Raku Ichijo is an average high school student. He also happens to be the sole heir to the head of a Yakuza Family called the Shuei-gumi. 10 years ago, Raku made a promise… a secret promise with a girl he met. They promised one another that they will “get married when they reunite.” Since then, Raku never let go of the pendant the girl gave him.
I hate flowery intros, so let's just get into it. Nisekoi is a harem romcom, duh. But it's somewhat satisfying that its assigned genre - harem romcom - is actually what this show is, 100%; it's about 70% rom and 30% com, with literally nothing else sprinkled in. Most romcoms are uncleverly disguised as fantasy, sci-fi or slice-of-life via the facades of school clubs, battles, antagonists or an ongoing plot. But here we are, in our plotless and largely storyless romcom with not a single silly school club to distract us, and so we can focus on the three factors that matter the most in these types of shows: the harem, the romance, and the comedy. Now, in an ideal romcom anime such as Kimi ni Todoke or Ore Monogatari!!, this 70/30 balance can be utilized to provide nonstop fuzzy feels interspersed with occasional side-clutching hilarity. It's a good balance, and one that never fails to entertain. These shows are a wonderful use of my time. I suppose it goes without saying that Nisekoi is not one of these shows. Let's get into why, starting with one of the most important elements of any anime, but especially a plotless romcom: the characters. This show has seven characters that are worth mentioning: two guys and five girls. Of course, they're all tropey cardboard, so they don't need names and only two need any discussion at all; I will quickly run through them by listing their roles instead. Male protag, of the That Generic Nice Guy variety. He's boring and lame and self-insert and not worth talking about. The standard male friend, which means he's energetic and perverted and excessively boring and even less worth talking about. Bestgirl Worst Girl Boring Girl Entertaining Girl Awesome Girl (not a rom candidate) Most harem romcoms are intentionally infuriating because the viewer will be rooting for their favorite character, who of course will never win (though really, in 90% of such anime no one ends up winning, so...). Meanwhile, the author will pick his or her own favorite pairing and drop a continuous stream of not-subtle hints indicating that the undecided couple has, in fact, been decided. This sucks, because we rarely get a cathartic conclusion, but at the same time the lack of a conclusion gives the illusion that our respective favorite characters still have a chance. So, we draw much of our enjoyment from deluding ourselves into thinking our preferred pairing could work. Now, here's where we get into the next problem with this series: the author is a sadist who ships Worst Girl. Putting my own personal tastes aside, Worst Girl would still be a terrible person to hang out with in real life. There are few bigger rejections of the male character as a human being than being close to a tsundere - tsunderes are narcissistic, elitist, and condescending. Every word that comes out of their mouths is derogatory, and when they stop speaking it's only to ignore and dismiss the object of their affection. And of course they display this "affection" via an annoying combination of insults, compliments veiled as insults, and physical violence. Tsunderes are terrible people, and only the most diehard masochist would want to spend time with one. Short interruption while I do a bit of damage control with a disclaimer. Occasionally, a well-written charcter will initially be presented as a tsundere, however through solid character development will then grow into a complex, realistic-feeling human. I refer to this type of tsundere as a "tsundere with a soul." So, the author ships Worst Girl. And Worst Girl is the worst kind of tsundere - one without a soul. What this means, in context, is that every scene involving her stradles the line somewhere between boring and unbearably painful, depending on how much "romance" is involved. And since this is the canon pairing, we as viewers are supposed to accept this and (hilariously) delude ourselves into believing these characters are developing and gaining real feelings for one another when in reality they are completely incompatible. There is a moment in the 19th episode where the protag, after one of Worst Girl's typical tirades that for once actually strikes him close to home, thinks to himself, "Why should I have to take all that?" Well, we've been asking the same question since episode one, and the answer is crystal clear: because the sadistic author is writing the two of you together and using a ridiculous amount of plot armor to keep the whole thing from falling apart. (Oh, by the way, after the protag thinks this to himself he decides to man up and stick up for himself. Her reaction is to slap him across the face and storm away, causing him to feel bad and go back to sucking.) The worst part of the author's sadism is, of course, the fact that the protag likes