When her newly-built home is razed to the ground by an earthquake, low-achieving, clumsy, and troublesome third-year high school student Kotoko Aihara is forced to share a roof with the school's—and possibly Japan's—smartest student, Naoki Irie. Kotoko is not actually a complete stranger to Irie-kun; unfortunately, a single love letter that she tried to give him in the past has already sealed her fate as far as he is concerned. Throw in some quirky friends and a meddlesome mother, and Kotoko might not even have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the older Irie boy's heart. Yet Kotoko remains optimistic that, because she now lives in his house, her unattainable crush on the genius since the beginning of high school has never been more within reach.
Shoujo romance can be a bit of an annoying genre for me. First it is dominated by bishounen love interests who often look more like girls and usually have aloof or abrasive personalities that make you wonder why the heroine fell in love with them in the first place. While at first glance, Itazura na Kiss may not seem to be any different (though with the relieving lack of bishies) it evolved before my very eyes into the most heartwarming romance I have seen to date.
The plot for Itazura na Kiss is no different than your standard shoujo romance. A plain and
stupid, but cute girl Kotoko has fallen in love and secretly pined for school idol and uber smart Naoki Irie. She finally gathers to courage to write him a love confession letter but he flatly refuses to even accept or let alone read it stating that he doesn’t like "stupid" girls. Of course in a plot twist that can only happen in shoujo, Kotoko's house is destroyed due to faulty construction and she and her father are forced to move in with his old friend, who just happens to be Naoki's father! Hilarity and hijinks ensue.
Despite the fairly non groundbreaking premise the story remains quite funny. Kotoko tries desperately to get her feelings across despite Naoki being cold, uninterested, and mean to her. Though some of it walks to line of being unforgivable to my feminist brain, it never has some of the cruel or absolutely mean spirited feeling as I am accustomed to seeing in this genre. But what really sets Itazura's story apart is the eventual payoff to the romance. Yes I know this is going to be a shocking spoiler, but Kotoko and Naoki end up together! Omigosh really! Before some of you get upset at me for revealing that, honestly what did you expect!?
What we get in Itazura is something we almost never see in romance; the AFTER in they lived happily ever after. Most romances evolve over the space of at most a year or two where in Itazura the years pass as we see our couple evolve and move on to each new stage of their life. The formulaic romance plot evolves into a bit of a slice of life over the last half of the series. But what is truly beautiful is seeing the characters and even the supporting characters grow and fine love and happiness themselves. It’s quite refreshing to see the spurned love rivals actually can be happy and not spend their lives pining away for an unattainable love. My only real gripe with this is that the extra romances themselves play out too similarly to the main storyline. I mean come on everyone does not fall in love the same way you know!
Kotoko makes for a very satisfying shoujo heroine. She has all the attributes that one would expect. She is cute but not overly beautiful, ditzy and clumsy, and not very bright. What she lacks in intelligence she makes up for in determination, hard work, and a singular focus on getting her man. This is where Itazura differs from a lot of shoujo. Our ordinary girl is not surrounded by a harem of pretty boys and while others vie for her love, too her credit her feelings for Naoki never waver. However as loveable and likeable as Kotoko is, you can’t help but wonder what it is she sees in Naoki who is so cold and mean to her. This is my main gripe usually with shoujo as I think it sets a bit of a bad role model for girls who thinks is ok to put up with this kind of thing. Even though she succeeds and manages to get her well deserved reward, you have to wonder why she bothered with him in the first place. Additionally, despite her pursuit of her man there is little else of substance about her. You don’t feel like she has any real dreams of her own beyond her relationship with Naoki. It also annoyed me a bit that even after becoming intimate she still referred to him as Irie-kun. All that being said, seeing Kotoko grow up and experience all the joy and happiness life has to offer brought a smile to my face and a few tears.
Our stoic and cold hearted love interest Naoki certainly isn’t the kind of guy I would fall for, but he has all of the attributes that young girls dream about. He is handsome (yet thankfully not a bishie), smart, the son of a company president, and of course admired by women and men alike. His is cold and aloof to everyone and while they at times touch on why this is they sadly never develop this part of his personality very well. He does make a lot of growth in his character over the course of the series, though annoyingly he often reverts back to his old ways in the following episode. But by the end of the series you feel as though he has become an acceptable human being. And to think it only took Kotoko 10 years to get that out of him!
