I will be reviewing the first season of Nisekoi, as I haven’t watched the second season or the OVA yet. Bear in mind that I have since then started reading the manga as well, and thus my opinion might be biased, but I’ll try not to spoil anything that hasn’t been shown in the anime.
This review contains minor spoilers for the first season of Nisekoi.
Raku Ichijo, the son of a notorious yakuza boss, is forced into a fake relationship with the daughter of the rival gang’s boss, Chitoge Kirisaki, in order to keep the peace between the two groups. Meanwhile, Raku pines after his classmate Kosaki Onodera and tries to figure out who his childhood love is, based on a lost key that unlocks his prized locket.
Now, I’m used to cheesy storylines and ridiculous plot devices (they are common), but Nisekoi just takes way it too far. It’s like the writers didn’t even try! I realize this is a romantic comedy, but at least attempt to make it believable… And logical!
I do give them credit for making everything so incredibly addictive. It was a train-wreck, but God forbid if I didn’t enjoy every minute of it. I finished the first season in two days. That’s right, twenty episodes down in two days. Why? Because that formula, ladies and gentleman, however inconceivable, works.
They were more or less charming… At first. They were likeable and cute and funny but it got old fast. The typical love triangle, coupled with random appearances by the cast to provide drama and make the main characters’ life more difficult, was expected but became too much, too soon.
I liked Chitoge. Maybe because I have a strange affection for tsundere girls. She was… interesting. A complete mess, for sure, but she was a lot more complex than any other love interest. Because she was harder to fall in love with, she actually managed to capture my heart first. Not that she wasn’t without faults. She was clichéd and a bit overdone in my opinion. Comedic purposes? Ok, I can take that. But at least bring some variety in!
She just needed some balance, which I think she got at the end. Out of all the characters, she was the one who at least seemed to grow a little, and was actually likeable. Her dilemmas and inner conflicts were relatable and real. She seemed genuine and true to herself, even when she was forced to betray her feelings. She was just… adorable.
Onodera was annoying. There, I said it. She was just so bland, ditzy and impossibly sweet. I know she has an extensive fanbase, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like her. She never took the initiative, never challenged herself, and when she did, she stepped back, afraid of the consequences. I really wanted to have a soft spot for her since she was so kind and considerate… But I never did. She did earn some compassion, but nothing else. I could care less about her presence most of the time and just wished she’d step out of the way.
Highlight for spoilers: Tsugumi was supposed to be Chitoge’s bodyguard, who came all the way from America to protect her mistress. That is in itself another sloppy plot device to create more romantic tension, but we’ll get there. Tsugumi was quite adamant about her role from the start, and she obviously cared deeply for Chitoge. Because she dressed and acted like a boy, we are even to assume that her feelings go beyond pure friendship. But guess who she ends up caring for as well as time goes by? That’s right. Welcome to the love square.
It’s not like I hated Tsugumi. I didn’t have a strong opinion about her, to be honest. She was nice and I liked how they created two sides of her: the rash, independent tomboy and the cute, sensitive girl on the inside. But other than that, she would never be on the race because she would never act on her feelings, whichever they were.
And then we have Tachibana. I have a big problem with her. Why? Because her life had been revolving around a boy she barely knows for ten whole years. She used that time to spend it training herself to be Raku’s bride; a boy she made a promise to when they were children. She was, very simply put, obsessed. I get the whole “naive country girl” trope but she was not naive at all. She was incredibly smart and cunning, not to mention powerful and rich. So why not use her talents for something else much more productive than chasing after a guy who is not that interested? (But then again, Raku’s feelings were very fickle).
She presented herself as a perfect lady but in truth, she could get quite violent and aggressive when she didn’t get what she wanted. Even her accent came up when she lost her temper. So, in all truth, she was a bit of a fake. She was annoying and basically a stalker, and I don’t think it would ever work between her and Raku. I cringed every time she showed up and I had to endure her.
Raku… He was a very hard case for me. In one hand, he was caring and a good friend and worried about everyone else. Even when his best interests were at stake, he was selfless enough to place others before himself. On the other hand, I despised him since he could not seem to make up his mind. In one moment, he liked one girl and on the other he was already fantasizing about the other one… I mean, I get hormones. I get teenage-hood. But would it be too much to ask to make up your goddamn mind?
Still, he could have been a good character given the right amount of development. If only he didn’t act like an immature brat whose only thoughts were about ditzy girls, I would have liked him more. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hate him.
The other characters were mostly forgettable. Shu was nice and he made me giggle with his antics, which could get incredibly crazy at times. Ruri was… creepy. But funnily enough, the only one with a head on her shoulders and capable of making rational decisions a.k.a. serve as a sort of consciousness. Of course, everyone ignored her.
I had a problem with the fact that no one seemed to care about anything else other than romance in this anime. It seemed to be all their world revolved around. There were no hobbies or aspirations mentioned, except if they served a structural purpose to aid in a relationship. It was all about finding out who held the key to Raku’s locket. It was all very… obsessive. Even the characters’ lives and personalities were somewhat sheltered, and we knew very little about them.
The Art / Sound
I could never complain much about the art, although the animation team could have been a bit less lazy with their recycling and less enthusiastic with their sparkling and kawaii layouts.
Sometimes the characters would get a big shot of themselves in very sexy/moe poses and animations for no reason at all. It was like Sailor Moon’s transformations all over again. Other than that, everything was great.
The voice actors really made it come to life, despite all the flaws, and converted me to a certain point. Shu’s was especially great and gave him a nice, fun personality. Everyone was really fleshed out and even when everything else seemed to fail, I could count on the awesome dubbing to spark my interest again.
Nisekoi would have never been a brilliant anime but it could have been so much better. There was room for a lot more to be done or at the very least, polished. Why rely solely on the romance and petty plot? Why not make it grander?
My greatest peeve with this anime is definitely repetition. We’ve been through so much speculation, so much doubt, and yet nothing is ever revealed! Not without being accompanied by some unfathomable twist that makes everything that came before irrelevant. It’s been twenty episodes and everything remains as is! We don’t know who Raku’s mystery girl is or who he’ll end up with. And when we think we’ll finally find out, we are left hanging.
If there was something else to this story, I’d get the suspense. But, literally, there’s nothing else to hold on to. You either find out about those plot points or you don’t. And the story keeps going around in circles, finding excuses not to make the big revelation, for no apparent reason other than to keep its audience’s interest.
I understand this season only comprises the first fifty chapters of the manga, and there’s a lot more to read after that. But unless you plan on watching the second season or reading the manga, you’ll be left very unsatisfied.
I honestly stopped watching/reading Nisekoi because I had no more patience left. I’m waiting for someone to tell me it’s over so I can finally find out about the ending.
If you’re willing to go through twenty episodes, most of the time not really knowing what’s going on, rooting for things to happen and in the end not being sure of your feelings anymore, then give it a try. It’s very Japanesey in the sense that it’s incredibly flashy and random, revolves around young love and doubts and all those tragic teen aspirations, and is completely and utterly insane.
It’s not incredibly deep, although it does have some sweet moments. It will have you shaking your head way too often, but it will probably keep you occupied for a very long time.
Overall, this anime is pretty cute and entertaining. It’s just a lot of fun. I spent way too much time watching it and then not knowing why I did it. Honestly, you just need to have the right mindset to watch it. But don’t come running to me when you feel like you’re about to rip your hair out in frustration.
Story & Plot:
Art & Sound:
Are you a fan of Nisekoi? What are your thoughts on the anime? Are you planning to watch it?