It’s one of those randomly picked titles out of desperation and boredom to find something light and funny. This did not disappoint one bit. I don’t even remember which came first for me, the anime or the manga? Anyhow, I loved both versions. The anime was faithful to the manga anyway, too bad there’s only 12 episodes. Hopefully, they continue with the animation as the latter chapters get better for the two.
Well, I just finished reading the last four chapters of the manga. I thought it had long been finished with Erika going to Kyoto for uni and then we’ll just assume that she and Kyouya ended up happily ever after. So, luckily, I checked up on it again. Erika and Kyouka actually lived together before getting married and then they were shown to have a daughter! They didn’t change that much in character, but in every problem they went through, their relationship got stronger.
Now, when I finished the manga, I couldn’t help but reflect on why I loved this manga. So much that I never gave up keeping up with updates, and well, so I lived to read the ending. Anyhow, I realized that Kyouya and Erika reminds me a lot of Qiang Xin and Zhi Shu of It Started With a Kiss (Taiwanese version).
I think it’s mainly of the male leads, but when I thought about it, the female leads are also similar, as well as the kind of dynamics they had.
The Guys: Sata Kyouya – Jiang Zhi Shu
Both of these guys are smart, handsome, popular, can be two-faced (proper = non friends and family; cunning and playful = friends and family), and has loud, positive, and cute girl friends completely different from them.
Aside from these traits, I think the way they handle their relationship with their loves are quite similar. They like to bully their girlfriends about how they look and their intelligence, but in the end they’re actually really serious about them. The way they both hate the cutesy, lovey-dovey stuff that both Erika and Qiang Xin like in the relationship, but do it in the end for the sake of their girlfriends and as part of a compromise. They both know that their girlfriends might be head over heels with them, but they don’t back down a fight when the boys are being too much, and they are strong enough to turn their backs on them when really needed already.
Quite similar too in the way Zhi Shu and Kyouya began realizing their feelings for the girls when they threatened to look at someone else: When Erika ended her fake relationship with Kyouya and began seeing Kusakabe, that’s when he realized he actually wanted their relationship to be real because his jealousy was already a sign that he liked Erika for real. On the other hand, Zhi Shu revealed (by second season, but heck that kiss is actually the title) that when Qiang Xin said she’ll look for someone else, someone better than him, that’s when he felt threatened and probably, he already like her that time, he just did not act on it as fast as Kyouya did. Well, Zhi Shu was really a brainiac and he was so keen on studying, but Kyouya fooled around while maintaining good grades, thus, the progress was different. Nonetheless, both stuck around with their girlfriends who eventually became their wife, and their very own kryptonites.
The Girls: Erika Shinohara – Yuan Qiang Xin
Both of these girls are not very smart, not very pretty (but they are cute), not very popular, but very positive and driven, quite the opposite of their boyfriends.
Like their boyfriends, I think the girls are quite similar when it comes to handling their relationship with their boyfriends. Although, I think Erika is more headstrong than Qiang Xin when it comes to fighting with her boyfriend and Qiang Xin is a bit more submissive, but both have their own unique ways in pacifying the rude mouths of those handsome, but overly bearing men. Erika really verbally fights with Kyouya and he actually admires this about her, while Qiang Xin is more timid, but her honesty and sincerity usually puts Zhi Shu in his place, especially when he’s being too mean to her. The girls love doing lovey-dovery stuff as girlfriends, but having particular boyfriends, they know that compromise is the key. Zhi Shi is a little bit more unlucky since Qiang Xin has Mama’s full support, but he does so anyway to make her happy (as a happy Qiang Xin makes him happy); on the other hand, Erika tried to push her luck with Kyouya on their first date as lovers, but they ended up fighting. Nonetheless, after this fight, that’s when Kyouya learned the importance of compromise, especially since their preference are different from each other.
