‘First Love’ Ending, Explained: Did Yae Lose Her Memory? Did Yae And Harumichi Reunite In The End?


The Japanese romantic drama series “First Love” is pretty much what the title suggests. It is about what happens when fate conspires to bring two lovers together after years of staying apart. Yae Noguchi and Harumichi Namiki were teenage sweethearts who had to part ways as a result of a tragic accident. After Years of staying away from each other, Harumichi came across Yae all of a sudden. He could feel the same rush of emotions that he had experienced a long time ago. Yae was his first love, and she was irreplaceable in his life. Even though he did not know what he would do or say after meeting her, it was important for him to find her. Yae and Harumichi were destined to be together; every step they took in life, in some way, brought them closer to each other. “First Love” is an emotional rollercoaster meant for those who enjoy mushy, destined-to-be romance.

Spoilers Ahead

‘First Love’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?

Yae Noguchi noticed Harumichi Namiki at school. The moment she laid her eyes on him, she was attracted to him. While Yae was a soft-spoken, academically sound student, Harumichi was someone who got into trouble. But it was his humorous nature and charm that made him attractive. We later get to know that it was Harumichi who had noticed Yae while traveling on a train to a practice exam. He was enchanted by her beauty the moment he saw her. He was determined to be with her, and he worked hard to get admitted to the same school she planned to join. After joining the school, Harumichi came across Yae, and he was confident that their union was written in their destinies. Harumichi secretly watched several boys in school propose to Yae, and he felt happy when she politely declined them. Even though there was clearly a spark between the two, Harumichi could not bring himself to propose to her. He decided to take the plunge when his friends encouraged him to propose. He waited for Yae in the snow as she was returning home with her mother. Yae was glad to see Harumichi, and when he proposed that they start dating, she happily agreed with him and expressed how she admired him as well.

In the future, Harumichi works as a building security guard while Yae is a taxi driver. They are no longer in contact with each other, and life clearly did not turn out the way they would have preferred. Their teenage dreams were mostly left unfulfilled. Even though it has been years and Harumichi was engaged to marry Tsunemi Arikawa, he could never get over Yae and the relationship that they shared. While they were unaware of it, Harumichi and Yae continued to be part of each other’s lives indirectly. For example, when Harumichi left a bouquet of lilacs in a taxi, the driver offered them to Yae. Lilacs were Yae’s favorite flower, and she cherished the gift. In the past, unbeknownst to Harumichi, he consumed airline food that was packaged by Yae. These little instances are indicative of how their love was beyond human control; even when they were far apart, fate managed to find some way or another to bring them together. After years of separation, will Harumichi and Yae unite in the end? What led to their distance? Let’s find out.

Why Did Harumichi And Yae Part Ways?

Harumichi was unsure about what he wanted to pursue in the future. His family advised him to join the Air Defense Force, but he did not feel passionate about it. Though when Yae expressed her admiration for aviation, Harumichi immediately decided that he wanted to become a pilot. He wanted Yae to be proud of who he was. Yae secretly wanted to become a flight attendant. She wanted to travel the world, and she always felt drawn to the profession. She decided to pursue an English major in Tokyo. During that time, the two had to maintain a long-distance relationship. Harumichi could only call Yae during fixed hours from the military training center. Even though staying apart was tough, they eagerly looked forward to the telephone conversation. Yae had become a popular face in college; she won a beauty pageant and instantly became a college favorite. Her social life made it difficult for her to receive Harumichi’s phone calls.

Nonetheless, Harumichi decided to visit Yae in Tokyo after eight months of living at the center. They were over the moon upon seeing each other. Yae took him to a restaurant with a menu that Harumichi struggled to pronounce. The situation escalated when Yae’s two friends decided to join them for dinner. They made fun of Harumichi’s profession and innocence. He stepped out of the restaurant to calm himself, but he was followed by Machida, one of the two friends he had met. Machida informed Harumichi that Yae was preparing to travel to Canada under a foreign exchange program. Harumichi was devastated after learning about this; he was happy for Yae, but he had always believed that Yae would be the one to share such a promising news instead of her friend. He attacked Machida upon provocation and left the restaurant. He angrily expressed how he regretted coming to Tokyo, and he walked away from her.

