It Started with a Kiss 惡作劇之吻
Now we’re talking old school. This drama aired from September of 2005 through February of 2006 and is the Taiwanese adaption of the Japanese manga Itazura na Kiss, or Mischievous Kiss, by Kaoru Tada (It could be that you also know the more recent Korean drama by the same name). Along with the manga, Japan already has both an anime and a live action version. Since Japan, Taiwan, and Korea each have a drama based on this story, it must be good… right?
To me, It Started with a Kiss is an absolute drama classic. Of course, I may be a little partial. After years of enjoying manga and anime, I finally leveled up to “live action,” and ISWAK was my very first. I think you should also be warned ahead of time that Joe Cheng was my first drama crush. It’s true.
Here’s the story in brief: clumsy girl dotes on capable guy. Will they end up together? Let’s find out.
On a roof-top school walkway, a girl is clutching what appears to be a love letter. A boy approaches from the other side, and she holds it out with two hands. In a drawn-out dramatic scene, he walks right by her without turning around, and she falls backwards.
We find out the guy’s name right away: Jiang Zhi Shu (Joe Cheng). His friend comes running up to him to ask him a question about aerodynamics (how smart he must be). Zhi Shu asks the guy to hang on a moment, and he heads back towards the girl, who is lying flat on her back still holding the letter out with fully extended arms. He bends down and asks her, “Could it possibly be that you have nothing better to do with your life?” He walks away, leaving her completely KOed. A crowd gathers to see if she’s okay, but she doesn’t twitch a muscle. Is it possible to die of embarrassment?
What happens next only makes things worse. She comes to, only to hear other students jeering. She’s in the F class, Zhi Shu is in the A class – there’s no way it could have gone successfully. Then they try to get the letter from her hands, but she escapes with it, thankfully. As she strolls along wearily, we hear that Zhi Shu is quite the super star of the school. He’s handsome, smart, and good at everything. The girl, whose name is Yuan Xiang Qin (Ariel Lin), takes off running, trying to escape the images of Zhi Shu. She ends up at the ladies room, but his picture is even there, on a poster reading, “The Third Annual Golden Branches Dream Lover 1st Place.” Nice.
She finally ends up in the gym, and her friends (Chun Mei and Ya Nong) come looking for her. They aren’t exactly sympathetic. Why would she do that at the beginning of the school day with all of those people around? She’s the joke of the school already. We find out that she’s harbored this crush for two years, and it just happened that as he was coming towards her, she put her hand into her backpack and pulled out the letter. Well, she may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, but she’s sure got guts.
News travels fast, and the next person to show up at the gym is Xiang Qin’s admirer, Jin (Jiro Wang). In spite of his obsessive loyalty, she doesn’t return his feelings. Jin tries to assemble his lackeys to go defend Xiang Qin’s honor, but she calls them off.
In her classroom, Xiang Qin thinks back to the first time she ever saw Zhi Shu. He gave the newcomers’ speech at the orientation assembly. His good looks and confidence mesmerized her from the start, and she was determined to study her way into the A class so they could be classmates and good friends. It’s obvious that her dream never became reality. We get a glimpse of the two in their different classrooms, and it serves to show us how divided their worlds are.
While Xiang Qin and her friends are walking around campus later, we find out that she is moving into a new home with her dad – one that he pieced together by hand. Xiang Qin says she would rather live in a European style home with white lace curtains and such. Jin tells her to marry him, saying he’ll get her dream home for her. Oh, puppy. You’re sweet, but way ahead of yourself.
Zhi Shu happens to pass by their group, and Jin moves in to confront him. He yells out, asking why Zhi Shu couldn’t be more human and at least read her letter. Zhi Shu walks past him, and Jin grabs onto his backpack, still demanding to know why. Now that he’s been provoked, Zhi Shu coldly says, “I hate brainless women.”
Later, Xiang Qin is moving into her new home with her dad. While her dad is unpacking the living room, we find out that her mother has passed away. Xiang Qin sees her dad talking aloud to his wife about their dream of a having their own home finally coming true. He gets all weepy, and when he sees Xiang Qin, he puts on a braver face. She hands him a tissue and they continue to unpack. You can see that they are pretty close.
Although her dad is excited about their new home, Xiang Qin isn’t as enthusiastic. She thinks the house moves whenever the wind blows, but he passes it off by saying she must be dizzy from anemia.
Her friends (Jin, Chun Mei, and Ya Nong) show up to surprise her with house warming gifts. Jin runs to her dad calling him “Father” and hugging him. He introduces himself as Jin Yuan Feng (oh, look at those arm muscles—go grab your ticket to the gun show). He tells him that he and Xiang Qin are a match made in heaven. Her dad asks if Xiang Qin agreed to marry him, and she denies it. They all go inside, and Jin and Xiang Qin’s dad help clear a space for them to sit. The stool Jin sits on breaks immediately, which is not exactly a good sign. Xiang Qin takes her friends upstairs to her room and serves them tea. Jin and “Father” (don’t call me “Father”) fixed the stool, but then the whole house starts to shake. The girls run downstairs, and when everything starts falling in the house, they decide to evacuate. They get out in time to witness the entire house crumble to the ground. They all just stand there, staring in shock. No one else is on the street, and all of the neighboring houses are perfectly fine. Her dad runs back into the rubble to look for her mother’s photo, and Xiang Qin and her friends follow.
