Now that all three modern versions of THE KISS are out on DramaFever (with the most recent being the Japanese version that just ended last Friday), we can fairly make an assessment on which version we liked best and the pros and cons of each.

Ending scene comparison pics (somewhat of a spoiler...though come on, don't tell me you can't guess how it ends anyway):


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(images from

There can only be so many ways to portray one manga, right? Let's do this in chronological order, keeping in mind the first version was actually the 1996 Japanese series.

1. It Started with a Kiss (Taiwan)

This was the first one I saw, and the common favorite amongst Itazura na Kiss fans. It came out in 2005, starring Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng.


First of all, can I just say Ariel Lin looks a LOT like Miki Honoka?! They have the same pouty lips and prominent front teeth that give their characters an endearingly naive quality. This series was the most detailed out of the three, with complex characters and well-developed scenarios. Makes sense, considering the series was also the longest with nearly twice as many episodes as the others (30). The Naoki Irie (Joe Cheng) was the lease attractive for me, though he definitely grew on me as the series progressed.

I had some trouble with the Kotoko (Ariel Lin) initially as well because she was JUST. SO. DUMB. I personally have a hard time relating to the Kotoko character in general already (from the manga) because it's so opposite of what I believe in myself (would I chase after a guy who was mean to me? Heck no!). Here, Ariel Lin took Kotoko to a whole level of dumb so that I really thought the actress, Ariel Lin, was actually clumsy and slow herself in real life. It was only after watching her drama "Tokyo Juliet" where she plays an aggressive fashion designer, did I realize that Ariel Lin was actually just a VERY, very good actress. From her speech to her bumbling actions (the way the walked and her facial expressions), Ariel Lin's Kotoko takes the cake for acting. Her and Joe's chemistry throughout the show also surpasses that of all the other adaptations; their love was truly believable.

This was my gateway Taiwanese drama (like it was for many I think) and I was admittedly young at the time so maybe my positive impression was partially due to my low expectations as a teen. But even today when I watch clips and think back to the drama I get all smiley and fuzzy--that must really mean something!

Rating: 9/10

2. Playful Kiss (Korea)


I think we can all agree on the gold medal eye-candy this version provides us (in the holy form of Kim Hyun Joong). YUM. Though...not even KHJ himself can save this production from his own lackluster acting skills. I mean, Hyun Joongy come ON...your character isn't supposed to show could you possibly mess that up?!? Alright, to be fair, Playful Kiss was cute at parts, but given the high quality production resources K-dramas get, the end product could have been a lot better. KHJ's character was bland and unloveable and even though this Oh Ha Ni (Kotoko) was more realistic than the other versions, she just wasn't as endearing to me; not to mention her chemistry with KHJ seemed forced. The drama had too many "WTF" moments (like the flasher scene...seriously?!) and too many inconclusive and/or hastily wrapped up sub-plots.

Maybe I'm just becoming hard to please as I get older and crankier, but this drama didn't really cut it for me. I had a hard time finishing it and poor Oh Ha Ni never grew on me.

Rating: 6/10

3. Mischievous Kiss (Japan)


I was skeptical at first...Honoka Miki is so much younger than her costar (she's only 16!) and her character's actions seem so over exaggerated. However, about three episodes in, I became accustomed to her (hilarious) faces and expressions and fell in love with the series! Imagine watching an anime, except real life! This adaptation gave me warm little fuzzies and kept me smiling, though it never truly hooked me (where I felt like I just HAD to see the next episode or I'd die). The storyline was followed, but the ending was rushed. The rushed ending left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and in the end all I had was a lukewarm feeling of "oh...that was....cute..."

Don't get me wrong--it was thoroughly enjoyable. Honoka Miki really reminded me so much of Ariel Lin! I just wish the two leads had more than half an episode to be cutesy in love together (oops, is that kind of a spoiler?). It's like, I spent 15 hours of my life getting teased and feeling miserable for Kotoko and then only 30 minutes basking in my OTP's final love realization. WHY?? We want more love scenes :( Thankfully the rest of the drama had enough cute and hilarious scenes to keep me entertained.

So...that gut wrench feel OTPs give? Not really. Uncontrollable tears and hysterical sobbing? Uh, none here either. But maniacal ROTFLMAO-ing in the dark alone? Yeah, I did that a couple times...

Rating: 8/10


The order for me goes It Started With A Kiss, Mischievous Kiss, and then Playful Kiss. What's the order for you? Tell us your order in the comments, and vote for your all time favorite here:

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If you haven't seen all three, they're now all available on DramaFever! Today also marks the release of ISWAK2, or THEY KISS AGAIN! Oh happy day! Enjoy!