Review for Nisekoi: False Love Season 1 Part 2
The path of true love never runs sweet. If it ever did, it would make for one boring story, especially in a romantic comedy. Nisekoi started off with complications when the heir to a yakuza group, and the heiress to a mafia group were compelled to pretend to be in love to prevent their respective groups from going to war. That Raku Ichijo was sweet on another girl was just a fly in the ointment. That sounds like a recipe for comic mayhem and disaster, but in this second part of the show, it actually contrives to make things even more complicated. You might think that the story is just making trouble for itself at this point. Let’s see how Nisekoi manages the burden of added romantic impediments.
Raku Ichijo wears a locket around his neck which has a lock in it. When he was a little boy, he made a promise to marry a girl he spent time with, and who has the key to that locket. But in the intervening years he’s forgotten her name, what she looked like. Not that he’s completely hung up on his dream girl, as now he’s sweet on Kosaki Onodera, a girl at his high school.
That sounds like the start of a sweet romantic comedy, but this time it’s not quite as sweet. Raku is heir to a yakuza group, which makes him somewhat unapproachable to begin with. And now the group is having trouble with a gang that’s moved into the area. And there is a new girl transferring into school, a half American girl named Chitoge Kirisaki with an obnoxious disposition and who rubs Raku the wrong way. And it turns out that she’s heiress to the gang that the yakuza group are about to go to war with. The final straw is that to keep the peace between the two groups, the yakuza leader and the gang leader have arranged a match. Raku’s dad and Chitoge’s dad have decided that their kids will have to be in love, a false love if need be.
The concluding ten episodes of season 1 of Nisekoi are presented on this Blu-ray disc from Kazé.
13. After School
15. Three Keys
17. Festival Day
18. At the Beach
19. The Play
Nisekoi gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer on this disc, which despite the high episode count comes across really quite well. The detail levels are good, bringing the animation across with clarity and strong colour. There is no visible compression, and I didn’t spot any digital banding. This is all to the good, as Nisekoi is a Studio SHAFT show, visually intensive, imaginative and quirky. It’s not quite the full Monogatari; director Akiyuki Simbo manages to restrain his usual over-the-shoulder excesses, but it has enough in the way of little visual foibles to make it feel quite unique.
You have the choice between Japanese PCM 2.0 Stereo with either English or French subtitles locked during playback, or PCM 2.0 French audio with locked French signs. The audio is fine, clear and without glitches. The actors are well suited to their characters, and for many, the presence of Kana Hanazawa as Onodera will be a draw. The action is presented well, and the music really suits the show. The subtitles are Kazé’s usual thin white font, easy to lose against busy backgrounds, but they are not too bad for a Kazé release. There were no problems with the subtitles this time around; even the smaller captions remained on screen for a decent amount of time.
You get the disc in a thin Amaray with clean sleeve art. The release saves the blurb for the o-card slipover which also gets different character art on the front. Alongside the disc, you also get 6 art-cards for the show.
You have the choice between French and English menus when you insert the disc. The French menu autoplays trailers for KZTV and the Nisekoi manga. The English boots straight to the menu.
From the animated menu, you can access the audio settings, the numerical episode listing, and extras in the form of two textless openings and three textless closings.
I think Nisekoi is actually getting better as the series unfolds; although that may be down to me reaching that point with the series where the episodes are fresh, the ones that I didn’t see once Anime on Demand had locked them away behind a paywall. I think I’d seen up to the Typhoon episode before that happened, and had no inkling of how the first season concluded. Despite my initial suspicion that they’d over-egged the pudding by introducing yet another love interest for Raku Ichijo, this second half of the first season really does improve as it goes on.
The set-up to the show is like many a harem, a hesitant, milquetoast of a boy somehow getting a gaggle of cute adorable girls falling for him. Nisekoi – False Love began with a sham relationship to stop two criminal gangs from going to war, that between Raku and the fiery Chitoge. Despite their initial antagonism, the two developed something of a grudging affection for each other. To complicate things, Raku has already been nursing his love for the adorable Onodera, and having to fake things with Chitoge really cramps his style. The topper to all this is that there were promises made 10 years previously, symbolised by the pendant around Raku’s neck, with a keyhole that might just be opened by the key that Onodera wears. Only at the end of the previous collection, they learn that Chitoge has a key as well.
The first complication came in the form of Chitoge’s bodyguard, Tsugumi Seishiro, whose initial inclination was to get rid of the fly buzzing around Chitoge. Only she too developed a respect for Raku that threatened to turn into affection as well. A couple of episodes into this collection, we meet another girl, Marika Tachibana, a.k.a. Marie, and it seems that Raku’s father, and Marika’s father (the police commissioner) arranged a wedding for their children ten years previously, and sure enough, Marika wears a key around her neck as well. We also learn that ten years previously the four of them might have been friends; certainly Raku, Chitoge and Onodera used to play together.
Marika’s late arrival to the show really does set her off as a gooseberry, the annoying one that disrupts the balance of a settled rom-com. You’ll have come to expect certain tropes and clichés from this show, as it tries to keep its love triangle premise from getting out of hand, but suddenly it’s a love square, a new vertex to deal with, and while you might ‘ship Raku x Chitoge, or Raku x Onodera, the last one you want him to end up with is the annoying, clingy Marika. In that respect, she reminds me of Tess from Roswell. It takes some time before her character mellows out enough and develops to make her easier to appreciate. It helps that her policeman father adds enough comedy threat to Raku’s life to entertain.
That really is where the second half of Nisekoi Season 1 excels over the first, the comedy. We go through the usual high school rom-com anime hi-jinks, and there really is nothing here that you haven’t seen before. Chitoge’s surprise birthday party is followed by another study group session before the summer holidays, and mayhem dodging Marika’s glomping affections. There is a summer festival episode, a beach episode (complete with bikinis), and the final two episodes are devoted to the school culture festival, where quite appropriately, Raku’s class puts on Romeo and Juliet, with Raku in the role of Romeo, although just who his Juliet will be is as up in the air as his love life. The important thing is that I laughed. I laughed a lot more than I did with the first half of this season, as the characters have really developed well, and the writing makes the most of their relationships, moving things forwards when it’s appropriate, subverting things when you least expect it.
It looks like I did the right thing taking a chance on buying Nisekoi’s four volumes all together, as this looks to be an entertaining, and more importantly funny romantic comedy, even if it isn’t all that original. I’ve got Season 2 to look forward to next.