Saturday, 3 May 2008

Yet Another Post on Why S.A. Sucks and Itazura na Kiss Rocks (Kei VS Irie)

As usual, the post title is really making things sound more extreme than they actually are (because I'm an atention whore). I’ve mentioned before how bland S.A. is turning out, and even Impz the shoujo advocate has denounced S.A. to be a pile of (GONZO produced) rage inducing crud. Personally my reaction towards S.A. so far is little in the way of anger (since I have no previous attachment to the manga source which is apparently ‘just okay’ anyways), and more of “Err... That's it?”

But even if S.A. turned out to be a decent enough adaptation, what would be the actual draw? I think the specialty draw in Special A was meant to be one or both of the following: the development of Kei and Hikari’s ‘unusual’ competitive relationship into something more romantic (for those who’ve not seen KareKano anyways), and the possibility of a lol-worthy comedy driven setting with a dash of possible romance involved (for those who’ve not watched Ouran – seriously, WHY THE HELL HAVEN'T YOU??? :P). So far, as some besides myself have probably realized, S.A. has not been doing too good in both respects.

What's this? A KareKano ripoff hommage??

The futility of comparing the setting and comedy of S.A. to Ouran has been pointed out, so I’ll move to what could’ve been the main draw of the show – Hikari and Kei. So romance blossoming from competition has been done (a comparison to KareKano would be just as futile), the twist here in S.A. is that the traditional one-sided roles have been reversed. It’s more often to find a girl whose feelings fail to reach the guy in mind. Here, it is the female Hikari’s hard headed competition driven mind which is totally oblivious to the male Kei’s feelings for her, not helped by the fact that he’s continuously pick on her inability to surpass him. Of course, Hikari’s single-mindedness is partially at fault here, but my main bone to pick is with Kei and his apparent refusal to express himself to Hikari in a better way than constantly calling her out as ‘Number 2’ (For the top students in school, they sure can act like grade schoolers -_-")

But why exactly is Kei masking his feelings for Hikari again, and by putting her down in dumb challenges that defy their character designs? One may say, obviously there’s SOME reason which they’ll reveal later that’ll make his actions make all the sense in the world (Like he’s really waiting for the day Hikari finally beats him at something to confess – WOW, how impressively ROMANTIC!). But whatever the reason, it's bound to be one of those gimmicky gimmicks *gasps, not a gimick!*. A gimmick to make the relationship aspect of the story more ‘special’ than it really should be. A gimmick to make Kei’s own character circumstances seem more ‘special’ than he really is (“Oh, I’m like rich, smart and complex!”). A gimmick to make Kei seem so ‘specially’ distant from Hikari at one point in the episode, only in the next moment he’s forced to drop it all in order to save/protect Hikari, in a process designed to make the fangirls swoon at this transition - “!!!! See?? See how much he REALLY cares for her???”


For me the whole “Let me take these BONE-CRUSHING blows to PROTECT you, Hikari!!! When really I could just break these damned handcuffs and we can beat the crap out of these losers TOGETHER WITH THE POWER OF LOVE!!!” scenario in ep 2 was excruciating to watch (and not only from a feminist’s standpoint, it was lame to begin with), while his whole running through the woods searching for Hikari recently was again pointless and exaggerated. Seriously Hikari, what are you reading these actions as, expressions of masochistic tendencies?

Irie papa sums up the best thing about watching Itazura na Kiss

Now, let’s look at Itazura na Kiss, which does really on a simple gimmicks (like house moving caused by timely earthquake) to achieve simple results in a rather simplistic romantic story – but hey, it works! Still, to many the biggest drawback besides the dated art (which I actually adore) in Itazura is the jerk for the male lead Irie-kun. That he’s a jerk through and through is rather undeniable, but here’s the thing, we all know that he WILL end up with Kotoko and for that to truly happen (unless this becomes a wife-beater show and I’ll be left in utter despair) is that he unjerkifies himself (hurray for making up new words) somewhere along the line. And already we see this happening slowly but surely thanks to Kotoko and the interventions of his mom (lol).

