Mischievous Kiss – Love in Tokyo (Fuji TV 2013) seemed like it was almost a carbon copy of Good Morning Call to begin with. And I enjoyed Good Morning Call. But where that show stayed just the right side of irritating cliches, Mischievous Kiss rode those cliches all the way through two seasons. It’s really not great on the gender politics front, but so light and fluffy that I kept on watching, hoping for improvement. It is based on the Japanese manga Itazura Na Kiss written by Tada Kaoru.
This show depicted everything that annoys me about gender stereotypes in Japanese culture. The man is rich, intelligent, calm, collected, cold and cruel but apparently handsome enough for everyone to desire him. (Does that really happen with cold men in real life? In my experience the friendlier, chattier men get all the romantic attention, but then I don’t live in Japan.) The woman is poor, not at all clever, giggles and daydreams through her days, is popular and a good friend, pretty but not beautiful. And for some reason the woman is hopelessly in unrequited love with the man. Man treats woman with total contempt until another man expresses interest and then jealousy prompts realisation of actual feelings. But this doesn’t result in man actually treating woman well, no no no. It means he gives her just enough attention to string her along while continuing to be a total asshole.
The style of Mischievous Kiss is very camp, overwrought and comedic (which is perhaps why it took me most of season one to realise that those gender roles were not getting any better). The acting is laughably bad, as is the set-up.