Archive for the 'itazura na kiss' Category

Itazura na Kiss: THE FINAL FIVE: A combination post of bubbles and confusion

CLARIFICATION: Confusion in the post, not in the show.

I am recording any stray thoughts I have as I progress through the final five episodes of Itazura na Kiss, which I have lamentably procrastinated watching until now. Here are the notes arranged by episode, and hopefully I can exhaust my nigh-inexahustable repetoire of Itazura na Kiss-fueled hyperbole so I can rest comfortably for the next five or so months being hyperbolic about Toradora!.

Episode 21: 8:00 PM EDT

What kind of growth hormones did they give Yuuki? Like, seriously? He’d been the same runty midget throughout about ten years of Kotoko fruitlessly chasing after Irie, and I wasn’t expecting him to have a growth spurt this huge. Also I think he developed excellent taste in cardigans and dress shirts, or at least “excellent taste” as defined by people living in America in the 1950s, which is “excellent taste” in my book. I hereby propose that when they make the nigh-inevitable Hollywood live-action movie they hire Ron Howard circa Happy Days to play Yuuki. That might involve some dangerous temporal logistics, but nothing we can’t solve with science.

Also Non-chan is a bastard, at least until the last three minutes. I’m sure those last three minutes won’t affect much by next episode though!

Episode 22: 8:27 PM EDT

That is the BEST. CAKE. EVER. I am dead serious.

I highly enjoyed the subversion of the deployment of the “random character is injured, maimed, or rendered ill” plot device by having Kotoko provide the last-minute resuscitation of the hapless cannon fodder (literally, in this case). Interesting, too, during the last segment (wherein it is revealed that Irie is the GREATEST SUCTION DOCTOR IN JAPAN, a title that I am sure many physicians strive and fail to achieve in their limited lifetimes) that Irie says to Kotoko that the praise from Grateful Mother of Hospital Patient was the first she’d received as a nurse, little knowing that not the day before, she’d performed first aid and assisted paramedics, having to dodge out of receiving an overdose of gratitude. If the earlier episodes were over-full of Irie acting like the male tsundere he is (or, well, was), then these last few, post-Keita, episodes seem to be compensating for the loss. Complete with bubbles.

Episode 23: 9:27 PM EDT

Thank God Irie isn’t cheating on the now-pregnant Kotoko with Yukie-chan here! More Yukie-chan for me, as I am totally besmitten with a horribly minor character of extreme cuteness. Perhaps I am the lecherous one now…

With only two episodes left (and 24 looking like it’s going to be the sanitized anime version of The Miracle of Life), they are tying down the dangling plot threads of Kin-chan and Chris-tan (Kin-chan getting his own restaurant and Chris’s hand in marraige was strangely satisfying, as was noticing that he is no longer annoyingly charming, but, rather, more genuinely charming. And Chris has gotten much, much better at Japanese. Her mother, though…

Even Sudou and Matsumoto get their turn in the spotlight, as Sudou proves that his moustache is not a mere facial decoration and actually earns it by slapping sense into Matsumoto. Or, well trying to, as Matsumoto squarely decks him in the face and runs off until Kotoko is able to talk sense into her. Say what you will about the overall love-fantasy nature of the series: Itazura na Kiss derives most of its drama from the very real problems of miscommunication common in relationships (both non-romantic and romantic) that lead to conflict over things that aren’t actually problems. It doesn’t deal heavily in this sort of drama, but that’s okay, because it’s more of a silly, giddy comedy (with serious moments) than a drama (with humorous moments). Even now, even after letting it sit for as-yet-unexplained reasons (I’m not entirely sure of them myself, something to do with “there was too much backlog built up and I wanted a big huge marathon to cap the series off”), it’s still as schoolgirlishly giggly as it was in the beginning.

Episode 24: 10:17 PM EDT

HOLY CRAP.

That is all. My brain cannot think in words right now, at any second this sentence is going to turn into nonsensical letter dsklbfkasbfjsabfjasbkljbfasdvfbkasdbf kdasfksadbfjksafsabfjklasbfsabj HELP.

