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Snapshots: Itazura na Kiss

itazura 1a thumb itazura 1b thumb itazura 1c thumb

Now there’s a new romantic comedy for the ladies, in Itazura na Kiss (イタズラなKiss), airing 26 episodes every Friday at 26:25 JST on TBS.

The history of this show is a bit peculiar. Its manga started publication way back in 1990, became massively popular, then ended abruptly in 1999 when author Tada Kaoru passed away from cerebral hemorrhage, after lying three weeks in a coma due to hitting her head on a marble table while mopping the floor underneath. The original work thus remains unfinished at 23 volumes, but the popularity endures, and after getting live-action dramas in Taiwan, we now see an anime edition. The director in charge of the project is Yamasaki Osamu, who was active just last year with Terra e. The script’s produced by Shimizu Yukako, a woman whose history primarily includes drama series and the Saishuu-heiki Kanojo live-action movie.

At Aihara Kotoko’s high school, pupils are divided into classes A-F depending on study results. While attending the school’s opening ceremony, she lays eyes on the handsome genius Irie Naoki, who’s giving the address, and it’s love at first sight. Kotoko spends the next two years furiously studying to be able to move up into class A, but things aren’t going her way, and when third year starts, she’s still stuck at the bottom in F. Refusing to give up, she then writes a love letter, hoping to catch his heart. Unfortunately, Naoki refuses to even read her letter, declaring that he dislikes stupid girls. Humiliated, she crawls back to her own classroom, where her friends try to comfort her. Later that evening, they all come over to Kotoko’s place to celebrate that her newly built home’s been finished. However, during the party an earthquake occurs, and the beautifully constructed building comes crashing down. Apparently her father hadn’t put quite enough money on materials. Homeless, the father-daughter family is forced to move in with an old friend of Kotoko’s father, suspiciously nicknamed Iri-chan. When Kotoko steps through the door, she’s greeted by none other than Irie Naoki, the same boy whose love she’s just given up on, and an awkward new life begins.

Despite an HV-tag, TMS Entertainment‘s animation looks like it’s been upscaled and blurred, but I can’t really say it matters when it comes to a shoujo show of this kind. What struck me was how the character design seems mixed, with Kotoko having fairly large eyes and cute face, while most of the men have a more narrow, classic 90′s shounen look. Takanashi Yasuharu does the music, and I didn’t even notice it, so I’ll classify it as regular anime fare. The voice acting is a bit tricky. Mizuki Nana (Fate in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha) is playing Kotoko, and I really, really loved her as Misaki in Darker Than Black, and she’s marvellous in Tokyo Marble Chocolate, but in this show I can’t shake the feeling that she’s trying too hard to make it a girly part, separated from her mature roles. The result is somewhat uncomfortable. Mister Perfect is played by Hirakawa Daisuke (Julio in Zero no Tsukaima 2), and seems alright. Of the remaining cast, only Paku Romi (Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist) as Naoki’s little brother stood out, although Yamada Kinoko (Shinza in Ooedo Rocket) as Jinko is likely to irritate after a while.

If I understand the website correctly, this unfinished manga story will actually be completed with the animated edition, working from some sort of concept notes Tada left behind. God knows how that will turn out, but at least it won’t leave newcomers hanging. Having enjoyed Marmalade Boy and Please Save My Earth, I’m pleased to see more shoujo animated, but in this particular case there was nothing to charm me. The comedy doesn’t seem crisp enough to compete with the 30 other shows of the season, but perhaps later episodes will develop the romantic part to make it worth a marathon some time in the future.

April 5, 2008 at 4:42 pm
28 comments »
  • April 5, 2008 at 4:54 pmasdf

    “pupils are divided into classes A-F depending on study results”

    sigh… the Japanese DO love to physically differentiate between the stupid and the smart, don’t they?

  • April 5, 2008 at 5:23 pmAznLegacy

    Ah!, old-skool shojo. Lets just hope they don’t do a crusty ending.

  • April 5, 2008 at 6:10 pmasdas

    it will
    it shall

    BE CRUSTY

  • April 5, 2008 at 6:24 pmtokko

    Wah another shoujo anime, must watch ^_^

  • April 5, 2008 at 6:42 pmdivine|s

    Mmm, I agree with Patrik on this one. I haven’t read the manga, but the character designs are quite mixed, which actually throws me off a bit. Overall, the production quality doesn’t seem to be very HD, at least from raw I watched.

