Itazura Na Kiss

May 9, 2009

Here’s another love comedy drama series. I must recently really dig such anime genres because my previous blog was one too. If you are a fan of the shoujo genre, then I suppose you should check out Itazura Na Kiss. Adapted from the manga of the same title, but unlike most manga titles which are still running or has ended this run, this series wasn’t completed at all. The author of the manga, Kaoru Tada, died in an accident back in 1999 before she could finish it. Wow. That has been 10 long years that has passed already. Perhaps somebody saw this title and decided to give it the anime treatment in commemoration of her? Thus it’ll be interesting to see how the 25 episode anime series ends this unresolved issue in the manga.
 
So folks, meet Kotoko Aihara. Your typical high school girl who is very much in love with a good looking guy named Naoki Irie and has been admiring him for many years now. Yeah, she even dreams of marrying him at the chapel (but that’s just a dream…). However, the feeling isn’t mutual. There is an obvious difference between them. You see, Naoki is one of the top students in his school (probably in whole of Japan!) and of course is in the model A-Class whereas Kotoko is at the other end of the polar, F-Class, the residues of the not so intelligent. Gee, it’s going to be tough to convince him to be his girl. However, there is good news: Naoki is still single because mainly he rejects all the other confessions of other girls too. Bad news: Kotoko is one of them. Even badder news: Naoki rejected Kotoko’s feelings even without reading a single line of her love-filled letter which she poured her heart and soul into. How embarrassing. Not only that, Naoki did mention straight in her face, "I hate stupid girls". Horror! The truth hurts. A lot. And since they’re in their final high school years, is Kotoko going to stay defeated and not let Naoki know her true feelings for the past 3 years and beyond?
 
Good thing about Kotoko is that she isn’t willing to give up (perhaps a good point about being ‘dumb’?). Viewers may tend to dislike Naoki at first because of his cold and grouchy attitude and appearance. Hey, do you expect him to be some gentleman like those perfect types you see in animes? Oh wait. This is an anime too. But it’s not going to happen here. So the rest of episode 1 introduces other characters like Satomi Ishikawa and Jinko Komori who are Kotoko’s best friends and classmates. Also, there is Kinnosuke Nakamura or Kin for short, who is a life-long passionate devotee to Kotoko. He looks like a typical delinquent and speaks with an accent. But I guess Kotoko’s heart is with Naoki and doesn’t take his advances seriously. Well, you could say he too doesn’t give up on her even though he has announced aloud his undying love for Kotoko several times.
 
An important development in this episode is that Kotoko’s widower dad, Shigeo, has just finished constructing their home when a slight earthquake crumbles their humble abode. Thing is, only their home has taken full damage! All the other houses around are still standing like as though the earthquake didn’t happen. So did Shigeo stinge on materials or was he cheated of it? Of course this embarrassing news starts to spread throughout school and Kin even starts a donation drive fund for Kotoko’s house rebuilding. Since Naoki’s there too, you can bet that Kin doesn’t like that guy so much and even blames him for all that has happened. I’m not sure if Naoki’s being sarcastic or not because he takes Kin’s persistent behaviour as he won’t stop bugging him till he donates. Kin could’ve beaten him up if Kotoko didn’t restrain him. Anyway Shigeo tells Kotoko that a very good friend of his decides to take them in to live with them for the time being. Upon arrival, Kotoko finds out the family’s name is Irie and thinks it’s just coincidence. But she has the shock of her life when she finds out that this is Naoki’s residence indeed! Oh her dream come true. Now she gets to live with her crush. Call it fate or destiny but that dream has become a reality.
 
In episode 2, though Kotoko is thrilled, Naoki sure isn’t. We are introduced to the rest of Naoki’s family. His dad Shigeki as we know is Shigeo’s best friend, his mom Noriko the hyped-up super-controlling mother who loves planning romantic things (read: busybody) for Naoki and Kotoko, and his little brother, Yuuki who too doesn’t like that ‘stupid girl’ because now he has to give up his room to her while sharing his with Naoki. This episode has Naoki giving Kotoko the cold shoulder right from the start as they leave for school. Very rude of him. So when Kotoko confronts him, his reply "I hate absent-minded girls more than stupid girls". Bummer. He even tells her that their living together is never to be known. Then Kotoko sees an opportunity to get back at Naoki when Noriko secretly shows her a picture of a young Naoki dressed as a girl! Noriko had wanted a girl so badly that she was desperate enough to do so. Probably that explains Naoki’s cold character when he found out about it. Sly Kotoko uses this photo as a blackmail to get Naoki to tutor her for the upcoming exams and if she manages to get the school’s top 50 (something which no F-class student has ever achieved before), she’ll return the photo with no strings attached. Naoki has no choice but to do so. Besides tutoring her, I think because of that, Naoki starts treating her a little nicely too, though he’s still overall cold towards her. After all the hard work, Kotoko manages to get 50th spot! History! So when her buddies pesters her for the secret of her success, Kotoko’s slip of her tongue reveals that she’s living under the same roof as Naoki. Soon news spread like wildfire and Naoki is certainly pissed off. He tells her to stay out of his life. Ironic since she’s staying with him…
 
The school sports festival in episode 3. To make things worse, Naoki and Kotoko’s family are there to eagerly cheer them on. F-class thinks this event is their once in a lifetime to beat those studious A-class by using their brawns over brains. A funny part during the borrowing race has Kotoko needing to borrow ‘someone she loves’. Since she has trouble taking Naoki and with time running out, she chooses Shigeki instead. Bummer. During the mixed relay race, Naoki shows that he too is as athletic and not a mere pushover and passes Kin. But at that time, Kotoko trips and hurt herself. Naoki carries her to the infirmary earning Kin’s wrath. That night back home, Naoki reads the love letter Kotoko has written but she slaps him for invading her privacy. Then for no reason, Kin barges into their home to declare his undying love for Kotoko. Still not thinking of giving up, isn’t he? Perhaps he doesn’t want to lose to Naoki still. Kin makes a point that Naoki hates Kotoko but he replied that people’s feelings may change one day, the person you hate becomes the person you love. Wow. Shocking revelation. So next day in school, somebody plays a prank by drawing a picture of Kotoko and Naoki being married. Though Naoki isn’t too fond of it, but Kotoko shoots back at him by saying that he did imply how he could love her tomorrow back then. Haha, backfire for Naoki.
 
