Itazura na Kiss, Vol. 4
by Kaoru Tada
DMP, 360 pp.
Rating: Teens (13 +)
Jumping ahead several volumes from my first look at the series and it seems that.. not much has changed. Kotoko is still head over heels in love with Naoki who’s still cold and rude towards her more often than not. I’d like to say that this time around things are different, but it really feels like more of the same.
I didn’t get a chance to read volumes two or three so I was kind of expecting some major changes in the characters and the story, but there really isn’t a whole lot new or different. Sure, Kotoko and Naoki are a bit older and in college rather than high school, and there are a few new supporting characters, but otherwise it feels awfully familiar. On top of that some of the characters are starting to get on my nerves. I did find all the crazy hijinks and Kotoko’s various attempts to win over Naoki, but when I stopped reading it and started to think about it it was a little sad. Kotoko’s been carrying a torch for Naoki for years now and the fact that he’s almost always this cold, stand offish and rude guy doesn’t really do much to show why anyone would want to waste their time on him. In the course of the volume a new suitor for Kotoko pops up and I found myself rooting for them to hit it off so she’d stop chasing after Naoki and be with someone who offers her more than backhanded complements. Admittedly that may be a bit harsh as Naoki and Kotoko do share several genuinely touching moments and there is a certain playfulness to their verbal sparring, but on the whole they seem like they’d be far better suited as close friends than anything romantic. I suppose it’s a bit silly to bring this up since it’s a romantic comedy, but everything has it’s limits and this is stretching my suspension of disbelief rather thin, especially when one considers the fact that this is only volume four out of twenty three! I get that one person trying to win over someone else is a classic trop of this genre, but twenty three volumes at 300 pages a piece..? Yikes.
Kaoru Tada’s artwork feels a bit more stable and solid here than it did in the first volume. I didn’t notice as many odd instances of anatomy and there was nary a cluttered or unclear panel to be found. She even throws in a few action-y moments via a tennis tournament and dramatic bike ride, and each was clear, easy to follow and entertaining. Also, whatever Tada was doing with the hair in the first volume is still present and it’s still a really lovely effect.
Despite my criticisms about the story, I did enjoy it as I was reading it, plus there are signs that Naoki’s slowly thawing towards Kotoko, which just makes his attitude all the more obnoxious. It’ll be interesting to see if DMP is able to publish the series to it’s completion, and whether or not the two get together before the end or not.
Itazura na Kiss, Vol. 4 is available now at Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.