Nisekoi – Is it Real Love?

In Japan, a war is looming between a Yakuza clan and an incumbent gang from America. This war seems unavoidable until the revelation that the heirs to the two groups are the same age. The leaders of the clans, striving to avoid needless conflict, force their children Raku and Chitoge to pretend to be in love to stop the war. This works, but not perfectly… there is some suspicion – especially from one particularly overprotective member of the American gang.

Yes, it’s a stupid premise, but the premise is just there as a frame and what matters in the end is the picture within the frame.

Nisekoi uses this premise to create an eccentric and entertaining slice of life anime. You see, the two heirs hate each other – due to an unfortunate accident when they met just days prior – but are forced to pretend otherwise. This is especially problematic as Raku is trying to get the courage to confess his feelings for another girl, Kosaki, and he doesn’t want her to think he’s taken. And her best friend is suspicious of Raku’s relationship with Chitoge, so is constantly trying to push Kosaki… etc. etc. etc.

Added to this is the fact that Chitoge, Kosaki and Raku all have vague memories of meeting someone 10 years ago, exchanging something with them, and making some promise should they meet again – but none of them remember clearly the details of the whole situation. Raku remembers that he promised to marry the girl he made the promise with although he cannot clearly remember who the girl was, Chitoge only remembers one odd sentence, Kosaki remembers a boy, but nothing else. None of them have the courage to really explore the possibility and admit to each other that they have this memory…

The episodes take these two foundation points and explores every possible absurd situation that you could imagine arising from them in order to show the true personalities of these characters and their deepening relationships. I can’t deny that it is excessive in every way. There is nothing about this show that is ‘moderate’ – everything is taken to the extreme. But it is through those extremes that you get to see some real relationships and conflicting feelings explored, making it not only an absolutely hilarious show… but also a rather touching one.

Unfortunately, the ending is not up to the same par as the other episodes. It does not offer closure, it doesn’t even fully conclude the story arc currently in progress. It just felt like there should’ve been another episode on the season to finalize things. Even as a season finale, this feels like it isn’t even the end of a chapter, just another page. If this ends up being a series finale… then it’s just not right.

Probably the only other thing that was slightly bothersome was that even some characters who weren’t a core part of the story ended up having a thing for the main character. The harem vibe did get a bit tiresome, but it was easily ignored given the overall quality of the show. It was so funny that my wife had to ask if I was okay when I was watching it one day – she heard me cackling and thought something was wrong.

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