Within a few minutes, he realized that his behavior toward Yae was unjustified, and he called her to apologize. As he spoke on the phone, he heard a car crash. He rushed to the spot and found Yae lying on the road, unconscious. The accident led to amnesia, and Yae failed to remember anything from the recent past. She only recognized her parents and remembered her childhood memories; everything else was a blur. Harumichi was not ready to give up on Yae, but her mother wanted him to stay away from her. She believed Harumichi would make her recovery journey all the more painful. He would remind her of a past she had no clue about. Even though he wrote her letters, her mother kept them all away from her. In the meantime, Yae developed feelings for a neurosurgeon she consulted with during her treatment, and her mother, Kihako, believed that she had a better prospect with him than with Harumichi. It was Kihako’s decision to keep her daughter away from Harumichi that ultimately led to their separation. Though Harumichi blamed himself for leaving Yae alone in the street that night, he was not there to protect her when she needed him the most.

How Did Harumichi And Yae Meet Again? Who Was Tsuzuru?

Harumichi noticed Yae out of the blue while she was driving the taxi. He used the two-way radio lying in his office to intercept signals, hoping to hear Yae’s voice the moment she used her radio. While his colleague laughed at his hopeless dedication to finding his first love, Harumichi did not care. He simply wanted to see her once again, and for that, he was ready to listen to the radio for hours. He finally heard Yae’s voice and found the company she worked at, but unfortunately, when he went to visit her, she was off duty.

Harumichi met a young man at the building complex waiting for Uta, a dancer who practiced in the complex. He could sense the deep attraction and interest that the boy felt, and he sympathized with him. He informed the boy that Uta would be there on Saturday. It seemed as if only Harumichi understood what Tsuzuru was going through, and he helped the man introduce himself to Uta. Tsuzuru was a talented music composer, and his work impressed Uta. The two became friends, and Harumichi was a witness to their growing friendship. One night, when it got late, Yae came to pick up Tsuzuru, and that was when Harumichi met her again. She did not remember him because of the memory loss, but it definitely took Harumichi by surprise, leaving him wondering how fate had its way of bringing them together. Tsuzuru was Yae’s son; she had separated from the neurosurgeon, Yukihito Kosaka, and she met her son once a week.

Even though Kihako thought Yukihito was the best choice for Yae, they were vastly different from each other. Yae grew up with her mother; her parents separated before she was born. Her father was a rich businessman, but he never contributed to raising Yae. He had another family and a daughter who studied at a private school. Yae loved her father, but at the same time, she knew he was a brilliant liar. He lied about loving her and caring about her when, in reality, he barely did anything to make her life better. Yae grew up in a modest household, where her mother had to work long hours to provide food on the table. Whereas Yukihito’s family members were mostly affluent doctors. Yae’s mother-in-law would often mock Kihako’s behavior, stating how she was not fit for the parties they organized. She would insult Yae as well for not being educated enough, even after knowing what she had suffered from and how she had dedicated her life to her raising her son. Yae tolerated the insults that were directed at her, but she could no longer stand her insulting her mother.

She left the house with Tsuzuru and was determined to figure out their lives all by herself. She worked day and night shifts to provide Tsuzuru with a decent life. But the overwork affected her physical health, and as the days passed, it became more and more difficult for her to cope with the routine. She ultimately gave up, realizing that it was affecting her son’s life. She knew that Yukihito would be able to provide a better life for Tsuzuru financially. While Yukihito wanted his son to become a doctor to keep up with the family tradition, Tsuzuru was interested in composing music. Yae encouraged her son to pursue what he was passionate about. He shared his music with Yae, knowing that his mother was his biggest cheerleader. Tsuzuru had come across Uta’s profile on social media, and he was impressed by her expressionist performances. She inspired his music to an extent, and he admired her enough to wait for her at a building complex, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.

‘First Love’ Ending Explained: How Did Yae Recollect Her Lost Memories? Did Yae And Harumichi Reunite In The End?

Harumichi learned about Yae from Tsuzuru. When he got to know that Yae was at the laundromat alone, he ran to be by her side. Yae had fallen asleep at the laundromat, and Harumichi waited for her to wake up. He later helped her fix her washing machine, and they gradually became friends who texted each other time and again. Yae would update him about the best places to grab his favorite Napolitan; meanwhile, Harumichi tried to stop himself from confessing about their past. He cherished their friendship and perhaps was scared of losing it over time. Even though there was an obvious attraction between them, Harumichi chose never to confess his love for her. She was aware that he was engaged to Tsunemi, and even though she was attracted to him, she maintained that they shared nothing more than friendship.