Any romance would not be complete without the supporting cast of "cockblockers". There always has to be girls and boys who spring out of the woodwork to try and derail our leads happy romance. Itazura is no different however thankfully we get a cast of supporting characters who break the mold a bit and never seem to outstay their welcome and know when to move on when they have been defeated. There are no real villains in the cast and you will end up liking every one of them and feel all the more happy when they find loves of their own.
Every heroine needs a cast of helpful supporters encourages her romantic struggle. The series has some good ones, the biggest cheerleader and most humorous being Naoki's own mother who actively supports Kotoko in wooing her son, scolds him when he is mean to her, and loves her as her own daughter. It is quite sweet. The cast gets quite large towards the end and sadly some favorites tend to fade away into obscurity but you don’t miss them too much because they all are so wonderful to watch.
The artwork and animation is quite good. As I mentioned most shoujo series seem to revolve around bishie male characters which we do not get in this series. All the guys look like men, at least the ones that are supposed to be manly. There is some inconsistency at times with the look overall, particularly Kotoko who sometimes looks a bit too childish. The art itself is a bit plain too, by design but the settings, backgrounds, color palette, and character designs are not going to really blow anyone away. The music score is outstanding however. I really loved the EN theme and the performance from Kotoko seiyuu Nana Mizuki who is a favorite of mine and is probably best known as the voice of Fate from Nanoha.
Itazuka na Kiss comes close to receiving a perfect score. From a pure enjoyment standpoint alone it surpasses it. This series rivals my love for series with developed post confession romances such as Clannad. While is has a few minor annoyances overall this is the best and most enjoyable romance series I have seen. If your love your romance that’s lite on the tragedy and gives you a heartwarming happy ending then this should be at the very top of your list.
This is one of the most annoying romance animes I’ve ever watched. Now either hit the “not helpful” button or keep reading to find out why.
I chose to start InK because I heard it broke with the romance genre’s stale tradition of ending with a high school rooftop kiss, and instead actually followed the characters into their adult lives.
InK’s longitudinal narrative style was the one positive thing that I can say about this train wreck of an anime (that and its surprisingly accurate use of medical jargon).
This anime is about Kotoko, a ditzy, klutzy, dimwitted, high school girl, and her one-sided
pursuit of her school’s super-perfect heart throb, Irie. The central conflict revolves around Kotoko’s struggle to get Irie’s attention and to get past his incredibly cold personality. You see, Irie, in addition to being good at everything he does, is a complete douchebag and sees Kotoko as nothing more than an annoying flea.
The narrative goes from high school to college to graduate school to working life. Unfortunately, despite spanning over 10 years, neither the characters nor the storyline ever matures. By episode 20 the characters are largely indistinguishable from their younger HS selves in episode 1. The humor is based almost exclusively around how bad Kotoko is at everything she does. As you can imagine this gets irritating pretty quickly.
Art 6: Fair
Sound 6: Nothing special either way.
Everything about the characters was awful. They were awful as individuals and they were awful as couples. The side characters were little more than plot stick figures. Everything was awful.
Kotoko lacks just about every trait that a decent woman should have. She has no autonomy, no pride, no self-respect, no brains, no talent, and no ambition. Well that’s not true, she has ambition. Her sole ambition in life is to get the attention of her high school crush… an attraction based on infatuation rather than anything substantive. That’s about it. She’s willing to endure being humiliated, hit, bullied, and insulted by Irie because well, it’s Irie-kun and he’s way out of her league anyway. Basically, she should be thankful for whatever she can get…it’s really that simple. She sends out the wonderful message to young girls that if you just try hard enough with a guy who treats you like shit, you too can spend the best years of your life in an emotionally abusive relationship. I got the eerie feeling early on that if Irie decided to give her a black eye or some broken bones she’d find a way to blame herself for it. I felt pity for Kotoko throughout the series more than hope or encouragement.
Irie: In addition to being a major tool, Irie is one of the most emotionally vacant anime characters I’ve seen. Stoic characters can be great but they have to have some substance. Irie was just too robotic to really connect with. The whole detached genius thing got old pretty quickly. His character development was severely stunted too.
