Itazura na Kiss Episode 4
Summary: It's Summer vacation, and even though she and her friends from class F have extra classes and homework to deal with, Kotoko makes a plan to go to the waterpark at the end of August. Irie-kun's younger brother Yuuki has begun his summer project - a daily observation of Kotoko and journal entries about what he sees as her stupidity. Kotoko is about ready to move out, and goes to see how construction on her family's new house is coming along. For some reason, nothing's been done in the four months she and her father have lived with the Irie family. It seems the Irie family have their own special plans.
After classes are done the group goes to the pool where Kin-chan makes an ass of himself constantly, and Kotoko gets poked fun at for wearing her school swimsuit. And to top it off, Irie-kun and his bratty little brother have followed them there. Yuuki's plan to continue his observations goes awry when he follows her into the big pool and ends up nearly drowning. Luckily, Kotoko is able to rescue him and despite his brattiness invites him to go down the park's big waterslide with her. On the way down, she gets a cramp in her leg and is rescued from drowning by Irie-kun, who in spite of his annoyance with her, treats her nicely and helps her leg.
After this, Mrs. Irie and Yuuki have to rush off and visit her sick mother, so Kotoko and Irie-kun are left to their own devices at home. Dinner is a disaster for Kotoko so Irie-kun has to cook it. Kotoko also hasn't started on her Summer homework, and so once Irie is asleep she sneaks into his room in order to steal his notebook. He wakes up and discovers what she's doing, then teases her. She takes his notebook (and his help with the homework) as an apology.
Thoughts: As usual, it's two steps forward and one step back for Kotoko and her uninterested object of affection. While Irie-kun demonstrates a bit of warmth towards her, the high school genius still acts like a kid, picking on her and acting like a jerk whenever the subject is brought up about their non-relationship. It doesn't help that his mother seems to think the two are absolutely perfect for each other and bound to end up married, and so she tends to stoke the fire a lot of the time. I have to admit, though, she's a rather funny character, making up an excuse to leave the two of them alone in the house together, even though she and Yuuki end up doing nothing more than spending some time at a bath house rather than visiting a sick relative. She seems to be scheming in larger terms as well, helping to plan the house construction in such a way as to take into account Irie-kun's and Kotoko's future, even though their future is decidedly in question at this point.
I'm feeling a little bad for Kin-chan, since he tries to hard to get Kotoko's attention and we all know that he really isn't "the one" for her. In this episode he makes a big show about going down the big waterslide and demonstrating his swimming prowess, but she just doesn't seem to notice him in that way. I'm kind of wondering if Irie-kun will piss her off to the point that she might briefly date Kin-chan for a while just to spite him, which would be sad but understandable when the one you really like is constantly yanking your chain.
Once again Kotoko manipulates Irie-kun into helping her with homework, which is pretty amusing because you know he'd rather be sleeping than teaching someone of her density level about mathematics. If the whole Kin-chan situation doesn't pan out the way I suggested, I'm assuming the relationship between these two will grow with little things like this. And heck, Kotoko might get her turn sometime to help Irie out with something, because I'm going to be really irritated if she has no talents whatsoever. There's nothing that I dislike more (well, there is, but anyway) than a female character who's completely helpless and ditsy. Everyone has a talent, in my opinion.
Anyway, predictable but fun as usual, and Irie's creep level seems to diminish with each passing episode so that's a definite plus.
Itazura na Kiss Episode 3
Summary: Kotoko and Irie-kun are back to square one after he discovers that someone leaked the secret of their study sessions and has jokingly written graffiti about it on the school bulletin board. Kotoko is disappointed that she can't just let it go, since she realizes she actually really loves Irie. That week is their school sports festival, an event in which even the rather remedial class F excels to some extent. And wouldn't you know it - both Kotoko and Irie are in the mixed relay, with Irie and Kotoko's friend Kin-chan running anchor. Things look hopeful for class F, until Kotoko gets lovey-eyes for Irie and botches her baton hand-off to Kin, causing class F to lose the race. To add injury to insult, the crowd pushes Kotoko into Irie's path and he trips and falls on her.
Back at home sweet home, Irie's mother keeps re-living the moments of their sports festival on video until Irie uses a bit of ammunition (his memorization of the love letter written for him Kotoko kept and left out while she was sleeping) to completely insult Kotoko. Kin-chan, watching from outside, bursts in and declares his love for Kotoko, making things even more awkward. At school the next day, there's more graffiti pertaining to the young non-couple. It seems that someone is leaking information and creating rumors.