Kotoko and her pals head to the pool in episode 4. Noriko wanting something romantic to happen between Kotoko and Naoki, sends both her sons there. Yuuki still doesn’t like Kotoko and decides to observe her, which includes going to a deep end of the pool but ends up nearly drowned. His saviour? Why, it’s Kotoko! But Yuuki still has reservations on her. Later Kotoko’s leg experiences a cramp during the water slide and nearly drowns (now it’s her turn?) but luckily Naoki saves her and even gives her a foot massage. Now if he could be like this more often. Funny thing, Yuuki wrote in his observation book how he was like the hero and saved cry-baby Kotoko instead. When they got back, Noriko decides to leave the duo alone and forcefully brings Yuuki along to visit their relative (which is just a made-up excuse). We find out that Kotoko is a bad cook and later tries to do her homework but finds the questions a little too tough so she decides to sneak into Naoki’s room to ‘borrow’ some answers but as expected flops. Partly Naoki isn’t sleeping and proceeds to tease her. I guess she felt a little insulted and decides not to borrow his notes, but since he insisted on it as atonement for teasing her, I guess she might as well take it. Hehehe.
 
The final exam is near in episode 5 so Kotoko has Jinko and Satomi over to do a group study. I don’t want to comment on their intelligence level but it seems each time they try to start off a question, well they can’t because they’re stuck! Thus Kotoko has to go pester Naoki on how to do it. Many times. Not only he’s annoyed but he finished demonstrating his answer in record time! But even with Naoki’s indirect help, those F-class students are totally hopeless. Seeing Naoki’s potential, the whole F-class goes to beg and plead for Naoki to tutor them! Woah! Except for Kin who’s got it all planned by going to start work rather than college so that he could support Kotoko for life. Now Naoki has to be heir teacher. He should start charging a fee. Wait a minute, he doesn’t because he’s rich, right? He can’t turn them down either or else he’ll look like the bad guy. Thankfully all that hard work paid off as the entire F-class pass their exams (except Kin. He flopped. See lah. Don’t study some more). During Christmas Day, the entire F-class show their gratitude by giving Naoki an ugly doll version of Kotoko. Previously Kotoko on the other hand tries a part time job as a ramen shop waitress to buy a personal bracelet gift for him. Though she doesn’t want Naoki to know (because of some embarrassing greeting), unknown to her, he spots her doing so from afar while taking a walk. On that day after Kotoko gives him her present, Noriko wants to take a photo of them together as his present to Kotoko and surprisingly (to everyone) he accepts, though it’s just a one-shot. As blushing Kotoko gets close, Naoki whispers in her ear that embarrassing greeting which throws her off guard. Oops. The photo has been snapped and the picture turned out spoilt. Poor Kotoko, frust only.
 
Valentine’s Day in episode 6 as Noriko helps Kotoko make home-made chocolates for Naoki but she fails to give it to him. Since Naoki is to enter a top Tokyo University, he has to study for the entrance exam. I don’t know if Kotoko is really that dumb or what because she’s like unintentionally trying to sabotage Naoki’s chances when she gave the wrong medicine for his flu on his exam day. Though Naoki feels drowsy, he manages to settle all the questions in time. Thanks to superior intelligence. Remember those Valentine chocolates? They’re suitable to be poison if you ask me. In replacement of that, she gives him a good luck charm for his next entrance exam. As Kotoko accompanies Naoki there, Naoki must be really having a streak of bad luck because Kotoko’s stomach starts to experience pain. Naoki isn’t a selfish person and ditches his exam to bring Kotoko to the nearest clinic. Because of that he misses the exams and a chance to enter a top university. Kotoko feels guilty and blames herself. Even Shigeo got down on his knees to beg for forgiveness but Shigeki doesn’t mind. Even so, Naoki doesn’t take this as a setback and decides to go to a local college. Which means, Kotoko has a chance of being with him still. But that night, Kotoko thinks of running away from home after thinking she’s a burden to Naoki (which is partly true). But after hearing Naoki’s sweet but stinging words, Kotoko changes her mind and decides to stay back. At least she has the guts to confess that she loves him this time. After that, Kotoko successfully made Valentine chocolates but to her disappointment finds out Naoki doesn’t like western sweets and only prefers Japanese ones. Damn.
 
Graduation day in episode 7. Kotoko must be real embarrassed because Kin is doing his usual love declaring stuff onstage. This is made worse with Noriko objecting to it all and calls for Naoki to stand up for her. It’s getting rowdier, huh? Later as F-class celebrate their graduation-cum-farewell party at a restaurant, they bump into A-class who are doing theirs there too. You can see the difference in their standards. Naoki and his classmates tease Kotoko’s unrequited love but instead of getting embarrassed and teary-eyed, Kotoko gets even. That’s right! She shows the whole crowd that girly picture of Naoki! Horror! The tables are turned! Although Kotoko returned the photo, Noriko gave her another one soon after. Everybody frantically tries to grab it and have a look for themselves but Naoki manages to take it back as he drags Kotoko out with him behind the alley. No, he’s not going to rape her. As they argue, Kotoko tries to act tough by saying how she’ll forget him as she goes to college and such. Naoki executes his trump card and tells her to try and forget if she can as he kisses her! Shock! Naoki leaves giving that you-deserve-it look while Kotoko sat there stunned.
 
