Nisekoi… I’ve been waiting for it for so long and now it’s finally here. Animated by Shaft and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Nisekoi is exactly what you would expect: a head-tilt, artsy fragment of anime bliss…okay, well maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but Nisekoi is good. Very good. Sure, there are visual oddities here and there, and maybe the plot is teeny-weeny bit weak, but the beauty of Nisekoi comes in the presentation and the delivery. Some will argue that Akiyuki Shinbo has totally ruined the manga. Some will argue that the manga did it to itself. But I digress: Nisekoi is good.

Plot wise, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Boy meets girl, they don’t get along, the boy loves another, and, well, the girl’s a bit of a bitch (depending on your perspective). There’s a bit of back-story involving a locket and a key that the boy and ‘some‘ allusive girl gave to one another a long time ago to actually make the plot feasible (and ‘unique’), but honestly, that’s not what’s important. Character interactions – now that’s where it’s at! If you’re entering Nisekoi in search of a deep and thought provoking plot (firstly, have you seen the promo pictures? There are like twenty girls in those things! And, as we all know, harems do not harbor well told stories…that is all), don’t. Episode 1 of Nisekoi makes it very obvious that, whilst there is plot, it’s not exactly prevalent. For example, let’s take a look at what actually happened in the episode: Raku Ichijou meets Chitoge Kirisaki, he loses his beloved locket, she helps him find it, and they find out they’ve got to enter into a relationship. It’s Mikakunin de Shinkoukei with Yakuza. Again, it’s not bad by any means, it’s just not going to blow you away. That said, the existence of the locket leaves the possibility of a great plot right there for the taking, as long as the don’t do what many a good rom-com have done in the past (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun…Sukitte Ii na yo…Kotoura-san…) and deviate from the plot too drastically. I mean, come on, I’m tired of thinking that there’s going to be a good plot in a rom-com anime, and then ‘BAM’, filler…

 Shaft have always been well known for their aesthetics, Nisekoi being no less of an example of this. Nisekoi is aesthetically pleasing…up close, anyway. From afar, many of the characters look…well, derpy. It’s annoying. Onodera and Raku will be having an important moment, and then ‘BAM’, Onodera looks so ridiculous you can’t take her seriously. When Raku became angry and the close up focused on his face; that’s how all important scenes in this anime should be done. The comedic scenes? All you have to do is look at the scene where Chitoge is angered by Raku’s ‘monkey/ape’ comment to see how well a zoomed-out shot worked for that:

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 The more subtle visuals… now that’s where the show stands out. A ‘ray of light‘ when Onodera appears, the changing of the color of the grass when Chitoge is in the shot; it’s all very subtle and it’s all very welcome. If anything, I was reminded very heavily of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai whilst watching Nisekoi, namely because they were animated by the same company and directed by the same guy…I just hope that Nisekoi is a better anime than Sasami-san

 If anything, I felt as though the OST was very lacking. Was there even any background music? I certainly didn’t notice any if there was. Lackluster – that’s the only description I’ve got when it comes to the audio aspect of Nisekoi. 

 But of course, it is a shows characters that’ll eventually carry it, and, with Nisekoi, it’s all rather hit and miss. Some people will love Chitoge. Others will hate her. Ichijou might annoy some people. Others will find him comical. Onodera’s (voiced by Hanazawa, Kana, (yay!) overtly cute posterior will put some people off her. Others will find it all very adorable. Nisekoi’s characters are designed oddly in that they’re all very cliche. They’re likable, don’t get me wrong, Ichijou, for example, exuding no ‘annoying’ qualities, and in fact coming across as a very down-to-earth character with no harem-king ideals. But Chitoge is angry because…she’s an angry person? Sometimes her abrupt explosions into bouts of anger are comical, but othertimes I find myself just thinking…why? Why can’t you have a normal conversation with this guy? Why can’t you help this guy find his locket (or, at least, apologize to him) (yes, I know that, in the end, she’s the one who finds it – how kawaii)? Why are the ends of your hair pink? Why are you so predictable? Why do I find myself loving your character at times despite these flaws? Damn you Chitoge you enigma, you! Honestly, it’s all about taste. Those of you who have seen romantic comedies of this sort before will probably not like this anime because you know, firstly, all of the cliches, and, secondly, how they tend to pan out. That said, don’t give up hope just yet – believe in Shaft; believe in Akiyuki Shinbo!

Overall, as a first episode, Nisekoi works. We were introduced to the characters (although, if the promo posters have anything to say about it, not all of them yet), we were introduced to the plot (and the locket/key concept), and we were dazzled by the hispter-tastic art design (which I actually like so…am I hipster? Is it time for me to invest in a beanie?). The almost betrothal like reveal at the end of the episode (alongside Onodera’s key!), set’s episode 2 up for a good start, reeling the viewer in and allowing for an organic plot to develop from there. I sincerely hope the show isn’t endowed with annoying female lovers, and I sincerely hope the OST gets better, but, until then, here’s to Nisekoi! My shotgun pick of the season. Please, let me love you.

– Chris.

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