These two girls are so strong and driven! Don’t mistake their softness as weakness, since the sincerity of these girls actually make men fall in love with them! I’m very happy that Erika found her passion towards the end of the manga. So even though it meant being away from Kyouya, she pursued her dream while not ever letting him go. She trust Kyouya enough to work for them too. I once read a comment about if ever they meet someone like Kyouya who treats them like a dog, then they’ll dump him right away. Well, that’s why Erika is so strong! Kyouya is not for the faint of heart, and since she stuck around, Kyouya knew she was worth it. On the other hand, Qiang Xin is really more Zhi Shu-driven (haha)! She’s probably worse in intelligence than Erika, but with her strong love for Zhi Shu, she goes forth with courage at every struggle and problem. Even though nursing was such a difficult course for someone like her, she pulled through because her goal was to help Zhi Shu. Nonetheless, along the way, I was very happy to see Qiang Xin grow even when she didn’t even realize it. This was apparent when she gave first aid to a man who had a motorcycle accident and she instantly went-nurse mode: confident, quick, smart. She didn’t need Zhi Shu at that moment to do her job well. Also, with Zhi Shu as someone you’re aiming for, a genius with a tongue as sharp as a blade, that mission is not for the faint of heart. As Zhi Shu said, he could do 90% of what Qiang Xin can, but the rest only she could do it to the point of unique perfection, and that’s why he was moved by her (out of all the girls and guys that flocks him). That’s why, respect to you girls.
Both ISWAK and OSKO (Ookami Shojou to Kuro Ouji) are romantic-comedies. Lots of crazy antics from the heroines and the funnier reactions by the heroes. There’s always a glimpse of the girls being mesmerized by the men, and those silent moments when the men are completely taken by the girls in their own, fascinating way. I love it that both stories showed the characters in long-term, serious relationships wherein there’s growth as individuals and as a romantic and life partner.
Qiang Xin and Zhi Shu’s relationship were more as husband and wife since their boyfriend-girlfriend status was immediately changed by Jiang Mama, so there’s a lot of adjustment they had to do. While finding their purpose in the things they study as university students, the couple also were finding their foot as a marriage partner and making it work. There’s a lot of ups and downs including jobs, being away from each other, studies, having a baby, and jealousy, but they made it work. Too bad we never knew if they had a baby in the end, but I think they did. It would have been so nice to see how they were as parents, especially with that eye condition of Qiang Xin still looming in the air. The last episode really solidified for me how much this couple love each other as they are willing to fight the disease together, and it was Zhi Shu declaring verbally how much he loves Qiang Xin. So nice since the whole time, we know that Zhi Shu loves Qiang Xin, but it’s only her who usually voices it out. So when he did finally say it, emergerd. My heart.
Kyouya and Erika are the teenage couple who grew together until they had a family. By the end of the manga, they already had a toddler daughter. They started dating in first year high school, so they probably had been together for more than ten years by the end of the manga. Things were fun for the two and lots of funny episodes with their friends. The usual highlights for me of the manga was seeing Kyouya have these little realizations about his feelings for Erika, how much she is changing him, and how willing he is to let her change him. Being used to playing with girls, he was surprised when he fell in love, out of all people, to the girl he played as his dog for a fake relationship. It was like resetting everything he knew about relationships. When he thought he knew Erika, he’s always taken by surprise. There’s a part in the manga that he confessed that he felt so nervous about doing the deed with Erika. Erika was confused about this since she knew about his playboy side before they dated, but he admitted that it was the first time he was going to do it with a person he cared about, so he became nervous. It was probably a revelation for him. Even though Erika’s clingier between the two of them, by the end of the manga, he was the one who became dependent on her warmth. At first Kyouya didn’t want Erika to go to Kyoto, even wishing that she failed her exam so they can stay together, but of course they worked it out in the end. And in the end, after being reunited after four months, he asked Erika to live together with him once they graduate.
In terms of dynamic, this kind of opposite pairing is very balanced. While one is passionate and burning, the other is cool and logical, although who takes the label is also sometimes interchangeable.
Hopefully, I’ll get to discover more stories with this kind of formula for characters and relationships.
Since I’m on the topic of manga (ISWAK is based on Itazura na Kiss manga), I’ll recommend reading these other shojou titles:
Kaichou wa Maido-sama
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Kimi ni Todoke
Ao Haru Ride