College for Kotoko starts in episode 8 and she finds out that nearly the entire F-class has enrolled in this college and the same course with her! But Kotoko should be happy because Naoki too is attending the same college albeit a different faculty. Still not over with that kiss, Kotoko brags to Jinko and Satomi about it. Of course they couldn’t believe it and their loudness causes those around them to hear as well. Kotoko goes to visit Naoki in his class but to her dismay finds that he’s getting along pretty well with another pretty and intelligent classmate, Yuuko Matsumoto. I smell rivalry coming up. Of course both girls won’t get along seeing that they’re after Naoki’s heart. Also, a guy who seems to know Naoki, Sudou, is pestering him to join his tennis club. Naoki reluctantly joins with a condition that he doesn’t have to play. Say, doesn’t Sudou look like Momoshiro of Prince Of Tennis but with a moustache? And when he holds a tennis racquet, he undergoes a personality change, like Kawamura of that same series! Oh the uncanny resemblance! Kotoko joins the club so that she could be with Naoki but finds Yuuko too is in that club. Not only that, practice under Sudou is like hell training camp. Oh Kotoko, you’re screwed big time! Another development is that we find out Kin is working part time at the college cafeteria by day and at Shigeo’s sushi restaurant as a chef-in-training by night so that he could prepare himself to support Kotoko. Yeah, he’s got his life plan all laid out.
 
Kotoko starts her hell tennis training in episode 9 (on a different note, just to say how those exaggerated moves in Prince Of Tennis are impossible, eh?). Kotoko then invites Naoki out to watch a movie but he declines. However, she spots him going out with Yuuko instead and becomes a jealous stalker along with Sudou. It seems that guy has a crush on Yuuko but as usual, she doesn’t even look at him. Deja vu? So the jealous duo tries to sabotage them without getting their cover blown. Successful? You figure it out. Then when Yuuko asks Naoki’s ideal girl and concludes that they’re the perfect pair, Kotoko gets depressed and is starting to concede defeat when she bumps into some unruly punk. He takes advantage of her by asking to clean his stupid shirt or pay a high price for it which doesn’t even cost a dirt. Luckily, Naoki stops him and puts the newly bought tennis racquet (earlier he went to bought one with Yuuko) into Sudou’s hand and you know the rest of the story. Yuuko’s disheartened because it’s her tennis racquet that he’s wrecking while Naoki takes this chance to escape with Kotoko. The duo take a boat ride at the lake and due to Kotoko’s clumsiness, the boat overturns and they got all wet. As they dry their clothes, another round of chat before Kotoko once again tells Naoki how much she loves him. That’s getting old…
 
In episode 10, Shigeo thinks of moving out because he feels he has overstayed his welcome even of the Iries dismiss the fact (especially Noriko. No more romantic antics). Which means, Kotoko won’t get to be with Naoki 24/7 anymore. No choice, she has to abide by her father’s decision to stay at a nearby apartment in which they rent. Even though they’re living separate lives and only get to see each other in college, I guess even if Naoki views Kotoko as a bother, there’s still something missing. Even Yuuki feels the same way although he gets his room back. A subtle sign that they miss somebody to bully? Just kidding. One day, Kotoko passes by Naoki’s home but heard something wrong. As she steps in, she finds Yuuki home alone squirming in pain. She calls Naoki at college on what to do. Though he is initially surprised she is at his place, he tells her to call 119 (Japan’s equivalent to 911). Yuuki is sent to hospital and he is diagnosed with some intestine problem which is non-fatal. Naoki is grateful for what Kotoko has done as he comforts her. Kotoko is overcome with emotions as she breaks down. They continue to visit Yuuki every day and it seems Yuuki has made friends with a roommate, Non-chan, who has been hospitalized for quite a while due to some serious illness. Since Yuuki is quite attached to Non-chan, Naoki even takes the liberty to tutor him, so much so Kotoko suggests Naoki to become a doctor so that he could cure Non-chan. When Yuuki gets discharged, he feels reluctant to leave him but promise they’ll keep in touch. As days go by, seeing how close and happy Kotoko is, Shigeo decides to move back with the Iries, much to everyone’s delight.
 
Naoki does some serious thinking on what to do with his future after Kotoko’s suggestion in the previous episode. Wow, he’s taking the advice of a girl he once deemed stupid seriously. So in episode 11, he goes to some Romance Village with Yuuki for his spring break to think about it. Thing is, Yuuko’s there too. And she brought along her sister, Ayako, and their dogs as well. I guess Kotoko doesn’t want to be left out and tags along with Sudou as well. Even though Ayako did indicate Naoki’s a nice guy but you won’t see her making any serious moves. As Yuuki is playing in the woods, he discovers a shocking discovery. While Kotoko is napping underneath a tree, Naoki goes up to her and kisses her lips! SHOCKING! Though Naoki knows Yuuki has seen this, he calmly indicates to him to keep this a secret. Then later Kotoko and Yuuki got lost in the woods and are being confronted by a wild dog. Their dog is a coward as it ran away but luckily Naoki arrives in time to save them and bring them home. Then there’s a funny thing which I don’t get it. Kin followed and spied Kotoko all along without getting his presence known. Then he got lost and a little injured and I don’t know how, Naoki manages to find and help him back up. Since he remembered something about being late for work, he rushes off. Huh? In the end as the gang heads home, Naoki tells his dad he wants to become a doctor. Shigeki isn’t pleased because he expects Naoki to take over his company. But since Naoki is adamant, Shigeki is upset so much so he gets a heart attack. Oh no! Everyone starts to fear the worse. The more the reason Naoki should become a doctor now.
 