    I have to say that despite the great cast of Mizuki Nana and Paku Romi, this first episode left me somewhat disappointed. Keep in mind though that I was hoping for a show to fill in the ef – a tale of memories. / true tears void this season, so my expectations were pretty (unreasonably?) high. Hirakawa Daisuke also played Itou Makoto, our much hated protagonist from School Days. While I have nothing against the seiyuu, the fact that Naoki sounds like Makoto when he talks leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. This is what I get for looking into seiyuus so much. >_

  • April 5, 2008 at 6:45 pmdivine|s

    *The rest of my comment that got cut off*

    With that said, I’ll give Itazura na Kiss another episode or two before I decide whether or not I’ll continue following the show this season (and the next).

  • April 5, 2008 at 7:27 pmGP

    The way I understand it they’ll release the final manga chapter/ending after the anime is done, not that the anime will end the manga or something.

    Unlike other stories this shoujo spans 10 years, from the start of the relationship in HS and on etc. I don’t know how close the manga was to it’s ending but I think they’ll find a way to end the manga well. Now, I dunno how long this anime will be, anidb doesn’t list a episode count. ANN lists it at 26 episodes though. The manga is up to 23 volumes but without the ending, so make of that what you will. I’ll still give it a look over because I find the idea of a long relationship, not just a short HS fling to be interesting.

  • April 5, 2008 at 7:47 pmSensei-kun

    This Shoujo anime looks pretty great, some of my friends read the comic. They said i should read it, I only got to read one chapter of Itazura na Kiss it’s mostly for girls.

  • April 5, 2008 at 8:10 pmJenn-Jen

    Yay!! I like this kind of old school story type shoujos with newer art. ^_^ Yay for and good, non-fanservice filled, shoujo anime! This stuff is hard to find these days. XD

  • April 5, 2008 at 9:06 pmFat Cat Lim

    @ asdf

    It’s not only Japan. In Malaysia and other Asian countries, it’s not uncommon for students to be separated to different classes depending on their results. It varies from school to school though: when I was in Form 5 (11th grade), I was in Class B which had mixed Chinese and Malay male and female students. Class A consisted of only Malay male students while Class C was all female Chinese students. And then Class D, E, and F were all mixed though it usually meant their grades weren’t as high as ours, not to mention they were more “ruly” students.

    If your grades and attitude were good, then you could move up to the next class. Of course by 8th – 9th grade, you’re usually likely to remain in the same class with the same group of classmates and teachers.

  • April 5, 2008 at 11:37 pmMH

    lol the guy in the middle picture looks like gintoki from gintama lol! without the silver hair!!!

  • April 6, 2008 at 1:10 amYukiruchan

    I can’t seem to stand the production quality. The OP and ED animations were just ..UGH. I actually wished they could have improved the character designs to make it look more modern..
    I also found that I can’t stand animated pink and blue bubbles and sparkles… when they’re animated it jest makes me sick>_

  • April 6, 2008 at 1:16 amYukiruchan

    *comment got cut off like divine|s…just gotta remember NOT to type that face*
    *somehow got it back though*

    Well, even though having complained about the animation.. I’m still planning to follow this series later on (when it gets to the parts I like). I guess I haven’t said but I’ve read the manga and absolutely loved it – I even regard it as a classic shoujo masterpiece along with Glass no Kamen. The manga at first is plain and normal but it grows and grows until it wins a place in your heart. I can say hardly any manga grows as much as this one. So I definately and totally recommend reading the manga, but I can’t say so for the anime.

    Anyway I’m looking forward to the continuation of where the manga suddenly left off.

    Oh, and
    @Sensei-kun
    This series is *not* only for girls. It really has a lot to offer not only about love but about life. Things like realizing your dream and pursuing it realistically unlike other manga where the protagonists seem to be born already knowing what they wanted to do and usually have born talent to top it off. Most real people like us aren’t born like that. So watching Kotoko, who really has almost no talent at all, living her life the way she is and even being able to inspire the born-genius Irie; it really inspires you. And that’s only one of the good things I can’t even explain it half as good as Itazurana Kiss does.

  • April 6, 2008 at 6:49 ampiccu

    I think that the anime’s a pretty solid adaptation, it was very enjoyable IMO.
    And what’s up with everyone hating Hirakawa Daisuke? Just because he voiced Makoto? I thought that he did a great job with School Days, Makoto’s voice _IS_ supposed to sound lame, after all.

    Since I’m a big fan of the manga, I’ll watch this till the very end…

  • April 6, 2008 at 9:32 ammelchior

    piccu: It’s the curse of doing a job *too* well. Hirakawa Daisuke played the detestable Makoto so well, that the effects bleed (pun intended) into his other work.

    Audiences just can’t shake the effect easily. Given enough time and enough roles, he’ll break away from the Makoto role, but it will take time.

    Looking forward to a sub for this. I always liked the manga.

