We Remember Itazura na Kiss

brady-1

It’s been suggested to me by my blogging overlords that Itazura na Kiss is relevant to my search for anime that deals with the ‘ever after’ part of love-story arcs. My wife and I marathoned Itazura na Kiss and we found it nearly equal parts infuriating, and awesome. This post isn’t so much about whether ItaKiss is a good anime or not, but rather a conversation about the love story and its characters from the perspective of people very much in love and are just a bit older than the characters when the anime ended. Other opinions aggregated here, with further commentary.

ghostlightning

Hi hon, despite the obvious far-outness of the behavior of the characters in ItaKiss, would you say that it’s representative of a love story? I find it tempting to think so, although it may just be because it presents us a novelty: what happens after the leads get together.

sybilant

Hallo.

Well, definitely not a stereotypical love story. I was ready to write off Kotoko as another gooey-headed girl but as the story progresses, I find myself warming up to her despite her obvious desperation and utter lack of self respect in running after Naoki. I definitely do not have her tenacity and well, for lack of a better term, guts.

ghostlightning

BUT I DO! Is Kotoko then your primary draw to this anime? Is she a satisfying heroine to you? She is, to me.

sybilant

Yes, I’m sure you can… Relate to her. Kotoko’s like a multiple-car wreck. It’s morbidly fascinating to watch. That said, her character growth is just short of metanoia but with lots of laughs. Just when you think she’s irredeemably hopeless, she turns around and shames you with her warmth.

ghostlightning

(smiles at waifu’s innocence of the TRAINWRECK meme) Okay, what do you think about Naoki then? Does this bastard even deserve the kind of devotion Kotoko lavishes on him? For most of the anime, his redeeming quality is his mother.

sybilant

Definitely not though God knows he needs and craves it. He definitely developed an appetite for it. You seem to forget he’s good-looking and brilliant. And has tons of filial piety (typical of Asian culture). I can’t really judge him because I have friends like him. But I never did put up with those friends’ airs. I would heartily recommend a serious psychological beat down on him, scorched earth.

ghostlightning

Hmmm. On one hand you say he doesn’t deserve it. Then you make a case for it because “he’s good looking and brilliant”. Then you recommend WMD levels of violence. Are you tsundere for Naoki or something?

sybilant

What can I say? You know I’m a staunch proponent of tough love. Think of it as a much-needed and long-delayed intervention. Also, note I don’t make a case for him because he’s good-looking and brilliant. I make a case for him because his filial piety belies his good (yet frozen) heart deep, deep, deep down. He’s a layered guy. I can relate to him the same way I can relate to those friends.

He just needed a good woman (who he got). In my case, I was not interested in those guys so beat them down by all means. I don’t have the time and inclination to coddle them (as Kotoko did Naoki) as my intentions are waaay different. And because I had the werewithal to do it. I suppose you think one-dimensionally of Naoki because you’re a guy and just want to kick his butt?

ghostlightning

FOR GREAT JUSTICE, yes. Okay, so you see something in him that Kotoko may or may not (she’ll probably marry him regardless). Now, what do you think of their marriage?

sybilant

Now I’ll be harsh. He just sucks as a husband. He doesn’t understand the first thing about marriage. This is why I was never interested in this kind of man. When you enter a commitment (yes, I am such a girl) you do just that. COMMIT. Kotoko’s his maid and he barely treats her like a human being. He snarls at her all the time. She’s always at his heels like a dog and he encourages this behavior. He is NEVER happy with ANYTHING she does.

He doesn’t sleep with her (it seems like he’s had sex with his wife maybe thrice in the whole show). Also, YOU’RE MARRIED AND YOU DON’T EVEN DATE?! And you never dated each other previous to marriage? To think this is not even an arranged marriage. But it sure gives off that vibe. If I were Kotoko, I’d backhand his smart mouth the first time he sneers at me.

brady-2

ghostlightning

Yeah, no sexing of the waifu LOL. What I find odd is how much Kotoko is still ‘courting’ him, while they’re already married. Naoki doesn’t have Arima Soichiro levels of emo, but the consequences of his… psychological incapacity is significant. But whatever, they’re happy and I won’t begrudge people their love and happiness.

What do you think of Kotoko’s decision to pursue nursing because Naoki’s a doctor?

sybilant

I have a caveat here. I come from a line of strong-willed women in male-dominated professions (plural, really). Thus I think she’s a freakin’ twit. But I will give her props (as always) for sticking to her guns and owning her decision. Although I can’t help but think when she reaches middle age those issues will bite her in the behind.