Episode 25: 10:49 PM EDT

And what appears to be a bonus episode after the “ending” of the story arc. A rather amusing episode, if only for Mi-chan acting like a, well, child. This is now one of the very, very few romance series (that I’ve seen, anyway) that have taken the characters all the way from one-sided high school crushes to happy parents to a rambunctious child who shares the best (and worst) of both her parents’ personality traits (as many children do).

Perhaps the best thing about it was that even though it was quite clearly a wish-fulfillment fantasy shoujo romance series, it was a damn good one. Did I like Kotoko, in all her irrationality? You bet. Did I like Irie, through the process of watching him gradually defrost from a terribly nasty person to a lovably charming guy?You bet. Through enjoying Itazura na Kiss, am I a card-carrying member of the male conspiracy to secretly reverse the progressive feminist trends that have been erected since the 1970s and return women to the status of virtual enslavement to hot stoves and impromptu sandwich making in kitchens? I have no idea because I still can’t figure out my chauvinist-pig level (on a scale of Snowball to Napoleon), although I can mention that the old Cathy strips from the 1970s (you know, when Cathy was still funny) were hilarious and Irving is a jerkbag (no, really, he was a huge jerkbag, and I would have punched him several times) who seems to have mellowed out in time (like someone else mentioned in this here post) for Guisewite to finally get around to poking fun at the institution of marraige, thirty years later.

TANGENT!

Although, really, I don’t think there’s much else to say that I haven’t covered at least ten times in previous posts. The qualities I enjoyed (that some others may or may not have enjoyed) stayed true to themselves down to the very end, and the quality remained the same. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more, considering what Itazura na Kiss is (a big, huge, giddy, bubble-filled shoujo romp), and it quite obviously hit a sweet spot that hadn’t been hit for a while. Strangely enough, one of the best parts of the last five episodes was seeing Yuuki go from “I am the evil sadistic younger brother” to “sophisticated mature teenager.” Something tells me he’ll have an easier time getting a girlfriend than Irie and Kotoko had, although their bond might not be quite as strong.

And I still say the best part was watching Irie turn from callous evil passive-aggressive male to, well, a man who actually managed to have feelings and emotions and actually have a heart that cared about things. Specifically Kotoko, but I don’t think he’d have been a very good doctor if he’d been an apathetic whatsit the whole time. Then again, would he even be a doctor? Would not he just be cruising through life, oblivious to everything? Would not the series have been massively boring otherwise?

Me, I’m just waiting for when Ethel and Fred show up and wreak havoc with Kotoko. Unintentional havoc. Maybe.

I should probably stop writing words now. That sounds pretty good to me.

Itazura na Kiss: Guess Who’s Jealous Now!

That’s right–Irie!

This has been a hilarious rollercoaster of an evening–first I wrestle with my sound card drivers for entirely too long only to discover that the problem that was bugging me was that my headphones were plugged in, and then, to chill out and relax and forget that computers are made of pure Satan, I enacted my original plan to catch up on the woefully negelected Itazura na Kiss. Needless to say, I am not very relaxed and calm now, because Keita is a bastard. Yes, I am calling the “nice guy” a bastard, and the actual bastard (who I have also called a bastard at certain points in time because he’s so wonderfully bastardly) is the one I am rooting for.

Not necessarily because I hate “nice guys”–I like to fancy that I am a “nice guy,” even though I probably am not–or that I think bastards are cool–becasue they aren’t–but because it all seems to be the Next Step in the evolution of Irie. Up till now, the series has been about Kotoko pursuing Irie (or I guess I should really start calling him Naoki now, since Kokoto now has the same last name and things might get Confusing, but it’s ingrained in my head), but now, of course, that she has him in the dreaded bond of wedlock, the previously complacent Irie (who has stated that he accepts Kotoko’s love as a given) now finds himself with a potential rival–the same situation that Kotoko was in for, oh, the first half of the series. He is handling it in an extremely Irie way, of course, in that he hasn’t really had these sorts of feelings before either and, therefore, makes it worse by trying to sort things out before he sits and rationally thinks things out.

