Itazura na Kiss 8

December 18, 2014

Kaoru Tada – Digital Manga Publishing – 2012 – 23 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 15-16

The good folks at DMP have just started a new Tezuka Kickstarter (EDIT: I wrote this 6 months ago, so for a current Tezuka Kickstarter, go here), and I thought I’d celebrate by rummaging through my unread DMP backlog. For some reason, it did not occur to me to add my missing Tezuka reviews, but perhaps that’s because I had a powerful craving for some sugary shoujo.

Again, I’ve been taking a break from manga lately, and I’m not sure how wise it is to sample this series. It’s very predictable, to say the least. But it is also one of the sweetest, most adorable series I can lay hands on, and it is what I crave in my secret heart of hearts.

In this volume… well, there’s about what you’d expect. Kotoko gets accepted into the nursing program, and most of these stories are about her new friends/classmates. She gets assigned to a study group with four other students who, unsurprisingly, almost all have a huge crush on Naoki.

The first story is an entertaining one about how Kotoko doesn’t want to admit she’s the (disappointing) wife of the fabulous Naoki Irie. Other stories are about mixers between the doctor and nursing students, study sessions that (of course) interrupt peaceful vacations with Naoki, and lots about various topics in class. Kotoko is, of course, hilariously bad at drawing blood, securing patients to the bed, blood pressure readings, et cetera.

If there’s something I dislike about this series (other than Naoki), it’s that Kotoko has to be completely incompetent at everything. She’s always portrayed as sweet, and very tenacious, but very stupid. I keep hoping she’s going to find that one thing she’s good at… But it hasn’t happened yet. On one hand, I do like the positive message about her working hard for everything she does and not being naturally gifted (questionable relationship with Naoki excluded), on the other hand, I’m tired of these types of jokes.

There’s a cute subplot about a nerdish classmate of Naoki’s falling for a gold-digging classmate of Kotoko’s that is now ongoing. A nice story near the end discusses the unplanned pregnancy of one of Kotoko’s oldest friends, and the impossible family situation she finds herself in. And the meat of the second half of the volume is about a nursing student with a crush on Kotoko who goes for it in light of Naoki’s horrible treatment of Kotoko.

That storyline… yeah. The potential beau is right, of course, and is only proven more right when Naoki senses his attraction and doesn’t speak to Kotoko for months, despite her complete devotion to him. His behavior is so bad that even Naoki’s mom thinks Kotoko should leave him for the nice boy. This fairly abusive relationship makes the series hard to read through stretches like this, and the resolution isn’t very romantic or satisfying. Still, here I am, hoping DMP will get around to releasing the last volumes of the series in a 3-in-1.

Be that as it may, I love that we’ve moved on to married life and its grown-up problems. There are still a lot of the same types of stories from the early volumes, but I love that the storytelling has matured over the run of the series. It also keeps its charm and sense of humor, and I’m happy to see the upbeat Mrs. Irie continue her appearances, despite the fact she’s forever doing the same jokes.

Still great! And I have a feeling this one flies way under the radar, so here’s hoping we do get to see the end. Check it out if cute shoujo is your thing!

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