Itazura na Kiss: It’s Retro Shoujo!

I think Kotoko is a massive steamroller of pure otome cute that is destroying everything in its path, and it is headed my way, and it shows no signs of stopping. I think I welcome the forthcoming squashing, though.

So I picked up Itazura na Kiss on a whim (and also because I think I’m going to try out a lot of series this season, for the fun of it, and also because I probably should do this kind of thing more often). This whim was mostly caused by checking the series’ ANN entry whereupon I discovered an interesting fact: the director is none other than Yamazaki Osamu, the perpetrator of the criminally amazing adaptation/re-imagining of Takemiya Keiko’s Terra e… manga.

At first, of course, I was like “wait a second, why is the Terra e… director directing a shoujo comedy?” and so I bumped it up the priority list. I have just watched the first episode, and I will admit beforehand that I went into the episode without realizing that this series is based upon a manga that started in 1990. Yes. It is more retro shoujo, which probably makes Yamazaki Osamu the go-to guy for directing classic old manga drawn in the shoujo style (I had to say that instead of “shoujo” because, well, Terra e… ran in a shounen serial). With that in mind, my initially positive yet somewhat tepid opinion is replaced with a far more interesting one, that of the study of the history of anime through an adaptation. Kind of.

Taken in the context of “hot new anime” the series seems like it will tread the ground that many a shoujo love comedy has tread before, but, given that it ran in 1990, it’s far more likely (and here I am making a huge guess and Jumping to the Island of Conclusions, as my knowledge of Shoujo History is limited) that Itazura na Kiss, while not perhaps creating the shoujo love comedy genre, is certainly a tried-and-true early example of it. More recent fare such as Lovely Complex (which I have not had the privilege to watch yet) will probably prove more popular with today’s audiences, but it’s nice to see what I can only presume is a shoujo classic getting the anime treatment, even if it is 18 years later.

The actual content of the episode, placed into its 1990 context, is actually quite a lot of fun. It’s nothing like similar anime we get today, and that I think makes it somewhat fun. The character design seems to have been updated drastically, and I quite like the character art. The characters, thus far, are quite likable, especially the flamboyant and frequently hilarious Rinnosuke, who amused me from the moment he popped up. Kotoko is, as mentioned above, quite cute and a charming female lead, and the male lead, Irie Naoki, is quite the loathsome individual at the moment. The series is, of course, about Naoki becoming much less of a loathsome individual through the charming presence of Kotoko.

The humor in the series is quite genuine, as well, if old-fashioned. Kotoko’s father is enjoyably quirky, as are the rest of the characters who’ve gotten a bit of personality development thus far (mostly the aforementioned Rinnosuke). The series brought a smile to my face several times, and, while not laugh-out-loud funny, is still a quite good thing to have happen.

Overall, I quite like the series, and, if nothing else, I’ll follow it to get an idea of what 1990s shoujo was like. I already know what 1970s shoujo was like (drama, lightning bolts, and smashed vases: see Rose of Versailles for all this and more), so this will be quite fun to see. All things considered, once you place it in its proper context of 1990 and not 2008, the series becomes less “generic” and more “retro”, which is a nice changeup. It’s not one that everyone will like (the relative obscurity and sometimes blatant rejection of Terra e… on the Internet seems to point to a desire not to see the “retro”, but those who enjoy an older time and a different set of values will probably find much to enjoy in Itazura na Kiss.

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4 Responses to “Itazura na Kiss: It’s Retro Shoujo!”


  1. 1 flou 11 April 2008 at 1:25 am

    Actually, Itazura no Kiss provided the grounds for many, many other shoujo manga, such as Marmalade Boy, Hana Yori Dango, etc. It’s basically the ultimate predecessor ;)

  2. 2 OGT 11 April 2008 at 1:31 am

    Thank you. I had a hunch it was pretty important, if it’s getting an anime version 18 years later, but I lack shoujo manga historical knowledge.

  3. 3 rah-rah 11 April 2008 at 2:48 am

    I’m a fan of 90s shoujo quite a bit, so I’m guessing I’d probably like this. Thanks for the post, it’s gotten me interested~. In a way, it is sorta sad how people rejected Terra e for it’s retro desgins, cause I think most of this stems from the general consensus that old anime art = ugly as sin, which isn’t normally the case, generally speaking. Ah well, there has been a retro revival in japan ever since the Z Gundam movies came out, so it’s gonna continue anyway. Hopefully, we may even see a remake of The Song of The Trees and Wind…which is probably not gonna happen :p

  4. 4 :) 11 April 2008 at 8:58 am

    There were 2 live action adaptations of this as well. One is from Taiwan titled “It Started With a Kiss,” and the other is from Japan. I recommend you watch those as well. :)


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