It’s been a while since I did a review. I just started college and I’ve been quite busy. However, now that I am on break, I can now release a few more reviews I’ve been working on. Today, we’re looking at Nisekoi: False Love.
When he was a boy, Raku Ichijou, heir to the Shuei-gumi yakuza clan, made a promise that would change his life. He promised a girl he would marry her when they were older. As proof of their covenant, the girl gave Raku a pendant to which she held the key. Unfortunately, he and the girl were separated, never to see each other again.
10 years later, 16-year-old Raku still carries that pendant from 10 years ago, looking for the promised girl. Although his memories of that day are hazy, he never forgot it for a second. Alongside his search, he’s trying to live a normal life as a high school student, managing his homework and his position as yakuza heir (which isn’t as shady as you think) while crushing on his classmate, Kosaki Onodera and butting heads with a new transfer student, Chitoge Kirisaki. Unfortunately, that’s not all he has to worry about. The Shuei-gumi clan is having some problems with a new rival gang. To prevent a massive gang war from breaking out, the two heads devise a plan: they will present their children as a couple to stop the gangs. Unfortunately for Raku, he has no choice, but to act the part of Chitoge’s boyfriend.
However, that’s not the end of the plot. 10 years ago, both Onodera and Chitoge made a promise with someone that they would get married when they were older. As proof, they hold keys to a locket they gave the boy. Sound familiar?
Nisekoi is a harem anime, but it’s a strange one. Unlike other harems, where the main character has no love interest (think Blade Dance or, to some extent, Date a Live), Nisekoi’s protagonist already likes someone, and there are multiple ships that have reasonable evidence to be called canon. Raku and Onodera or Raku and Chitoge are some examples. The humor in this show stems from the writers constantly thwarting pairings that are so close to being considered canon, almost like “anime cock-blocking.” I lost count of how many times the characters were so close to confessing only be interrupted in the most hilarious way. At some point, however, it should get repetitive and lose its meaning, and it does. However, because there are a few pairings that seem to be plausible and because the romance aspect is so open with new developments added every so often, Nisekoi‘s “cock-blocking” also manages to keep you hoping that maybe the next time will be different.
With regards to storytelling, Nisekoi does a very good job keeping all of the original premises consistent and relevant. The whole “faking a relationship” plot device fades as the show progresses, but I think that was intentional, as the writers could tease more pairings. It also wasn’t a bad choice, because the more pairings the writer teases, the more intricate the story becomes and the more you want to know what happens. The details of what happened 10 years ago are vague and so much is left to speculation. There are many possible outcomes that all appear to be equally possible
However, intricacy is not always a positive quality. Because so much is unknown, it gives the writers freedom to create plot twists and seemingly irreconcilable inconsistencies. It also means there’s a lot to explain by the end. If the writers cannot create a simple, yet understandable solution, then the whole show falls apart. I’m not so much faulting Nisekoi as I am pointing out a potential problem. If the writers can resolve the unanswered questions, then the story remains solid. That said, most of it could be considered filler, with very little relevance to the plot as a whole.
My biggest complaint with Nisekoi are its stories. Some are brilliant, others and enjoyable, and then there ones that feel extremely out of place.
Beware of large doses of fanservice.
The Characters: Nisekoi offers a variety of different characters, as harems do, but how they’re treated plays out differently. Certain characters are used more for development and some are used more for comic relief instead. As a result, you can have some really good characters, and some mediocre ones. These are the three main characters.
Raku Ichijou: I found Raku to be a slightly different harem protagonist than normal. Most other harem protagonists are not special, but always nice people; they serve more as a way to develop the girls around them. Raku develops characters, specifically Chitoge, through conflict just as much as he does through generosity. He’s not above getting legitimately angry with her, which is something I haven’t seen in other harem protagonists. However, Any attempts at his personal development are more used as setups for comic relief or romantic tension. Despite his different behavior towards Chitoge, Raku is still a standard harem protagonist; however, it’s important to remember that he’s really not the focus.
Chitoge Kirisaki: I’ve found that the main focus of harem shows is not the love interest, but rather the harem members themselves. No one wants fanservice of Raku, but they love the girls. As characters, however, the girls are often defined in the context of their relationship with their love interest, in this case, with Raku. Chitoge, however, is one of the very few I’ve seen (so far) who defies this rule. Her character development sometimes involves events that hardly involve Raku at all and instead focus on her as an individual. Out of all the different members of Raku’s harem (there are many more that I am not mentioning), I find Chitoge to be easily the best girl, and arguably best character in the show. She’s the most developed and most interesting because she’s arguably more independent of Raku than any other harem member.
Kosaki Onodera: Onodera’s a much more traditional harem girl. Almost everything about her character is defined in the context of Raku. However, I found her to be the more enjoyable character, even though Chitoge is much better as a character. In other words, while Chitoge is a better character than Onodera, Onodera’s stories are more fun to watch. I think the only reason that is is because it’s canonically established that Raku likes Onodera as well, but they’re just too shy to say anything. As a result, each of Onodera’s stories has high amounts of romantic tension, or “will-they-won’t-they” scenarios (Chitoge’s stories tend to be more serious). Onodera, sadly, is a dull character in and of herself and is much more boring than Chitoge.
Final Verdict: Nisekoi is one of the more multi-faceted shows I’ve seen.It can be very lighthearted and goofy, but it can also be serious when it needs to. It has a lot of topics to explore and it doesn’t do them all well, but the ones it does well are very solid; it has something for many different interests. Nisekoi is a show that, if you are a fan of harem, is definitely worth your time, and if you’re not a fan, you might be better off avoiding. That said, this is an enjoyable anime and I think it is worth a try. Maybe it will have something for you.
Final Grade: B+