Itazura na Kiss 5

October 26, 2011

Kaoru Tada – Digital Manga Publishing – 2011 – 23 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols 9-10

For a series that’s supposed to be so upbeat and happy, these last few volumes have really been depressing me. Part of that is the fact that Kotoko still can’t seem to give up on Naoki, even though he’s among the biggest jerks in shoujo manga. Part of it was the fact that the Irie patriarch fell very ill in this volume after a fight with Naoki, and had to be hospitalized while Naoki gave up on his dreams of being a doctor and took over his company. Part of it was also the fact that Naoki got engaged to another woman in this volume.

Gasp! It’s true! I’ve never seen a manga go through with this in the way that Itazura na Kiss does. I know it can’t actually do this, because it’s only about half over, but it certainly goes through all the motions, and Naoki never once shows any remorse or sorrow over his fiancee. There is a lot of other relationship shuffles in this volume too, like a last ditch effort from the elder Matsumoto sister to confess her feelings to Naoki. Kin-chan also tries hard to get closer to Kotoko, both through his skills as a chef at her father’s restaurant and, eventually, as a rebound date when Naoki gets engaged. While I feel bad for Kotoko, I feel terrible for Kinnosuke. Kotoko is only slightly nicer to Kin-chan than Naoki is to her.

And yes, Mr. Irie runs a big, failing business and is hospitalized after he gets worked up about Naoki switching his major and not telling him. So Naoki does the dutiful son thing and runs the business for him, which is the type of thing that only happens in manga (in this manga, Mr. Irie is president of a company that’s supposed to be Bandai, which makes it even funnier). Kotoko is there to support Naoki, of course, working part-time as an office girl with the usual disastrous results. But it’s through this job, and even Kotoko’s meddling, that Naoki meets the woman that he becomes engaged to.

Of course, Kotoko and Matsuda try to stop Naoki and his bride-to-be. Mrs. Irie even gets in on the action by purposely being rude during a meeting with the girl’s parents. But nothing works, and Naoki insists on marrying his fiancee, who is sure to make the perfect wife.

This entire volume was like a depressing train wreck. But I had to keep reading. Tada is just so good at writing her characters, and making each chapter an utterly endearing one-off story that’s still connected to the main plot… she’s wonderful at it. I don’t think I would like Naoki or Kotoko in the hands of any other writer, and I think over-the-top Mrs. Irie and younger brother Yuki Irie would be too much in any other series. But here, they’re just another detail in a happy home. And when a volume like this threatens to break up the happy home, I have to keep reading.

It’s wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I hope that the shoujo manga fans are supporting it en masse, because it’s so rare for an old gem like this to get published in English, and it is worth reading.

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