Thankfully Shigeki is recuperating in hospital in episode 12. As his family visits him daily, they begin to wonder if he has much needed rest or not because his employees start streaming in with workloads and decisions. One of them including the need to send Naoki to a marriage interview of one of their clients as a condition for a loan. Naoki decides to go because he feels he needs to lift the burden off his dad’s shoulders. We see that the girl Naoki is to meet is a British Caucasian but has some knowledge in Japanese. She is Christine Robbins or Chris for short. You know, the thing which bugs me is that when Naoki and Chris spoke in English, it’s so heavily accented. Especially Chris, so much so it sounded like she isn’t and English woman in the first place. Kotoko and Yuuko are horrified to learn of this and spied on the duo. They tried to sabotage but flopped. Why is Yuuko helping Kotoko out? Well, she did mention that if she were to lose, it’s better to lose to Kotoko because is she lost to Chris, it would make Yuuko seem less perfect. Is this an indirect acknowledgement for Kotoko? But seeing how close Naoki is to Chris and the she ‘has won without fighting’ and even overhears how Naoki tells Noriko that he likes Chris, Kotoko starts to give up and probably having thoughts of settling for Kin. So she goes out with him and Kin takes the opportunity to propose to her! Of course she can’t give an answer now. As the duo walk along, they come face to face with Naoki and Chris as Naoki introduce them all before leaving.
 
Kotoko has a lot on her mind and feeling depressed lately in episode 13. She has a chat with her dad and he suggests about leaving again. Meanwhile Chris visits Naoki’s college and soon his mom. Noriko of course acts in an arrogant way so that Chris will have a bad impression and leave but it all backfires. Even Yuuki feels uncomfortable if Naoki marries Chris and one day at the hospital tells his parents that Naoki is only in love with Kotoko (because of that kiss in the woods). Also when Naoki gets to know of Kin’s proposal, he gets that uneasy feeling too. Kotoko goes to see Kin and asks more time before she could give her answer but impatient Kin has had enough of it and says how he’ll make her forget that bastard Naoki and nearly forces himself on her! He realized and lets her go when she yells out to Naoki’s name. Heartbroken Kin drops to his knees and cries while Kotoko runs out in the rain. But to her surprise, she sees Naoki standing in front of her.
 
The usual bickering in episode 14 but Naoki pulls off another shocking move. He confesses that he loves her and kisses her! After reconciling, they walk home hand in hand. Back home the rest of the family receives yet another shocking news. Not even Noriko could expect this one. Naoki is asking Shigeo’s permission to marry his daughter! So I guess the reason why he said he loved Chris was just to help his dad out. Naoki then decides to drop pursuing his doctor career but Yuuki says not to because he’ll take over dad’s company. Yay. Everything is resolved. Almost. Now, the only thing is to tell Chris and Kin about it. Naoki goes to tell Chris and it seems that Chris accepts it and well, she too doesn’t really have feelings for him and was just obliging her dad. Then it’s Kotoko’s turn to tell Kin but she has problems of trying to do so without hurting his feelings (like how can you have fire without smoke?). Naoki then comes in and tells it straight to his face that he’ll be taking Kotoko. For once, Kin becomes a mature guy and lets her go and if Naoki makes her unhappy, he tells her that he’ll always be her back-up. Meanwhile Shigeki is meeting with Chris dad over the same thing. He’s in a bind because if Naoki doesn’t get engage to Chris, his company will not get the loan which they badly need. But Chris tells her dad off and not only that, she already has someone whom she really loves (it’s Kin by the way. SHOCK! She thinks he’s the manliest man. Funny how love works sometimes). Her dad must be devastated that her daughter talked back to him but I guess this case is pretty much solved. With all those loose ends tied up, Noriko can’t wait and starts planning their wedding! And it will be in 2 weeks time! Their wedding really did happen. So I guess that dream Kotoko had all the while finally came true. To make things worse, Noriko shows everybody of Naoki’s cross-dressing photo (she claims it’s like taking the weight off her shoulder). By the way, both bride and bridegroom looked stunning and for once, Kotoko boldly kisses Naoki at the altar. Aww… You go girl! Well, I guess for Yuuko, she has to give up since this episode didn’t see her making any fuss or objections.
 
The newlyweds are headed off to Hawaii for their first honeymoon in episode 15. As usual, Kotoko is having trouble speaking English and has to depend on fluent Naoki to get by. On the way, they also met a newly married couple, Horiuchi, and it seems the wife Mari takes a liking for Naoki. She seems so clingy to him. Is her husband supposed to be jealous? Let’s just say he’s got no backbone. Kotoko of course feels that Mari girl is trying to interrupt their honeymoon because everywhere they go, she just seems to want to be with Naoki. And you know Naoki’s don’t mind attitude. You’d think that Kotoko and Naoki are alone but if you look closer, Noriko and the rest are actually here too on vacation and in disguise. At times they try to interrupt Mari’s doing. The days flew by and Kotoko feels they haven’t been doing things together. On the last day, she makes Naoki spend time with her. Guess what? Mari too tries to intercept. She fakes some stomach pain so that she could get Naoki alone with her in her room. Kotoko has had it with Naoki and gets emotional as she runs away. Mari thinks she has won when Kotoko leaves but Naoki scoffs her off that she couldn’t even come close to Kotoko and leaves. Mari feels insulted and is determined to break them up but her husband came back and slaps that b*tch to her senses. For once he becomes a man and says he’ll protect her instead. Good riddens. Kotoko meanwhile is lost and is confronted by a large-sized man who’s speaking English. She thinks she’s going to get done in when Naoki comes by. That man gives a heartily laughter and leaves. We find out he was a plain clothes policeman who thought Kotoko was a lost high school girl. The duo reconcile and manage to spend the last night together. Yeah, they’re doing what lovers are supposed to be doing. OMG! Are they making love in their room?! When they return home to Japan, Kotoko announces how she’s going to be a nurse so that she can support Naoki. Can she? I mean with her level of intelligence and clumsiness? Sceptical at first, but Naoki decides to support her.
 
