Judge me all you want but the drama I am currently watching religiously is (much to my own embarrassment -.-) ItaKiss ~ Love in Tokyo. I’m pretty sure that at least one circle of hell has frozen over considering that I have never been able to stomach any of the previous adaptations, much less the manga.
Not going to lie: this is to my brain what candy floss is to my teeth but damn if it doesn’t fill my days with spazzy glee. With the exception of episode 11, I haven’t had a problem with any of the subsequent ones. I know there are people who find the pacing of this final arc a little slow but I actually like its introspective tone and the fact that it shows the characters growing up and contemplating their future. They can’t stay in high school or college forever and canon or not, if Naoki and Kotoko are meant to be together for the long haul, I need this drama to show me that they share a connection that cannot be replaced. I need to see something more substantial than cute displays of puppy love.
Long, rambly post ahead. Spoilers galore, naturally. I beg your indulgence and dear lord, it’s now T-minus 10 minutes to the episode finale. I haven’t been this excited about a drama since SUFBB. Pretty sure everyone is going to gif and screencap the crap out of this last episode as soon as it’s done airing XDDD
One of the problems I’ve always had with the earlier ItaKiss adaptations is the fact that Naoki and Kotoko end up getting married so quickly and at such a young age, despite having such an unbalanced relationship. How can their marriage possible last when they hardly know each other? They don’t even date, presumably because he is terrified of his mother finding out and taking over his life completely. I know ItaKiss is supposed to be shoujo fluff but there are limits to how much disbelief I’m willing to suspend. Call me a cynic but three kisses do not a marriage make.
It’s one thing to like someone but quite another to decide that you want to be with that person for the rest of your life. How many of us actually end up marrying the first person we fall in love with?
What this current adaptation has done very well is show how Naoki has fallen for Kotoko. It’s clear that he likes her a lot but does he love her enough to want to spend the rest of his life with her? That’s what it needs to show in this final arc. I believe there is still a part of him that is not quite ready to acknowledge how important she is to him yet, which is why I think it is necessary for him to go through the pain of this whole omiai charade in episode 14. We can all describe in detail how well Kotoko complements him till the cows come home but until he comes to that conclusion himself, he is never going to be 100% convinced that she is The One. Without getting a live preview of what an alternate future without her looks like, I dare say their relationship would very likely have remained Naoki’s little secret, in part because he’s a stubborn ass who doesn’t want to give his mother the satisfaction of knowing that she was right about Kotoko all along.
This isn’t about me wanting to watch him suffer but if this is what it takes for him to finally get his ass into gear and admit, without obfuscating the issue, that he needs her in his life, then I am all for it. I only wish he had had the courtesy to let Kotoko know about the omiai first before dropping this bombshell on his family. It didn’t have to be an elaborate explanation. Just one simple sentence would have sufficed. Considering all that she’s done for him, he owes her this much at the very least, especially if he claims to like her as he does in episodes 8 and 10. I have always been willing to cut Naoki some slack (in fact, my sympathies were with him during his argument with his parents in episode 12) but in this case, no matter how you explain it, there isn’t a good enough reason to justify such a callous decision. What he does in this scene is downright shitty and the more I think about it, cowardly. It’s one thing to not walk a girl home at night or to offer her your coat when it’s cold but this is on a whole different level altogether. This is like kicking someone in the gut. Repeatedly.
If you want to talk about challenges, loving Naoki has been a real ordeal for Kotoko and at this point, I just want to give the poor darling a big hug and tell her that there are other men (and not just Kin-chan) who are far worthier of her love on this planet. All I can say is that Naoki had better MAKE IT UP TO HER GOOD once he exits the mental fog he’s currently in otherwise I think I might just strangle him with his tie.
That said, I don’t actually have an issue with him going for the omiai (it’s the way he breaks the news that I hate.) I can also see why he insists on going for it even when his parents tell him that he doesn’t have to. It isn’t simply a case of him playing the filial son. It’s actually more a case of him having extreme tunnel vision at the moment.
Naoki is not someone who handles emotional stress well. When his emotions overwhelm him, his logic flies out of the window and he tends to do things that are not only extreme but out of character as well. We have seen this happen before. Case in point: the graduation party in episode 5 where, consumed with jealousy, envy and a whole bunch of other deliciously confused emotions, he creates a scene in front of everyone just to prove how much Kotoko likes him. For someone who claims to hate being involved in such silly rumours and scandals (and this is to say nothing of the fact that ordinarily, he wouldn’t even have attended such a gathering in the first place), he’s single-handedly fuelling them on his own and drawing attention to himself. If everyone wasn’t so busy laughing at Kotoko, someone would have asked him, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Irie?”
A normal, emotionally well-adjusted 17-year-old would have figured out a way to talk to his crush alone. Because Naoki is an emotional retard who has no idea how to initiate a conversation with Kotoko without resorting to insults, he has to do this — and then blame her for it, of course. Like it’s her fault that he’s violating his own rules about keeping their distance and never speaking to each other in public. Dude, she was just stuffing her face and minding her own business with her friends when you decided you could not bear to be ignored any longer.
Unless you have a similar EQ of -200, it’s obvious that Superboy fancies Kotoko like crazy. And how can he not when he sees her walking around the house in those cute shorts and miniskirts practically every single day? Look, Naoki may be a cold, unfeeling genius but he’s a growing teenage boy and he sure as hell isn’t blind. If that little nighttime encounter in his bedroom in episode 3 is any indication, his hormones are in no way as retarded as his emotions.
