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.