Itazura na Kiss, Vol. 5
by Kaoru Tada
DMP, 328 pp.
Rating: Teens (13 +)
The seemingly never ending struggle that Kotoko faces in her war to win Naoki’s heart hits a few bumps as a new competitor enters the battle! If that wasn’t enough there’s a medical emergency and tension between Naoki and his folks over his chosen career path. As cliche as it seems it almost feels that after this volume things may never be the same for our star crossed lovers!
Admittedly, I haven’t read every volume of this series, but of what I have read I think that this was probably my favorite volume to date. Naoki’s struggle to find his own way in the world by becoming a doctor sparks a moment of self awareness within Kotoko, and while it’s something that’s long over due, it’s still nice to see her make the realization that she’s essentially co-dependent and incapable of imagining herself not joined at the hip with Naoki. For Naoki’s part he finally seems to be encountering something of a challenge, namely his family’s expectations for him and the path their forcing him down. It’s a path that spins both his life and Kotoko’s into some unexpected directions. While Kotoko’s incompetence still grates on me a bit, her development here is great to watch, likewise for Naoki who still continues to be a bit of a quiet jerk. While character growth and relationship changes abound in this volume, it still manages to cram in a good amount of laughs and comedy thanks to fairly large supporting cast and poor Kotoko’s efforts to fend off rivals to Naoki’s affections.
The artwork is as solid as ever and I still love what Kaoru Tada does with the characters hair. We also get to see her flex her stylistic muscles as several Shonen Jump characters make brief appearances as well, not to mention her take on two classic cross dressers from manga history, all in a style similar to that of their own series. While the backgrounds are still a bit sparse, the dialogue, character reactions and humor are so well done and mesh so wonderfully that I didn’t even notice them missing the first time through.
Itazura na Kiss is one of those series I never expected to enjoy but ended up liking a whole lot, and I’m reminded of this each time I read a new volume. While I do often find Naoki and Irie’s relationship and attitude towards each other frustrating at times, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t also surprisingly touching at other points and the comedy, unlike that of some other manga and anime series, clicks for me. In my review of volume 4 I was a little worried that Kotoko’s endless fascination and pursuit of Irie would start to wear on me, but the developments in this volume are a breath of fresh air and erased any fears I may have had. In the end it’s an incredibly fun and engaging read!
Itazura na Kiss, Vol. 5 is available now from Digital Manga Publishing. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.