Alt title: Itazura na Kiss

TV (25 eps)
3.794 out of 5 from 15,062 votes
Rank #2,183

Kotoko Aihara has always been in love with Naoki Irie; he’s tall, handsome, and rumored to be the most intelligent student in Japan – who wouldn’t be? Only one thing stands in the way of a relationship with Irie: Kotoko is ditzy and is at the bottom set of her school, and Irie-kun hates nothing more than ditzy, stupid girls. When disaster strikes and Kotoko is forced to move in with Irie-kun’s family, she suddenly sees her chance to bridge the gap. After all, even cool, super-intelligent guys must have a soft spot, right?

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StoryCall it strange, but for some reason I seem to have missed the "teenage girl" phase of my adolescent years; instead of having fantastical romantic dreams, swooning over dashing and charming men (well, save for myself), and giddily pairing together ideal couples, I spent most of my time plugging away in an old, dirty warehouse. After 500 minutes of skidding through Itazura na Kiss, however, I can say with certainty that my days were well spent - through it alone, I was injected with enough shoujo fluff to last me for a lifetime. Not hollow, frivolous fluff, mind you, but sappy, feel-good fluff. Bluntly speaking, Itazura na Kiss is a typical shoujo romance devoid of typical shoujo tedium. Where other contemporary anime of similar standing aim to create webs of complex drama and thorny love triangles, the crux behind Kotoko and Irie's relationship encompasses little else but pure, gooey monogamy. Though on occasion sprinkled with bits of angst, the vast majority of the story chronicles - in paperback novel fashion - the budding romance of two high school sweethearts; well, maybe only one is sweet, but I think I make my point. Thus, while the tale may be one of textbook ideal love and whimsical romantic fantasy, it nevertheless brims with warm, fuzzy emotion, and charms with simple, light-hearted fancy; the show's simplicity makes way for remarkably fluid pacing, and for most of its duration it captivates with jovial charm.   But, flowering praise aside, Itazura na Kiss is not without flaw. In fact, come the end of the first few episodes, I was brimming with the desire to call it quits. Needless to say, it starts out on unsteady footing, and teeters dangerously on the edge of being a bland, tacky comedy. Both Irie and Kotoko come across as mindlessly shallow, and the plot events appear both haphazard and forced. Though the anime works its way out of this rut fairly quickly, getting to the heart of the romance requires a bit of grit, and ultimately leads to a slow and trying start. While in retrospect these mishaps do little to damage my final opinion of the show, they could easily have been avoided. As the latter three-quarters of the series prove, the over-the-top antics matter little to the enjoyable nature of the romance.AnimationWhile of not particularly notable quality, the animation certainly does the trick. Kotoko is bouncy and cute, Irie is cunning and handsome, and everyone plugs along as one big happy family; typical shoujo if I have ever seen it. Genre-standard pastel coloring and an abundance of warm colors top off the visual glass, which leaves me with surprisingly little to say. While a tinge of innovativeness probably would not have hurt, Itazura na Kiss sticks with a tried-and-true style, and carries out its aesthetic tasks without blunder.SoundAs so many anime prominently display, the production value of the sound score goes hand-in-hand with the animation; generally speaking, decent animation tends to entail decent audio and vice versa. Though not always the case, Itazura na Kiss certainly makes no point to buck the trend. Aptly placed musical pieces and solid voice acting round up the category well, and while not overtly impressive, they fit the anime without issue.   CharactersIf I had to pick one thought to sum up Itazura na Kiss' character trend, it would be"there is more to life than intelligence, there is love!" Kotoko and Irie are just about as cliché as main characters can come - she's the bumbling idiot whose only redeeming qualities are boundless kindness and sweetness, and he the callous, stoic genius who has never experienced an emotion in his life. Still, typicality aside, damn do they manage to be likable; were there ever an anime appropriately fit to the obnoxious gambatte! thematic, this would be the one. Despite her one-dimensionality, Kotoko breathes empathy from every orifice, and rather easily makes for one of my favorite shoujo leads yet. Rooting her on through her romantic endeavors is - simply put - just plain fun, and sensation snowballs all the way through the series. Again, as I mentioned before, the show is paced remarkably well in that it never gets cyclical, and most of story involves her encountering and overcoming relationship hurdles. As all are cumulative in nature, there exists little form of stagnation, and her growth breeds interest from start. This, obviously, plays into Irie's development as well, as he transforms from inconsiderate ass to perfect guy; a transition that would cause all young girls to squeal I am sure, but also one that gives an adult male like myself some guilty pleasure in watching unfold. That said, my only real gripe comes with the side characters. While just about all become tolerable by the end, in the early episodes a number of them contribute heavily to the grating characteristics of the story. Once they are shifted aside to make room for the main romance, however, their existence becomes rather trivial; they piddle around to add flavor and an some extra humorous padding to the main relationship, but never obtrude upon it in any remarkable fashion.   OverallWhile Itazura na Kiss may not offer anything new to the genre, it nevertheless is a charming and refreshing take on existing clichés. Fans of romance would do well in jumping on this title at the soonest opportunity, as, where it lacks in originality, it compensates with raw emotive substance.