Then again, when you really think about it, she decided Naoki should be a doctor. So by transitivity, she chose her own path. What do you think of Naoki’s seeming dilettantish behavior before he err, got involved with Kotoko? It’s really the woman who makes the man, huh? ^_^

ghostlightning

Ouch. Burn. Pwen’d. First, I don’t think Naoki was a dilettante. It was more like his life was mapped out for him by his father (to attend Tokyo U, take over the business). He chafed under it and felt that he wasn’t free.

Now this is where it gets good: Kotoko is his freedom. He got it. Like he said, he could only be himself when he’s with her. She encouraged his choice to attend medical school, but it wasn’t like she chose for him or anything. It’s more like he felt free to choose his path.

Like me! I could be your paralegal should you start your own law firm. I mean, you sort of trained me to write legal forms and I did write some law stuff for a Congress dude. I’m the Kotoko to your Naoki. Do you love me nao?

sybilant

We’re. Married. For. Goodness’. Sake. Bound before God and man. And you’re asking me that? 0_o After the Kashi Mannequin-Immortal Colossaur epiphany you think I’d be used to this by now. Meh, you’re underutilized as a paralegal. I’m all for people fulfilling their potential. You’re better off doing what you do. You get me nice things. ^_~

ghostlightning

Better off doing what I do? You mean blogging anime? LOL.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, Dialogues and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to We Remember Itazura na Kiss

  1. Awesome post is awesome, fanboygasm is fanboygasmy. You guys’ question and answer dynamic works incredibly well and flows like no other. I like Sybilant’s way of getting a lot of point packed into a statement. Very blunt, I should say.

    You guys pretty much solidified that I will not like this show (and so won’t watch) since I am all about grrrrl powah and wouldn’t be able to tolerate a girl sucking up to an undeserving guy.

  2. >>I am all about grrrrl powah

    Which is really odd because I fucking hate feminists.

  3. ghostlightning says:

    Thanks digiboy, I’m glad to be able to making blogging anime to be a fun family experience lol. Btw, you are also We Remember Love’s 999th and 1000th commenter. Heaven knows I appreciate it. A thousand thanks!

    >>Totals

    Posts: 59

    Comments: 1,000

    You rock, digiboy.

  4. I’ve only had 865 comments in my nearly 2 years of blogging.

    SO FULL OF HATE.

  5. L-chan says:

    It should be noted that in the manga (which never finished due to the author dying in an untimely accident), it was implied that they slept together a lot more than in the anime.

  6. sybilant says:

    @digiboy

    The blunt points come from the jobs. I tend to put people out of my misery (^_^).

    I’m all about girl power too *wears shirt with Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl with same tagline*

    What I have learned from my seemingly gooey-headed girlfriends is that power comes in all forms and sizes. Kotoko is powerful in her own way, I give her that.

    Just not the way I like. I’m a Motoko Kusanagi fan. 0_o

  7. LBrevis says:

    Hah, I really like this style of blogging. This was a ton of fun to read.

    On the one hand I’m interested in seeing this because so few anime and manga deals with what happens after two characters become a couple. On the other hand, from what you’ve said I’m certain that Naoki is going to really grate on my nerves. I’m not too big on the “guy treats girl terribly and she puts up with it, but secretly he really needs her” thing that a lot of shoujo does. Would you say that’s the case?

  8. ghostlightning says:

    @Lbrevis

    Yes. Naoki has very little redemptive qualities. I mean he’s an honorable guy and a good doctor, but all that is undermined by his awful treatment of Kotoko, and Kotoko alone!. Nonetheless its earnestness and novelty makes it a worthwhile watch.

    How I describe the experience: I would swing from RAEGHAET to LOVE about 6 times/episode at some point.

  9. bluemist says:

    I know -10 things about married life but what I found baffling in ItaKiss is that despite them being married for years it seems like Kotoko is still pursuing Naoki and Naoki still a hard-to-get guy. Maybe it reflects real life in which no one changes overnight, but I was expecting something more than the same issues that were already tackled ‘before’ marriage.

  10. sybilant says:

    @Lbrevis

    Agree. But you know, it works in ItaKiss. Just remember to give yourself 5 more minutes when you’ve decided to stop watching. It turns around that quickly.