It’s also amusing, and this is why it’s a good thing I watched 15-18 in one evening, how this plot twist mirrors the couple on the honeymoon in Hawaii that Kotoko and Irie met–in that relationship, the girl (Mari?) was simply a boy-crazed girl who chased after anything that looked vaguely manly, and her husband (whose name I have totally forgotten) was dutiful and faithful to her, even though he knew of her manizing ways (I am totally making words up here). He wasn the classical nice-guy husband, who had to take the chance that Irie set up for him (and I’m pretty sure he set it up for the two of them on purpose, or, at least, that was part of his motive) to set things straight with his wife. He catered to her every need, and she simply took him for granted–a situation somewhat similar in nature to the current one between Kotoko and Irie.

Relationships–romantic or not–are about two people, and Irie is geting a painful lesson in this right now. Complete with a full-fledged marital battle in the school cafeteria. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t really a guilty party, here–it’s a case of circumstances spiraling out of control and having adverse effects on everyone involved. I’m pretty sure that Keita is acting in part becasue he’s simply trying to spite (or is jealous of, himself) Irie, which probably leads to me calling him a bastard and rooting for Irie–because, deep down, in the little dokidoki fangirl heart of mine, I know he truly cares for Kotoko (there’s no way he would get that jealous and upset if he didn’t), even if he’s just really awkward about expressing it unless given cause to. It seems like this whole Keita thing is just a setup to making Irie much more active in Kotoko’s life.

I’m finding it rather difficult to frame into words what, exactly, is going on in this whole complicated mess of a love triangle. But it’s the kind of difficult that makes me respect Tada Kaoru (although I don’t know how much of this arc is coming from the manga) and the anime staff even more–because life itself can be difficult to frame into words (but hell if people don’t try).

I think I just fell into Bewitched or something by tripping over an ottoman. And I have a nagging feeling that the last scene of the 26th episode will be Irie, in his best Desi Arnaz voice, saying “KOOOOOOTOOOOOKOOOOOOOO, YOU GOT SOME ‘SPLAININ’ TO DO!”, to which Kotoko instructs Irie to “stifle!”, to which Irie’s response is “One of these days, Kotoko, one of these days…POW! RIght in the kisser!”

I blame this camera shot for this feeling.

(I watched waaaaaaaay too much Nick at Nite and TV Land as a child. I don’t know what that says about me, but I don’t care)

Itazura na Kiss: Words Fail Me [CLICK AT YOUR OWN RISK]

I hope you’ve seen Itazura na Kiss 14. I really do. If you haven’t, I am not liable.

WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD JUST HAPPENED TO ME?

I died and went to fangirl heaven, that’s what’s happened to me.

I had this feeling (well, okay, I saw a screencap of the final frame of episode 13 with “No, it isn’t the rain scene yet,” so I decided somewhat unconcsiously to hold off on 13 until I could watch 14 with it.

My brain doesn’t function anymore. I think it melted. 14 should have come with a Surgeon’s General warning for people with heart problems, because this is some lethal shoujo. I’m sure lesser (wo)men than I have died upon witnessing this episode in the ongoing saga of Kotoko and Irie’s life. I am now convinced that Tada Kaoru suffered the same fate that poor Ernest Scribbler did–she created shoujo so potently shoujo, that it was physically impossible for one human being to stand that much shoujo at any given point in time and they would die. Forget nukes and WMDs–we should develop shoujo missiles.

I really don’t think I can say anything on the Irie/Kotoko relationship dynamic that I haven’t said before. It’s all kinds of complicated, and it’s hard to see where true feelings start and other things begin. The rain scene, as I had heard, was legendary (I told you, this show invites hyperbole over for dinner and gives it a ten-course meal)–it was so much bubbling over of feelings and emotions and whatnot. Even better was that Kotoko and Irie didn’t react in ways that were totally foreign to them–Kotoko was fresh off a rather disastrous incident with Kin-chan (by the way, I love how Kinnosuke went from annoying comic relief to a serious character with some kind of depth without really seeming like it was tacked on) and Irie, of course, had just gotten wind of the news that Kin-chan had proposed to Kotoko and that she was seriously considering his proposal. It’s entirely unsure why Irie had been keeping his feelings suppressed–after his father’s heart attack, of course, it makes sense. Part of the reason he tells his mother that he likes Chris is most likely empty talk designed to convince no one but himself that this is the truth, and that he better get used to it, because it’s the only way to make up for hurting his father’s company even more through the heart attack. When faced with the pressure, though, Irie forgets about obligations and does what he feels is right. Before all this, it’s unsure–he was clearly in like-mode (as much as he could be), but I don’t think the all the pieces had been brought into play yet.