Episode 16 focuses more on Chris and Kin. Seems that Chris is going back to England but she is in a dilemma to stay because of her feelings for Kin. If Kin tells her to stay than she would gladly ditch her trip back to England. However, Kin doesn’t care for all that. Kotoko devises a plan along with Jinko and Satomi to celebrate Kin’s birthday even if it’s several weeks early. Kin tests several dishes and mixes up the taste (he thought the good ones were Kotoko and the bad ones were from Chris but it’s more like the other way round). Kin becomes rude and cold, which hurt Chris’ feelings. Knowing this, Chris decides to go back to England. Kotoko and the rest are furious of Kin’s egoistic attitude. But you know, he can’t stay like this forever. Perhaps the romance in his heart was late to bloom. So Kin realized he does love Chris after all and rushes towards the airport. By that time, Kotoko who was accompanying her, has waved her goodbye as Chris has already boarded her flight. Kin arrives a minute too late. But to their surprise, Chris didn’t get onboard as she appears before them. Seems like she couldn’t leave after somehow hearing Kin calling her out. Though Kin still has his ego, he does admit he likes her, so Chris is now determined to stay by his side as she kisses him! Kotoko goes back and since she’s feeling a little dizzy, Noriko jumps to conclusion that she’s pregnant. She’s already rejoicing the fact and goes on a shopping spree to buy toddler stuffs. However a visit to the hospital shows it’s just a false alarm. Because earlier on, Kotoko pestered Naoki to give her a reward to go on a date as motivation to study if she passes the entrance exam for the nursing college, even Naoki is surprised to find that Kotoko has passed. Yeah, not so dumb anymore. So Naoki has to keep his end of the bargain and agrees to go out on a date with her. And for those happy folks back home expecting a new family member, well let’s not disrupt their happiness.
 
Kotoko starts her nursing college in episode 17 and has made several new friends. There’s the angelic, kind and gentle Tomoko Ogura, the I-became-a-nurse-so-I-can-marry-a-rich-famous-doctor Marina Shinagawa, the transvestite Motoki Kikyou (those kind of woman who feels they’ve been wrongly born into a man’s body), and the serious and passionate male nurse wannabe Keita Kamogari. Naoki too is undergoing his training as a doctor in this college and it seems Tomoko, Marina and Motoki harbours a crush on Naoki but hates his wife! And don’t even know she’s Kotoko. It’s right under their noses. But Kotoko can’t seem to find the right time to tell them. So the trio along with Kotoko spies outside Naoki’s house and sees he’s seen entering with Yuuko, they think she’s his wife. Seeing how perfect his ‘wife’ is, they decide to give up pursuing him. Just like that? But the cat is out of a bag when Naoki one day randomly shows up in her class to tell her to do some chores. Yeah, the gang are pretty upset to find their pal is HIS wife and thinks Kotoko has deceived them. But no hard feelings, really. Later Kotoko goes drinking with them and she gets a little drunk, argues with Keita and falls asleep. Hmm… Kotoko looks scary and cute together when she’s drunk. Naoki comes by to take her home but Keita ‘advises’ him to take better care of his wife (yeah, Naoki is back to his cold ignorant ways). I smell another rivalry coming up. But Naoki just plays it cool. The next day because Kotoko is still a klutz being a nurse (it would be horrible to think she’ll become one with such horrible skills), Keita offers his arm to let her practice take blood pressure. Naoki spots them together from afar. Oh is he getting that jealous feeling? Oh yeah, before I forget, it seems Chris is hanging out with Kin during his work and I’m not sure if it’s official or not, she helps him out in his job just like a wife in training.
 
After Kotoko continues her blundering practices on poor Keita, the nurses takes an autopsy practice filled with blood in episode 18. Besides Tomoko loving the sight of blood (how ironic), Kotoko faints but Keita helps her. In the room alone, Keita notices how pretty Kotoko is and probably his actions indicate he might want to kiss her! Gasp! Till Naoki comes in, that is. Naoki confronts Keita about getting involved with other people’s wife but Keita too mentions about Naoki’s cold outlook and no respect towards Kotoko. Noriko notices the threat towards the relationship between Kotoko and her son and does her usual snooping on Keita but finds out that he’s a nice guy. Uh huh. She even had the thought of choosing Keita over Naoki. She even thought the unthinkable that Kotoko is going to be whisk away by Keita. Yeah, it’s going to be a tough fight. The next day while Kotoko and her mates are having lunch, Keita asks her why did she marry someone like Naoki. His words seem to upset Kotoko as she gets up and leave. Keita chases her and hugs her from the back as he tells him to leave Naoki for him! This confirms that Keita do have feelings for Kotoko. More confusion for that poor girl.
 