Harumichi met Tsunemi when he was forced to visit a therapist after returning from Iraq. Even though Harumichi never admitted it, his time spent there could have led to post-traumatic stress disorder. Tsunemi was a confident young woman, and their daily conversation led to the development of an unexpected friendship. After the session was over, Harumichi asked Tsunemi out on a date. They had been together for a year after that date, but Harumichi was not yet ready to give a name to their relationship. But after an earthquake struck Japan, Harumichi realized how important Tsunemi’s presence was in his life, and he decided to get serious with her. Now that they were preparing to get married, Harumichi felt unsure. He could not help but still feel attracted to Yae, and even though he respected and admired Tsunemi, she was not the one he loved. He tried to be honest with her several times, but she chose not to pay heed to the discussion. She could sense that Harumichi was slipping away from her, and she tried to hold on to him for as long as she could. But ultimately, Harumichi ended his relationship with her, realizing how he would be living a lie with her. After suffering from a back injury and staying away from his loved ones for a long time, Harumichi decided to quit working as a fighter jet pilot. He took up the job of security personnel at the building complex. But later, he decided to continue with his aviation journey by applying to private airways.

Harumichi and Yae got close to each other, especially after he risked his life to save her from the impact of an attack. Yae was adamant about driving him during his recovery period, and they eventually shared a kiss. Harumichi was apologetic for his behavior, and Yae agreed that she considered him only as her friend and nothing more. They were both lying to each other. After breaking up with Tsunemi, Harumichi decided to leave Japan and go far away from Yae. Even though he loved her, he was aware that she did not know about the past. So, he decided that instead of suffering, he would rather be in a different country—away from her. Yae hoped that they could together enjoy the Napolitan at her favorite restaurant. After being encouraged by her colleague, she was determined to confess her feelings for him, but he called her and stated that he would not join her at the restaurant and that he would be leaving the country. Yae gathered up her courage and confessed that she had lied to him before and that she liked him a lot. Harumichi watched Yae tear up from afar, but he chose not to confront her.

The day he left, Tsuzuru played a CD player (that he got from Harumichi) that consisted of a compilation of songs that Harumichi and Yae listened to as teenagers. Yae showed interest in listening to the CD player, and the moment she plugged in the earphones, she was reminded of the past. The memories were etched in her mind, and it was a trigger (the music) that helped her recall her past. She remembered how Harumichi was her first love and the several adventures that they had experienced together. She also remembered that a decade ago, they had dug a hole and kept all the items that mattered to them and reminded them of their partner. Yae dug the hole and found the testaments of their relationship, from letters and a train ticket to pictures taken together.

With only memories to live with, Yae hoped to travel the world and fulfill one of her childhood dreams, but just then, COVID restrictions were implied, and she was forced to stay back. Meanwhile, Tsuzuru confessed his liking for Uta just as she was about to leave the country to go on a world tour. To Tsuzuru’s surprise, she, too, was fond of him. By the time Uta returned, Tsuzuru had become a popular music composer and had thousands of fans following him wherever he went. After returning, Uta informed Tsuzuru that she had found Harumichi during the trip. After learning about it, Yae was determined to travel the world to meet her love. She traveled to the Husavik airport and finally met Harumichi. She admitted that she now remembered the past and knew that he was her first love. In the end, we get to know that it was not just Harumichi who fell head over heels for Yae that day on the train; Yae, too, felt the same way. She had even taken a train to the station, hoping to thank him personally for bookmarking the book she was reading with his train ticket. The series ends with Yae and Harumichi doing what they had always dreamed of. He was now a pilot for a private airline, while she was the flight attendant. Somehow, life worked out for them the moment they found each other again.

The mid-credit scene indicates that Yae and Harumichi continue to live in Iceland, and they are madly in love with each other. In the end-credit scene, we come across Yae, who now works at the Husavik airport. Harumichi steals a kiss from her before going to service the plane. Further confirming how their love story had a fairy tale ending. They now lived in a different country, and their professional and personal lives were satisfying. Somehow, even when life seemed difficult and hopeless, every piece fell into place in the end. “First Love” is a dreamy fairytale love story with adversities that one can easily get over and a happy ending with the lovers finding their way back to each other.

“First Love” is a 2022 Drama Romance series directed by Yuri Kanchiku.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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