By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

​High school: some people have fond memories of those days while others were happy to get through it and move on as fast as possible. We all remember winter formals, prom, the sports we played, who our friends were, and the social hierarchy within the school. And we all can look back with fond (or not-so-fond) memories on the relationships we had. It’s probably easy to laugh at them now, in addition to the decisions we made and how serious we took some things. But what if you were forced into a relationship with someone you hated? Such is the underlying narrative of the latest from Shaft studios, Nisekoi.

Raku Ichijo has a little different high school life than most other students. He’s actually the son of the leader of the yakuza faction Shuei-Gumi. One day at school, he’s accidently kneed in the face by a girl hopping the fence, causing him to lose a very important locket. Later, he comes to find out that this girl, Chitoge Kirisaki, is a new transfer student in his class. The hatred begins immediately and, after class, he makes her look for his locket. After returning home, Raku learns that his father has made a deal with the leader of the Shuei-Gumi’s rivals, the Beehive Gang, by agreeing that their children would be a couple and get married, thus bringing the gangs together and ending a war. Lo and behold, Chitoge happens to the Beehive gang leader’s daughter. So Raku and Chitoge, with a brewing hatred for one another, must put on a show as a lovey-dovey couple in order to keep the peace among the gangs. But will they be able to keep up appearances or will their dislike for one another lead to an even bigger war?


Nisekoi (“fake love” in Japanese) does not present an original story. In fact, this is something we’ve seen many times before. We have Raku, who made a promise when he was very young to marry a girl, yet he can’t remember who she is. But he has a locket, and the girl who he promised has a key. So if he can find the girl, and she opens the locket with her key, he’s on his way down the aisle. But then you throw in Chitoge to complicate things, along with other women. Did I mention this was a harem style of anime? Not in a bad way, thankfully. Of course, all of the “main” female characters have a thing for Raku after they meet him, yet, as an unbiased outsider, it’s hard to see what that is at times. Honestly, how many people do you know that people meet on the first occasion and immediately fall in love with them? Not realistic necessarily, but hey, it’s a story and it’s entertaining.

The thing that sets Nisekoi apart from other similar stories or harem anime is the art and the characters. Shaft studios does a great job presenting a visually attractive narrative. Not only are the colors and backgrounds vibrant, but the angles used for different shots and the character design overall are extremely pleasant to see. Some serious thought went into the storyboarding for the script. The characters are also a lot of fun. Watching the daily interaction between Raku and Chitoge at school, knowing they hate one another but acting like they are in love, presents a great negative-positive dynamic bringing smiles and laughter to the viewer. Adding in the other characters to the mix provides different levels of complexity (and hilarity), giving us complete entertainment throughout.


Nisekoi, while being a great overall anime, has its flaws. So much of it feels repetitive, especially many of the lines. With Raku not knowing who he is really falling in love with, the constant “do I like her or Her?,” the women wondering if they like him, and Raku pondering over who was the girl he promised when he was young… it can feel a little long at 20 episodes. But those negatives aside, Nisekoi is a fun anime, with plenty of laughter and visual delights to go around. If you can get past some the the repetition in dialogue, you’re in for a real treat.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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