Itazura na Kiss: We’re Going to be Happy…Right?

So I’ve been bubbling over with fangirly-ish enthusiasm for most of today (I think catching a matinee of WALL·E had something to do with it, although how one can get all fangirly over robots is beyond me, but, damn it, I did it anyway), so the cap to today is, of course, the current definition of the ultimate in bubbly fangirl enthusiasm: Itazura na Kiss. And I’m not entirely sure if I’ve made this clear in previous posts or not (update: I did, so I’m going to reiterate it!), but you can talk all you want about the “generic-ness” of Itazura na Kiss (not that you have, necessarily, because I haven’t quite seen that, although I am certain that that is a criticism of the series, somewhere), but Tada Kaoru can certainly give Ikeda Riyoko a run for her money in the “crazy out-of-left-field plot twist” department (if not the “crazy overblown drama” department, of which Riyoko will remain queen for all eternity, most likely). Maybe it’s just because I’m caught up in the story like I’m supposed to be (like you’re supposed to be for any story), or else I’m just really bad at these things, but I totally did not foresee things like Kinnosuke proposing to Kotoko (well, okay, given the foreshadowing/tone of this episode, it was “predictable”, but I did not expect a marraige proposal out of the blue like that, and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to say “oh this is going to happen” before the start of this episode anyway). Just because it’s almost entirely pure fluff doesn’t automatically preclude it from being well-written.

But, wait, is it pure fluff? It certainly seemed to be at the beginning when it was all “I am Kotoko and I am in love with Irie!” “I am Irie, and I just want this Kotoko…thing…off my back!”…although that’s passed now, and it’s clear that Irie has feelings for Kotoko (she’s his “good friend” at college! Progress!), and that things are just getting kind of…weird, what with HEART ATTACKS and ARRANGED MARRAIGES and whatnot going on. It seems to me that it’s turned into something that gives honest treatment to the ups and downs of a relationship, romantic or not. It’s almost not about whether or not Irie and Kotoko have sex kiss each other hard enough that bubbles are summoned–it’s about things a bit more complex than than in addition to that pressing question. Irie getting upset over his role in his father’s heart attack and guilting himself into an arranged marraige meeting (subsequently sabotaged by Kotoko for this episode’s “this is a comedy, we swear!” quotient); Kotoko getting glum over Irie’s depression and staving it off by spending time with Kin-chan, who pulls the question from out of nowhere; Matsumoto (Matsumoto, of all people!) admitting that if she were to lose in her still-unexplained bid for Irie’s attention (I think she’s just really turned on by apathetic guys), she’d rather lose to Kotoko, as her feelings are pure. It is a pinball machine, and events and people are bouncing around like crazy and only every so often does one get the chance to try and use the flippers to try and steer things in a more sensible direction before entropy takes over again. And what do I call this kind of feeling? Shoujo.

On a less serious note (and possibly less incomprehensible, as I swear that all made sense while I was watching the episode, but it took a vacation between the credits and the keyboard), I kind of want to know what was running through Christina’s mind as she and Irie ran into Kin-chan and Kotoko–was she surprised to see Kotoko, or was she surprised to see the sexy hunk of meat that is Kin-chan? (if it is the latter, really famous people have really strange taste) I’m willing to bet the latter, as that would offer a handy way out for both Kotoko and Irie at the same time, but whether we’ll be going that route or not is not something I really want to peg as a sureity–as mentioned twice earlier, the fun about Itazura na Kiss is that it is unpredictable, and that plot twists come out of nowhere. It was a fairly obvious setup for something, though, so it’s not going to be glossed over. I hope it won’t be glossed over,n but Yamazaki Osamu is doing an excellent job thus far, as expected, so I’m not really worried.

On an even less serious note: I would comment on how the voice actors butchered English, but I’m pretty sure that in an actual situation conversing in Japanese with an actual native Japanese speaker, I’d butcher the hell out of Japanese to their bemusement. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t laugh. Hard. Still wasn’t as good as the legendary perfect (yet badly acted) English in Ghost Hunt, though.

4 Responses to “Itazura na Kiss: We’re Going to be Happy…Right?”

  1. 1 The Animanachronism 5 July 2008 at 4:38 am

    I particularly like your pinball machine metaphor, as it pins down one of the ways this show confounded my expectations: its plot is much bigger on movement and excitement than I expected. Though that could be my usual genre-blindness kicking in.

  2. 2 otou-san 11 July 2008 at 6:56 pm

    predictable, maybe, but only at times. Generic? I’d say “exemplary” instead. Rather than “this sure is a generic shoujo,” how about “this is really what shoujo should be about.” Anime has taken on unrequited love so many times, but not often as good as this.

    It seems to me that it’s turned into something that gives honest treatment to the ups and downs of a relationship, romantic or not.

    Possible, but as much as I love Itazura, I’d like to see an anime really tackle that subject, as opposed to in a pining-based relationship. Maybe it’s too “adult” for animation, or maybe it’s just not entertaining. Dunno.

  3. 3 OGT 11 July 2008 at 10:16 pm

    @otou-san: I don’t think I’ve seen the “generic” comment from anyone who’s seen the series beyond the first couple episodes; it bemuses me that people would even think about calling Itazura na Kiss “generic” when it so obviously isn’t, because it is “exemplary” as you said. I use the phrase as fictional criticism so I can then explain why said fictional criticism is totally wrong.
    And nothing is “too adult” for animation. Ever. But that whole paragraph was me trying to express something that I felt while watching the episode but couldn’t really find the words for ever. I felt like there was actually something going on under the surface via Irie’s torment over following his dream (and therefore Kotoko) and succumbing to his father’s will, with Kotoko there in the middle of it all to provide sympathy and unconditional, if “unrequited”, love. We’re easing into the second half of the series now, so I’d expect the relationship to pick up the pace–and apparently in episode 15 we get a legendary “rain scene”, so I’m psyched for that. I’ve been waiting on watching 13 for 14 to show up, as it seems as if they might go better together, but I may not be able to exercise restraint much longer.

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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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July 2008

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