Let’s face it —not everyone’s in love with rom-coms. What more here in Asia? Drowning on the cheesy “boy meets girl” formula, most films under the genre no longer excites us. We prefer gushing on CGI blockbusters or even dissecting four-hour art house epics. Who cares about another Asian love team? That’s a question we ask ourselves while scoffing at hugot culture as per usual.
But through the films in this list, we know there’s hope for rom-com Scrooges out there. Get ready to feel the warmth of love once more. We’re talking simple high school romances to sci-fi based situations. Here are some Asian rom-com films that’ll thaw the iciest of hearts.
“My Love Story !!” (Japan)
Based on a manga series, this slice of life romantic comedy tells the story of two high school students. They could not be more opposite to each other. Is this another love/hate relationship? Think again.
It starts with our leading man Takeo Goda, a freshman student who looks like a Yakuza goon. All started turning when he saved the petite and meek Rinko Yamato from a pervert in the train. Non-rom-com people will gush at this unlikely pairing. They defy their friends and strangers that question their love. It’s a better love story than Romeo and Juliet —trust.
Perfect for: People who’re tired of pairings that are unrealistically perfect. And yet, they’re still a sucker for high school romances.
“Labs Kita, Okey ka Lang?” (Filipino)
This film is the Philippines’ utmost peak of the “best friends muna” storyline. Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu were cute, but Jolina Magdangal and Marvin Augustin’s pairing remains God tier. Set in Baguio, two best friends Bujoy and Ned, starts as an inseparable duo. This all changed when Bujoys’ cousin Mary Ann arrives.
The duo fell for the wrong people as they try to deflect their true feelings for each other. Labs Kita, Okey ka Lang? doesn’t only explore love and timing. It also explores two young artists’ frustrations for their careers to prosper. Above all, it’s genuine love beyond imperfections.
Perfect for: People who expected that we’ll put One More Chance in this list. First of all, we said rom-com, not a heart-shattering tragedy. This rom-com flick is for people who are looking for a good Filipino one. No hugots for the sake of —just good storytelling.
“Dum Laga Ke Haisha” (India)
The perfect words to describe the film are “light-hearted” and “unique.” Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a film about an arranged marriage between another unlikely pair. Prem is a slim, stern uneducated guy who only loves his Hindi video cassettes. His new bride, Sandhya, is a plus size woman who aspires to be a teacher. The only problem between them was both were pressured to a marriage that Prem definitely didn’t want to be a part of. All changed when they have to compete in their town’s annual wife-carrying contest.
We’re calling it now —this isn’t your usual Hindi film. If you’re afraid of seeing dance sequences, in their defense, there’s one at the end. But it’s a sweet yet poignant piece on falling in love and growing together as people.
Perfect for: Anyone who hates or hasn’t watched a Bollywood film. It’s also perfect if one’s looking for unproblematic representations on plus size romances. The cinematography of the film is also a huge plus.
“Turn Left Turn Right” (Hong Kong/Singaporean)
Okay, this is a rom-com that will frustrate you the most. It’s in a good way. We don’t guarantee that rage quits will not occur though. Turn Left Turn Right is about two people who live in buildings right next to each other. They’re separated only by a wall and are always near each other beyond their building. Problem is they can’t seem to find one another even if they’re inches apart.
The film is a mixture of romance and mystery. What’s laughable about it is how absurd the chances of them meeting are. It’s a bang-your-head-on-the-wall situation. It only pushes the viewers to anticipate their roads meeting a bit more.
Perfect for: People who would like to torture themselves with frustration. Also, it’s for anyone who loves a good mystery in their hands.
“The Beauty Inside” (Korea)
This film is probably the most unusual one on the list. The Beauty Inside tells the tale of furniture designer Woo-jin. Every day, he wakes up in a different random body. There are no limitations on the gender and age of the bodies he wakes up in. Regardless, he’s the same person. He has grown accustomed to it. This changed when he met Yi-soo, the only constant love in his life who knows his secret.
As he wakes up in a different body, he must figure out how to reunite with her. It’s a high-concept rom-com playing on absurdities and existence. The Beauty Inside hinges on frustration like the aforementioned romcom. The only difference is this one plays around with the concept of identity and how it matters when it comes to love.
Perfect for: People who prefer their films as a think piece as well. It’s also a good break from the usual boy meets girl. It challenges the limits of the genre as well as the viewer’s concept of romance.
Still from Turn Left Turn Right