Some other memorable moments include Chris telling Kotoko that she never liked Irie anyway, and that Kotoko, in fact, is “handsome challenged” since she chose Irie over Kinnosuke, but I don’t know why she said that because that just means that she gets Kin-chan all to herself. I’m also a big fan of the maturation of Yuuki–he’s the one, after all, who started the process of knocking sense into his brother by reminding him of the sneaky little secret he had–remember Yume de Kiss Kiss Kiss? That was an amazing twist on that previous prank, and it certainly made an impact on Yuuki because ever since then, he’s been…nice. And friendly. And even telling his parents (and later Kotoko) about Irie’s little secret.

I have no idea where this series is going to go (or where they could go from here, aside from the marital strife angle), but I am pretty sure that the whole marraige and actual confessed love thing will certainly not ruin what’s made Itazura na Kiss fun from the get-go. And, even if it somehow gets worse from here on out, Tada Karou and Yamazaki Osamu (and the rest of the anime’s staff) have my undying love forever, for these 14 episodes of Kotoko and Irie romance have basically cemented them in the upper echelon of anime couples fictional couples period. Love ain’t always easy–but watching it happen can be a hell of a lot of fun.

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.

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.

Itazura na Kiss: BUBBLES! BUBBLES!

This episode was amazing enough to send my fingers flying for the nearest chat client so that I could spam my keyboard for a few seconds in order to properly convey the emotion my inner fangirl was experiencing at the moment. The temptation to do the same for this post is remarkably high, however, I feel that I must exercise self-restraint and restrict myself to a single sentence. Here it is:

fkldhfldas fsabfjsa fkjas fsda fdjas fjkdas fds fsdakifsjklfaslo flasnfpoas fsalkf m,lafs!

I feel much better. Note that I was doing this long before the end of the episode. When the bubbles popped up, it was almost too much to bear. Bubbles, sparkles, bubbles with sparkles, and sparkles with bubbles (there is a difference) are my shoujo weaknesses, and I don’t remember an instance of them cropping up in Itazura na Kiss before now, but any previous appearance of the legendary shoujo visual trope has been completely topped by this one.

Er, anyway. Illness seems to be the plot device du jour in Itazura na Kiss, since we already had Kotoko suffering from appendicitis. I was like “Appencitis again?”  when Irie mentioned it to Kotoko as a possible cause for Yuuki’s symptoms, but, fortunately, Tada Kaori is much more subtle than that. From a storytelling perspective, it was almost like she (and/or the writers for the anime version) were playing a literary prank on the viewer by baiting and switching the plot devices. I for one applaud such attempts at meta (?) humor, regardless of whether or not the intent was to actually make meta (?) humor.