Naoki continues his cold attitude towards Kotoko in episode 19 and he doesn’t even know it’s jealousy! So much so Kotoko has had enough of him and throws a book at him while saying how Keita was right about his uncaring attitude and that Keita cares about her more than him. This causes Naoki to slap her. In shock, Kotoko runs away from home and takes refuge at Tomoko’s place (is she some kind of a cult fanatic?). While Kotoko gets consoled from her classmate buddies, Shigeo talks to Naoki about Kotoko’s late mom. Hmm… They look so similar. Like mother, like daughter. One day, Chris scalded her leg and was rushed for treatment. Chris is sad because she feels Kin won’t look at her anymore but he decides to burn his leg too to show support. Luckily he was stopped. It is then Kin declared his love for Chris and proposes that they get married, delighting Chris very much as she boldly kisses him once more. Looks like a person who was devoted to Kotoko for most of his life, he’s able to move on. See, love can change a man. It is then Kin tells Naoki the meaning of jealousy. It’s ironic because a smart guy like him doesn’t know and has to be shown by one who has been so for the past several years. Then when Keita professes her love for Kotoko and even suggests coming to live with him, Kotoko thankfully is still faithful to her husband and defends him even if Keita says Naoki doesn’t love her. Naoki then comes by to admit everything like how he was jealous and has now come to know of it because of a certain guy (hinting Kin and possibly thanking him?). Naoki continues his cool speech by saying because of that, he needs Kotoko with him and since Keita is a strong guy, he doesn’t. Kotoko is filled with emotions and wonders if Naoki still wants her. Of course he does. They both hugged. Aww… The crowd cheers (a little embarrassing, though). Sorry Keita, you lost. That night in their bedroom, the lovebirds reconciled their love as they both kiss once more.
 
Kotoko and her pals are going to graduate as nurses in episode 20 and are attending a nightingale capping ceremony (looks like a religious cult ceremony if you ask me). However Naoki is away at some meeting so he can’t attend and watch his beloved Kotoko graduate (horror! Kotoko’s being selected the head to recite the pledge!). During the ceremony, Motoki dresses as a female nurse which the head nurse refuse to cap him. But after Kotoko’s heart moving speech and support from the rest, she makes this an exception. Kotoko nervous at first, then recites the pledge flawlessly. That night as Kotoko sits alone in the hall, she is surprised when Naoki comes to see her. Though he didn’t make it to see the ceremony, at least he manages to see her as she recites her pledge to him. Four years later, Kotoko is a full fledge nurse but is still klutzy and clumsy. I hope she hasn’t killed anybody yet. Furthermore, there is an old hag patient making Kotoko do her errands, pissing her off. Not only that, the old hag has several pictures of Naoki (Kotoko shockingly saying Irie-kun doctor version!). If she was 50 years younger, I think she would seduce him! Speaking of which, the other nurses seems to be swooning over Naoki. He must have that kind of charming effect on woman. But of course, he just ignores them. Since Kotoko wanted the pics badly, she tries to snatch it from her when the head nurse comes in. The old hag fakes it by saying she was trying to steal her pics. Kotoko got a lecture and is sent away. Later Kotoko finds out that Keita is being awfully nice to a wheelchair-ridden patient girl and thinks he has a crush on her though he denies it. True. Another guy who has moved on. Then Kotoko is being dragged by Motoki and the rest to find a famous movie star named Nobuhiro who is seeking treatment in their hospital. They find him sitting at the lounge and Motoki and the rest asks him for his autograph seeing that they are big fans. However Nobuhiro declines and is very rude. Kotoko chides him back and that is when Nobuhiro got up and hugs her! Gasp! He even says it has been a long time since they’ve seen each other.
 
In episode 21, we find out Nobuhiro is that Non-chan. OMG! What a vast difference 7 years makes! How can he look from a cherubic little kid to a hot gorgeous girly looking guy? That’s why things like that only happen in anime. Plus, everybody else looks the same like they haven’t change in their appearance. Maybe except for Yuuki who’s a little taller and bigger but at least we can still recognize him. Yuuki is thrilled to see Non-chan again. Kotoko can be forgiven for not recognizing him since she’s not into movies like the rest of her family. However, Kotoko notices this Non-chan is different from the one she knew because he is cold, rude, bitter, obnoxious and his attitude stinks! Is that what being a movie star is all about? Well he blames it on his life long illness for being in hospital too long. I know he’s got his own broken family problems and loneliness but to show it upon others? He doesn’t want to depend on his parents because they broke up and fought over how they should take responsibility for his illness. So that’s why he worked hard and turned into a celebrity. We see his sh*t behaviour when he steal a kiss on Keita’s beloved wheelchair girl. Keita would’ve beaten him up if not being restrained by Kotoko. Naoki advices to do some surgery to save him since this is the right time but he refuses and display his f*cked up attitude. So much so Kotoko slapped some senses to him and tells him how Naoki became a doctor for his sake! After teary Kotoko runs away, Nobuhiro then realizes his mistake and goes to apologize to her. Yeah, it took a slap to open his eyes and change his attitude. He also mentions how he’s going to do the surgery. As Nobuhiro prepares to undergo surgery, he tells Kotoko to hold his hand. You’ll find out later his reason for doing so is that she won’t do anything else. Haha. No confidence in her skills still?
 