Relationships: All of the relationships in this anime lacked chemistry and most were severely cringe worthy. Now, there is something innately charming about a romance where two ‘opposites attract’—Beauty and the beast, Romeo and Juliet, B Gata H Kei lol. However, InK’s writer took that concept overboard and turned it into ‘complete incompatibility attracts.’ This is stupid and creates an environment where any character can fall in love with any character for no god damn reason. You’ve hated someone for 15 episodes? No problem, just have an abrupt, out of the blue declaration of undying love to them in episode 16. You’ve just met someone? No problem, get love struck and rearrange your whole life to accommodate them.
This was painful to watch and I had to take several hiatuses from the series. The only thing that kept me going was the solemn duty to write a scathing review so others could be spared my misery. You’re all welcome.
Would you just back down after being told no? To be honest, very few anime make me want to actually write a review about them. This is one of the rare exceptions. I have never seen such a beautiful, but also realistic story. However, there was a myriad of things beautiful about the anime outside of the story.
The score for this anime was beautiful, not as much as one would had liked, but they did a very good job with this. The art style also stuck true to the manga written back in 1991, which I also appreciate. However, enough of that, let's get on
to why I believe this may be one of the greatest romance anime's of all time.
When one watches an anime, usually it is the same thing over and over. You see the guy chasing the girl, and the girl chasing the guy, and at the very end they share an intimate moment and the anime will end. What happens to the couple after? Do they stay together? Get married? Or end up in a situation that end unfortunately? What is left for the viewer?
Itazura na Kiss shows exactly what the viewer wants to see. It shows not only Kotoko's attempt to persevere, but also the unlikely relationship between the two. It boldly does something that a lot of anime does not do and that's actually show the after affect of the couple. And I believe this is done beautiful.
Itazura na Kiss makes you feel what the other character is feeling, makes you think what the other character is thinking. I didn't expect much going into this, I thought it would be just another girl chasing a guy and being annoying like a plethora of anime leads are. This is easily one of the most enjoyable anime's I have watched to date. Each anime has it's flaws, no doubt about it. However, story wise, it was simply perfect. You didn't see a character automatically shift from being nefarious to being a perfect character. That doesn't happen here, Kotoko and Irei stay true to themselves throughout the whole anime and that's what is most enjoyable about it.
Overall, a 9/10. If you are into romance anime or simply want to take a break from your preferred genre like I did, this is a perfect anime to watch and just feel happy about while watching it.
The reason I chose to watch this anime was because it seemed to be highly recommended by others, so I feel like it is partly my duty to give a differing point of view since I really didn't like this anime at all.
This shoujo comedy centers on Kotoko, a character who is nothing new to the genre: pretty, but not too pretty, stupid, determined, feminine and someone whose whole being revolves around the guy she likes. Unfortunately the guy she happens to like is mean-spirited when he's not being completely indifferent towards her, rude (and of course incredibly good-looking), arrogant (and also the smartest
person in school without even trying), a complete jerk (who is capable of doing anything he puts his mind to including sports). It never becomes quite clear how it is anyone could fall in love with him beyond his looks and top exam scores, but we're also not supposed to believe that our female protagonist is so shallow as to only want him for his outwardly appearance and therefore it doesn't ever seem to make sense how she could love him so much when he treats her so poorly. As we become aware of Kotoko's strong will and determination when it comes to all things to do with getting her guy, we are also left puzzled by the fact that she doesn't use it to make more of herself independently of him.
I forced myself to sit through this anime till the end no matter how bad it was so that I could form a justified opinion on it, I was also perhaps hoping that Kotoko would come to her senses, realise she could do better and dump the guy. But instead we have a character who singularly focuses her life around a man who never truly respects her.
I should be fair by saying that this anime did elicit a few chuckles and it starts off amusing enough. The artwork is fairly average. There are quite a few decent secondary characters who keep the plot moving forward and who are a main source of comedic value. But as the anime progresses the main problem I've outlined above becomes a glaring impediment to enjoying the protagonists' romance.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this anime to anyone who likes to see their female characters with an ounce of self-respect, but if you want light-hearted romance and you don't mind what sort of message it conveys about and to girls and women, then by all means watch Itazura no Kiss.
The senpai/kouhai relationships in Japan might seem confusing and hard to understand at first, but once you dig into them, you'll discover that they aren't complicated at all. Read on to get one step closer to your favorite anime senpai/kouhai...