Although Matsumoto had a minimal presence in this episode, the proceedings of the scene in which she was featured leaves me increasingly convinced that Irie is using her as a tool, to what end I do not know. Perhaps she is simply a pawn in the “tease Kotoko” game, or perhaps he’s simply too disinterested to really tell her he’s not that interested in her at all and lets her cling all over him because he’s, well, he’s Irie, and that’s what Iries do best. She is clearly superfluous, however: Kin-chan, of course, stirs up trouble (because he’s Kin-chan, and that’s what he’s there for) and insults Irie and Matsumoto by calling them a “good couple”, which, of course, Matsumoto repeats, because evidently she’s far too obsessed with how cool and awesome she is with a boyfriend like Irie to actually care about anything else. Irie–and this is one of those subtle things he does that gives me these kinds of impressions–simply detaches himself from Matsumoto’s grasp and gets lunch from the counter. They didn’t even make a huge deal of this. It just…happened. Like it was business as normal. If this has been a adaptation from an Ikeda Riyoko manga, that moment would probably have merited at least a triple-take and perhaps even a quadruple-take, but Ikeda Riyoko is from the 70s, and Itazura na Kiss is from the 90s. Things are done a bit differently. The fact that they don’t call your attention to these little things Irie does–either through camera tricks, the characters pointing things out or having reactions to these things (well, okay, Matsumoto had a bit of a reaction)–makes them all the more fun when you notice them. The biggest things in this series aren’t always the things that get the most screentime, no matter how awesome it was when Irie hugged–nay, embraced–Kotoko after saving Yuuki from the horrors of…whatever he had. (the actual disease name sounded as painful as the disease itself, so I promptly forgot it)

In conclusion, it’s fairly surprising that it’s only episode 10 and we’ve gotten this much relationship progress. Yes, they’re cramming the manga into the anime as best they can, but I have no idea how many volumes of manga the anime has covered so far, and I’m sitting here thinking “This was episode 10, so there’s 16 more episodes to go in this series…what the hell is going to happen in them?” It’s not a bad thing, as it’s always refreshing to know that you’re watching something that, despite barreling down the plot at mach 5, still has the potential for a lot of surprises in store, rather than the remaining episodes being a somewhat predictable coast to the conclusion. That seems to be Itazura na KIss’s big strength thus far, this sense of unpredictibility–and it is this that I think I will use to arbitrarily defend my rating of 9 for it over on MAL. Yes, the 9 was assigned entirely based on the fact that it hit that shoujo sweet spot, but the more the series runs, the more I feel it actually deserves that rating genuinely, as opposed to simply being defined as a hedonistic knee-jerk rating. It’s easy for me to see why this series was so popular in the 90s–it gets everything shoujo is supposed to do right, adds its own spin on it, and manages to be extremely well-written on top of that. It’s not the most original of premises–although I wouldn’t call it cliched, because, well, in all likelihood, it set the cliche–but, as mentioned in the previous post, originality of concept doesn’t matter.

And, as a closing thought, here’s the cover for the Kataomoi Fighter ED single (by GO!GO!7188, who apparently refuse to disclose what their band name actually means; something involving 557188, no doubt), which you all probably already have and have seen if you have the single in a tangible or intangible format, but here it is, in all its reduced-size-to-fit-the-theme-of-this-blog glory:

I about had a heart attack when I saw this. Stop it, Yamazaki. Stop it. I don’t want to have my cause of death listed in the paper as “Overdosed on Itazura na Kiss.”

Itazura na Kiss: Princess of Tennis; or, Holy Plot Development, Batman!

I see now why episode 8 was seemingly bereft of reversal-of-fortune moments for Kotoko. They were saving up for the big one, Elizabeth.

This episode was supremely entertaing for several reasons, the first of which being that Sudou is ridiculously awesome. I don’t know why, exactly, but he’s the perfect stupid gimmick character to introduce at this point in time. Although he just happened to be tailing Yuuko and just happened to run into Kotoko and just happened to have tickets to the movie (plot device? Naaaaaah), the episode was made positively hilarious simply by his addition. And I also quite liked the bit at the end of the date when Irie shows up, and ticks off the man Kotoko ticks off, and then makes off with Kotoko, leaving Matsumoto Yuuko (and, more importantly for the matter at hand, her tennis raquet) in his care. That whole five-six minute segment (beginning with Kotoko despairing over seeing how close Matsumoto and Irie were) was amazing.

Of course, Kotoko only thought she saw Matsumoto and Irie being close. The truth is, Irie couldn’t care less about her–she’s just another girl clamoring for his affection, which he naturally finds totally disinteresting. Astute viewers (at least, those more astute than our intrepid heroine) will have already picked up that Irie was extremely disinterested in everything that had to do with anything with Matsumoto. Even more astute viewers will recall that this is quite similar to the manner in which Irie treated Kotoko in the first three episodes, at least, until Kotoko delivered sweet justice to his face.

