Title: Itazura Na Kiss Vol 1
Author: Kaoru Tada
May Contain Spoilers
It is always refreshing when a publisher thinks outside of the box and licenses a title that is different and a little risky. Itazura na Kiss is an older, classic shoujo title, and many potential readers might be brought up short by the older style of art. I have to admit that the illustrations are a bit old-fashioned, but it is so expressive and has a lot of charm, so it isn’t a deal breaker. It is also very easy to follow along with each and every one of Kotoko’s exaggerated emotions as she stumbles through the slapstick misadventure that is her life.
Things quickly go sour for the plucky Kotoko – she confesses her feelings to Naoki, the smartest guy in school, but he brutally rejects her, without even reading the letter she poured her heart into. Publically humiliated, things go from bad to worse when Kotoko’s family home is demolished in an earthquake, and she and her father have to move. Taken in by his best friend from school, Kotoko is shocked, then appalled, to learn that she’ll be sharing her new digs with Naoki and his family. Oh, the humiliation never ends!
Kotoko and Naoki are polar opposites, and one wonders how the two could ever become a couple. Naoki is brilliant, rumored to possess an IQ of 200, and he’s handsome and athletic to boot. Kotoko is in the bottom of her grade, in the F class with the rest of the struggling students who have a snowball’s hope in hell of getting into college. She also drifts through life, content to take things one day at a time. She’s the type of girl who waits until the very end of school break to work on all of her homework, while Naoki has had it completed from day one.
The interaction between the two is priceless, and there is a lot of humor packed into the pages because they are so different and they play off of each other so well. Naoki always looks like someone is holding a small turd under his nose, and he is withdrawn and cynical. Kotoko, on the other hand, wears her heart on her sleeve, is loud and emotional, and never stops to think before diving head first into new situations. Her impulsiveness causes so many headaches for Naoki, it’s no wonder the guy wants her out of his life ASAP!
DMP has done an impressive job bundling this book together. I love the smaller trim size, and at 320+ pages, it packs an entertaining punch. The dialog flows smoothly, and the typesetting really caught my attention. There are many different fonts used throughout, each effectively adding a nuance to a particular scene. There are rough, choppy letters when Naoki’s younger brother keeps a project journal, and big, bold letters when Kotoko is overcome with joy. This was a great touch that enhanced the overall presentation.
I enjoyed this first volume of the series, with one reservation; Naoki and his little brother are such snobs that it takes a bit to forgive them for being so mean. While their behavior goes to humorous extremes, there were a few times when I felt really sorry of Kotoko. The poor girl has absolutely no chance against them in a match of wits, and it’s only when it comes to unbridled enthusiasm that she has them beat. I hope they both learn to loosen up a little as the series progresses.
Review copy provided by DMP