Itazura na Kiss (イタズラなKiss also note the English release tends to use the title ItaKiss which does create come complications while looking it up) is a 25 episode romantic comedy from 2008 based on a classic manga by Karou Tada.
Aihara Kotoko is a 3rd year high school girl who’s been nursing a crush on the smartest guy, Irie Naoki, in school since she saw him on the first day -after finally working up the courage to write him a love letter shes shocked when he shoots her down without even reading it. Her efforts to move on with her love life are greatly hindered when an earthquake destroys her families new house and they go to live with her father’s old friend, who happens to be Naoki’s dad. Can she actually melt the heart of the cold ice prince and get him to at least acknowledge her love?
The manga Itazura na Kiss is based on is one of THE definitive RomComs of the 90s1 which gives the anime a bit of a throwback air to it as it deals in tropes and cliches were not used to seeing anymore. There are no tsundere girls here- Kotoko is more of the classic not-very-smart-but-eternally-optimistic lead who can be fun to spend time with while Naoki is very much just a distant, cold person who wants nothing more than to be left alone. This gave the show a breath of fresh air upon its release which has only grown fresher as genre tropes have moved farther away from this sort of slice-of-life hi-jinks. And make no mistake, there are hijinks aplenty. The show gets a lot of mileage out of both Kotoko’s follies, as well as her overly optimistic mood swings in response to Naoki’s teasing which tend to leave him flustered.
Itazura na Kiss further has a greater sense of time than most of its similar shows. While it starts with them in high school they graduate in episode 7 and more than a dozen years pass over the course of the season (with a couple time skips in there for help) letting you see how the relationships grow and develop with time rather than being instant turn-arounds of personality. Hell the show even recognizes marriage doesn’t automatically mean “happily ever after” as it keeps going for a while past even that covering the difficulties newlyweds run into, especially while working.
Irie Naoki is a jerk. While he’s the kind of hostile or dangerous “bad boy” some shows have girls trying to fix, he really makes it clear for a long time that he just wants Kotoko out of his life and she could do so much better if she stopped obsessing over him.2 While this does give the show a lot of room on the growth front in seeing Naoki slowly open up, he’s not exactly the kind of RomCom lead you want to root for.
Also, for a show made in 2008, it bears the look of something from the 90s and not really in a good way. The character designs work, none of the animation really does frequently going off model or looking cheaper than what you would expect from a show only 12 years ago. Its not the worst animation, and in a weird way it almost helps since it makes you think you’re watching something made in the 90s.
Weeb Level: 3/10- Like I said most of the tropes at play here are rather old school now and outside of a couple characters personalities nothing too in your face.
Fanservice: 2/10- Even when they go to the pool for an episode its remarkably tame with almost no male gaze at all. Unlike last week being based on a manga by a woman shows here.
Quality: 8/10- Its maybe not the most rewatchable or the outright best RomCom, but it is an incredibly fun time while youre watching it.
Where to watch it: This gets weird as Crunchyroll no longer has the anime (but does have some of the live action adaptations) and neither does Funimation or Prime. Instead TubiTV3 and RetroCrush have the whole show because Discotek can’t do anything normal like.
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