Nobuhiro’s surgery was a success in episode 22 as he goes back to his filming crew while giving a press interview his gratitude for those who had supported him. Even that old hag respects Kotoko now and doesn’t annoy her with her silly errands. She says how lucky Naoki is to marry a girl like her and his reply although she isn’t capable of 90% of the things he can do, but she succeeds at the 10% where he couldn’t. Since Kotoko’s birthday is coming up, she dreams of the ideal birthday date with Naoki. Surprisingly, Naoki is able to reschedule his busy schedule to accommodate her. That night Kotoko is to meet Naoki at a hotel for a romantic candle light dinner (what’s with that weird hairdo) but she had to assist in an injured motorist along the way. To her horror, she has been dragged to the hospital to oversee it. Once it’s over, Kotoko’s is running late though the motorist is very grateful. She tries to take a cab but the traffic is jammed (why is it always like this at important hours?), so she runs to the subway station. Kotoko arrives but is all dirtied and messed-up and thinks her once in a lifetime dream is over and starts crying. Thankfully, understanding Naoki has been waiting there all along and it scared him because he thought the blood on her dress was hers. By now, we can all tell Noriko’s weird disguise as she helps the duo as some foreigner tourist. Naoki and Kotoko manage to make up as they made love in the hotel room! Don’t worry, the sex scenes aren’t shown. Naoki puts a ring on Kotoko’s finger when she’s sleeping. The next day, Kotoko is obviously overjoyed with her new ring. New motivation to work harder! After doing a late night emergency call on a boy with vomit stuck in his throat (ugh!) with Naoki, when they come home Noriko thinks Kotoko has developed a fever but Naoki surprises them by saying she is pregnant. After that last false alarm, not even Noriko dare thought of this. Hey, that’s why Naoki’s the doctor, right?
 
It’s confirmed Kotoko is 3 months pregnant in episode 23. Everyone rejoices and it’s a good thing they didn’t throw those toddler stuff they bought. However there is a new problem. Kotoko heard from her pals about straying husbands and this causes her to be suspicious of Naoki because he’s seen very friendly to a new nurse trainee, Yukie. But this episode mainly focuses on other characters before we forget them. Like Kin now manages his own sushi restaurant as he invite his friends over and even proposes to marry Chris! How things have turned out. Then Chris mom, a famous Hollywood actress comes in to give her blessings and even thinks Kin is such a handsome man (their taste in handsome is quite different) and will go talk to her husband and make him change his mind! Of course mommy wants the wedding to be in England because they’re related to the royalty too! Wow! Kin on the other hand wants it in Japan as they argue. Also, Yuuko has been admitted to this hospital for some stomach problems and Sudou is still pinning for her love. Record unrequited love of 8 years. He’s a car salesman by the way. Even if Yuuko is hospitalized, she is so caught up with her work so much so she has no chance to rest. So much so Sudou prohibits her from doing her and prevents her from leaving her bed. Yuuko starts b*tching about it so he slaps her! In retaliation, she punches him back! Naoki and Sudou had a chat about how Yuuko has always disregarded her health due to her hardworking character and all Sudou wants is for her to get better even if it means she hating him. Yuuko was eavesdropping them so later she hints to Sudou that she likes hardworking man and will stay in bed till she recovers. This motivates to go work harder as he declares he will come back for her. Back home, Noriko who has been doing her spy job on Yukie (she’s really a professional in this area) and confronts Naoki by showing pictures of them together and talking to other nurses. But you know her habit of making a mountain out a mole hill. In the room, Kotoko says how Noriko was just worried about him when she starts feeling her stomach move. Is it due? Wait a minute? If she’s pregnant, how come it doesn’t show her stomach’s protruding that much? She’s like still having her slim body figure. Anyway, they’re glad they’ll be parents soon.
 
At least Kotoko now looks like a pregnant woman in episode 24. She’s loving her C-cup? Anyway she cuts her hair short too. We see that Kin has married Chris in England and she is 3 months pregnant too. While Naoki is working on his thesis, Kotoko’s pregnancy hypertension causes her to collapse. Thankfully, she and her baby is safe as she recuperates in hospital. Also note that Naoki is more kinder and caring towards Kotoko. Talk about a U-turn in his character when this series started. As Naoki and Kotoko takes a maternity class with Kin and Chris, Kotoko begins to feel pain in her stomach. It’s due. Though Naoki promises to be with her during her labour, Sudou suddenly rushes Yuuko in as she is coughing blood (by the way, he’s been elevated to boyfriend status since her discharge). Since there’s no other available doctors, Naoki has to do his first solo lead surgery to save her. Kotoko understands he can’t be with her so she supports and encourages him. Kotoko prepares for labour and Naoki’s surgery was a success, making Sudou feeling very grateful. Naoki rushes over to Kotoko and to his joy, she has given birth to a healthy baby girl, Kotomi. Four years has passed and it seems Kotomi is a naughty mischievous girl! She’s running around not listening to mama! Not only that, they’re both competing for Naoki’s affections! WTF?! Kotomi wants to even marry him?! It goes to show Naoki still has the pheromones. The end credits see a short glimpse of how the other characters are doing. Like Kin and Chris have an equally naughty kid of their own, Sudou and Yuuko got hitched, Nobuhiro doing well in his movie career, Keita still trying to woo that wheelchair girl, Yuuki now has a girlfriend and Noriko now turns her spying to him! Some things will never change. But for Naoki and Kotoko, they’re a happy family.
 
