I Don't Love You Yet is the Japanese version of In Time With You (Taiwanese original story), and it is nailing it. I wondered how they were going to re-make this drama and the jobs have changed, but the key elements and guilty pleasures are still there! If you've seen ITWY then maybe you were also happily surprised with the beer cans that pop up.
This drama takes one career woman who works for a shoemaker, one male best friend that she can pour her heart out to and timing that is never quite right for them. When one is in a relationship, the other isn't but they both nurse broken-hearts and an "if we're still single at 30..." set up, that's actually just a bet, to see who marries first and the loser to pay 300,000 yen as a wedding gift. But this balance is upset with the arrival of our career woman's ex, and a new worker at this best friend's workplace. Is it time to finally graduate from best friends, or will their timing still not match?
I think each actor did an amazing job at portraying their characters and really kept the heart of their characters realistic. There were some changes from the Taiwanese original, but it suited the different culture and overall feel of the drama.
Mitarai Yo played by Adachi Rika.
Ishida Ren played by Shirasu Jin.
Mizusawa Ryusei played by Asaka Kodai.
Kono Maki played by Matsumoto Kiyo.
The career focus and love for her job really shine. It reminded me very much of the Taiwanese version for the male lead, actually. They're both so focused on doing their best and seeing the fruit of their effort just work. The fashion in this version caught my attention more, though! It's very bright and makes you feel such positive energy in the workplace and her attitude. You can tell this is where she wants to be.
I think their breaks from work were delightful, but they also went through work when it was crunch-time. That she can ask for advice with confidence, you can see how special their relationship is. In a way, it was like talking about a group project with your friend. They're not in the group, but they can give valuable insight and help you through any challenges. I liked how comfortable they were with each other. It was also some of the rare times they weren't in more comfy clothing and just hanging out.
Friendship and Romance: A Shoulder to Lean on
The highlight of this drama is the takoyaki. I mean, the friendship-romance! But the takoyaki was great, too. It was a special connection for how they first really became friends, something they could relax with and joke around with each other while feeling like family. Messily getting seaweed (nori) bits all over your teeth? No worries when you're with family, but when you're with someone you want to impress? No way.
The lack of desire to impress wasn't a barrier between them, actually. It was a very comfortable "married already" vibe, despite the fact that at times they dated other people. It really shows the importance of communication in relationships, and feeling safe enough to let out your horrible inner worries and insecurities. They were very attuned to each other and very focused. They laughed the loudest and smiled the most when they were together.
They wanted what was best for the other person and thus the "I'll suss out your boyfriend/girlfriend to see if they're good enough for you" rears its head. Is that really platonic? You can see how their partners would get insecure, especially if they valued their friendship over the relationship. In this drama, I really saw relationships as selfish, insecure and forced. The way each character felt like it was an obligation, something to be worked on or that they needed to change. Not all relationships are like this, but this drama seemed to be working on it as a huge contrast. You're only happy together when you're comfortable together.
There is a lot of personal growth that comes from challenging your assumptions and the desires of people around you. Your happiness is up to you, and you need to be brave enough to go for it!
What are your thoughts on the relationships in this drama? Did it feel more realistic, or does it make your heart feel stifled with frustration? How does it compare to the Taiwanese version?
What are your thoughts on these two dramas?
Thanks for reading!