Apart from the fact that I’m one heck of a sucker for unrequited love stories (and besides the fact that Naoki is just my type of guy), there’s a reason why this anime has been always close to my heart.
What about Itazura na Kiss?
If you would think about it, this anime is kind of cliche. Simply put, it’s just about a girl liking a guy.
- Girl likes guy.
- Guy is far beyond her reach. He’s handsome. He’s rich. He aces all his exams.
- Guy doesn’t like stupid girls.
- The girl is stupid.
The story will revolve around Kotoko’s (the girl’s) determination and how, in the end, she will be able to convince the oh-so-perfect guy who won’t admit to himself that he likes stupid girls that he, after all, likes stupid girls.
Reasons why I shouldn’t have liked it:
One. The girl has to run around and make the guy like her. This doesn’t fit me because I’m really not the type to force myself on people. I don’t like trying when the situation already seems hopeless. And besides, I’m really not the kind to say ‘Hey, I like you so much, isn’t there a chance for you to like me back?’ I’m more of the ‘I’ll make you regret that you didn’t like me’ type.
Haha. This is probably the reason why I’m still single up until now.
Two. I shouldn’t have liked this anime because unlike my ‘money makes the world go round’ principle, this one is ran by love (it’s a shoujo manga dammit). The girl is constantly dictated by her emotions. Since she’s just so stupid, she blindly follows her heart with nothing but guts to back her up. She even decided her future career based on the male character’s. And what was her dream? No, not actually to be a capable nurse but to be someone who can measure up with her husband (yes, the guy married the stupid girl in course of the series).
Three. This love story is filled with constant fear and insecurities. Since they don’t stand on equal footing, the girl always feels that she has to do something to be a worthy person for the guy she likes. And it doesn’t even help that the guy will just let the girl feel this way.
Four. I shouldn’t have liked this anime because the guy is just so perfect for human standards. He’s capable, he’s handsome and he’s a freaking genius who will ace his exams despite going to bed early. I’m a very hardworking student. I don’t go by talent or what they call stock knowledge so I hate it when people score better than I do when I worked my ass up until morning.
Five. The girl is stupid in all sense possible. Need I say more?
Regardless of the list above, I still find myself re-watching the anime whenever I have the time. And all the time, I feel hurt, I feel happy…my feelings are always all over the place because I still like it from the bottom of my heart. And so when my friend asked why I do because it’s not really the anime I usually would look for, I started to think about it.
Basic premise: the love is unrequited. Okay we’re done with the fact that I can totally relate with this because my life seems to be a montage of unreturned love affairs.
What else? Let’s see.
I still like it even if it’s the girl who’s running around and forcing herself on the guy because it shows that, in love (romantic or not, regardless of your gender), sometimes, for you to gain hold of it, you have to learn to humble yourself. The very reason why I don’t like trying when other people seem to repel my efforts is because it hurts my pride. I don’t like to admit that there are times that I’m unwanted.
The very fact that it’s Kotoko who made Itazura’s happy ending possible makes it so much more beautiful. This shows that the girl can’t remain passive. If she wishes to get what she wants (see: Naoki), she should be determined to try. She can also fail at some points but, at the end of the day, she’s bound to make the guy fall for her because she’s just so awesome like that. She has crept her way there, inside his heart, to the point that he just won’t like it when her attention is suddenly off elsewhere and towards another guy (see: Kinosuke). It’s a very cunning tactic actually! Now tell me Kotoko is stupid.
Secondly, this love may be filled with fear and insecurities because the gap between the characters are far too wide (in all sense possible), but it’s all right. It’s okay that even after marriage, these things exist. Because this is what makes Itazura na Kiss so realistic. It’s trying to say that even if you were able to make your prince charming fall in love with you, it doesn’t end there. There’s life after that. Happy ever afters don’t exist. There’s always the fear of being left. There’s always the fear that you are not good enough. That he might find someone who’s actually better than you. Whether you’re the smartest or the prettiest or the dumbest. Get real. Betrayal and infidelity can happen even in the most perfect love story. You feel fear because you love the other person and you don’t want to lose him or her. So you make an effort to keep the love alive. And it’s all right because Naoki can’t ever find a girl who’s better than Kotoko. He chose her because she was best. He’s that kind of guy.
