8 J-Dramas That Are All About First Loves
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means love is definitely in the air. With so many declarations of love soon to be made, here are eight Japanese dramas that focus on first loves.
1. “An Incurable Case of Love”
In this 2020 rom-com, Kamishiraishi Mone stars as Nanase Sakura, a rookie nurse who has just accepted her first official position at a local hospital. Inspired to pursue a career in medicine after witnessing a handsome young doctor save the life of a stranger, years ago, Sakura is shocked when she realizes that the very same doctor, Tendo Kairi (played by Sato Takeru), works at her hospital. Even more surprising is the fact that he’s nothing like she imagined him to be. Cold and cruel, Dr. Tendo scares the majority of his colleagues, but not Sakura. Going head-to-head with this devil doctor, Sakura proves she has what it takes, not only to do her job, but to steal the heart of this cold-hearted doctor as well.
Watch the first episode of “An Incurable Case of Love“:
2. “Meet Me After School”
Based on the long-running manga series of the same name, this 2018 drama stars Arimura Kasumi as Suenaga Hijiri, the pretty new teacher at a co-ed school. Wildly popular among the school’s male students, Hijiri inadvertently catches the eye of Kuroiwa Akira (Okada Kenshi), a student who has no qualms about professing his love. With her long-time boyfriend, Kawai Shotaro (Machida Keita), suddenly talking of marriage, Hijiri finds herself pulled in a million different directions, making it difficult for her to understand which way her heart is trying to lead.
Watch the first episode of “Meet Me After School” here:
This spicy little 2019 rom-com stars Morikawa Aoi as Terada Aki, the happy heroine whose world is shattered when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. Kicking his sorry self to the curb, Aki decides to make a fresh start by moving out of their shared apartment and into a share-house. It’s there that she’s reunited with her long-lost first love, Hongyo Tomoya, played by Nakao Masaki. Letting her heart lead where it may, Aki and Tomoya rekindle their old flame but things get complicated when their housemate and homeowner, Hase Taichi (Yuki Kousei), declares that he’s going to marry Aki!
Watch the first episode of “Kakafukaka” here:
4. “A Virgin Woman of Literature”
Also starring Morikawa Aoi, this 2018 romance has her playing Tsukishiro Kanoko, a successful publishing editor who has always put her work before romance. When she learns she’s been assigned to oversee the works of the wildly popular mystery author, Kagaya Saku (Shirota Yu), Kanoko is beside herself with glee. Having learned everything she knows about relationships and love from Saku’s books, Kanoko can’t wait to learn from the master himself. But Saku turns out to be nothing more than a petty man who enjoys nothing more than picking on her. Despite her best efforts, Kanoko finds herself falling for Saku, which forces her to ask an impossible question: could an unlovable man and a woman who’s never been in love ever really find a way to be happy together?
Watch the first episode of “A Virgin Woman of Literature” here:
5. “17.3 About Love”
Set in the hormone-filled world of high school, “17.3 About Love” is a 2020 romance drama starring Akita Shiori, Nagase Riko, and Tanabe Ririka. Well aware of the fact that most girls experience their first sexual encounter at the age of 17.3, three high school girls are more than ready to begin their own explorations. But even though some of them are more experienced than others, none of them are ready for the ups and downs that come with falling in love.
Watch the first episode of “17.3 About Love” here:
6. “Scum’s Wish”
Based on the hit manga series of the same name, “Scum’s Wish” is a 2017 romantic melodrama which stars Sakurada Dori and Yoshimoto Miyu. Posing as the perfect high school couple, Awaya Mugi and Yasuroka Hanabi may have tricked the world into believing they’re happy, but in reality they’re anything but. Using their fake relationship to hide the truth, both Mugi and Hanabi secretly pine for other people. Deeply unhappy, the two long for someone that’s always kept just out of reach. Despite their promise to never fall in love with each other, the two eventually come to find solace in each other’s arms. But how will this temporary reprieve affect their relationships, both with each other and their unrequited loves?
Watch the first episode of “Scum’s Wish” here:
7. “In Time With You”
A remake of the 2011 Taiwanese drama of the same name, “In Time With You” is a 2019 romance starring Adachi Rika as Mitarai Yo and Shirasu Jin as Ishida Ren. Friends since high school, Yo and Ren have been a part of each other’s lives for years. Celebrating Yo’s 29th birthday together, the two make an unusual bet. Daring one to marry before the other, the two friends agree that whoever does so will receive a 300,000 yen cash gift (approximately $2, 586) from the other on their wedding day, so long as one of them marries before Yo turns 31. With the clock now ticking, the two friends find themselves on a quest for true love, only to find that love is full of surprises.
Watch the first episode of “In Time With You” here:
8. “A Story to Read When You First Fall in Love”
Based on the manga of the same name by Mochida Aki, “A Story to Read When You First Fall in Love” is a 2019 rom-com starring Fukada Kyoko, Yokohama Ryusei, Nagayama Kento, and Nakamura Tomoya. As a 31-year-old down-on-her-luck cram school teacher, Fukada Kyoko’s Harumi Junko has certainly seen better days. Her students are dropping her classes, her bosses are wondering if it wouldn’t be better to just let her go, and her mother is constantly hounding her about her non-existent love life. Kyoko is ready to give up on everything.
Confiding in her long-time friend, Yakumo Masashi (Nagayama Kento), Kyoko has no idea Masashi has secretly harbored a crush on her for the past 20 years. As Masashi tries to muster up the courage to confess, one of Kyoko’s students, Kyohei Yuri (Yokohama Ryusei) very loudly professes his love. But Yuri isn’t the only one ready to confess. Having long harbored a crush on the woman who helped him graduate all those years ago, Yuri’s teacher, Yamashita Kazuma (Nakamura Tomoya) decides the time is right to profess his love. With three men now vying for her affection, Kyoko has no idea what to do! How can she decide which man is her one true love when each of them is pulling her heart in an entirely different direction?
Watch the first episode of “A Story to Read When You First Fall in Love” here:
There are so many great romances out there that it’s impossible to list them all. Which J-dramas top your list of favorites? Let us know in the comments!
Leah is a freelance writer who has spent the past decade lost in the Wonderland that is Asian pop culture and entertainment.
Currently watching: “Ghost Doctor,” “Cupid’s Kitchen,” and “Young Lady and Gentleman”
All-time favorite dramas: “Master’s Sun” and “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God”
Looking forward to: Park Seo Joon’s upcoming drama, the release of ONE OK ROCK’s next full-length album, and the eventual premiere of the star-studded sci-fi action film, “Alien”