We see this contrasted, then, with his behavior with Kotoko a year after she has moved into his house. Matsumoto may have been treated with calm, collected disinterest, but Kotoko, for better or for worse, engenders a certain level of emotion in Irie. As he recalls for Kotoko, he hasn’t had a single troublesome moment in his life, or, at least, a troublesome moment that he can recall. It seems to me that a life which mostly involves eighteen years of essentially nothing on the emotional front would be rather bland. Compared to his interactions with other people (what precious little of these moments we see, since we tend to be stuck in the Kotoko perspective more than the Irie perspective), Kotoko drags out a stream of emotions from a seemingly bland and robotic personality. Sure, it’s all negative emotion, of the “please go away and quit bothering me” variety, but it’s quite likely that any emotion is a good thing in this instance. In a life devoid of complications, aggravations, or anything else, it becomes hard for one to appreciate what makes one feel happy or sad, which is clearly reflected in Irie’s ambivalence about his future. What does he want to be? He doesn’t really know, because he feels he could do anything and do it well. But he doesn’t really want to do anything, so he ends up doing nothing.

It’s entirely possible (and, from the events of this episode, quite likely) that Irie is becoming somewhat more than dimly aware (or not aware at all) of the changes wrought in him by Kotoko. It’s also likely that he’s realized that these things are a good thing, which he explains to Kotoko in his own highly awkward, overly stilted way which, of course, is carefully worded so that it seems like he’s not betraying any emotion at all (gotta keep your cool, even when you’re spilling your guts to the girl who loves you, and also the girl who you may or may not realize that you like her). Irie, of course, can’t let himself melt without making it even harder on Kotoko to surmount the odds. If there was any concern earlier on that Irie might just be a jerk rather than playing hard-to-get, his little speech/monologue here fully demonstrates that, yes, he’s defintely in full-blown hard-to-get mode now. If anything, he’s enjoying the back-and-forth tormenting of each other that they’re doing, inadvertent on Kotoko’s part, but quite intentional on his. Perhaps he’s even…addicted to it?

We can only hope that this addiction blossoms into love. Somehow.

Itazura na Kiss: One Step Forward, 6.022×10^23 Steps Back

Although for all we know each of those steps back was as long as a Planck length, so maybe there’s still hope! And there’s still 18 episodes left, anyway. I’m frightened of the remaining episode count. I might destroy my monitor in a fit of passionate rage somewhere around episode 20 if I’m not careful.

As if this series wasn’t complicated enough for Kotoko, now, not only does she have to deal with the teasing/flirting/God knows what Irie dishes out to her, but she now has that one thing shoujo heroines fear the most: a Rival. Matsumoto Yuuko, who is “beautiful” (I find it highly amusing that many of the characters in anime that the characters describe for the viewer as “beautiful” are frequently anything but to my eyes, but I think we’ve already established in previous posts my sheer devotion to Kotoko where Itazura na Kiss is concerned, so this observation may be slightly innaccurate) and smart and intelligent (I won’t doubt those, although whether or not she has any kind of social grace is up for grabs); in short, she is everything Kotoko is not, or at least thinks she is not.

Although things are still in flux at the moment, as the rivalry only seems to extend to the two girls involved in it, leaving Irie totally out of the picture. It was with much relish that I noted that Irie treated every girl with the same disinterested way he treated Kotoko at the start. This tells us one important thing: Irie doesn’t really care for interacting with women, period. Whether it’s because he’s a chauvinist pig, overly concerned with his image as a cool, detached guy, or just simple disinterest in the act of pursuing women, the fact that he doesn’t fawn all over Yuuko–especially when you know he doesn’t know Kotoko is watching, as was the case in front of the tennis club (because if she was watching, Irie would probably be dropping some kind of bad pickup line on Yuuko,  just to spite Kotoko)–simply means that for him to feel any kind of emotion towards Kotoko–the “defrosting” moments–in his own tsundere way means that Kotoko has the edge up on just about everyone else. He only torments Kotoko about Yuuko at home, in private, when no one else is around, which lends a tiny bit more credence to this simply being him expressing…whatever it is he feels…to Kotoko, rather than outright maliciousness. He’s certainly much more playful in how he interacts with Kotoko than the cold cruelty he exhibited at the beginning of the series, which is a milestone if I ever saw one.