Though Kotoko and Kotomi continue to fight over Naoki, episode 25 feels like a filler as Naoki takes Kotoko to visit his grandpa (Noriko’s dad) and his big family in the countryside farm. Yeah, they all look the same (including that attitude). The reason Naoki does so is to get Grandpa’s approval and blessing of Kotoko but of course Grandpa isn’t pleased and proceeds to ‘beef up’ Kotoko with harsh labour! Hell time! No escape. Even all the uncle, auntie, nephew and nieces enjoy bullying Kotoko with some fake family ghost story. Of course Kotoko had the tables turn on them when she tells of each of their embarrassing secrets (courtesy from Grandpa) and they start treating her a little better. Kotoko then decides to take up a challenge to get a fruit in the mountains for Grandpa to win his approval (part of the family’s scheme to embarrass her, I guess). Though Naoki says not to underestimate her because she managed to win him over, Kotoko got lost but luckily got help from Grandpa to find the fruits and way back. She then bumps into Naoki who is frantically searching for her. But Grandpa is missing by then. Gasp! Did she see a ghost? Back home, everyone is amazed she manages to get lots of those fruit and thus Grandpa approves of her. Kotoko thanks him profusely but when Grandpa denies helping her, it’s then Kotoko realized the Grandpa who has helped her all the while, from telling of those secrets to nightly toilet visit advices, has a large mole on his cheek. It then occurred to everyone that is the head of the family 10 generations ago! Everyone freaks out upon realizing that there’s a ghost! The next time round, Naoki and Kotoko visits Grandpa again and this time they bring along Kotomi. Yeah, that girl saw the ghost Grandpa too. But they’re rather calm this time.
 
As expected everything ends well for everybody. Finally Kotoko gets to live out her life with the guy of her dreams. I’m not trying to say that stupidity is infectious but for a guy like Naoki to make a 180 degree U-turn, that’s one amazing feat Kotoko has pulled off. Though her clumsiness isn’t a trait one should emulate, there are other good points of her we should take note like not giving up. Thus perseverance is the key. And she got her reward right in the end. It’s a good thing too that fate has made Kotoko and Naoki met because without her, Naoki will never become a ‘human’. Life is just more than being smart and studying. Something which you won’t really find in textbooks. Naoki at the end has more human feelings and emotions as compared at the start of the series.
 
One thing about this series is that it doesn’t really focus on just the protagonist’s high school life as it progresses through their early stages of being a young adult. Though the high school and college part takes a big chunk out of it. Because of that, I felt that as each time frame passes, the other side characters became less and less prominent and only made several short appearances so that viewers won’t forget about them. For instance, Jinko and Satomi. You can feel that their presence could be done without when Kotoko and Naoki became a doctor-nurse pair. Or when Kotoko and Naoki got married, Sudou and Yuuko’s role has been featured less. After all, this entire series main focus is on Naoki and Kotoko and though I read that there are more characters and love triangles in the manga, but I guess I’ll just leave it here for the anime.
 
The voice acting is great and Nana Mizuki who voiced Kotoko is one of my favourites. She is quite versatile in making Kotoko sound cute, panic, incredulous or just any other expressions fit for the occasion. Her cute voice reminds me of those she voiced as Hinata in Naruto and Shinobu in 2×2=Shinobuden. Noriko who is voiced by Naoko Matsui is my other favourite seiyuu because of her loudness and expressful ways. Her other anime roles include Suzuki of Detective Conan fame and Koyomi of Da Capo series. Jinko’s voice is done by Kinoko Yamada makes her character sound like a high-pitch pig squealing (no offense, but I find it cute). Of course the only seiyuu which I know who can voice a foreigner and make it sound good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) is Yuko Goto who voices Chris. Remember her role as Kate in Sketchbook ~Full Color’s~? Other seiyuus include Daisuke Hirakawa as Naoki (Makoto of School Days), Romi Paku as Yuuki (Edward of Fullmetal Alchemist), Shuuhei Sakaguchi as Kin (Kawachi of Yakitate! Japan), Yuuki Masuda as Yuuko (female Hibiki of I My Me Strawberry Eggs), Akio Outsuka as Sudou (Mister of Coyote Ragtime Show, Marshall D Teach in One Piece) and Tomoko Kaneda as Kotomi (Chiyo in Azumanga Daioh).
 
The opening theme Kimi Meguru Boku by Motohiro Hata sounds like a lively pop beat fitting for the series. The 1st ending theme Kataomoi Fighter by GO!GO!7188 sounds like a spy song from the 70’s (I think) while the 2nd ending theme Jikan Yo Tomare has an R&B and hip-hop flavour in it. At first the female voice sounded okay until the rapping male lines come in. I don’t know, whenever I hear that part, my hair stood on ends as I find it unsuitable as it spoils the song.
 
Just like other shoujo animes, the drawing and art lean towards the bishoujo type and with Naoki drawn to such an ikemen (cool looking guy) extent, I’m sure many girls would love to fawn over him just like those in the show. Some of the slapstick comedy here is funny enough to tickle one’s funny bones, with most of the hilarious attempts coming from Kotoko. And then there’s Noriko’s meddling into the love affair of others… Does she still think that she is young? I mean, in the anime she addresses Naoki as onii-chan so initially I thought she was his prankful sister. There are some suggestive scenes (albeit short glimpses and not shown) so this show may not be suitable for younger audiences. Sometimes I feel that this series should be nicknamed Itazura No Sex. Oops…
 
There has been a live action drama adaptation of the series in Japan but it lasted only 9 episodes during its run in 1996. Then there’s a Taiwanese live action TV drama version of it which lasted for 20 episodes called It Started With A Kiss. I guess it was popular enough to spawn a sequel called They Kissed Again with the same number of episodes. Anyway I’m not so interested in watching them.
 
Just like Naoki’s saying of how one may fall in love with the person you don’t initially love, it goes to show that yet again love works in many mysterious ways. And to experience and be in one is definitely an amazing feeling. Is it too late for me yet? Well perhaps if I keep on watching such animes and just to quote a line from this series’ next episode preview narration, "I’ll definitely be happy!". Anime = Love. Love = Anime. See, love is a two way thing.
 

Itazura Na Kiss