Thoughts: While I can't say that I expected much better than this, I'm a bit irritated at how Kotoko went all goofy during the relay race. She knows Irie-kun is a jerk, she knows that he doesn't like her, and yet all it takes is for her to look at him reaching out his hand (to collect the relay baton from his team-mate, obviously) for her to break down into a puddle of goo. Of course, if she told him to kiss-off, this show would only be about four episodes long. While I like shoujo romance shows simply for what they are, I also get irritated with the limitations of the genre at times. Like I said, if the romance was handled realistically, then things might be said and done pretty quickly. Of course, I'm thinking like an American here; maybe romantic high school entanglements in a Japanese high school really are this convoluted and immature. Back in my day people would just admit to liking one-another and that would be it.
If a side situation involving Kotoko and Kin-chan wasn't obvious in the previous two episodes, it certainly is now. I don't really know how far this aside will last or whether it'll pan out into anything but a comedic side-step in the series. I'm not particularly interested in seeing Kin-chan get hurt, but even clowns have a sad side, I suppose.
I can keep hoping that Kotoko will tell Irie to screw off and that's when he'll realize how much he misses her, but if my assumptions are correct, there'll probably be a lot more hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and ultimately changes of heart as each episode goes by.
At least this isn't based on a dating-sim :D
Itazura na Kiss Episode 2
Summary: Kotoko-chan's living situation is made extremely awkward by the fact that she has to share a home with Irie-kun, who hates her guts. Irie virtually orders Kotoko not to talk to him while they're at school and warns her to keep their situation secret from everyone. When Irie's mother, who's so happy to have a girl under her roof that she treats Kotoko as her own, shows Kotoko some rather amusing baby pictures of Irie-kun, Kotoko has the blackmailing power to get what she wants from him - tutoring, so that she can score well on the midterms and prove that she's not the idiot that Irie assumes she is.
After a couple weeks of good, old-fashioned hard work, Test day arrives. Irie even wishes Kotoko good luck, though it's quietly and not in front of anyone else. And Kotoko does well - she's the only person from class F to make it into the school's top 50, though Irie is at the top of the list and she's at the bottom. Their truce comes to a swift end, however, when the secret of their living situation becomes a rumor amongst the student body.
Thoughts: As much as I normally like really unique and unusual anime, I have to admit there's a certain amount of comfort in watching a show where I can pretty much predict what's going to happen from the get-go. Even in these situations, however, I do hold myself to some standards. As far as romance anime goes, I tend to prefer the shoujo-style romantic comedy stories to the male-oriented dating-sim titles, because I find the characterization to be much less annoying in the former. Especially since the relationships tend to be one-on-one rather than a central character surrounded by a myriad of little obnoxious character archetypes.
This is what I enjoy about Itazura na Kiss. It fits the shoujo romance mold to a T, doesn't do anything particularly creative with it, and I can map out the story's progress in my mind. But the characters are charming, it has a gentle touch of comedy, and it helps me unwind after a long day at work. I may have mentioned this previously, but it reminds me a lot of Lovely Complex, another show which was squarely within the bounds of shoujo romance but had a funny setup and a decently-written story with fun characters.
As far as this episode is concerned, we start to see a softer side of Irie-kun, even though we all know it'll take more than just one episode for Kotoko to break through his icy exterior and reveal the loving man trapped inside. I like Kotoko's attitude here. While her motivation for studying is so that she can prove to Irie (and herself) that she's not the moron that he takes her for, I feel like this may signal an attitude shift as well. Whereas before I feel like she'd resigned herself to being just another low-end student, maybe now she'll start to realize her potential. And of course the confidence she gains from that might help turn Irie's head a bit more in her direction.
Not that things are without their angst, however. When Irie finds out that their living situation is occupying the normal high school rumor mill, he turns completely cold again, and Kotoko is left alone feeling angry and unreasonably rejected. The "two steps forward, one step back" format that these shows take often seems to add unreasonably to the show's length to me. There are times that I want to yell at the characters to grow up and act reasonable, and I imagine there'll be a lot more of that sort of thing before the series is wrapped up. Well, the good always has a bit of bad with it too, I suppose. Hopefully the cute, warm and funny moments will outweigh the mostly -useless angst.