Either way, we won’t know what’s going to happen until next episode, which apparently involves dates and stalking and maybe some tennis practice (over one thousand push-ups. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to do a single push-up in my life, as I’ve never figured out exactly how to do them, despite being told multiple times by various gym teachers; imaginging one thousand of the things is enough to give me nightmares for a week), but probably far more of the first two than the third, as I’m pretty sure this isn’t Aim for the Ace!. Whatever happens, though, we still have two-thirds of the series left to go–anything and everything could happen, and frequently does. Despite the seemingly “stereotypical” plot setup (“stereotypical” in quotes because as far as I know, Itazura na Kiss set the stereotype, rather than following it), Itazura na Kiss has managed to surprise me in varying ways, both with the speed of the plot progression and with the actual events themselves.  Which is only a good thing.

Itazura na Kiss: I, uh…well, I…WHAT?

Wow. They are definitely not dilly-dallying around this time.

I really, really, really have no idea what is running through Irie’s mind at this moment. Is he playing yet another elaborate prank on Kotoko? Is this his true nature showing through? What is going on? The questions have no end!

If it is Irie playing a dastardly prank on Kotoko for God knows what reason, there could be two things at work here: one, he’s exacting revenge for Kotoko playing the childhood photo card, which was itself in revenge for Irie humiliating her in front of all his Class A friends. Two, and this kind of ties in with the first, he could be doing something even worse: messing with her emotions for his own personal pleasure. Since we really haven’t been given that much of a glimpse into Irie’s actual thought process, save for that one fleeting internal monologue a few episodes ago, the story is entirely from Kotoko’s perspective, so, technically, we are just as clueless as to Irie’s intentions as she is. it’s clear, though, that no matter what the intent of Irie was, the result on Kotoko will be her once again calling into question herself and her feelings. Considering that she was pretty intent on hating him when he dragged her out into the alley, Irie’s actions will only leave her more badly confused.

Of course, if what I mentioned a couple episodes ago and that Kotoko and Irie are merely having an extended, complicated, and delicious flirting session, then Irie is less being a malicious bastard and more extending this flirting to somewhat more serious levels. This, of course, is the fervent hope of all who follow this series, that Irie, deep down inside, really likes Kotoko, yet refuses to show it except occasionally. I highly doubt (this being shoujo after all) that Irie will end up, in the end, being a malicious bastard, but there’s always that remote chance of BAD END.

It’s also fun to look at Kare Kano, or, well, I think it is. Itazura na Kiss manga started in 1990, and Kare Kano started in 1995. What’s interesting is that, in Itazura na Kiss, the focus of the manga is the getting to the relationship, and the whole complicated process to arrive at that lofty destination. In Kare Kano (which arguably took some pointers from Itazura na Kiss, especially for its early parts) reduces the process of “meeting and falling in love” into merely the starting point for the series, changing the focus instead from getting the relationship that you desire to maintaining it. It’s almost like Kare Kano was a reaction to Itazura na Kiss, in some ways reducing the entire series into a volume or two of content, and then proceeding on with the story.

At any rate, I am now burning with desire for the next episode, because things are going to get Complicated with the addition of some kind of other girl (how dare you, Irie) so on top of the already wacky relationship balance between Kotoko and Irie, we get love triangles. Hoo boy. This could get intense, fast.

Itazura na Kiss: LOVE flom Kotoko

Itazura na Kiss is barreling down the road at 150 miles per hour and shows no signs of letting up. I do believe that this single episode covered two months worth of time.

This episode is pretty much the best episode yet (although I could probably say that for every preceding episode at the time of airing). Why is it the best, you ask? Because within this episode it is revealed that Irie Naoki isnot as much of a dick as reports would seem to indicate. His problem, as pointed out by his mother, is that he’s just too good to really know what to do with himself. Nothing challeges him, so therefore he’s bored with his life. Hence the sleeping a lot mentioned in an earlier episode, and the general “eh, I don’t give two whits” attitude. It’s also why he’s strangely attracted to Kotoko, even if he denies it: she’s the spice in his life, even if she’s more along the lines of a heavy dose of ground dried babenero rather than a light dusting of parsley.

