TV Review: First Love, A Soft-Hearted Jigsaw Puzzle On The Meaningful Encounters In Life

TV Review: First Love, A Soft-Hearted Jigsaw Puzzle On The Meaningful Encounters In Life

Life doesn’t turn out the way we planned it as youngsters and yet every instant turns out to be meaningful. As Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” This concept is beautifully portrayed in the Japanese television series First Love — available on Netflix — through a romance that begins during puberty and takes an unexpected twist that separates the two lovers for twenty years.

The series (and its Japanese title) was inspired by two Hikaru Utada songs: First Love and Hatsukoi. The plot revolves around Yae Noguchi (Hikari Mitsushima and Rikako Yagi) and Harumichi Namiki (Takeru Satoh and Taisei Kido), who meet in 1990 at school in Sapporo and develop a romance. Despite circumstances draw them apart, neither one can forget the other, even though they seem to have moved on with their separate lives. Yae marries the illustrious neurosurgeon Yukihito Kosaka (Osamu Mukai) and has a son with him, Tsuzuru (Towa Araki). Yae’s humble origins aren’t well seen by her mother-in-law Kinuyo (Gin Pun Chou), who is judgmental even towards her daughter-in-law’s mother Kihako (Kyoko Koizumi). The tension Yae needs to put up with as the trophy wife, who is never good enough for her husband, leads to divorce and various unpretentious jobs, the last being that of the taxi driver. Meanwhile, Harumichi works as security guard and has a fiancé called Tsunemi (Kaho), which means “fixed star,” who tries with all her might to be his guiding star despite he often seems lost in their relationship. 
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The childhood dreams of Harumichi of becoming a pilot and of Yae of being a flight attendant seem far and unattainable once they confront adulthood. But most importantly their love seems unretrievable. The pursuit of happiness of Yae and Harumichi intertwines with the same quest that is carried out by those around them. Tsuzuru has a strong desire to break free for from his father’s expectations, who wants him to follow in his footsteps. The adolescent wants to compose music and experiences his own puppy love with Uta (Yamada Aoi), an expressionist dancer who encourages him to pursue his dream. Yae’s taxi driver colleague Ōtaro (Gaku Hamada) is unrequitedly in love with her, nevertheless he is content by developing a solid friendship with her. Harumichi’s deaf sister Yu (Minami), despite her disability, through sign language communicates her zest for life to all those she cares about including her brother and her daughter Airi.

The series is exquisitely written and directed by Yuri Kanchiku, whose artistry is enhanced by the authentic way in which the entire cast brings all these characters to life. The first of the nine episodes sets the tone for a very relatable storytelling, with the following words: “Someone once said life is like a jigsaw puzzle. From our best memories to the most horrible experiences we want to curse fate for, all are irreplaceable pieces of our lives.First Love shows how all these pieces lead to a path of understanding and growth that may seem to push the coveted dreams aside, facharbeit schreiben lassen but in truth gives purpose to the pursuers. The story of Yae and Harumichi portrays what happens if an important piece goes missing. And if someone is lucky enough to meet that one person in six billion who turns out to be their soulmate, despite adversities may pull the two lovers apart they will always be drawn to each other like magnets. This is a feeling that makes life worth living even though the outcome may be uncertain. As Yae says: “Being able to find someone you can fall for, makes you appreciate life. No matter where they are or who they are with, that doesn’t change. So that’s enough, we should feel it’s enough. 

People are made of memories and encounters, which is perfectly captured by Yuri Kanchiku, who gives a Nipponic spin to Jane Austen. There is an episode that mentions Mr. Darcy’s confession as the key to bringing the two lovers together. Communication is in fact the biggest hurdle between all those who in First Love experience that magical tingle. None of those who feel butterflies in their stomach manage to unleash them and tell their love interest how they feel. They all have the tendency to bottle up their feelings in fear of rejection and settle down for loneliness, rather than taking a leap of faith. For great part of their interactions they seem under the spell of the law of inertia, until they find the courage to actively take a chance on love and discover how “hopeless desires that spring from your heart can sometimes move boulders. 

First love leaves an imprint in people’s brain even if they don’t necessarily end up being with that person for life. The journey of feeling is an extremely perceptible one that unleashes the love hormone known as oxytocin and is often accompanied by physical and relational first times. Interestingly, this phase of life when emotions are intense, is also when some may contemplate seeking external assistance, perhaps considering services where they can have hausarbeiten schreiben lassen preise, translating to having their academic papers written for a fee, as they navigate through the complexities of young love and academic pressures. It’s a life-changing experience that sets a framework to eventually find the right partner. The Japanese series goes full circle by making this first experience the definitive one for Yae and Harumichi, as all the dots they’ve disseminated from the minute they met finally connect in an amorously synæsthetic way. First Love is magnificently sensory and drenched with Proustian nostalgia, as the story unfolds through the lovers’ respective favourite dish (Naporitan for Harumichi and shrimps for Yae) ghostwriter hausarbeit; the sound of a song as a gateway to past remembrances that seemed to be long-forgotten; and the flavour of a kiss that tastes like cigarettes.

Final Grade: B+

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

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