    Again, I have to admit I can tolerate those smart ass guys because I actually have friends like them and guess what? All it does take is the right kind of girl. =P

    @bluemist

    Hehe. I can honestly say this about marriage – that person you’re thinking of marrying? They’re still on their comparatively best behavior now, consciously or otherwise. THEY DON’T CHANGE, oftentimes, they get WORSE. Sharing bathrooms and being in each other’s space all the time will reveal SO MUCH you NEVER KNEW about them. So yes, being married doesn’t mean your significant other can change overnight in ways you think. 0_o

    Like right now, my husband is nagging me to do this:

    CLICK ME (more ItaKiss srs bsns x lulz commentary).

    He knows no shame.

  11. OGT says:

    I think, for me, the best part of watching Itazura na Kiss was not trying to identify with Kotoko–despite her being lovably pseudo-schizoid–but, rather, watching Irie stop being a gigantic jerk.

    Irie stood in, more or less, for the callous guy who treats women poorly, doesn’t think much of them, and is just kind of there. He’s the kind of guy who, whenever I hear some stray comment about boys/men being “stupid and deserving of rocks thrown at them” or “jerks” or general misandry (and we do have dating advice books at the library titled All Men Are Jerks (until proven otherwise) which have caused me no end of conniptions) I have to remind myself that they’re generally talking about the Irie sort of man and catching me in the crossfire. Watching the series, I’d flip out, Kotoko-style, every time Irie did a tiny nice thing for her, and viewing sessions usually involved fist-shaking and fist-pumping in equal measures. It was, in short, a Ride.

    The fun thing was watching the stereotypical apathetic semi-misogynist guy slowly melt and gain the ability to feel things simply because Kotoko would not stop. We can mock Kotoko’s boneheaded tenacity where we would give up on the bastard, but if she hadn’t kicked reason to the curb, Irie would probably still be a pretty apathetic bastard–and Yuuki would be even worse. I loved when Irie chastised Yuuki for making fun of Kotoko at one point.

    We tend to see Kotoko as some kind of passive, submissive Idealized Japanese Woman, completely contrary to the notions of “progressive representation of women in media” (which would have meant that the series would be three episodes long, if that), but I’m pretty sure she wears the pants in the relationship. There’s autonomy there for both, yes, but due to Kotoko’s own high sensitivity to emotions, Irie’s forced to adapt himself to her when he decided he really would like to keep her around.

    (I hope to God I haven’t stepped on someone’s toes, here)

  12. ghostlightning says:

    @ OGT

    You’re right in that there’s a lot to be enjoyed in how Naoki ‘thaws’ for Kotoko. In my other post I argue in a way that Naoki shouldn’t be as vilified as he is (even by us here).

    Also,

    We tend to see Kotoko as some kind of passive, submissive[…]

    I agree in that people may see this about her, but Kotoko is agressive as hell. Naoki is the passive one. He is the one that has to be cornered to make a decision.

  13. otou-san says:

    “What I find odd is how much Kotoko is still ‘courting’ him, while they’re already married”

    That was a constant pain point for me during the second half of the series, what’s more I think it negates ItaKiss as being the series you’re looking for. It doesn’t show a real, post-happily-ever-after relationship if that relationship is facing the same problems as one that doesn’t fully exist yet. Perhaps the quest should go on…

    OGT brings up an interesting point. Kotoko does indeed have some modicum of control over the relationship for that reason — she’s forced him to adapt to her. But tenacious shouldn’t be confused with assertive. If Kotoko hadn’t in some form been a “victor” in this anime, I would have dropped it long before because of its incessant reinforcement of standard gender roles. It’s been a while so I can’t think of anything specific at the moment, but at times it bordered on gross.

  14. OGT says:

    @otou-san: She is, indeed, not assertive–which can be what leads to the drama as she never discusses some of her hangups and problems and dodges around the issue rather than address it directly–but I wasn’t too bothered by the lack of assertion, considering that I, myself, tend to be highly non-assertive. And it’s arguably worse for a male to be non-assertive than a female, because of the same societal gender stereotypes that bend and twist women into roles they may not fit into bend and twist men into same. The problem there has never been men or women’s perceptions of each other on an individual level, it’s been society.

  15. ghostlightning says:

    @ the other basara otou-san

    That was a constant pain point for me during the second half of the series, what’s more I think it negates ItaKiss as being the series you’re looking for.

    This is why I couldn’t rate this higher. I had to temper my excitement over it because I realize I’m being generous due to its novelty. It can be done better, and I will give Itazura na Kiss credit for showing that it can be done.

    They sidestepped a major problem in marriage: money. The Iries were quite wealthy, and had wealthy people problems (succession, for one). In the future I’d like to see anime that has married people deal with this in particular.

