First Look: Nisekoi

Just ignore that paper airplane

Alternate Titles: False Love, Not Double Arts
Manga Adaptation by Shaft
Simulcast on Crunchyroll

Premise

Ichijou is the heir to a powerful Yakuza family, but all he wants is to lead a quiet, normal life and find the girl he promised to marry as a child. His dream is shattered when a transfer student named Chitoge comes crashing into his life.

"My First Time With the Transfer Student"

Jel’s Verdict: False Beauty

I feel like infamous Shaft director Akiyuki Shinbo saw his old buddy Shin Oonuma attempt to save Watamote with his colorful, abstract style and said “WATCH THIS”, because if it wasn’t for Shinbo’s masterful handiwork Nisekoi would be an incredibly straightforward romantic comedy. Yes, there’s the funny bits with the Yakuza bumbling and stumbling around, but that is really just a dash of cinnamon sprinkled on the plain bland oatmeal core of the story. You’ve got your regular dude that just wants to live a normal life, a promise to one day marry his childhood friend, and of course, the loud and violent heroine with whom he has zero chemistry but will undoubtedly fall in love with after repeated beatings. Toss in the “fake couple” plot device and I think we have all our anime RomCom clichés covered.

nisekoi_01_2

Fortunately Shinbo and the Shaft crew pull out all the stops in terms of presentation, constantly shifting colors and art styles to compensate for the simple animation and arguably simpler plot. Details as basic as a passing rain shower are turned into stunning visual flourishes, and all the usual sexy camera angles *cough* typography you’d expect from Shaft are in full force. The structure and pacing of the episode is also fantastic, cutting out the fat and framing each encounter with Chitoge over an undisclosed period of time.

Even beyond the awesome presentation though, there may still be hope for Nisekoi going forward. Much of this first episode was setting up the premise and I do like that they reveal Ichijou’s childhood friend right away, so I think it’s still possible the series could turn out to be more than just a pretty face. Maybe there will be a few surprises when you factor in Onodera to the Fake Couple angle, or they’ll find some other wrinkle in the plot. After this first episode though, it’s going to be an uphill climb to convince me.

nisekoi_01_4

Marlin’s Verdict: No Love From Me

I’ll admit some of my initial thoughts on the show were poisoned by Iro’s eternal vendetta against the former Double Arts creator’s new generic work. Still, even without that negative vibe I would totally be turned off from this show. It’s filled with all the romance cliches you never want to see in a good romance story. “Hilarious” physical abuse? Check. Stupid childhood memories? Check. Forced contrivance? Check. Basically everything about this show was absolutely bland, and thus even with a Shinbo backed production the entire proceedings felt completely lifeless. I will at least compliment the show on having their english language character actually write grammatically correct english, but otherwise this is an absolute pass.

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