So what now? The guy decides? The girl has to make effort while the guy just has to assure himself that the girl he chose was the best? Isn’t Kotoko being pulled around like that?
If we will just look closer, it’s not Naoki giving the shots. It’s actually the other way around. Kotoko may be stupid but she is a very lucky person. Luck is part of her talent. She was lucky enough to make herself constantly present around the person that she likes. With this, she is able to make him get used to her presence hence, with her disappearance, he may feel that something is lacking. It’s that kind of manipulation and, before she even realizes it, Naoki already fell for the trap she unconsciously set. She’s stupid to even think of these intricate details but since Naoki is too logical of a person, it’s inevitable that he thinks about it, leading him to become more aware of her… become caged to the idea of her.
What’s more he, too, is constantly living in fear that someday it will come to a point that she will decide that he doesn’t deserve her attention anymore. Therefore, when his position is being threatened, he makes the crazy and unpredictable. He kisses her after they graduated from high school because she says she’s going to forget about him, and he asks for her father’s blessing for marriage when she suddenly thinks of dating Kinosuke. He’s like…the simple-minded Shoutaro of Skip Beat.
Go back to the earlier episodes. It wasn’t Naoki, too, who thought that the right future for him was to become a doctor. He chose this because of Kotoko’s suggestion. Kotoko kind of served as a compass for this guy throughout the series. Not just with his future profession but as well as his path towards his humanness. The more she’s around, the easier it is for the viewers to know how this man can be manipulated.
Another point, Kotoko decided to become a nurse because she wanted to be on par with her husband but she didn’t do it because other people told her so. It was a conclusion she arrived at after a serious consideration of things. She knew that the gap between her and her husband is wide so she has to do something (won’t you?) It may appear that it’s a route that the simple-minded will take but who cares really? That’s her character, after all. You can never just hate her because she is never passive. Her innocent efforts compensate for her lack.
So just when you thought that Naoki is perfect, you will realize that he is just as flawed as his wife. He’s self-centered, insecure and fragile. This brought up by the fact that he always effortlessly wins (because he’s a damn genius. A handsome one at that.) Thus, he has the ‘This time, I am still going to win’ mindset. But since he’s human, this isn’t always the case and when it happens, he stops trying or he panics. See: his unwillingness to enter university. Also see: the first kiss and crazy sudden marriage proposal stunt.
This is where Naoki’s claim roots. That he could accomplish 90 percent of things and the 10 percent that he never will, that which matters, Kotoko is able to flawlessly achieve. Since Kotoko always experiences failures, she knows how to deal with them. She teaches this to Naoki and, in the process, he learns to be more human (because he just isn’t in my opinion).
Now, let’s justify her persistent love. (Because this is the thing that I was looking for as I was reading the so-called ‘realistic’ manga of Bokura Ga Ita). Why does Kotoko love Naoki? See, it was love at first sight as well. Like the way Nana fell for Yano’s smile. But why did it last?
The difference between Kotoko and Nana’s love is that the former built hers on understandable admiration. Naoki is the type of guy that you will fall in love at first sight. Like…he delivered his speech oh so smoothly during the entrance ceremony and he is the best student in Japan. To boot, his face is divine. He is the person that Kotoko is not so she is bound to admire him. He has everything that she’s looking for so to who does she look at? That guy from section 1.
It’s just an infatuation, I would like to believe, up until the day she sent him the letter that contains her unrequited feelings of two years. Unlike Nana who claimed that she fell in love after Yano said ‘byebye’ or after he smiled at her at the rooftop, Kotoko has been nurturing her feelings for two years. She was only able to confirm that it may actually be love after confessing and realizing what a horrible human this perfect guy is. Despite breaking that image, she remains attracted. That’s when love comes in.
So if you want to talk about realistic, let’s talk about Itazura na Kiss. Not about a pretentious test of love endurance masked with pain for a guy whose charisma is so unfathomable that it makes me want to strangle myself.
There, it was so long because it’s my incoherent feelings talking here. I want to apologize if that bored you to death but yes. Don’t read BGI, let’s just watch or read this classic anime/manga.