I don’t know about you, but I was (once again) cheering at the screen first when Irie turned back to rescue the collapsed Kotoko. It was somewhat expected, honestly, but it was one of those moments where I’m all “do it DO IT DO IT” and then the character does it and then I’m like “YESSSSSSSSS“. And then it happened again when Kotoko tried to run away and Irie, of all people, “stops” her (I-It’s not like I’m stopping you or anything! I just want to be clear about some things regarding you and me!”). I mean, two Irie defrosting moments in one episode! And this is only episode six. What new horrors await us in the later episodes? Can any man or woman survive the almost certain shoujocaust at the end of the series? Will we be crying with joy or grief? DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL. Well, okay. The metaphorical dial. Since I don’t think there’s actually a TV made these days that actually has an actual dial, and at any rate you’re probably watching this series on your computer anyway.

The strength of Itazura na Kiss, I think, is that the writing and the direction drag you, provided you’re willing, up and down with the main character. This has always been the hallmark of good shoujo–I think there’s just something in the emotional “exaggeration” shoujo tends to perform (i.e. the phenomenon that the slightest mishap of the main character is a GRAVE, LIFE-RUINING ERROR that they have to fight against. I’m pretty sure this phenomenon is the fault of Ikeda Riyoko, God bless her) that grabs the reader/viewer and sends them on the whole complex rollercoaster ride of emotions. I don’t know if the term “melodrama” applies here or not, as I’ve never really been clear on its defintion in the modern world, but it seems somewhat pertinent to this situation, in the sense that things are exaggerated to ridiculous degrees. When I watch shoujo, more than cute girls, more than cute boys (were I into that), more than anything else, I want to be grabbed into this frenzy of emotion that lasts 24 minutes and has me spamming other people with “they did not just do that!” and “that was awesome” and other hyperbolic comments (they, of course, know not what I am talking about, but that never stops me). It’s an engaging experience, and engaging experiences are usually memorable ones.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: although I’m pretty certian that Itazura na Kiss manga was intentionally drawn out as long as possible to milk as much money from it as possible (as many popular series tend to be), judging from the anime version (which I will admit is most likely the abridged Cliff Notes version of the manga, so take this with a cube of salt) they’re actually doing a good job of stringing along the plot without making things seem like nothing is happening, or that no progress is being made. Again, it may just be a product of the intense compression the anime version applied to the manga, rather than an actual merit that could be ascribed to the manga, and it may be far too soon to tell, but I think that this is exactly what Itazura na Kiss is doing. It could be an explanation for its enduring popularity, since obviously there are enough people out there who still care about it for them to find making an anime version profitable.

How does it accomplish this? Simply by dropping these tantalizing bits of Irie defrosting. Maybe I’m just falling for the trap set up by the author, but, as seen above, every time Irie takes a step outside his comfort zone and does something unexpected (or expectedly unexpected) the end result is my inner teenage girl letting out a squeal of delight and glee. I’m not entirely sure why I have an inner teenage girl, but she’s there and she quite enjoys squealing. She also thinks Kotoko is a perky bundle of moe, which means that at least the two of us can get along decently well.

In all honesty, at this juncture, Itazura na Kiss is fast becoming one of my favorite shoujo series. Sure, I ranked Rose of Versailles higher than it (at the moment; I try never to give 10s to series I haven’t seen all of) and I love a good shoujo drama, but for light, relatively fluffy, adrenaline-pumping shoujo anime viewing, you don’t get much better than Itazura na Kiss. Of course, I have yet to see some of the more recent series along this vein (such as Lovely Complex), but I’ve always had a soft spot for older-style things.

And, yes, I’m using the term “adrenaline-pumping” in reference to a romance comedy. I think my adrenaline glands are broken or malfunctioning or something.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

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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