The Japanese series, ‘First Love’, captures the humour and anguish of falling in love for the first time. The series is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Yae Noguchi is a taxi driver in Sapporo, Japan, in the year 2018. She is driving her cab while only reflecting on her school days. When she was a student, she dreamed of becoming a flight attendant.
Her thoughts go back to the moments when she first met Harumichi Namiki. She gently declines a date request from one of her coworkers at her workplace and returns to her apartment.
Yae lives a solitary life as she is a divorcee and her teenage son, Kosaka Tsuzuru, lives with her former husband, who is a doctor.
Tsuzuru is a high school student from a well-to-do family. Tsuzuru aspired to be a musician, but his father insisted that he focus on earning excellent grades in academics. Tsuzuru is very enamoured with a young woman who often shares dancing videos on social media.
Despite being a standout basketball player in school, Namiki chose to work as a building security guard. One day, a song playing in the cab makes him think about Yae as he is on his way to see the parents of his new girlfriend, Tsunemi.
Namiki spends time with his sister Yu and her daughter at a restaurant. Yu notices that Namiki’s phone’s security code is Yae’s birth date. When Yae meets Tsuzuru on his birthday, she listens to the music Tsuzuru composed, and she is impressed by his talent.
One day, while Namiki was riding in another cab, he learns that Yae is a cabbie. Yae receives a sweater as a gift from Tsuzuru with a letter asking her to go on dates once in a while.
Namiki makes an effort to learn which taxi company Yae works for. After getting the gift from Tsuzuru, Yae feels extremely energised at work and outside. At the same time, Namiki also succeeds in locating Yae’s workplace. After a very long period, Namiki finally meets Yae through Tsuzuru.
When Namiki and his girlfriend, Tsunemi, watch Titanic at home, memories of him and Yae spring to mind.
During the early 2000s young Yae shifts to a smaller apartment in Tokyo and Namiki joins the Air Defence Force. He engages in rigorous training, while Yae joins college.
Tsuzuru shares his thoughts about Uta with Namiki and he calls Tsuzuru’s excitement as ‘first love’. When Tsuzuru alerts Namiki about Yae’s broken washing machine, Namiki offers to help and fixes it. Yae invites him for dinner at her place even though she is unaware of who Namiki is.
Uta informs Yae that she is travelling to Tel Aviv for a dancing audition when they first meet. She is dropped off at the airport by Yae, and she clicks with Uta immediately.
When young Yae and Namiki finally reconnect after 8 months apart, they go out for lunch. Yae’s two companions Nanako and Machida join them at the table and begin to tease Namiki.
Machida informs Namiki of the opportunity Yae was offered to study abroad, which Yae withheld from Namiki.
Young Namiki yells at Yae for failing to inform him of the study abroad programme before walking away and abandoning Yae in the middle of the road. After a while, he calms himself, calls her, and learns that she has been struck by a vehicle and is lying on the road unconscious.
When Yae is admitted to a hospital, the doctor informs Yae’s mother that she has Retrograde Amnesia, which makes it impossible for her to recollect the past due to the trauma of the accident. Yae’s mother informs Namiki and even starts hiding the letters that he sends to Yae.
The young doctor who was assigned to her develops feelings for Yae and proposes to her. Namiki, on the other hand, gets ready for his maiden solo flight as a cadet.
Namiki returns to see Yae after finishing his training successfully. Yae’s mother informs him that Yae is already pregnant and soon getting married to a rich man.
As the scene progresses, Bonji, Namiki’s best friend, proposes to marry Yu during which Namiki delivers a heart-touching speech.
When Tsuzuru meets Uta at the venue of her dance performance, she extends an invitation to an after-party. After observing her speaking with her dance choreographer, he feels bad. At the same time, Yae learns that Namiki is in a relationship with Tsunemi.
During his nighttime patrol, Namiki runs into a thief in his building. The burglar pushes Yae, who was following him, to return his phone, which he left inside her car. Namiki tries to protect her, following which he slips and tumbles down the stairs.
Yae is informed by the doctor that surgery is necessary since his lower limbs exhibit paralysis-like symptoms. Yae also learns that Namiki had served as an army pilot and had undergone surgery during that period.
When young Yae and Namiki visit Yae’s father in Otaru, Namiki tells him that Yae is precious to him and that he wants to give her a special life. The young Namiki pleased Yae’s father, who approves of their relationship.
Yae returns home with Tsuzuru following her divorce. Her routine becomes stressful as she starts working different jobs. She had to leave Tsuzuru in her husband’s care since she saw how well Tsuzuru would do in her husband’s family.
Young Namiki was forced to return to the air base after a devastating earthquake struck Japan in to assist with the country’s rescue efforts. Yae moves to Sapporo and joins a taxi company as a cab driver.
After Namiki suffered an accident during the rescue efforts, he was prohibited from operating any aircraft. When Namiki introduces Tsunemi to Yu, she reveals his past and his relationship with Yae, to Tsunemi.
Namiki musters the fortitude to admit to Tsunemi that he still can’t forget Yae following which she requests to end the relationship. Yae informs Tsuzuru that Uta is leaving for her dance show abroad and they both go to meet her.
Tsuzuru is enthralled by the way Yae drives to get to the airport on time. Uta and Tsuzuru finally meet and they realise that they both have fallen for each other.
