Last Saturday (Aussie Time) saw the end of Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo, a Japanese live action, television adaptation of a ridiculously popular manga of the same name. I gather that it’s the Pride and Prejudice of shoujo manga as this is the fifth version to grace television and computer screens worldwide. It is, to all intents and purposes, a farcical rom com that begins as an unrequited high school romance and then moves into angst territory. It is loads of silly fun and features characters with personalities at opposite ends of the spectrum. The fact that I liked it surprises me... I’m not a fan of high school romances as a rule... and I’m certainly getting too old for egregious slapstick. Nonetheless, I was charmed almost instantly by the plucky (though underachieving) female lead who has a talent for getting things wrong and who has a penchant for stalking the object of her affections. With admirable fearlessness, she sets herself the mammoth task of winning the heart of the smartest boy in school, whose icy declaration that he doesn’t care for “dumb girls” becomes the catalyst for a rollercoaster “will they, won’t they” journey.
Okay... it sounds fairly pedestrian as romances go but the familiar can be oddly addictive. Especially if it is oozing with all manner of cuteness. Before you know it, the show seduces you into rooting for the most unlikely couple in Dramaland. At first, smart boy maintains his distance and disdain but much to his own surprise, dumb girl turns out to have an unexpected streak of deviousness and determination. In spite of himself, he begins falling for her while still maintaining a facade of disinterest. Oh, he likes her... it leaks when she's conveniently not looking but he’d go to hades in a hand basket first probably before admitting to it. Not helping the course of true love, however, is his somewhat overbearing mother whose tireless insistence that he marry dumb girl pushes all the buttons of his already well-developed rebellious radar.
The moral of the story in Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo, it seems to me, is that mother knows best. No matter how ridiculous her machinations and plots are, no one knows her children like mum does. Mama's heart is always in the right place. Before anyone else has twigged, she knows deep in the recess of her motherly instincts that dumb girl is just the one for her supercilious, overachieving boy. She knows something that only mothers are privy to. Apparently dumb girls have their uses... they can teach smart boys a thing or two about humility and that thing called love.