Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: ItaKiss

Original Run: April 5, 2008 - September 25, 2008
Number of Episodes: 25
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Based on the Series Created By: Kaoru Tada

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for ItaKiss. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Since the first day of high school, Kotoko Aihara (voiced by Nana Mizuki) has been in love with Naoki Irie (voiced by Daisuke Hirakawa). In her senior year, she finally finds the courage to confess. Kotoko is devastated, first because she is immediately rejected and second because Naoki’s reasoning is he doesn’t like dumb girls.

Hoping to forget her humiliation, the unthinkable happens. After a minor earthquake, Kotoko’s house collapses. Luckily a close friend of her father’s offers up his home.

In yet another twist of fate, this friend also happens to be the father of Naoki. Suddenly Kotoko finds herself living with the very person she has had a crush on for so long, as well as the jerk that thoroughly crushed her heart.

Series Positives

When starting ItaKiss, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I expected a generic romantic comedy with a predictable story about two characters that, by the end, would come to love each other and live a happy high school life.

Thank god I was wrong.

Yes, ItaKiss does indeed follow the basic rom-com formula. Still, it took the standard and brought it further than what other anime seem willing to do.

For any romance story to work, its two main characters must be worth caring about. It’s boring to watch love blossom easily, so does a series show a hard-fought and well-deserved relationship? In the case of ItaKiss, it did all that.

I don’t want to think that I am ruining anything by saying that Kotoko and Naoki become a couple. But to be frank, if you didn’t see that coming – spoiler, I guess. Luckily for us, this story did not only focus on how these two fell in love. No, this was a story about them growing as a couple. It was fantastic to see just how far Kotoko and Naoki had come by the last episode.

While Kotoko, for the most part, stayed consistent throughout the entire show, you constantly find yourself adoring her. She was the necessary anchor for this series, bringing out the best in every other character.

Naoki, on the other hand, was the person who had the most growth. Initially, he was a cold-hearted jerk. By the end, he was a caring and loving person with the outward appearance of a cold-hearted jerk. You could see him slowly starting to fall for Kotoko, and once it clicked, his affection turned to genuine love. By the final episode, Naoki had transformed drastically from the person he once was.

ItaKiss is what I like to call a true slice-of-life anime because it showcased its characters’ lives. Although this show began in high school, it continued into college and later into working life. Very few series do this, and I wish there were more of them.

Most of the fun in a romance-heavy slice-of-life anime is watching people fall in love with one another. This typically leads to the big climax when two characters finally becoming a couple.

But now what?

After spending a series getting to know everyone, what comes next? In ItaKiss, we get to see what comes next.  

Series Negatives

Sometimes, when a show does so well in so many areas, its mistakes become that much more apparent, as was the case with ItaKiss. For example, there wasn’t a person in this show I outright disliked. And yet, this series didn’t know what to do with a few of its side characters.

Many people throughout ItaKiss began as Kotoko’s friends, thus becoming acquaintances of Naoki. These characters can be separated into two groups.

  1. Friends from Kotoko’s high school/college life
  2. Friends form Kotoko’s professional life, and the other being her friends from her professional life.

While these people represented different periods for Kotoko, they weren’t replacements for each other.

ItaKiss tended to drop characters into obscurity. This was most noticeable with Kotoko’s high school friends. At first, I thought they had fallen out of touch. It turned out this was not the case. Near the end of this series, we saw everyone together as if they had remained considerable players in our lead’s lives.

I’ll admit, ItaKiss didn’t need to go into great detail about what everyone was doing all the time. However, the least it could have done was indicate that everyone was still relevant.

Finally, as you’re watching, you begin to notice an unfortunate truth about ItaKiss. It shouldn’t have been twenty-five episodes long.

The story was great, don’t get me wrong, but there were moments where things started to slow down. It got frustrating because any problem could have been solved at any time. Sadly, events were dragged out for as long as they could be.

Then, when things were eventually sorted out, there was a sense of relief. Not only because everything would turn out fine but because we could finally move on.

Final Thoughts

Being one of the few examples of a true slice of life anime, this series was much more than your average high school love tale.

Built around a strong story and a memorable cast of characters, this show was so much fun from beginning to end.

With only a few minor complaints, there’s a lot to like. If this is the kind of thing that piques your interest, you would be doing yourself a disservice the longer you hold off watching.

ItaKiss has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise ItaKiss? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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