Covid 19 affects the majority of the world as Yae makes travel plans after getting her leave granted by her taxi firm. Yae struggled mightily to survive the days following the global Covid 19 disaster.
After 3 long years, Tsuzuru is introduced as the 19-year-old trackmaker and current sensation in a radio interview. Many of Tsuzuru’s father’s coworkers approach him asking for Tsuzuru’s autograph.
When Uta returns from her world tour, she shows Tsuzuru the face of Namiki caught in a picture that she had clicked with her friends. While Yae is on a flight, she reads the letter from young Namiki to Yae, which details how he met her and how fate drew them together and made them inseparable.
Namiki starts working at the Husavic airport in Iceland where Yae travels as a tourist. She becomes delighted and hurries to meet Namiki when an elderly guy offers her a hint that Namiki is around. They finally meet, hug and kiss each other.
First Love ending explained in detail:
Does Yae regain her lost memory?
Yae forgets the majority of her past after the accident. She could only partially recollect her upbringing; she was unable to recall her experiences in high school or afterwards.
After a couple of decades, Yae listens to an old walkman that Tsuzuru had taken from Namiki’s building while Namiki was emptying the apartment. The song played in the walkman brings back her lost memories with Namiki.
She visits the spot where young Yae and Namiki buried some of the items that they had kept as a prized possession during their time in school.
She digs out the big box and takes out letters, a ticket, and pictures she took with Namiki while they were at school.
Does Tsuzuru meet his crush?
On Tsuzuru’s 14th birthday, he shows up to meet with Yae but departs after promising to return before 9 o’cp.m.hen Yae plans to celebrate his big day. She leaves before he could reach the place.
One evening, Tsuzuru waited for his crush in front of the building where Namiki worked as a security guard. When Namiki realises that Tsuzuru has feelings for the dancing girl, Uta, Namiki tells Tsuzuru to leave and come back when she returns to film her dance video at the same place.
Finally, Uta and Tsuzuru become good friends as a result of Namiki’s plan for Tsuzuru to meet her.
When Uta is about to leave for her Dance tour, Tsuzuru meets her at the airport and opens up his heart to her. He sends his new music composition to Uta which enthrals her and she kisses Tsuzuru.
Does Tsuzuru follow his passion for music?
When Tsuzuru’s father appointed a new tutor, Dr. Okochi, to teach Tsuzuru, Tsuzuru escapes through the back door and goes to meet his crush, Uta. She started listening to Tsuzuru’s music after becoming friends with him, and she also gave him recommendations for good music.
The fact that Uta is interested in Tsuzuru’s musical works excites him. With her remarks, she encourages him to pursue his passion for music. Later, Yae asks him to follow his passion and live a life which he loves.
Tsuzuru begins to pursue his passion and devote more of his time to music. He becomes a YouTube music sensation by the time he is 19 and has a sizable fan base who are fans of his music.
Why did Nakimi leave the Air Force?
The relationship with Yae serves as an inspiration for Namiki to join the Air Defence Force. He wished to give her a safe life. He felt lost when he realised that Yae had abandoned him and started a new relationship with another man.
But he completes the training programme for the sake of his family. After that, he began to make out with women and flirt with them even though Yae was constantly on his mind.
Namiki decides to travel to Iraq with the force on a dangerous mission. Later, he suffers an accident as a result of the rescue efforts made in Japan after the earthquake. He was removed from the force following the injury.
Why did Yae get divorced?
Up until Tsuzuru became 2 years old, Yae and her husband led a perfect life. Embarrassed by Yae’s family history, the mother of her husband made Yae lie to everyone she met.
Yae’s spouse showed little interest in any aspect of her day, and at their home, she was treated more like a servant. When she discovers an earring in her husband’s coat pocket, she was distraught.
Yae feels guilty and becomes angry when her mother is made an outcast by her husband’s family. She moves back with her mum after divorcing her husband.
Later, she adds her signature to the paperwork modifying Tsuzuru’s custody arrangements. In order to provide a bright future for Tsuzuru, Yae’s spouse took him.
Does Yae fall in love with Namiki again?
Young Yae and Namiki shared a crush on each other in high school. But for a very long time, they kept that a secret from one another. Yae and Namiki fall in love, while still in school after realising how much they adore one another, on a winter’s night.
Tsuzuru presents Namiki to Yae after they become friends. When Namiki learns that Yae, his long-lost love, is Tsuzuru’s mother, he is devastated.
Despite not knowing that Namiki was her first love, Yae begins to feel a connection to him when they finally cross paths after many years apart.
Following the Iraqi assignment that was given to Namiki, Tsunemi shows up in his life as a psychiatrist and eventually they start dating.
Namiki and Tsunemi were on the verge of getting married when Namiki ran into Yae. During his last day of rehab following the accident, Namiki takes Yae to Mount Tengu.
Namiki confesses to him that she feels that something important in her life is missing but she can’t place it. Namiki draws her in and kisses her just as they were ready to leave the place.
Yae regains her memory when Namiki leaves Japan. After five years, when Yae meets Namiki in Iceland, she tells him that she recalls her ‘first love’ and that it was him. Finally, they renew their affection and love for each other and continue to hold each other’s hand.