Itazura no Kiss is a 25 episode romantic comedy anime, of the shoujo genre since it’s aimed at young Japanese girls. Initially it seems very similar to the ‘okay’ Lovely Complex, but it soon turns out to be an anime that all fans of romance can enjoy, even those with a passing interest. One of the best romance anime I've seen, It even goes where few anime dare: passage of time. My favourite romance anime of all time (Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien) had that mechanic and it returns here, thus it can’t be terrible at least. But how good is it? Can it beat the likes of Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien? Are the characters as realistic or is there something else. Animation I watched this anime in 480p, I don’t think it’s available in any higher resolution. Not that it would help, the animation quality left something to be desired, especially for a 2008 anime. It looked to me like an anime made in the early 2000s. But don’t fret, it’s not all bad news. I compared this anime to Lovely Complex before, not only does it have the same slightly disappointing quality, but it also has a very similar interesting art style. Itazura no Kiss doesn’t quite look like the average anime, it seems to ooze a bit of style and seems a bit cartoony. It’s much like Kare Kano, another good romance anime. So I’ll commend them for putting in effort into style, even though it could stand out more if they also tried better for quality. Being a shoujo anime, means this anime means business. Its seriousness equals a pleasant lack of fan-service/ecchi, even with all the comedy. Anime like this and Kare Kano are proof that you don’t need pervy shit for comedy in a high school setting. The events themselves can be funny. Heck, the more I watched this anime, the more I realised it was like Kare Kano. Perhaps it was the more complete anime that Kare Kano should have been (Kare Kano seemed to end abruptly). Sound I was pleasantly surprised by the music here. Both the intro and outro stood out and were enjoyable to listen to. I’d be a fool to skip such pleasant music. It does help that I’m a fan of J-rock, though this music isn’t quite that, it’s very similar and thus I liked it. But what’s more is that I actually noticed the music in the actual anime itself: the background music. Occasionally there’s the odd rock-like track, which seemed out of place. But the rest of the sound design was on point and with good music too. If it’s good, then there’s not much else I can say, I want to finish this section so that I can get back to watching more of this anime. This anime is only available in Japanese. No problem, it makes things easier for me and the quality of the voice acting was okay. When I saw the chubby character, I was worried they’d give her a stereotypical voice. I was half right, it often sounds raspy like Marge Simpson but worse. However, other times it sounds pretty normal. But my praises of the voice acting and language choice came too soon. Towards the middle there was the introduction of characters who were meant to be foreign and spoke English. Not only did they put on a ‘Japanese-trying-to-sound-foreign-while-speaking-Japanese’ accent, but they also had the typical broken English. Now I don’t want to pick on Japanese folk for their English accent, but it’s very immersion breaking when a character who’s meant to have English as a first language speaks it with a heavy Japanese accent. I was reminded of Kuroko no Basuke, where some characters either are foreign or grew up outside of Japan (America). Kotoko is voiced by Nana Mizuki, the voice of Misaki Kirihara in Darker than Black, Wrath in FMA, Moka in Rosario to Vampire (not to fond of this anime) and Maria in Witchblade. Daisuke Hirakawa is the voice of Naoki, having also voiced various characters in anime I don’t like, thus I won’t mention them. Okay he voiced Muneakira Yagyuu in the terrible Hyakka Ryouran series, that’s all I’ll give you. The other characters don’t have significant enough roles for me to warrant mentioning them, nor are they voiced by anyone I recognise. Characters The protagonist in this shoujo anime is Kotoko Aihara, a highschool girl who is in class F due to her unimpressive grades. She’s clumsy and emotional, she’s capable of being funny while trying to forward her own agenda. She can’t cook, (yet the one time she successfully makes something, something else makes her think its