Vital StatisticsTitle: Itazura na Kiss
Creator: Kaoru Tada
Original Publisher: Shueisha
US Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Release InfoRelease Date: 11/04/09
Translator: Sachiko Sato
Length: 300 pages
Kotoko also has a crush on a guy at her school: Naoki Irie, the top-scoring genius of class A. The manga opens with Naoki rejecting Kotoko's love letter, refusing to even touch it, much less read it or respond. In the wake of her complete rejection-- in front of the rest of the school, no less --Kotoko and her father move into their newly-built house, which proceeds to crumble when a small earthquake hits.
Kotoko and her dad are offered a place to stay by Kotoko's father's friend "Iri-chan," who-- can you guess? --turns out to be Naoki's dad. So Kotoko is stuck living with the guy who rejected her. Naoki turns out to be something of a douchebag, going out of his way to embarass or annoy Kotoko, especially if it involves pointing out her academic deficiencies. Even his little brother Yuuki gets in on the act.
Blah blah blah, will love blossom, etc.
Even I can't exactly say why, however. Most of the time reading I just found myself appalled by how poorly Kotoko gets treated by Naoki and wondering why she continues to crush on him even when she's mad at him. I also found myself really irritated at the "she's just an idiot, no helping it" attitude, which may be kind of a cultural thing-- in the US we're sort of trained to believe that if we work hard, as Kotoko does, then we'll be rewarded, which she rarely is (unless Irie is blackmailed or challenged into helping her).
And yet, here I am, itching to read what happens after the end of the first volume, which sees Kotoko and Irie through their college entrance exams.
There is nothing here that is new, and that's perhaps the draw of the series: the story is simple but gratifying, leaving the focus more on the characters than on random happenstances (although some of those pop up too, mostly due to Kotoko's friends being nosy jerks). Kotoko can occasionally be charming, and watching Naoki's not-always-predictable path to being less of an ass has its merits as well.
Some readers may find the late Tada-sensei's art a bit hard to get into; it's old, and compared to most flowery, heavily-toned shoujo these days, it looks very simple. I found the art style kind of refreshing after so much really heavy art, like in Vampire Knight, personally. If you can get past the old flavor (or outright like it), there's plenty to enjoy here.
A few technical items: there aren't really any omake in the book, and no translation notes page, although there are in-line notes for the few things that need them, so I don't think anyone will feel the lack. Honorifics have generally been left in as well. The book is pretty fat-- 300 pages versus the usual ~200 --and in terms of height is about the same size as a standard VIZ/TOKYOPOP release, rather than the larger trim size that DMP sometimes favors.
If you're someone who enjoys series like Marmalade Boy, another '90s shared-housing romantic comedy squarely in the shoujo category, Itazura na Kiss will give you a nice flashback. If you prefer your shoujo manga with stronger heroines more along the lines of Ouran High School Host Club or Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, then you probably won't get what you want out of ItaKiss, at least based on the first volume.