First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) poster
8.7
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 8.7/10 from 9,477 users
# of Watchers: 19,799
Reviews: 100 users
Ranked #234
Popularity #781
Watchers 9,477

In the late 90s, Yae and Harumichi met and fell in love. After graduating from high school, Yae went off to college in Tokyo, while Harumichi joined the Self-Defense forces as an aviation student, and like that they separated. One day, Yae suffered a tragic accident, and 20 years passed without their lives intersecting again. Now, Yae works as a taxi driver and Harumichi has become an employee at a security company after serving in the Self-Defense forces, both in the same city. About 20 years after their unfulfilled first love, fate brings them together once again... (Source: Japanese = filmaga.filmarks.com || Translation = MyDramaList) ~~ Inspired by the songs "First Love" and "Hatsukoi" (初恋) by Utada Hikaru (宇多田ヒカル). Edit Translation

  • English
  • 中文(台灣)
  • Arabic
  • Українська
  • Country: Japan
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 9
  • Aired: Nov 24, 2022
  • Aired On: Thursday
  • Original Network: Netflix
  • Duration: 55 min.
  • Score: 8.7 (scored by 9,477 users)
  • Ranked: #234
  • Popularity: #781
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

Where to Watch First Love: Hatsukoi

Netflix
Subscription (sub)

Cast & Credits

Photos

First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) photo
First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) photo
First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) photo
First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) photo
First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) photo
First Love: Hatsukoi (2022) photo

Reviews

Completed
JulesL
97 people found this review helpful
Nov 25, 2022
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 5
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.5

Fated Love - Neither Time Nor Distance Can Prevent It

First Love: Hatsukoi has beautifully captured the twists and turns of destined love. With Fate pushing two people together but also pulling them apart when tragedy occurred, it was an addictive emotional roller coaster ride filled with the rapture of first love, the regret of lost love, and the joy of second chances.

A wonderful story about a love that transcended the sands of time, this drama fell into comfortable and familiar tropes. However, in this show, I found the cliches charming. With such strong chemistry between the leads (younger and older versions), I was happy just to be along with the ride and watch the heartfelt romance unfold.

Using distinct color palettes and compelling imagery, the director, Kanchiku Yuri, and the cinematographers breathed new life into tired story elements. Fluid camera movements transitioned the viewer seamlessly from the flashbacks of the leads' past into the reality of their present circumstances.

I liked how the director used elements like the snow, the sea, and the sounds of planes; many scenes were like expressive photographs with period details. In this show, color was not only an emotion, a state of mind but also part of the story itself. The way the show filtered and focused on the colors allowed me to experience the story through a unique lens that drew me further into it.

Of course, the music was one of this drama's most notable aspects. After all, Hikaru Utada's songs- First Love and Hatsukoi, inspired the story. In addition to these two, the drama music, including instrumental pieces by Taisei Iwasaki and other songs, captured the emotional moments flawlessly - joyful, nostalgic, or heart-wrenching. The music evoked empathy for the characters and was crucial to the narrative.

Despite a few rough spots that needed smoothing out, the story was well-written and flowed nicely. I appreciate that the plot was not only about romantic love but also about coming of age and the consequences of choices. There were also risque scenes which was an interesting change from the more conservative Chinese and Korean dramas.

The excellent acting also made this drama enjoyable for me. The characters were likable and relatable. The female lead's mother had moments where I wanted to smack her, but her heart was in the right place.

I liked and respected Mitsushima Hikari's Noguchi Yae, a character that I would describe as resilient. Society forced the idea of some being better than others and imposed unfair judgment on people like Yae's mother, but regardless, Yae knew that she and her mother deserved just as much as anyone else. Hikari was so lovely to watch, and her beguiling performance, along with Satoh Takeru as Namiki Harumichi, added the depth that completed the show. Takeru, with his melt-your-heart gaze, portrayed Harumichi perfectly. He is a really subtle actor whose eyes and micro-expressions speak volumes.

I also enjoyed the portrayal of the younger versions of the leads by Yagi Rikako and Kido Taisei. They were able to convey the feelings of an all-consuming idealistic young love, and Taisei's earnestness won me over as young Harumichi.

In summary, I do recommend this drama! I love a good love story, and this was definitely that. It is a story in which you cannot spend too much time thinking about the details. You just have to accept that the universe has plans for everyone, and everything will play out splendidly. As long as you enjoy the show in its little contained, cliched world, there is plenty to relish. Don't forget to watch the ending credits scene to the very end.

For posterity, I have included the Spotify playlist:
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DWTSDEMZlKWZw?si=282686721a124f1d
Other songs:
- Escapade by Emro: https://open.spotify.com/track/71Pu8L7LWuig8tY3zuKH8C?si=44416f6cad1c4963
- Sleep With You by Egil Olsen
https://open.spotify.com/track/6dJabU4OhnOfyByP8NQeOF?si=caf81692d1dc4e4d
- Hard Work and Fate
https://open.spotify.com/track/29mpuWWmRUdH9P2zXz9a4k?si=858ee21bbd2040e4

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Completed
gCell at Work
48 people found this review helpful
Nov 24, 2022
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.5

It's hell on Earth to keep driving, knowing it's really just a wrong turn.

^Summary of Harumichi's life so far, JK.

STORY - 9 ⭐️
This drama has artfully weaved some historical events (including this COVID pandemic era), cultural references, even social and political issues within this story. About the love story, I wouldn't say that it is something new; there are some cliches; but what I like most are the scenes that made me curious and then find more about it scenes later. Every character was well written, making them real people and have their own depth. I am not sure very sold with the 'love story' between Tsuzuru and Uta but maybe I'm just invested with the main couple's story.

Although presented as a love story in the trailers, it also showed youth's goals and dreams and how some get to fulfill it, some not making it or just taking detours. Some scenes can get preachy about it but over-all, the story's execution is actually good.

ACTING/CAST - 10 ⭐️
There's no denying that the main couple are veteran actors. Don't want to spoil anything but there's this scene that really made me tear up. The young actors did well too and their chemistry suits the theme of first love. Despite not looking like alike, (at least we get the moles right) I can definitely see the young characters maturing into the adult counterparts. Even the supporting characters too had delivered a good performance.

MUSIC - 10 ⭐️
Aside from Utada Hikaru's songs, I find Tsuzuru's music and the drama's sound design and transition faultless. I am no sound or music aficionado but as I watch this with my headphones, I find everything seamless and cinematic. There were a couple of mellow English songs too and it fit well in the atmosphere of the whole drama.

REWATCH VALUE - 8.5 ⭐️
I am not someone who rewatches dramas but the cinematography and the cast's performance alone could easily make me watch it again if I have the time.

OVERALL - 9⭐️

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Details

  • Drama: First Love: Hatsukoi
  • Country: Japan
  • Episodes: 9
  • Aired: Nov 24, 2022
  • Aired On: Thursday
  • Original Network: Netflix
  • Duration: 55 min.
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

Statistics

  • Score: 8.7 (scored by 9,477 users)
  • Ranked: #234
  • Popularity: #781
  • Watchers: 19,799

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