bad), she makes mistakes all the time, she’s persistent and jumps to conclusions, she’s energetic, but she tries hard and means well. And most of all she’s just a normal girl, she reacts to things like a normal girl would. She has a crush on Naoki who seems to be way out of her league. She acknowledges that she hates how mean she is and often calls him things like a cold-hearted bully. Naoki Irie is the smart older son of the Irie family, in the same years as Kotoko, but in class A because of his good grades. He’s the stereotypical smart guy, except kinda realistic in that he doesn’t put in effort and just has raw talent. There are actually people like that in the world. His memory is on top form, to the point where he can remember things after just reading them once. He doesn’t need to study extra like Kotoko does and instead goes to bed early. He’s kinda stoic and emotionless, he doesn’t seem to care about girls at all, and he often rejects Kotoko’s advances with no regard for her feelings. He claims to dislike girls who are aren’t smart and make fools of themselves. At least he’s honest. But while he’s smart, he doesn’t have any aspirations, the same as Kotoko. And while everyone expects him to get into Tokyo University, he doesn’t really want to as he feels it won’t be of use to him. He doesn’t like other people trying to decide his future for him, he wants to live his own life. While he may seem cold, he’s actually a nice person inside and wouldn’t hesitate to help Kotoko were she in deep trouble. He seems to be the sensible but super serious type, to the point where he seems to hate fun, though he sometimes likes to wind up Kotoko. But the addition of Kotoko means there’s plenty of excitement in his life, whether he likes it or not. Yuuki Irie is Naoki’s younger brother. I’m not sure if I’m right, but it seems he’s just a wannabe of his older brother. Much like Naoki, he’s smart for his age. He likes to tease Kotoko by saying mean things to her, thus both his mother and Kotoko berate his ‘bad mouth.’ Most of all, he hates beiung treated like a kid, he’s slightly tsundere in that respect as he actually enjoys it, but he just doesn’t want others to see him that way. Kotoko’s mother died when she was young, thus she was living with her father at the start. Her father appears to own a restaurant business. It also happens that her father is best friends with Naoki’s father. Naoki’s mother likes to take pictures and is very supportive of Kotoko in her quest for love. Rather strangely, she calls her oldest son ‘onee-chan’ (brother), which initially made me think she was an older sister. In fact, it seems their parents have set them up for each other in marriage at the start. They try their best to help the two get along with each other. Naoki’s father especially has certain expectations of his son, he wants Naoki to go to Tokyo University and then inherit his company. Kotoko has a variety of friends in class F, a couple of girls (including a chubby girl) and a bunch of delinquent boys who are actually nice folks and very protective of Kotoko. While he can be fairly rowdy, Kinnosuke Aizawa means the best for Kotoko and even claims to love her. He often talks about his future plans for them together, mentioning marriage way too often. I don’t like love triangles, but it seems this guy doesn’t have a chance, he’s been friend-zoned by Kotoko. One of Kotko’s friends is also a chubby girl and I swear this is the first time I’ve ever seen such a character in an anime. I’ve seen cubby male characters before, but not a chick. Story I don’t think the events of the first episode count as spoilers so here goes. Kotoko and Naoki are in their final year of highschool. Kotoko and her father move into their new house, which her father built himself (or something like that). The house unfortunately doesn’t survive an earthquake, thus the homeless girl and her father move in with a friend of her father’s. Who just happens to be… And here’s the first bit I’m annoyed with about this anime. It’s sometimes predictable. What’s the point of telling a story if the audience knows what’s going to happen? Still, there are many funny aspects. Even the earthquake manages this, it’s a relatively weak earthquake so no buildings were damaged… except for the Aihara house, which Kotoko’s father was singing praises for how well-built it is. There’s plenty of comedy, even in parts which I’d expect to be gloomy due