Itazura na Kiss Omnibus Vol. 1 by Kaoru Tada (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 2, 2013 by  


A delightful romantic teen comedy manga series that is so much fun, “Itazura na Kiss” has proven to become more than just a banal teenage romantic comedy but a series that really gets into character development and so far, I’m enjoying this storyline by Kaoru Tada, that I’m looking forward to volume 2.  “Itazura na Kiss Omnibus Vol. 1” is highly recommended!

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© Kaoru Tada/minato-pro – Mz-plan. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Itazura na Kiss Omnibus Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Kaoru Tada (多田かおる)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Fairbell Corporation

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Digital Manga Publishing

RATED: Teen/13+

RELEASE DATE: November 4, 2009

High school senior Kotoko Aihara has had a crush on Naoki Irie since freshman year. Unfortunately, there a few things are discouraging her from to him: he’s a member of “Class A,” the top ranking class in school, whereas she’s in “Class F”; he gets the top score on every exam; and he’s so smart, popular and handsome that he’s been class president every year.


When Kotoki finally musters up the courage to present him with a love letter, though, Naoki outright refuses it, telling her point blank – with a look of disgust and boredom – that he doesn’t like “stupid girls.” Poor Kotoko’s worst nightmare! Her heart is broken, but then a change in circumstance forces Naoki and Kotoko to be together every day…?!

Kaoru Tada was one of Japan’s shining mangaka who died at a young age.

From her popular series “Ai Shite Knight” and “Kimi no na wa Debora” of the ’80s, there is one series in her manga oeuvre that stands out as her most famous work and that is her 1991 series “Itazura na Kiss” (which translates to “Mischievous Kiss”).

The series would lead to a drama adaptation in 1996, a Taiwanese drama adaptation in 2005, an anime adaptation in 2008, a Korean drama adaptation and another Japanese adaptation in 2013.

While a successful manga series for Kaoru Tada, unfortunately she was unable to complete it due to her surprising death in 1999.  A total of 23 manga volumes were released in Japan and a decade after her death, in 2009, Digital Manga Publishing began releasing an omnibus edition in which 12 are planned for release.

“Itazura na Kiss” is a series which begins with an introduction to Kotoko Aihara, a not-so-smart teenager that is in the F-class.   But if there is one thing that she does know, she has always been in love with the intelligent and popular Naoki Irie.  And after giving him a letter to let him know of her feelings towards him, he rejected it.

Sad and depressed that Naoki behaved that way to her, Kotoko went home in sadness.

As she went home to her new house that was built for her and her widowed father Shigeo, a chef and restaurant owner, her friends come over to check on her, knowing that she was depressed over the rejection by the guy she liked.  But as they celebrate, a earthquake hits the area and Kotoko’s home is destroyed.

While homeless, the good news is that her father’s childhood friend Shigeki has given both of them a place to live.  When they arrive, she finds out the new place that she will be living is the Irie residence, the home of Naoki Irie, the boy she loved and the boy who rejected her.

And while living there, both are welcomed by both Shigeki and his wife Noriko Irie.  While their sons, Naoki and Yuuki are not as inviting.

And immediately, Naoki wants to make sure no one knows that Kotoko lives with him as rumors will go quickly at school.

But as the two live together, Kotoko wants to prove herself to Naoki (and also his younger brother Yuuki) that she’s not that stupid and asks for help with schoolwork and immediately, their studying together would lead to Kotoko doing well in school.

But also for Noriko, she sees it as a perfect opportunity to try to bring her son and Kotoko closer together as it is her dream for her son to marry a beautiful woman.

But as the two try to keep their secret, Kotoko’s classmate Kinosuke Ikezawa (who has always liked Kotoko) begins to have suspicions that Kotoko is hiding something from him and her friends.  And when he follows her as she is going home, she sees him going to the Irie residence and in anger, let’s out her secret in front of her class.  Why is she living with Naoki and is there anything going on between the two of them?

As Naoki and Kotoko live together, will he continue to remain cold towards her or will Kotoko be able to warm his heart?

The first time I discovered “Itazura na Kiss” was back in 1996, when the first Japanese adaptation aired on television.  And while a hilarious drama, I have always wanted to read the Japanese manga version but with the series incomplete, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into the series, especially if it involved a lot of Japanese dialogue.

So, I was surprised when I read that Digital Manga Publishing was planning to release the omnibus edition of “Itazura na Kiss” and felt it was the right time to jump in and enjoy this manga series.

And what an entertaining, delightful and fun manga series “Itazura na Kiss” came to be.

The first thing that I recognized is Kaoru Tada’s style of character designs.  It’s not a series that emphasizes on background elements, nor is her characters shaded.  But what she manages to do effectively is capture emotion by the looks of the character’s faces and their eyes.  And put the most effort on story.

The series is rather interesting because of the relationship between Kotoko and Naoki.  She’s ditzy but she wants to be a better person for Naoki, a guy she has always liked.  While Naoki, is a brilliant, popular student who has no major ambition. But somehow, as he and his brother Yuuki have always focused their lives on getting great grades, Kotoko has opened a perspective unknown by him and it starts to become an intriguing situation for him, and also his younger brother Yuuki (who looks at Kotoko as a test study).

Throw in Naoki’s mother, Noriko, who is desperate to see the two become a couple, life at the Irie house has suddenly become a lot of fun!  And throw in a lot of Kotoko’s friends who are nosy and just as ditsy as her, but also Kinosuke Ikezawa who has proclaimed his love for Kotoko and is always the butt of a lot of jokes in the manga series.

A delightful romantic teen comedy manga series that is so much fun, “Itazura na Kiss” has proven to become more than just a banal teenage romantic comedy but a series that really gets into character development and so far, I’m enjoying this storyline by Kaoru Tada, that I’m looking forward to volume 2!

“Itazura na Kiss Omnibus Vol. 1” is highly recommended!

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