Bestgirl and Bestgirl likes the protag, but they're both too stupid to admit it and the author has to write ridiculous levels of plot armor in order to protect his own precious pairing with Worst Girl. Of course, this part is my own personal opinion, but I am certainly not alone (nor even in the minority) regarding this. As for why Bestgirl is best - well, that's because she's adorable. Though she's just as stock as the rest of the cast, her only true "flaw" as a human is her epic levels of shyness, but even that at least isn't an unrealistic trait. Oh, KanaHana helps, too; is it possible to not love a character voiced by KanaHana? Now that we've covered more or less all that needs to be said about the characters, let's get into the rest of it. Presentation first. Since the story is a purist harem romcom, it spends the majority of its time bouncing between tryhard comedy and unbelievable romance. And since we've already covered that the stock characters really aren't worth watching, that makes the majority of the show overwhelmingly bland and, quite frankly, difficult to get through. In actual practice, the story flips back and forth between episodes devoted to Bestgirl and episodes devoted to Worst Girl. In each, the pairing of the week will experience a series of awkard comedic interactions that ultimately build to a romantic flag moment, which inevitably implodes and leaves us more or less where we started. Part way through the series, Boring Girl is introduced, and near the end Entertaining Girl finally makes her appearance; though these two characters each get a watered-down version of how Bestgirl and Worst Girl are treated in an episode or two apiece, for the most part they are just comedic distractions from the two main heroines. There are only two episodes that defy this format. The first, episode 1, is nothing but a bunch of absurd comedy that occasionally even crosses the line into being hilarious. The second is episode 20, which in addition to being hilarious is also the only well-written episode in the series. Worst Girl even briefly apologizes to the protag for sucking before promptly returning to sucking. Characters, story and execution are the meat of any anime, but they need visuals and sound to hold them together and actually make the anime, well, watchable. And this is where I have to turn positive. The visuals are SHAFT, which always makes me tremendously happy. Though character designs are a little plain, they're faithful to the original manga, and each character possesses a distinctive appearance that makes them enjoyable to watch. Backgrounds, in classic SHAFT style, typically flip between detailed, plain and nonsensical to reflect the mood of each particular moment in each individual scene. For comedic effect, characters are occasionally reduced to chibi appearances, often during internal monologues. The animation is fairly top-notch, though in this genre there's not a lot of opportunity to display that quality. The exception is in the opening and ending animations, which are pleasent and interesting to watch; I probably skipped them less than half the time. On the sound side, the most obvious note is that voice acting is superb. Can we please take a minute to reflect on how lucky we are as viewers, that we can experience Kana Hanazawa, Nao Touyama, and Kana Asumi all in the same anime? ............Thank you, moving on. The background music is fairly well-done and typically fits the mood of each scene properly. In particular, a couple pieces used for certain comedy scenes really stuck with me and made me laugh. I was a little disappointed in the opening and ending themes, however; though they were vaguely catchy and well-presented, none of them really stood out as being particularly unique, and even now (about an hour after finishing the series) I can't remember a single one of them. So here we are, and here's what we've got: a harem romcom full of stock characters, boring presentation and ridiculous character interaction, saved somewhat by great visuals, wonderful voice acting and generally enjoyable music. Sadly, I can't really recommend this to anyone in good conscience; there are better harem romcoms and far better "single pairing" romcoms, and this one just doesn't make the cut. If you enjoyed this and are looking for harem romcoms of similar flavor but better quality, I recommend taking a look at Clannad, Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, and The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. For similar dynamics but with more comedy and much more fanservice, try To Love-Ru. For a similar feel but with a solid story and even more crazy SHAFT visuals, try Bakemonogatari. If you would like to move up in the world and watch some truly good "single pairing" romcoms, I recommend taking a look at Kimi ni Todoke, Ore Monogatari!!, and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Final score is a somewhat generous 4/10. Final thoughts: it had promise, and I loved the voice acting. But ultimately it was a phone game show, and I'm not enthused by the thought of watching season two.
