Title: Itazura na Kiss
Director: Morita Mitsunori, Nemoto Minoki, Ikezoe Hiroshi
Format: 9 episodes
Dates: 14 Oct 1996 – 16 Dec 1996
Synopsis: Two years after a collision in the hallway between Aihara Kotoko and Irie Naoki causes them to kiss, the “Plain Jane” Aihara Kotoko of average intelligence tries to confess her love to the good looking Irie of supreme intelligence. Irie, however, brushes her off as an idiot. Can Kotoko’s day get any worse? Sure it can. She comes home to a house on fire. Thanks to the kindheartedness of her father’s old classmate, she and her father move into the Irie household. Wait… Irie?!
Sato Aiko: Gutsy, believable, funny; an all-around good performance.
Characters: Entertaining, multifaceted (to a degree), some of them can be a bit annoying.
Relationships: Could have been written a bit better.
More than ten years before the anime Itazura na Kiss, there was the live action drama Itazura na Kiss. I’m a sucker for these romantic comedies—girl likes boy, boy does not seem to like girl, boy realizes feelings… etc. Itazura na Kiss is one of these silly romantic comedies about a clumsy girl that seems predictable (and it is, to an extent), but unlike something like Attention Please (which I couldn’t stand), there’s a subtle charm from the very beginning. I’d be a fool not to compliment Sato Aiko‘s acting.
Sato Aiko plays the heroine, Aihara Kotoko. While Kotoko can be extremely irritating, I really admire Sato’s gutsy effort. Sure, she might have looked like a complete loony toon on the screen, but that was the character she was portraying. She made me laugh, dumbfounded, and happy all at the same time.
I will say that for the most part, I liked how the characters were designed and portrayed. They were also, to an extent, multifaceted. Each character has both an (extremely) annoying side and a genuine caring side to them. Kotoko is an incredible goofball and delusional, but she tries hard and can be serious and blunt with Naoki when she needs to be. Naoki is a cold genius (gee, haven’t we seen that a lot) who doesn’t know a thing about how to walk a path that he creates for himself. And Naoki’s mother reminds me of the mother from Pride and Prejudice because of her sometimes delusional matchmaking ways. And although she can be completely nonsensical, there are moments when I did feel sympathetic towards this woman. Lastly, I really liked the way the main love rival, Matsumoto Reiko, and her relationship with Naoki was written. The revelation of one of the main reasons why they are so close was smart writing and totally unexpected.
While the ending is very satisfying, I was not as pleased with how the rest of the relationship between Naoki and Kotoko played out. Unlike a series like Hana Kimi, where it’s apparent that there is a growth in the romantic relationship between Sano and Ashiya, the growth of Kotoko and Naoki’s relationship seems to have sporadic bursts of growth followed by lots of dead area. A series like this cannot survive on the idea that while Naoki is being courted by another girl he will give furtive glances in Kotoko’s direction. That’s fine and dandy in the beginning, but towards the end of the series, I want substance. I don’t want to hear for the millionth time that Naoki’s “just being shy!” Yes, I sound a bit unreasonable for saying so, but I want to see Naoki do something for Kotoko and be a man and say, “Yes! I did it for Kotoko.”
The writing of the relationship between Kotoko and Kinnosuke was also a bit lackluster. Again, I will compare it to a relationship in Hana Kimi: Ashiya and Nakatsu. It’s obvious that Ashiya and Nakatsu are close friends but there’s a chance that Ashiya perhaps just might look in Nakatsu’s direction. However, when it comes to Kotoko and Kinnosuke, it’s plain as day that Kotoko will never look in Kinnosuke’s direction. Thus a problem arises. The character of Kinnosuke, while he is moreso comedic relief, is a plot device (“the close friend of the female protagonist whose feelings are never received”) that is never fully fleshed out. The constant “Kotoko! I love you!” and “Kin-chan, shut up/stop it/go away” is redundant and does not make for character growth. Kinnosuke at the beginning of the series is pretty much the same as at the end. He might as well have been written up as just another classmate with no real designs on Kotoko’s affection.
A figure skating commentator once commented that Sasha Cohen “can run hot, she can run cold.” That defines this series perfectly. While Itazura na Kiss straddles the line between mediocrity and good stuff many times throughout, it’s those once-in-a-blue-moon hot spots that keep it from falling into mediocrity and keeps it a worthwhile series.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Genkisakura