My Little Lover～Minami kun no koibito, a popular work by multi-talented manga artist Shungicu Uchida, is a love story that centers on Chiyomi Horikiri, a female high school student reduced to a height of 16 cm. The object of her affections is a similar-aged boy with the surname Minami (whose first name generally changes with every new version of the story). Originally serialized in the now-defunct monthly manga magazine GARO during 1986-7, the story has since been adapted for television on three occasions: in 1990, 1994, and 2004. Its appeal unfading, especially among young female audiences, My Little Lover now returns to the small screen for a fourth time after an 11-year hiatus, courtesy of the same talented team responsible for the success of Mischievous Kiss 2: Love in TOKYO.
The current adaptation sees the handsome yet moody character of Shunichi Minami played by Taishi Nakagawa, a talented teenager currently making waves in dramas and commercials. Chiyomi, meanwhile, is portrayed by Maika Yamamoto, who has recently starred in a string of blockbuster movies. The combined presence of these two in-demand 17-year-olds has created high expectations for the show. With a new take on Minami, the appearance of a rival for Chiyomi’s affections who was never featured in the manga, and a new ending that departs from the original work, the current adaptation is guaranteed to entertain seasoned fans and first-time viewers alike.
Chiyomi Horikiri is a vibrant third year high school student whose hobbies include dance and fiction writing. The only sour note in her life is her childhood sweetheart and classmate Shunichi Minami, who has stopped talking to her since being abandoned by his father. Although she has come to accept Shunichi’s reticence, when she catches sight of him enjoying an intimate walk with another girl, she realizes that she still has strong feelings for him. Her misery is compounded later that night when, following an argument with her parents, Chiyomi races out of her house and bumps into Shunichi, only to be told that he no longer likes her.
Shocked and hurt, Chiyomi attempts to run away from everything, indifferent to the huge storm that is approaching. Chiyomi remembers how carefree and happy she used to be when she was a child, and begins to wish that she could be transported “back to when she was little.” A subsequent lightning strike grants Chiyomi’s wish, but with an unexpected twist—she is reduced to a paltry 15 cm in height! Luckily, Minami is the first to find her. Upon learning of Chiyomi’s wish that no one learn of her shrunken state, Shunichi reluctantly offers his own home as a safe haven, thus paving the way for their secret life together. But despite the welcome thaw in their fractious relationship, one pressing question remains: Will Chiyomi ever return to normal size?
My Little Lover was originally a manga, first serialized during 1986-7 in GARO. The hit TV adaptations thus far have seen the two lead roles played by Masaki Kudo and Hikari Ishida (1990), Shinji Takeda and Yumiko Takahashi (1994), and Kazunari Ninomiya and Kyoko Fukada (2004). This fourth TV adaptation marks the grand return of our secret cohabitants after an 11-year absence.
The cool, good-looking Shunichi marks a departure from original work’s Minami, who is on the easygoing side. Will the new brooding Minami captivate viewers enough to alter their perception of him? And will his destiny be altered in the new, original ending penned for 2015? Might there be a brighter alternative to the shocking fates that befell the two characters in the original manga?
The new My Little Lover sees Shunichi Minami played by rising star Taishi Nakagawa, who previously impressed in such hit shows as I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper and Water Polo Yankees. The role marks Nakagawa’s debut as a lead in a drama. Meanwhile, the role of Chiyomi Horikiri falls to Maika Yamamoto, whose appearances in blockbusters such as Assassination Classroom and Z Island have attracted much attention. These stars of the moment will breathe new life into a familiar story.
They spawned a social phenomenon with Itakiss, and repeated the feat with Mischievous Kiss 2: Love in TOKYO. Now, the same production crew is back to woo the latest generation of young female hearts with their interpretation of My Little Lover. Will the Itakiss boom be followed by a MLL boom?
Playful Kiss was originally a popular teenage-girl manga series penned by Kaoru Tada and
adapted for TV in 2013-14. Simultaneously released both in Japan and overseas, it became
an instant international hit—especially in China, where viewer ratings for the series topped
340 million! DVD sales in Japan have also impressed, with Season Two becoming so popular
as to secure the top spot in Amazon’s “Japanese TV drama” sales category for the first half
The setting for the current drama is Tateyama, which the production team chose specifically so they could film a TV series in a city with a castle. Having received the requisite backing from the Chiba Prefecture Film Commission and Tateyama City, filming was able to commence in April this year and wrap up by June. In addition to various spots in Tateyama—including local favorites such as Shiroyama Park and Tateyama Shrine—the city of Minamiboso and the town of Kyonan also served as backdrops. The sense of realism was further bolstered by the walk-on performances of local Tateyama residents and schoolchildren as extras.