First Love (2022) review: Heart-warming epic love story

The Japanese series, ‘First Love’, narrates the humour and pain of a romantic relationship that spans several years. The series is now streaming on Netflix.


In the year 2018, Yae Noguchi works as a cab driver in Sapporo, Japan. Yae has a solitary life because she is divorced and Kosaka Tsuzuru, her son stays with her ex-husband. Tsuzuru, who was in his teens wanted to be a musician and had a crush on a young woman called Uta.

Namiki works as a building security guard and discovers Yae works for a cab company now. In high school, Young Yae and Namiki fall in love with each other after realising how much they like each other. 

Namiki encourages Tsuzuru to meet Uta and later, is saddened knowing the truth that Yae, his long-lost love, is Tsuzuru’s mother.

During the early 2000s, young Namiki enrols in the Air Defence Force, while Yae moves to a smaller apartment in Tokyo after joining college.

Young Namiki learns from Yae’s mother that Yae doesn’t remember her past after her accident and is engaged to be married to a wealthy guy when he visits Yae.

Despite not being aware that Namiki was her first love, Yae connects with him when they eventually meet after a couple of decades. One evening, the song played in the walkman which Tsuzuru got from Namiki’s apartment, brings back Yae’s lost memories with Namiki.

Tsunemi realises that Namiki couldn’t forget Yea and therefore asks him to leave Tsunemi. At the same time, Uta and Tsuzuru fall in love with each other. 

Tsuzuru is introduced as a 19-year-old track creator and current sensation in a radio interview after three long years.

Yae and Namiki finally meet in Iceland and tells him that she still remembers her first love, and it was him. They both rediscover their affection for one another. 


First Love is a 20-year-long epic love story with stunning cinematography and moving performances from an all-star ensemble.

In both the young and the older cast members, the performers have done a fantastic job of capturing the feelings of a memorable first love. 

Hikari Mitsushima, who plays the older Yae, has an honest and expressive face. She exudes an innocent warmth that inspires the audience to be good and compassionate. The onscreen chemistry between Hikari and Takeru Satoh, who plays old Namiki, appears to be quite natural.

The audience will also enjoy the parental love that is shown, which adds to the love shared between the two lead characters. Yae Noguchi portrays the roles of a mother and a daughter, demonstrating how she infuses both parts with a lovely type of affection.


The vast panoramas of Japan and the various locations are quite impressive. The series includes both of the songs, ‘First Love’ and ‘Hatsukoi’, which served as an inspiration for the series. They are utilised in lovely ways to accentuate various scenes.

The show also incorporates a range of music by singers and bands from across the world. The majority of these are serene melodies that go well with the narrative.

The programme has done a great job of capturing the absurdity of first-time romantic feelings as well as the powerful emotions that defy all odds to endure. Director Yuri Kanchiku has produced a masterpiece with captivating characters and an epic love story.

Both happy and painful emotions are presented in the series, but that is often anticipated in the romance genre to keep things interesting. Even though the show has a few extremely predictable scenes, it manages to keep viewers interested and captivated.

First Love may deliver emotional satisfaction since its themes of love, responsibility, and fate are well-developed throughout the episodes. Although the audience might find it a bit perplexing at times, the transitions between the past and the present have also been done quite tastefully.


First Love has a lot of good parts, but the running time is just too long for the worn-out plot beats to be fully explored. It immediately becomes clear that the series doesn’t have enough of a plot to last nine hours. 

Once that concept has become ingrained, the story sequences do start to feel a bit repetitive, the flashbacks a bit laboured, the relationships a bit tense, and so on, giving the impression that the series is only idling to lengthen the running time.

All the typical scenes are present, albeit some of them are unduly stretched out or hindered by an unnecessarily complicated framework.


‘First Love’ is a charming story for those moments when all people want to do is feel and believe in love. It also explores the role that fate plays in uniting two people’s hearts.

Even if the audience might want to skip the predictable sequences, it is best to stick around until the very end since this show is more than just a love story.

First Love
First Love (2022) review: Heart-warming epic love story 1

Director: Yuri Kanchiku

Date Created: 2022-11-17 13:30

Editor's Rating:

Also Read: First Love (2022) ending explained: Do Yae and Harumichi end up together?

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