Episode four of Itazura no Kiss continues in the same vein as the last instalment, following the school sports festival with an equally compulsory for any high school based anime swimming pool episode. Once again, it also seems to follow broadly the same pattern of Kotoko being really rather cute most of the time, her friends being a little irritating, and Naoki being a nasty piece of work for 95% of the episode.
Although the series is trying to work Naoki Irie's gradually changing (or at least now slightly confused) feelings towards Kotoko into the story, I can't help but feel that it's getting the balance wrong between his good and bad points. By this point the viewer should surely be finding reasons to begin softening towards him somewhat, but if anything he becomes more odious by the episode, making it every more difficult to believe that Kotoko continues to have any interest in him. For me, a little more needs to be made of Naoki's good points, something which I'm sure could be done without destroying any comic value or the like of the series.
After finding some really enjoyable moments in the opening couple of episodes, I do worry that Itazura no Kiss is sinking rather far into run of the mill territory, revisiting all of the usual suspects when it comes to subject matter when the unique conditions afforded the main characters (i.e. being forced to live under the same roof) should allow them to break away from all that. Indeed, it's perhaps telling that some of the better scenes come from the Irie family home, which are probably far more telling of the state of the show's various relationships than what happens outside of that. I still don't have the heart to actively dislike this show, largely on account of Kotoko's personality, but it needs to start being brave and deviating from the well-trodden mould a little more frequently.