First Love season 1 ending explained – do Yae and Harumichi end up together?

November 24, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Ending Explained, Netflix, Streaming Service
3.5

Summary

“Hatsukoi” does deliver a touching conclusion and a powerful evocation of the show’s central theme, but it can’t help but feel like a bit of a plodding finale after such a long series that took the roundabout route.

View allNext Episode
Loading JustWatch data...
3.5

Summary

“Hatsukoi” does deliver a touching conclusion and a powerful evocation of the show’s central theme, but it can’t help but feel like a bit of a plodding finale after such a long series that took the roundabout route.

This article contains major spoilers for First Love season 1, episode 9, “Hatsukoi”, including an open discussion of the First Love season 1 ending.


To employ a well-worn cliche, First Love isn’t about the journey, but the destination. And it certainly took its sweet time getting there. I think we can all agree that nine hour-long episodes were too many for this story; that there wasn’t enough of it to fill them, even across multiple time periods and perspectives. “Hatsukoi”, the finale, still employs that dual-timeline gimmick, but importantly it catches back up to itself and finds a sweet middle-ground that proves, sometimes, fate will get its way in the end.

First Love season 1, episode 9 recap

The finale begins in Hokkaido, 1997, with young Yae fretting over and then sitting a mock exam in Kitami while her present-day self unearths a time capsule. But the nice flourish is how we loop back around to that exam and take it in from a different perspective by means of that time capsule; it’s a neat way of uniting all the narrative’s gimmicks and themes into something cohesive and moving.

That time capsule contains, among other things, that “Bound for Kitami” ticket stub, a poster of the Titanic, and old photographs, some of Yae and Harumichi. It also contains a letter, stuffed in an empty pack of Marlboro. We’ll come back to this.

After a bit of a romantic moment between Tsuzuru and Uta, Yae takes all of her paid days off at once, and everyone in the office rallies around her to ensure that she isn’t penalized for doing so. She’s all ready to jet off for pastures new, but she’s waylaid by an unlikely arrival: Covid-19.

Covid cost us a lot of normalcy, and it costs Yae three years. First Love uses real-life news footage of world leaders explaining the severity of the pandemic to do a lot of heavy lifting, along with leaden shots of calendars and empty offices. It’s a bit jarring to see, to be honest, especially after First Love has spent so long in so many different time periods.

But, nevertheless, the time elapses, and Yae eventually gets on her flight to Reykjavik. On it, she reads the letter from Harumichi. He recounts their first meeting, the most priceless treasure he had. Before her, he was constantly in trouble at school, albeit for defending his sister from those who made fun of her hearing. When he first saw Yae, it was on a train — to Kitami. When she falls asleep, he puts the “Bound for Kitami” ticket stub in her book, so she doesn’t lose her place. He sees her again in the exam hall, bringing the episode full circle. It’s fate! And when he gets into the same school, it’s a miracle.

The First Love ending is the show’s chickens coming home to roost, narratively speaking. Time and distance suddenly become meaningless. The idea is that if you love someone enough, you’ll find your way to them, or they’ll find their way to you. Yae and Harumichi finally reunite in Iceland, and the final shot of the series is of an air stewardess and a pilot as if nothing had ever gotten in the way of their dreams in the first place.

You can stream First Love season 1, episode 9, “Hatsukoi” exclusively on Netflix. Do you have any thoughts on the First Love season 1 ending? Let us know in the comments.


Additional reading:

View allNext Episode

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.