Nisekoi is a brilliant show. If you're a fan of romantic comedies, you won't be disappointed. I won't be writing a full review as there are quite a few good ones already. Instead I'll just share you my thougths on Nisekoi. Now, before I go any further I would like to asure you that I did make a mistake in the ratings. The overall rating reflects mainly on two points; potential and how it compared to the one-shot. Pre-word: I rarely read manga. In fact, it wouldn't be far off to say I never read manga. However, through some weird coincidence, I found a copy of Nisekois one-shot literally two days before the anime came out and after a quick peek at it I felt I just had to read it. At this point I hadn't ever heard of Nisekoi and I obviously had no idea they were going to make an anime out of it. In any case, I read through it and fell in love. I was quite sad that I hadn't heard of Nisekoi before and I was hoping they'd eventually make an anime out of it. As it turns out they had already been working on it and two days after I had read it they aired the first episode. The actual review: If you've seen a lot of animes categorized under 'romantic', 'harem' and 'comedy' you'll probably know where Nisekoi is going after the first few episodes. There are really no surprising plot-twists, or rather, they're all so used up that I knew what was going to happen before the end of the previous episode. You have your usual childhood friend, her helpful friend, and the sudden appearance of a fiance, who all mystically fall in love with the protagonist. And then there's the protagonist. He (Raku) is your usual thick-headed (at least when it comes to love) guy. The kind of guy that nearly every viewer hates. None the less, it wasn't all bad (thus the 7 for story). If you've seen the show you'll know what I'm talking about and if you haven't I really don't like to give any more spoilers so you'll just have to see it for yourself. Grading: Now, as pointed out earlier, the overall grade of 5 might seem weird to most of you, but it reflects on the two previously mentioned points; potential and how the anime was made compared to the one-shot. This show has a lot of potential. Some of it was, unfortunately once again, discarded when the studio was reviewing (read: re-writing) the plot so that the show would sell better (thus is ended up lowering the score). It's nothing new so let's not spend time on that. Also, this show was obviously meant to have 24-26 episodes. As for why it was cut short I have no idea, or rather it was probably for the sales (which also lowered the score). As you can see, I gave the animation, sound and characters a 9.5 each. The only reason the story got a 7 was the one-shot. To point out the main reason for this (so as not to give out any details about the plot) is that the one-shot was more compact. In fact, compared to the one-shot (a.k.a. the original story) the story made almost a full 180-degrees turn. The story in the one-shot was more of a pure love story, and not your main-stream harem junk (btw, I don't dislike harem, but why ruin a good story with that s...?). All in all it's a good show worth watching, but if you've read the manga, be warned that you will be disappointed - heavily.
I want to begin the review by saying that if you are one who has just entered the broad world of anime, Nisekoi may seem quite cute and heart-touching to you. But if you are an otaku who has experienced many romantic animes before, there is no great reason to watch Nisekoi. The story really has nothing special, absolutely nothing! A total cliched story where the hero is confused about whom to choose and three girls fighting over him. I really liked the starting, rather loved it, when they said Raku and Chitoge, being the members of two opposing groups, have to act as a couple to save the world from a terrible fight. The story would have taken many interesting turns from here, there would have been some action, some adventure. But Nisekoi turns out to that age-old story. The locket-thing was good though, but it was the one and only thing that keeps some interest in the minds of the viewers. Otherwise we would have been bored to death! The animation is interesting and funny. I really liked some of the humorous expressions on Chitoge's face. The sound is appreciable too, but again nothing to be remembered. The characters are also cliched. As I like tsundere girls ( excuse me! ) I liked Chitoge. But when she realised that she loved Raku, she became like any other character. To sum up, Nisekoi may be cute, but is not worth watching.
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