The problem for Boy Genius is that he has no idea where to begin with her because not only do they have nothing in common, she’s so different from anyone he knows. At least with the girls in his class or someone of a similar academic standing, he can find some common ground but what exactly does he talk about with Kotoko? And then there’s also the fact that their relationship begins on such an odd footing. She’s nothing but a nuisance to him for the longest time and then without realising it, his heart is suddenly doing somersaults around her while his poor confused brain is trying to play catch up and going: “Wait, what?!”
The second time Superboy has a meltdown (by Naoki’s standards, at least) is in episode 7, when after manfully trying — and FAILING MISERABLY — to convince himself that he is better off without Kotoko in his life, he finally gets off his ass and goes looking for her. (Does anyone else detect a pattern here?!)
Oh Kotoko, if you only knew what your Irie-kun’s feeling at this very moment. If he didn’t miss you like he was going crazy, there’s no way his stubborn pride would have allowed him anywhere near the tennis court.
Now, at this point, a normal 17-year-old would have asked the girl he likes out on a date. But as we have already established, Naoki is far from normal, especially when he is under emotional duress. Which explains why he takes it upon himself to give Kotoko a crash course in tennis. No doubt it’s a very sweet gesture (for Naoki, at least), one that’s borne out of a genuine desire to give her a decent shot at playing a game of tennis — and against Sudou and Matsumoto, no less. Yes, it’s also an excuse for him to see her day and night, as well as to, um, touch her without raising any suspicions, as some Chinese fans on Baidu have pointed out XD (remember what I said about him being a teenage boy? Trust Naoki to think of EVERYTHING, hahahahaha.) However it’s an extreme decision nonetheless, especially given that Kotoko’s hand-eye coordination is probably close to non-existent. There are far easier ways to get close to a girl and I can only marvel at Naoki’s dedication and immense reserves of patience.
Since we’re talking about this episode, I know the final arc has shown Kin-chan to be the Hanazawa Rui/Moon Jae-shin of this drama and to be sure, he is nicer and far more sensitive than Naoki. However there is one thing that the latter can do, which Kin-chan can’t, and that is the fact that he is able to uncover Kotoko’s potential and give her the push she needs to fulfil it.
If it had been Kin-chan in the scene below, Kotoko would never have learned how to play tennis because rather than see her unhappy or in the slightest bit of discomfort, he would have told her to quit the moment she fell down. In fact if you recall, he does tell her to do so when he sees her covered in bruises. Naoki, on the other hand, has no qualms about pushing Kotoko to her limits and out of her comfort zone (one of the advantages of being an unfeeling genius.) He’s already seen what she can do and he knows that with time and enough effort, she is capable of accomplishing more than what a lot of people (herself included) give her credit for.
And this is why even though Kin-chan is an absolute sweetheart (and I really do wish him all the happiness in the world), I still think Naoki is the better match for Kotoko because he will motivate her to think big and better herself (as much as he indulges her in episode 13, I don’t think he’ll be content to see her stay home and keep house.) Kin-chan, on the other hand, will treat her like a princess (which isn’t a bad thing in itself) but he’ll never be able to give Kotoko the sense of accomplishment that she gets from achieving what she thought was impossible.
Angst and Loathing in Tokyo
In this last arc, Naoki’s emotions get the better of him once more, though this time it has more to do with the existential conflict that he’s facing rather than Kotoko. What he says when he finds out about his father’s hospitalisation is already a big red flag where his state of mind is concerned: he doesn’t just offer to fill in for him till Papa Irie gets better. Instead, he goes one step further by telling his mother that he is going to “save” the company. Seriously Naoki, who died and asked you to become a martyr? *sigh*
There’s more to his decision than just a sense of filial duty. Obviously, there’s the remorse he feels over what he said to his father earlier but I think there’s also the fact that he can’t bear to see the company go under. Despite not wanting to succeed the older man, Naoki does have a lot of respect for the fact that he successfully built up the business from scratch. It’s just too bad no one tells him that he’d have a far easier time pulling the company out of the red if he were to discuss the problems he’s facing with other people instead of shouldering them all by himself. I’m willing to bet that if Naoki had talked to Kotoko about this, she might just have offered him one of her startlingly lucid insights, as she often does in situations like this.
By the time he gets the offer of the omiai, Naoki is already at a very low point and can no longer see the wood for the trees. All he knows is that to save his father’s company, he needs money. And the chairman is offering him the money that he needs. All he has to do is marry his granddaughter. A more normal person would have considered looking for other investors before agreeing to such a proposition but as we all know by now, Naoki doesn’t always think straight when he’s under emotional stress, hence the reason he accepts it and subjects himself (and Kotoko, grrr) to a giant clusterfuck of pain. Really Naoki, for someone with an IQ of 200, you sure don’t behave like it sometimes…
Once again, that rain scene had better be worth it…
Of course, being the stubborn fool that he is, Naoki isn’t going to change his mind that quickly even though he already knows right from the start that while Sahoko is in every way the perfect Japanese bride on paper, she is in reality not what he seeks in a partner.
Following the last two episodes, some Chinese fans on Baidu have taken to speculating about what Naoki’s, um, “night life” might look like if he ends up marrying Sahoko. Without going into detail, let’s just say the consensus is that there probably won’t be lots of fireworks XD
Well Naoki, I hope you’ve had your fill of pain and suffering. Please do us all a favour and come to your senses soon otherwise FuruYuki might have to postpone his fan meeting in Shanghai to avoid being pelted by the hordes of irate ItaKiss fangirls.