Love triangles in dramas/films are a trope that can either work in a production’s favor or fail miserably in its delivery, especially if it’s the main plot.
Generally heavy on the angst, these triangles are meant to play with human emotions, putting viewers squarely in the corner of the characters they’re rooting for. While this division is always fun to see on screen, it can often be mentally exhausting if those pitted against each other are hard to connect with.
Kieta Hatsukoi has no such problem.
A live-action adaptation of a manga written by Wataru Hinekure and illustrated by Aruko, Kieta Hatsukoi (Vanishing my First Love, My Love Mix-Up) is a Japanese BL full of misunderstandings and filled with lots of heart. From the moment our lead, Aoki Sota (Michieda Shunsuke), appears on screen, it’s obvious his compassionate personality is going to captivate the viewers. He’s in love with his classmate Hashimoto Mio (Fukumoto Riko) but is quickly heartbroken when a borrowed eraser reveals she’s in love with classmate Ida Kosuke (Meguro Ren). Ida sees the eraser and thinks Aoki is the one crushing on him, the misunderstanding creating a complicated series of events that manages to sway feelings and create rivals.
The first two episodes lay a firm foundation, building up the trust, friendship, and romance that will undoubtedly come crashing down as the story progresses.
The human heart is a complicated creature, especially for compassionate people who would rather cover up for those they care about than exposing their friends’ feelings. Aoki is the embodiment of this type of compassion. Although Hashimoto unconsciously rejects him, he swears to keep her crush on Ida a secret, but to do so, he allows Ida to believe Aoki is the one who wrote the love confession on the eraser. This confusion leads to growing feelings that create a connection between Aoki and Ida neither seem able to ignore.
The stage has been set. The chemistry between the leads is palpable. And the obstacles the characters are going to have to face are becoming increasingly evident. But what makes Kieta Hatsukoi feel so unique from the get-go is the human connection. Each character is powerfully written and portrayed, making it impossible to dislike anyone based on personality alone. Because of Hashimoto’s innocent shyness, I found myself easily relating to Aoki’s crush on her. For this same reason, I also found myself as equally as confused as he was by his swaying affections. Like Aoki’s crush on Hashimoto, it’s immediately apparent why he’d also fall for Ida.
Ida Kosuke is one of the most non-toxic leads I have ever had the pleasure to watch. One of the most compelling things about this drama is Ida’s easy acceptance of Aoki’s supposed feelings. Ida’s surprise when seeing the eraser in Aoki’s possession is fleeting, transitioning quickly to understanding rather than freak out. Although Ida doesn’t have the same feelings, he isn’t averse to exploring the possibility. Instead of shooting Aoki down, Ida tells him to wait for his reply, to give him time to put his thoughts in order. The world needs more people like Ida. Whether or not he identifies as LGBTQ+, Ida sees Aoki’s seeming feelings for what they are: feelings regardless of gender. He stands up for Aoki when he thinks Aoki is hurt and continuously compliments him. Because of this, Aoki begins to fall for the same boy his former crush is in love with.
I am invested. There isn’t a single character I don’t relate to in Kieta Hatsukoi. Even Hashimoto Mio touches my heart. Her shy, friendly nature is unassuming. I fear becoming Aoki’s rival in love may change that, and I hope that isn’t the case.
While I haven’t read the manga this drama is based on, I’ve already fallen in love with the live-action version. Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren are delivering believable and natural performances fueled by incredible chemistry. If the show progresses the way it is now, it will own its audiences’ souls.
The misunderstandings between Aoki and Ida in Kieta Hatsukoi are as endearing as the love story rising out of it. Even during the over-the-top, comedic moments, there’s always a human connection in Japanese BLs that leaves a mark on the heart. Kieta Hatsukoi is leaving its mark, and I’m excited to see where it leads us. Will our hearts be devastated or left wholly satisfied?
Let’s watch together and find out.
Rating- 4 out of 5
Fan-subbed links for the drama-
☆ Krishna’s Sidenote-
1. Kieta Hatsukoi main leads Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren gracing the cover of November’s CanCam Magazine
2. Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren on the cover of TELEVISION magazine’s November issue!
3. Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren featured on the cover of TVnavi magazine!
4. Our sweet couple on the cover of Bessatsu Margaret Magazine!
5. Michieda and Meguro are growing popular. Both on the cover of Nonno Magazine!
6. Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren are totally winning hearts with their romantic act. The main lead couple on the cover of Anan Magazine!