to how dejected Kotoko must feel about Naoki not giving a damn about her. And while I was annoyed at how predictable some of the earlier bits are, it still manages to throw curve balls and unforeseen events occur. Heck there’s even one thing where it throws the viewer off the truth, and then later it’s revealed and it all makes sense. There are some pleasant surprises and a little bit of foreshadowing for those. Once again, I must state that foreshadowing is my favourite plot mechanic, I may be biased here as a result. The plotline progresses at a good rate. Before long, the characters have graduated from high-school and have moved onto daigaku (college) on something called a ladder system. I have no idea what that is and I can’t be bothered to Google it. This pace is good and for one thing, it means that stuff actually happens in this story, there is actual progress made. Not necessarily in the romantic department, this isn’t that much like Kare Kano. But it’s good that it moves on. Most surprisingly is that by episode 14 it was a complete and concluded story. They could have easily ended it there and made it a 14 episode anime and it would still be a satisfying story. Thus I feel that the second half is the sequel that the die-hard fans would have asked for, the fan-service (not of the ecchi kind) that is the cherry on top. And even there it still maintains the plot. Though a certain kind of plot, something needs to shake things up after it was all wrapped up neatly in the first 14 episodes. And I realise that there are few anime that depict the sort of situation that is present in the second half. I enjoy that sort of thing, the first (proper not-mainstream) anime I watched was one of the few to show it. Heck SPOILER< The love-life of a married couple >SPOILER is the subject there. Oh and if the conclusion in episode 14 wasn't enough, they trump it in episode 24. It's like the cherry on top of the proverbial cake. I’m fussy when it comes to romance. I’m not fond of it being depicted in a realistic (i.e. non-existent) manner. But that’s what they start off with, without even getting to know Naoki, Kotoko falls in love, even outright stating the despicable phrase ‘love at first sight.’ Thus it seems like a physical attraction instead of love (love transcends simple looks). But the anime is self-aware. Kotoko even mentions that she doesn’t know the guy, that he could be a horrible person and that she probably has bad taste in guys. True that, in real life, individuals of both genders make terrible decisions when it comes to their other half, often making bad decisions and choosing people for looks/sex while the person turns out to be a horrible individual. Just look at all the cases of domestic violence, there would be less if people had better taste. Thankfully this anime doesn’t go that far and it gets back on track for some real romance. Particularly as the two get closer, the more time they spend together and they realise how much they feel for each other. Well okay it doesn’t exactly go that way, don’t expect Naoki to be lovey-dovey with Kotoko. But if nothing happened then what’s the point? I already mentioned that the story progresses at a fast rate, so just sight tight, trust the writing and enjoy. I will say that it's overly positive, too much so that it's unrealistic. Conclusion A pleasant surprise then. While it is a shoujo romance anime, I feel this is suitable for all fans of romance and even those who are tolerant of it and like the comedy. One that’s suitable for all ages and tolerances (except people who really don’t like romance), since it has zero bullshit. And the best bit, just like with my favourite romance anime ever, is that the plot progresses so damn well and fast. Wow that story is amazing. Think Gurren Lagann but replace the sad stuff with funny/happy stuff and no wierd stuff of course. It wins in that regard with a solid conclusion halfway through, that makes the second half optional. But who’d want to miss out on those episodes, this is one of few anime that explores that sort of scenario properly. It's close to perfect, since I’m finding relatively few things to complain about with this anime. Family-friendliness Rating: 2/5 As family friendly as a romance gets, if nit-picking there’s a handful of kisses, but who’d complain about those? (lower is better) Overall Rating: 9/10 (higher is better)

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