The collapse of their house makes the news. The story reveals that they were the only family in the neighborhood affected (it was only a level 2 earthquake), and they are still searching for the picture of Xiang Qin’s mom. A middle-aged couple watching the news at home immediately recognizes Xiang Qin’s dad.
The next day, everyone at Xiang Qin’s school is talking about her situation. They feel sorry that she just got rejected, and then her house crumbled in a level 2 earthquake (I guess that’s called injury to insult). She and her friends are actually being chased by a crowd of sympathetic followers (and busybodies).
Later that day, the couple that had been watching the news shows up in Xiang Qin’s neighborhood looking for her father, Yuan You Cai (nickname Ah Cai). You Cai is still digging through the rubble, and he finally comes across his wife’s picture. You can hear that the other man in the background has come across another one of Cai’s belongings—a violin, which he had given to Ah Cai many years back. He plays it very badly (and unrealistically, minus 10 points), getting Cai’s attention. Cai climbs out over a pile of rubble and immediately recognizes his friend Jiang Ah Li and his wife. They have a happy and tearful reunion. It seems that it’s been a while since they’ve last seen each other, but You Cai and Ah Li are old friends.
Back at school, Xiang Qin and her friends are wearing goofy disguises in order to avoid attention. They come across Jin and his friends taking up a collection for her and her dad. It seems that there’s quite a crowd. Xiang Qin tries to sneak away, but Jin recognizes her and calls everyone’s attention to her. Just then, Zhi Shu turns into an unlucky passerby. Jin tries to get him to donate, but he shows no interest. When he finally gives in and pulls out some money, Xiang Qin yells at him not to look down on other people. She throws his money and says that she can’t believe she liked someone like him for two years. She declares that she’d rather die than accept his help, and he tells her to remember those words.
Later that night, Xiang Qin’s dad tells her that they are going to be staying at his best friend’s place for a while. They pull up to his house and sit there awkwardly. Her dad explains that they had talked about her earlier in the day. They have a son her age that even goes to the same school.
They get out of the truck to ring the bell. Her dad goes on to tell her that his friend told their son about their situation, and the son already knows Xiang Qin. (Ruh-oh. Can’t we all see where this is going?) Anyway, her dad warns her against high school boys (they are all wolves), telling her to be careful. Haaa.
Ah Li answers the door and greets them warmly. Xiang Qin notes that, although they have the same last name, the “uncle” who greets them at the door looks nothing like Zhi Shu. After exchanging pleasantries, he calls his son to help with their luggage, but they insist they want to do it on their own. Nevertheless, his son comes out and introduces himself nicely to Xiang Qin’s dad as the “eldest brother, Zhi Shu.” Xiang Qin doesn’t turn around, but awkwardly holds onto the truck. Zhu Shu grabs a piece of luggage and looks over at Xiang Qin, who is desperately trying to avoid eye contact. His smile is very smug, and…Uh-oh. I think I’m hooked.
Zhi Shu’s mom runs down, and she’s very happy to meet Xiang Qin. She is excited to have her there to bake cakes and go shopping, just like a daughter. They all sit down for tea and cake, and his mom asks about how well she and Zhi Shu know each other. Xiang Qin isn’t very vocal, but Zhi Shu pipes in that, although their classes are removed, they’ve become rather familiar as of late. He turns around with a sarcastic smile and heads up the stairs with a box. Soon the little brother appears and gets right in Xiang Qin’s face.
End of Episode
Yay! We have our set up, we’ve met our characters; now let the hijinks begin!
Poor Xiang Qin. It’s just not enough for her to be rejected and have her house cave in. Now she is living with the guy who is the source of her public humiliation. In any case, I’d bet a girl who can act that brave and/or crazy in public wouldn’t be able to give up on her crush too quickly, even if she wanted to.
You can tell Zhi Shu is having a bit of fun. He knew before the fundraising rally that she’d be moving in, and he enjoyed her growing embarrassment rather impishly as he helped them move boxes. Even though we don’t know him too well yet, I’m glad that we get to see more than one layer of his personality. We know he’s supposed to be Mr. Arrogant-better-than-you, Know-it-all, Handsome-stud-muffin, Unreachable-dream-guy, but we also get to see his immature side that may be as big as his haughty side. Me, I’m hoping that more dimensions keep rolling out of his character. Hey, with such sweet and loving parents, the guy can’t be a complete robot, right?
© lovelovedrama 2011