Be warned. A little spoilers ahead.
Itazura Na Kiss started with Aihara Kotoko being optimistic and brave, might I add, when she wrote her first love letter to the male protagonist, Irie Naoki. In a shocking encounter, Irie rejected her outright without even attempting to read her heartfelt words. Before her love story begins, it has already ended. Poor Kotoko-chan. Sniff.
Itazura na Kiss is perhaps the first romantic comedy in which I get to follow the characters through the different stages of their relationships. It all began with Kotoko’s high school crush to having a wonderful family with Naoki many, many, many years later. I honestly can’t remember when was the last time I saw an anime with such complete cycle. That was nice. Having the anime aired long after the manga is completed may have something to do with it? This 25-episodes anime was aired in 2008.
It’s refreshing to see Kotoko as a confident female protagonist for a change. I’ve been bombarded with female protagonists in romantic comedy feeling inferior, unexpressive and socially challenged these past anime seasons. Kotoko is nothing like those. She’s cheerful, friendly, speaks her mind and a hard worker. What I love about Kotoko is her never-to-give-up attitude. She’s not the brightest girl, and she knows it. However, once she puts her mind into it, she can do anything. Even if it means to burn midnight oil to ace an exam.
On contrary, what I hate about Naoki is his stuck up and ignorant attitude towards not only Kotoko, but every other living creatures. His “I Hate Stupid Girls” chant is annoying. He’s smart, but cold-hearted and cruel and possessive…well, let’s just stop here, shall we? I don’t want to delve into a list of things I hate about this guy. I gotta give Naoki some credit though, because over the years he has become more attentive and caring, especially in all matters involving his family.
Throughout their relationship, I can see that Naoki has deep trust in Kotoko. A little words of encouragement from Kotoko, a little push from her, Naoki moves forward in his life. He relies on Kotoko for emotionally support without him realizing it until much later. With Kotoko’s sudden existence in his life, he learned a lot more than he ever did. Particularly, life searching related matters. Whether he acknowledges it or not, Kotoko helped him find and realize his dreams.
I’m surprised that Kotoko and Naoki got hitched midway through the series. Since the series time-skipped a number times, I should’ve expected it. What I like about Itazura na Kiss is that even though Naoki eventually fall for Kotoko and married her, their relationship isn’t all pink and flowery. It took Kotoko five years to finally win Naoki over, but it takes another few more years before she can truly melt Naoki cold demeanor. It goes without saying, to make a relationship work, two must work hard to overcome the challenges along the way.
While Itazura na Kiss centers around the lovely couple, it is not without tiny, little moments from side characters that I consider as priceless. There are many examples and I’ll start with Irie mama. I adore Naoki’s mom, who is super energetic and delightful to watch. I have never seen a mom so dedicated in matching his son with her preferred choice of a daughter-in-law. Her “secret missions” and love for disguise are moments to be highlighted. I suppose the young couple has her to thank for. She did document their journey comprehensively. Her camera equipment matches that of Izumi Soujirou (Lucky Star). The other side character I adore is Christine Robbins, a British who eventually spotted with a Kansai accent!! Cute!
An odd thing about this series to note is – maybe because the main characters work in hospitals, their families and friends tend to get sick a lot. >.<
Of course this series isn’t perfect, in my opinion. My pet peeve about this anime series is its characters tendency to change without a proper transitioning. For example, I have no idea why Matsumoto Yuuko, Kotoko’s supposed love rival in college, has a sudden change of heart and decided to help Kotoko when Naoki attended a marital interview. She just showed up and challenged Kotoko to do something about it. And from thereon, they sort of became frenemies. Huh. Or how did Kotoko manage make Keita to fall in love with her. One day he was criticizing about her shallow dream and the very next day he was blushing all over in her presence. I couldn’t quite make the connection.
Those are just my little pet peeves.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, if you’re looking for a sweet romantic comedy, I recommend you to watch Itazura na Kiss. You won’t regret it. It has a bit of Lovely Complex feel to it, but with more fun characters to watch.