It’s 2021’s favorite shojo with male leads – Kieta Hatsukoi (drama review)

Well, no one is surprised I started watching this. It has Meguro Ren from Snow Man, and Michieda Shunsuke from recently debuted Naniwa Danshi? Count me in. On top of all that it’s sugary sweet and super fluffy to keep the winter blues at bay? I am invested and ready to have my cake and eat it too! So let’s go ahead and get to what this drama is all about!

Kieta Hatsukoi or My Love Mix-Up! in it’s English localization is the story of first love. Aoki (Michieda Shunsuke) has a crush on Hashimoto Mio (Fukumoto Rio). He manages to borrow her eraser, only to find that another classmate Ida (Meguro Ren) ‘s name is carved on to it. It doesn’t help that Ida sees Aoki with said eraser, and is now under the impression that Aoki has a crush on him! What’s a guy to do trying to clear up this misunderstanding, while keeping his crush’s secret?!

It’s not the most amazing story line, but it works incredibly well thanks to all the characters dynamics and the actors chemistry. I can not understate the cast chemistry is what made this series. Michieda Shunsuke and Meguro Ren had some of the best on screen, and off screen dynamics I’ve seen all year. This is more likely due to them being from the same company, Johnny’s and Associates, over their actual acting chops. However, it did extend beyond those two to Fukumoto Rio and Suzuki Jun where they really did all feel super friendly and natural.

In terms of acting, Michieda Shunsuke was the shining jewel of this production. I’ve always found his performances outstanding in prior works, but being his first big role he really stepped it up. His over exaggerated ‘anime’ expressions really work well, and play nicely off of the rest of the cast only being a step or two behind him. It helps that Meguro Ren’s the dense straight-forward type as a counter balance to the more over the top moments. Although I’m not sure if it’s a type casting choice, or his actual performance. Either way it worked for me!

This is the drama where I finally understand the appeal of Suzuki Jun a bit. He really did play Akkun well, and had energy that matched Michieda Shunsuke’s. Even more outstanding then Jun, was Fukumoto Riko as Hashimoto. I can’t tell if she’s that short, or everyone else is that tall but the height gap between her and the guys was adorable. Not to mention how in general supportive and responsive she was to the other actors cues and expressions. Some of her best scenes were her playing off of Michieda Shunsuke in their quests for love.

I also appreciated that as Aoki’s feelings changed, that Hashimoto as a character wasn’t villianized or forgotten. She transitions into being an ally for Aoki, and a genuinely supportive friend. At first I was a little irked that episode seven shifted it’s focus to her, but in retrospect I’m glad that she got her moment of growth within Kieta Hatsukoi to really round out it out.

The matching energy is awesome.

Honestly speaking, there’s nothing spectacular about this production per say. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, just nothing outstanding. The cinematography was solid. All the scenes read well on screen, framed the characters and their dynamics, good use of lighting, etc. The soundtrack was fine. I mean ‘Ubu Love‘ by Naniwa Danshi and ‘Secret Touch‘ by Snow Man were used liberally throughout so as a Johnny’s fan I was fine with that.

That being said, there is no deeper commentary about being gay in Japan here. There’s a single episode, with a single homophobe which is both introduced and solved in that episode. It makes sense, and keeps the series grounded while overall optimistic. And at least for me that was perfectly fine. I didn’t expect Kieta Hatsukoi to have a deeper commentary, and it didn’t. Sometimes fluff is the best result a story can have.

About the only major issue, is the pacing. Kieta Hatsukoi has a breakneck pace. It’s not noticeable when watching, especially on a weekly basis, but in retrospect it’s a lot. That being said, it’s well done. The most interesting or emotional moments of the manga were kept in tact, and the rest of the story was built around those moments. So maybe I should upgrade Keita Hatsukoi from being sugary sweet to sugar rush.

All in all, Kieta Hatsukoi is sugary sweet without too much substance and that’s just fine. It’s fun, fluffy, and knows exactly what it’s doing. With a well done production, and cast chemistry that can’t be beat it truly is worthy of giving it a chance. Especially since it’s available legally for English speakers on Viki! So what are you waiting for? Give it a watch and let me know your thoughts down below!

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