Lovefool 06.11.12 | That Teenage Feeling

Lovefool rediscovers an old favorite in Kaoru Tada’s Itazura Na Kiss, a classic high school romance manga recently re-released in full color.


Nerdlings! How are you? I’m good. Nearly great, actually, for a Sunday night. I’ve had an excellent weekend. Yesterday, me and some friends went to a Polish festival and then Mr. J, our neighbor and I went out for Mexican food on a street that doesn’t have any English signage and then I spent today playing Japanese video games and eating snacks procured at the international bakery. It’s been a very multicultural sort of weekend here at Jameson Towers. So imagine my delight when I popped over to eManga to see if there was anything good for a Romance Roundup and discovered that, no, there wasn’t, but that the completely adorbs Itazura Na Kiss (Playful Kiss) is getting re-released in color and is still utterly squeelightful.
Starring the brilliant Naoki Irie and the not-quite-so-brilliant Kotoko Aihara, Kaoru Tada’s Itazura Na Kiss is the story of two high schoolers who don’t meet cute but sure end up getting together that way. Aihara fell in love the second she saw Naoki speak her first year at high school and tried to give him a love letter declaring her feelings for him but he was like “I don’t like stupid girls” and didn’t accept it. That’s exactly what he said. In a crowded hallway full of their peers. Honestly, can you imagine? Especially in high school, when the ego is so very sensitive? Brutal. But, that very night, a wee earthquake (seriously wee, like, 1 on the Richter) knocks the crazy Edo replica house that her and her father live in right down and she ends up…you guessed it: they end up staying with her dad’s college friend, who just happens to be Naoki’s dad. It takes Naoki’s mom all of about five minutes to start suggesting they get married, putting her crazy right up there with my mom’s, who once went to one of my ex-boyfriend’s places of employment to tell him she thought he was good husband material.
God, I wish I was making that up.
Anyway, Naoki is similarly nonplussed with all of this, but Kotoko has that certain something that lures the teenage boy in, even the teenage boy that thinks he’s way too good for all that nonsense. Namely, she’s cute and perky and sweet and not too bright, which could easily go in both the pro and con column for her. Which is unkind but, really, that’s what the boys like. Trust me, I know, I had to niche date my entire life. However, I digress. The problem is that Kotoko already has someone who has noticed her many charms and he’s pretty much insane. Kinnosuka Ikezawa is a total stalker, which is only fun the first time you bust them, and is determined to come between our lovebirds. And, god love him, he bursts in on an Irie family dinner where Kotoko’s father and Naoki’s mom have just planned their wedding and, suddenly, Naoki is singing a different tune.
I wish I weren’t so predictable in my love for silly love stories. And this one has been reissued in lovely, fabulous full-color on each and every page. But, maybe, what I like about it so much is that it’s fairly bursting with that glorious teenage feeling – the “oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen next, OMG, oh, hang on, I have to take a test” that makes up our early experiences. I mean, except for Naoki, who is able to predict people with deplorable accuracy, which doesn’t seem very fun. The book is chock-full of weird little manga things, too, like Kotoko getting a part-time job before Christmas to buy Naoki a present, which is a trope that I’m never going to kick out of my heart. And we see, despite their meddling and general strangeness, that Naoki and Kotoko are part of loving families and are just some kids, trying to make it to college. It’s deliciously wholesome.
Eventually, since the series has a million volumes, we do see that they make it to college, surprisingly reluctantly in Naoki’s case, and careers and onto Real Life, with capital letters and everything, but sadly, due to the creator’s unexpected demise, the story will never have an end. What we do have, though, is bright and fun and textured and sweet and that’s enough to sign me back up for another run. | Erin Jameson
Read Itazura Na Kiss for yourself at!

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