuan Xiang Qin, Jiang Zhi Shu and Jin Yuan Fen (Ah Jin) Love Triangle
Zhi Shu is tall, handsome, popular, sporty and is the smartest person, not only in the high school, but probably in Taiwan as well. Xiang Qin has her own group of friends and even a couple of admirers, but she isn’t the brightest girl at school. This has caused her to be looked down upon by people at school, by Zhi Shu, and be worlds apart from him.
Although Zhi Shu appears to have and be everything, he actually lacks inspiration, motivation and a heart that truly beats. Xiang Qin’s brain is lacking, but her impulsive, persistent, fanciful character and high spirit is what wakens Zhi Shu and what he is later attracted to. He realises she makes things in his life unpredictable and not so linear and set out. She provides him opportunities to realise his desires in life. She understands him. She is his voice.
When she starts to take steps away from him upon realising that maybe she is better suited with someone more like herself, who’s intelligence is on a similar level as hers, who likes her (someone like Ah Jin), he realises Xiang Qin’s importance and how much she really means to him.
On the surface, it looks like it’s a romance story about Xiang Qin’s unwavering crush on a guy who is beyond her reach. Go into the story more and it also tells a story of determination, perseverance and hard work. People who may not be academically successful are the series’ main characters. Their determination, passion and desire to reach their goals and dreams is ultimately what will get them there is its message. We think it’s a great message. The series also make being intelligent and able to achieve academic success cool. It’s not a view we see a lot of on our television screens over here, so it’s great to see such views in this series.
Zhi Shu, we like seeing all the sides of his character. Surprisingly, he has quite a number of layers to him. Xiang Qin may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we like her for her guts, strength and resolve to see things through. She is quite stubborn with her crush on Zhi Shu: many of her decisions relate to Zhi Shu somehow. Normally we find characters like that quite annoying for the lack of growth, but stubbornness seems to be a part of her DNA. Despite her many, many shortcomings, she does not give up on anything easily — not on her crush, not on schoolwork, not on sport. The way the series tells it, Zhi Shu is a great motivator for her to do better and she is the same for Zhi Shu. And so, Zhi Shu and Xiang Qin, individually as well as a couple, we really like. (See our past post “It Started with a Kiss (2005)” for more of our thoughts on the two characters.)
Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng, we’ve never heard of these two actors before watching It Started With a Kiss. After watching the series, we certainly knew who they were! They were so fantastic playing their characters. They pull you in and connect you with the characters and the story. There is a lot of emotion and intensity in this series and it’s all carried through by Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng (the supporting cast are fantastic as well). To this day, years after watching them, they remain our favourite leads in a series to play opposite each other. Were these two to do another project together right now, we’d definitely be there to watch it front and centre.
We also love the series’ music and soundtrack. We’re not sure if this is a moot point because it seems that every series on this list so far, we always like the music and soundtrack as well; we believe it fits super well. It’s no different with It Started with a Kiss.
This series is 30 episodes long, each about 45 minutes in length. With Korean productions being so popular with so many these days, 30 episodes sounds so long compared to the shorter format of their dramas of a similar genre. It’s really not that long. It Started with a Kiss offers its audience a lot: development of characters, development of story, comedy, a super great cast and beautiful music and a great soundtrack. This series needs 30 episodes to fully give the story a bit more depth than just about a girl having a crush on a guy and do justice to the themes and messages the series is trying to convey.
We really love this series. Re-watch-a-bility: high.