Archive for June 19th, 2008

Itazura na Kiss: Alas, The Title Was Literal, Not Metaphorical

I would like to use the screencap comment to point out that this is exactly how I felt after the events from 10:03 to 10:12. Yes, I, like everyone else, was pranked, and pranked hard. On the other hand, it’s now quite cool in my room, what with the new hole in the wall and all…

Of course, they weren’t entirely a prank–the shot of a rather unusually pensive Yuuki after Kotoko woke up suggests things that will certainly give the stray shotacon lover fodder for a slew of fanfiction. (Not that there’s a problem with this; fantasy is fantasy and no one can really take that away from you, but I’ll be damned if they won’t try). Of course, it doesn’t have to imply that Yuuki is feeling burning puppy love for whatever reason (I expect various things happened in the six months that the first 4 minutes of this series covers, but probably it’s just because of the minor fact that she saved his life), as it may simply mean he realized the extent and honesty of Kotoko’s feelings for his brother. Given the context, it’s more likely the former, or at least a cruel prank on his part. Or something. It’s an interesting development, even if it ends up being fairly useless in the long run. Maybe we’ll have epic sibling rivaly later or something.

Other things: now that we can add “heart attack” to the list of “medical ailments used as plot devices”, and with the development in the previous episode and this one of Kotoko suggesting to Irie that he become a doctor, followed by him actually transferring to the medical school, suggest that perhaps they’re not haphazardly placed plot devices designed to create drama and tension. Rather, it seems that it’s an angle to develop Irie’s character further–since he’s decided that he’s going to be a doctor, the medical incidents serve to set that development up at the same time that they’re creating drama and tension earlier on. It’s an interesting development, since the now-previously goalless Irie has a goal (gasp!) that he has to work hard for (double gasp!) and this creates tension with his father (triple gasp!), giving him a much harder time of life than he’d had before Kotoko show up–and this time, it’s technically not her fault. Perhaps his time spent with Kotoko and dealing with her (adorably) klutzy personality has, in a way, prepared him to take the next step towards making something out of his life. It’s certainly telling that he’d take a random, off-chance suggestion Kotoko made to heart and actually realistically consider it and then acheive it. And it’s also telling that he’d go out of his way to rescue a much maligned Kin-chan, who has never been anything more than a pure annoyance for him. That simple act of going after Kin-chan tells us, the viewer, that Irie, despite his frostiness, is actually a quite kind and thoughtful person. When he wants to be. When it suits him. I think.

And that brings me to a probably obvious point to make about the storytelling in Itazura na Kiss: the series literally would not work without major changes in nearly every aspect of the series if the viewer was ever given a direct glimpse into the mind of Irie. The fact that, for the most part, from a “perspective” position, we’re only allowed into Kotoko’s head, and not Irie’s, means that the tension, and therefore the enjoyment, stems from the suspense of not knowing exactly what that wily Irie is up to this time. Other series similar to this have, of course, focused on the thoughts of both the male and female leads–Kare Kano, which I’ve already brought up before in comparison to Itazura na Kiss before, is but one example–but they’ve all had different focuses than Itazura na Kiss. In Itazura na Kiss, the viewer is left to sift through the evidence presented and try to get at the heart of Irie’s character and figure out what he’s really all about, which, of course, it meted out to you in controlled doses so as to keep you hooked just enough to want to keep watching/reading.

But this is exactly how fandoms of a particular series or franchise work: you don’t spend time giving your viewers all the details, you get stingy on them and leave them to construct their own theories/fantasies/analyses/whatevers. It’s the difference between a work that has an active fandom, and a work that doesn’t have any fandom to speak of. Fandoms crop up around things that have enough loose ends throughout a run, or a broad enough universe, or any of a few dozen factors I can’t quite think of at the moment. The development of a fandom seems to be the difference between a “popular” series and a “successful” one, or even the difference between a “successful” series and an “unsuccessful but generally regarded as underrated” series. Developing fandoms around individual works/series/authors seems to be the name of the game in pretty much every literary endeavor these days, so it’s not restricted to anime exclusively.

Itazura na Kiss seems to be an example of a series that hit the sweet spot for fandom-generation–one that would ensure that, eight or nine years after the death of the original author, the anime adaptation would not only introduce the series to a new set of fans who might have missed out on the series back in the 90s, but also provide a somewhat-canon conclusion to the series for the loyal fans from the olden days. And it’s easy to see why, considering the point about Irie I just made–it’s almost like the entire thrust of the series isn’t about Kotoko at all, but about Irie.

Or, well, that’s how it seems to me. I think my previous posts reflect this. They feature far more Irie analysis than Kotoko moe-ing over, which honestly took me by surprise. It’s just another reminder that, contrary to what the anti-cute-girl coalition might want you to believe, cute girls (if, in fact, cute girls are your thing) are like icing on the cake of an already fun and entertaining series, however you may define “fun” and “entertaining”. And boy, do I love icing. Especially cream cheese icing on carrot cake.


I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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June 2008