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Itazura na Kiss Volume 1

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Itazura na Kiss Volume 1

Itazura na Kiss Volume 1

© Kaoru Tada / minato-pro, Mz-plan

The Bottom Line

Kotoko has a crush on Naoki, the smartest, most handsome boy in her class. But she ends up crushed when he turns down her love letter with a stinging retort, "I don't like stupid girls." But fate has other things in mind…

Itazura na Kiss (a.k.a. "Mischievous Kiss" or "It Started With a Kiss") is a classic shojo story that has won the hearts of manga fans worldwide, and influenced numerous subsequent series. And little wonder -- its adorable characters, humorous twists and heartwarming, light drama is just pure fun, from cover-to-cover. It's a shojo series worth falling in love with at first sight.

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  • Fun, light-hearted romantic comedy about two opposites who fall in love in spite of themselves
  • A contemporary shojo story that influenced numerous other bestselling series
  • Characters have delightfully expressive facial expressions and gestures
  • Includes in-line translation notes to help readers follow some Japanese cultural quirks
  • Double-sized volume offers great value, and quick entry into this loveable story


  • The lack of significant barriers to this relationship make romance a foregone conclusion
  • Although it originated many of them, the plot twists feel a little predictable
  • Presumes that the reader already has basic awareness of Japanese cultural norms


Guide Review - Itazura na Kiss Volume 1

Kotoko's a cute but klutzy high school girl who has a crush on Naoki, the cutest and smartest guy in school. But her crush ends up getting crushed when Naoki turns down Kotoko's confession of love with a stinging retort: "I don't like stupid girls."

In real life, that would probably be the end of that -- but in shojo manga, this is just the start of what will be an adorable romantic comedy about two opposites who are thrown together through a series of wacky circumstances.

What kind of wacky circumstances? Well, how about Kotoko's house falling down after an earthquake? On top of that, how about Kotoko and her dad moving into her dad's friend's house, only to find out that her dad's friend is Naoki's father? After getting her love letter refused, Kotoko finds herself in an awkward living situation with Naoki, and neither are very happy about the arrangement.

If you've read much shojo manga, you're thinking, 'Hey, that sounds familiar.' The forced co-habitation twist will likely bring Marmalade Boy and Fruits Basket to mind. In the 11 volumes to come, we'll see Kotoko and Naoki's relationship grow over the years, much as in Sand Chronicles.

It would be easy to dismiss Itazura na Kiss for being similar to other shojo manga stories, until you realize that this early 1990's series preceded and influenced those other stories. This is a bit of a brain-twister for US manga fans who have read Marmalade Boy and Sand Chronicles years before encountering this first volume of Itazura na Kiss. However, without Itazura na Kiss, many of the contemporary shojo stories we enjoy today might be very different indeed.

It's unfortunate, but US manga readers have turned a cold shoulder to the shojo manga stories from the 1970's, 1980's and even from the early 1990's that would illustrate shojo manga's evolution. Many readers have only seen hints of the sweet fantasy of Osamu Tezuka's Princess Knight, the high drama of Kiyoko Ariyoshi's Swan, the thoughtful, heart-rending sci-fi of Moto Hagio's A, A', and so many more shojo manga pioneers who are largely unknown to American fans. Digital Manga's publication of Itazura na Kiss is one small, but positive step to remedy this oversight.

But don't go thinking that Itazura na Kiss is dated and irrelevant -- Kaoru Tada's sense of humor shines through, especially in her characters' delightful facial expressions and exaggerated gestures. Tada has a light, confident touch that is evident in her simple but supple linework. While they may seem familiar, Tada's touching romantic twists also stand up to the test of time.

With only an inconsequential romantic rival to contend with and their parents practically pushing them together, Kotoko and Naoki (so far) face few obstacles to falling in love. It may be a foregone conclusion, but it's still fun to watch this young couple discover this inevitability for themselves. Itazura na Kiss is a series that you'll fall in love with over and over again.

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