Timeout: In Which Naoki, Kotoko & Them Running In Circles Make Me…

I’ll be honest: I don’t know what I feel about Mischievous Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo these days. Episode 10 was pure gold, then episodes 11 and 12 were lackluster. Last night, I caught up with episode 13 and it is… a mixed bag. On one hand, we have the usual things we love:

1) Kin-chan, as always, being the voice of reason as he tells Kotoko to Do The Right (Noble) Thing.

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2) Kotoko being her usual endearing, goofy self as she play-acts being the Trophy Housewife material.

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3) Naoki’s now-signature tender gaze towards Kotoko from afar, silent and unsuspecting.

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4) Small, quick romantic beats of our resident couple as they bicker and listen their ways to love.

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But then! On the frustrating other hand, this episode’s also full of filler scenes which gave no depth nor purpose to the plot. Jinko and Satomi’s appearance and thus, commentaries this week were insignificant, the Matsumoto sisters were inserted rather randomly and out-of-flow especially that of the younger sister and most annoyingly, for each favorites pointed above, the scenes that follow after make me want to scream bloody murder. Or more like, shake particular persons to their senses.

I’m fully aware that the plot of Mischievous Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo is mediocre at best, but it has thus far succeeded very, very well in painting a small story with a big heart; many things are trivial and over (or under)acted, but what it retained and resonated – at least with me – is tonally. It’s been quirky, upbeat and filled with cotton-candy fluff, but never without just the right dose of heart to balance the funny.

In this episode however…

1) Kin-chan had to then follow-up this scene by saying to Jinko and Satomi – once Kotoko was out of earshot – that he’s really doing and saying this because it’s not the right time and place to be staking claims and declaring a love war, i.e. “It’s like I’m sending support to my enemy.” Oh Kin-chan, just as I was about to give you an A+ for selflessness.

2) Kotoko being her usual crazy, dense self. She is endearing and not the brightest bulb – I’ve no qualms about this, but we’re now this far along the show and she’s still completely, totally clueless about his affections for her. So she does her usual stalking – and getting caught, of course.

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Girl, this is my exact expression and question to you, too.

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3) Naoki’s usual snark towards Kotoko – not softening in the least as he shoots a glare, as seen here.

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4) And this is the one I’m most disappointed in – the backhug scene was so heartfelt and emotionally charged – more sad than romantic, because it’s like he’s mourning for a lost dream and she’s feeling the pang for him – but le sigh… the morning after? Back to The Snark.

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It’s not that I’m looking for monumental, big leaps and transformations from everyone – that’s unrealistic, even within a drama. Rather, I would love it if progression is made good naturally, as opposed to always moving one step forward and three steps backward in terms of character developments and relationships. Take Kin-chan for instance – I’d thought that the follow-up scene discredited his earlier encouraging words to Kotoko because he’d always thus far, been portrayed as a genuinely great person.

Then there’s Naoki, who isn’t such a Naoki-Bot anymore, but no less frustrating. He’s less mean to her, sure, but when every sweet or sincere scene between the two is immediately followed by a scene in which he continues to put her down and snark, I just can’t help but think, “Seriously dude? You’re still at it?” And Kotoko, I love this girl but uhm, surely she has a brain in there right? I’m starting to get really annoyed whenever she says, “X happened but until now, there’s been no progress in our relationship…” because girl, no. No. Repeat after me: there has been small leaps, almost too easily missed – but damnit, there’s definitely been progress.

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I’ve been watching Jdramas for a long time that I’ve grown familiar with their tendencies to over/under-act and their slices-of-life tone and setting, but I’ve always given them credit for transitioning into The Serious from The Silly without making a scene/character/show lose credit or feel disjointed. Unfortunately however, this one’s starting to feel like it’s a case of one too many push-and-pull. It rather frustrates me because as a viewer, I see all these forward progressions – relationship, character growth, directions and more – but these characters are maddeningly refusing to budge from their initial spots and perceptions.

I love this show, I still do and I’ll totally vouch that when it packs a punch, it totally does so sincerely and incredibly heartfelt. However, it needs to learn to stay and ride on that train, because otherwise these defining scenes fizzle and lose their significance. Emotions and meanings are lost in the insistence to immediately switch tones back to default – quirky and funny – without calculated timing.

Mischievous Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo, you have it in you – I know you do! Take the scene below, for instance which you gave me in this same episode that’s been a mixed bag; slow down, have your coffee and savor the quiet, unspoken beats. I’m sure Naoki would approve, too.

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5 thoughts on “Timeout: In Which Naoki, Kotoko & Them Running In Circles Make Me…

  1. I could stand episodes 11-12 but then episode 13 had the most disjointed flow. I liked seeing Kotoko being like Naoki’s wifey but the Naoki-becomes-president plot was not that interesting. I was disappointed that they barely showed Naoki’s potential fiancee in this episode. T_T

    1. That girl/actress looked like she’ll be such a hit! She seems the very docile (and pretty) kind, I mean haha. I think she’s gonna make a way bigger impact in episode 14, so I didn’t think too much about her but I’m totally with you about 13 being most disjointed. So frustrating! Because certain scenes are interlaced with just the right amount of heart etc we’re so familiar with, but other scenes are like WTF? The Matsumoto sisters’ scenes, for instance… awkward, to say the least. I soooo hope episode 14 will swing MK back to it’s winning direction as we push on towards the finale!

  2. I am keeping my hope up for the rest of the episodes. There seems to be three directors for this drama and episodes that I loved including eps 10 comes from the woman director Koto Nagata. Other episodes by the other directors were a bit off and lacklustre. And the good news is she will direct the rest of the three episodes.

    1. Hi Sara! Thanks for the clarification, news and update! No wonder some episodes feel very disjointed… I had no idea there were three directors (was aware of the female director, but had always thought she’s the only one). Ditto your words – great news that she’s directing the final three! I really hope MK will go out with a bang :)

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