  • April 6, 2008 at 2:22 pmperson

    @asdf
    ““pupils are divided into classes A-F depending on study results”
    sigh… the Japanese DO love to physically differentiate between the stupid and the smart, don’t they?”

    Well, my school divides into classes as well (Not Japanese, though, I’m in the Philippines). Though the divide is less distinct: classes B through F are supposed to be the same grades-wise. I’m in A, and my friends say it’s a completely different atmosphere compared to the other sections. I think in some other schools the B – F classes are actually ranked, because saying one of my friends is in section F sort of elicits a negative reaction from people not studying in my school.

    Anyway, back to Itazura na Kiss. Paku Romi is my favorite seiyuu, so that means I’ll be watching at least the first episode. I’ve only watched one episode of School Days (guess which) so the Makoto connection doesn’t bug me as much, since I’m not very familiar with his voice. What does bug me: the character design– That Naoki guy looks really fugly to me.

  • April 7, 2008 at 1:34 amsousuke

    @asdf
    ““pupils are divided into classes A-F depending on study results”
    sigh… the Japanese DO love to physically differentiate between the stupid and the smart, don’t they?”

    I believe it’s the same in nearly every public school (I don’t know how private schools work) in the Asian region.

  • April 7, 2008 at 2:22 amvexx

    Until the US started their “mainstreaming” experiment, it was standard ops in the US.
    The high school I went to had 3 divisions labeled “Advanced”, “Regular”, and “Basic”. That kind of translated to “College Prep”, “Trade/Craft/Service”, “Might stay out of Jail”.

    The advantage is that each section got well-targeted curriculum, the disadvantage was that getting out of a label (moving up) took a lot of will and parent intervention because you tended to get channeled early in K-12.

    Mainstreaming just drowns the teacher in workload if they want to be fair to each student since they have to tailor multiple streams of assignments.

    This series looks like it could be quite interesting though I’ve no experience with the source material.

  • April 8, 2008 at 3:35 amSherry

    Is it a sure thing already it will only be a 26eps run?
    There are 23 books full of material and in those, we start from high school, pass to university and until they are both working as professionals *for a while* before it was discontinued…; to cover it in 26eps and add up, to all this, an ending from the deceased authors concepts notes would mean either 1-HEAVY cropping and jumping over many chapters, which would be worth months of action in the manga flow of time o__O or 2-a *very* quick pace…

  • April 9, 2008 at 10:01 amMatroid

    I think this one is like honey x honey or Flower Boys, basically about how a girl with low IQ/high EQ to tame a boy with high IQ/low EQ.

  • April 12, 2008 at 4:32 pmkaleidostar00

    doesn’t this remind anyone of the taiwanese drama It Started with a Kiss?

  • April 20, 2008 at 7:54 amSnowing Star

    *It started with a kiss was based on the manga Itazura na kiss in the first place!!!

    Compare to the manga, I reckon the apperance of Kotoko changed alot already and I think if the drawers go beyond that, then there would be no originality and it would be a shame.

    I have a high expectation on this anime because the manga of this of this anime was so famous that it was described as the “love bible”, then I watched the drama version of this anime, both the Jap and the taiwanese version and they both were fabulous.I was really excited when I saw the anime of my favourite manga came out, and I hope it will turn out to be a successful and outstanding anime.

  • May 18, 2008 at 1:08 pmfor me to know and you to find out

    Okay, I watched the first episode.. thought this is very poor
    watched the second episode, it was soso, but after the third got into it.
    It either gets better or grows on you.
    stick it through if you can cos it might be worth it :]
    xoxo

  • June 4, 2008 at 4:11 amkimanh_vietnam

    I love this manga!!!! Can you ssell it to me???? Pm kamikaze_kimkim_281

  • July 7, 2008 at 9:47 pmjho

    I think this series is surprisingly good. I’ve watched up to episode 12 so far and it always gives me a couple of good laughs, though it drags on at times.

  • July 8, 2008 at 12:53 amhhv94

    To the reveiwer of the site, its a shame you cant give this a chance. Course I’m biased, I’ve been a fan of the manga for a while so I was glad to see this as an anime. Thus far its pleased me lots and I’m looking forward to seing the rest of it.

  • November 12, 2009 at 8:28 pmSiwon lover

    for korean drama (remake) can we have Choi Si Won from SUper Junior act as Irie Naoki ?
    I think he is most suitable than others. With his gorgeous outlook and his charisma. and he has natural prince aura in him.
    he can acting well. just see his filmography, ever filmed with Andy Lau.and even andy lau ever praise siwon’s acting skill

  • March 20, 2010 at 2:34 pmmisty

    i think you should get more pictures of Itazura na Kiss!