Yes, Irie is a jerk and a snob, that’s his true character, but not only can this be changed, it is being changed for the better. In additional support to the jerk (I can’t believe I just typed that) Irie at least knows how to be blunt and when to be subtle when he's teasing Kotoko :P The way he lulled Kotoko (and this naïve viewer) into thinking he’s showing signs of thawing during the picture taking - only to strike at her once again was pretty hilarious and totally made up for his eerie Itou Makoto-esque risque stunt he pulled with her an episode ago. Kei’s "#2" jab at Hikari on the other hand, grew too old too fast.

As for Kei, he isn’t actually a jerk or a snob, as everyone (even the supposedly blur Hikari) knows well enough, but the fact that he keeps acting like one in front of her by continuously putting her down as second-fiddle to him, thus masking his affections for her (and just from her, again everyone else knows) just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t know for sure if they actually get together within the scope of the show (a half-assed confession at the final minutes of the show hardly counts), but somewhere along the way, Hikari herself will have to come to the RELIZATION that ZOMG, he’s in love with me, whatever shall I do??? But whatever she does, it won’t actually change Kei for the better in the way Kotoko is doing for Irie, all it’ll do is merely get Kei to finally give up on his needless façade so that he and Hikari can FINALLY live happily ever after, blah blah blah… who cares. I don’t.

Thus we have Irie “I’m so cold and distant because my mom cross-dressed me as a child!” (This method of child-raising may have the opposite result though – see Kyou Kara Maou) while Kei is all “I ACT all cold and distant because… err… It’s cool! …And my dad’s voiced by Ogata Megumi!” Hence, Irie (genuine jerk) > Kei (fake prince)

In conclusion:

· S. A. – Still blah. Needs less Hikari and Kei, more Tadashi and Akira; if there’s a Ryu arc make it decent; and give poor Yonaga Tsubasa some more exposure (in the hopes for another season of Ookiku Furikabutte!).

· Itazura na Kiss – Still Awesome (Now that’s what S.A. should stand for, instead of ‘Still Awful’). Watch more. :D


Nagato said...

Yep, Itazura definitely sinks Special A by far. Though it seems that Naoki's aloofness is due to him being more naive than anything. Yay for human points!

Mudkips said...

The only character I still like from S.A is Megumi, only because she keeps her mouth shut.

blissmo said...

Definitely! I've heard bad things about Special A and I've seen Itazura na Kiss, so yeah.

Anna F said...

You are very entertaining, but I completely disagree with you. :) To be honest, I actually dropped Itazura na Kiss after about four episodes. I can see your point about jerks and non jerks and I'm sort of inclined to start agreeing with you after all but there is one thing that I find more important than what kind of character development we might expect from these series. Although I'm not sure I can say that they presented the characters better in Special A than in Itazura na Kiss, I ended up liking them more and being more interesed in them. I can usually take jerk characters if they seem like they're going to develop, but I'm simply not interested in seing Kei change. I really like Kotoko which is another reason for me to dislike Kei - they're going to end up together and Kei doesn't deserve her one bit.

Of course, now that I've seen SA up untill episode 12 I know that he isn't really a character who acts a little bit like a jerk yet isn't one. It's more like he's her friend just like her other classmates even if they're rivals. He isn't really portrayed as that in the earlier episodes but he is in the following and that gets kinda confusing. I can see your point about him being a fake jerk in the first few episodes though. It's not that he changes, it just seems that he never was that character after all. I can admit to disliking that part ver much.

Finally, there is one kind of obvious thing I wanted to point out. Why he keeps battling, beating and ridiculing her? Well, would she really like him to not give it all he's got? And I suppose it's an unusual move for a person in love to tease his love interest... not. I think he just likes the attention.

Just so you know, I loved(!) Ouran High School Host Club, so I'm not inclined to always like things other people dislike. :P

Anonymous said...

xD omg Its Itazura na Kiss that sucks....