  16. OGT says:

    It doesn’t show a real, post-happily-ever-after relationship if that relationship is facing the same problems as one that doesn’t fully exist yet. Perhaps the quest should go on…

    That’s kind of how I’ve seen relationships work out: even when a desire to commit is made and consummated in a legal document, the problems that existed before still exist. This is why we have a high divorce rate: some people think that getting married will solve all their pre-marital problems and lead straight to a happily-ever-after. But a marriage license isn’t duct tape for a relationship, able to salve wounds, it’s handcuffs, and unless both parties can work together to address problems as they come to a head, the court-ordained lock-picking can become quite messy indeed.

    I’m thinking that Irie and Kotoko’s marriage was sudden and out of the blue to address this very concern: marriage isn’t a fix-all for a relationship, and viewing it as such can be very dangerous indeed.

  17. otou-san says:

    marriage isn’t a fix-all for a relationship, and viewing it as such can be very dangerous indeed

    Good way of looking at it, and as someone who was with his spouse for 5+ years pre-marriage it’s definitely something that crossed my mind. But the specific thing I take issue with is that the “courtship” continued post-marriage in ItaKiss. To me, the things you’re talking about — both parties working together to address problems — just don’t show up in anime, and I think that’s what ghostlightning may have been looking for as well.

    Anime always focuses on the attainment of the romantic “goal.” I’m with gl in my desire to see people working out problems, maintaining their passion through the years, etc. Kotoko and Naoki were just repeating the same typical anime pursuance stuff, they just happened to be married. That said, it’s probably one of the only offerings out there that even attempts. The other side of the coin has Macross Plus exploring post-relationship dynamics, but that’s a whole other ballgame too.

  18. OGT says:

    @otou-san: I found what you were looking for! Although it might not be quite to your liking…

    The problem is, I kind of don’t see “getting marraige” as the end of “courtship,” although I see what you refer to. I think

    At any rate, it’s kind of unrealistic to expect a shoujo series to delve that much into post-marraige life that way. If Itazura na KIss had been a josei manga originally, that would have been a better expectation–josei would have been targeted at women more likely to be in the age bracket when that might have been of imminent importance. As it is, even as it goes into the main character’s adult lives, it’s still thoroughly shoujo, and the lack of that cooperation necessary possibly didn’t cross anyone’s mind.

    That said, Itazura na Kiss isn’t trying to be Serious Literature–it’s just fluffy relationship fantasy through and through. There’s a lot of weight to the fluff, it’s true, but it still felt more like a Harlequin than The Time-Traveler’s Wife, if you get my drift.

  19. I think the ‘both parties working together to address problems’ thing crops up in Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    Just saying.

  20. ghostlightning says:

    @ OGT

    Word. Marriage is not a solution, among its many possibilities.

    @ otou-san

    While the pursuit/courtship aspect is overdone in ItaKiss, I don’t want it gone completely. It’s very good to have, as we in long-term relationships need to keep things fresh and hot. What you said about josei vs. shojo is revelatory. I would have thought it was a josei, but it revealed itself still as a shojo fantasy.

    @ Tha Animanachronism

    YES, however otou-san has threatened me bodily harm for discussing LOGH matters he hasn’t seen yet.

  21. rollchan says:

    how sweet.

    hey, where’s the kids? LOL!

    n___n

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  25. dabe says:

    i believe that they had sex for more than 10 times already… just imagine.. those times where they had intimate times….. im sure they had sex there(except those scenes at the hospital maybe and they did it in the house)….. that’s my idea……. you can feel the same excitement in their intimate times and the sex scenes… soooo.. i believe my statement is true… 🙂

  26. Aorii says:

    Ah, very nice read, thanks for recommending it o/ But yeah… the way Naoki and Kotoko’s marriage runs… there’s so many things just wrong about it (at least to our common logic) it doesn’t even take experience to point out. Marriage issues is josei’s field, but for shoujo I’m not sure Kotoko’s shoes are very… desirable xD Whatever floats her boat I guess ^^;;
    Also— they needed more screentime for the two doing something, anything, together. This is got to be one of those few shoujo couples which spends most of the time interacting with others rather than each other.

    • Yes, this annoying conceit was done to keep the romantic tension up all the way to the end. You know how it is, once people get together and become happy they turn boring. Kare Kano started featuring side stories and characters after the brilliant coming together of the main pair in high school, then darkening things up with back story later on, etc. But I find that preferable to the artifice done here. Then again, the whole show is almost meant to have you gnash your teeth so that the not so impressive payoffs will leave you orgasmic anyway.

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