Hold on to your hats, guys, gals and non-binary pals! We’re starting off with a harem anime.
Yes, you heard me: a harem anime.
Before you discredit me as an anime reviewer, I’d like to point out that this is in fact my first ever harem anime shows that I’ve watched. Surprisingly, I’ve watched a fair amount of reverse-harem, but that’s another matter. I’d also like to point out that genre isn’t a good way to tell if an anime is good or bad–there’s quality music in every genre, movies in every genre, shows in every genre. Like everything, it’s down to personal preference. I make it a point to try all sorts of anime for that reason, and that thinking has allowed me to find some of my favorite shows, regardless of label.
Nisekoi: False Love follows Raku Ichijo, an average high school boy who just happens to be the sole heir to the Shuei-gumi, a Yakuza (gangster) Family. Ten years ago, Raku made a secret promise with a girl he met to one day marry each other when they reunite. This promise is embodied in the lock pendant he wears around his neck, to which his girl has the corresponding key.
Review: / 5
Let’s start off with some good points. The pacing in this anime is decent. It offers adequate character development at a reasonable speed with understandable circumstances. The plot also is appealing and feels expected, which is satisfying. It’s enjoyable, it’s funny and lighthearted. Futhermore, it is authentic– you get what you asked for: a romantic comedy and harem anime. You get your love triangle. You get your tsundere. Your fluff. Your hentai. It’s all pretty standard, including the underlying question: who is Raku going to fall for?
The answer is all of them.
The girls involved are, for the most part, well-crafted: Chitoge Kirisaki is the classic tsundere, Kosaki Onodera is sweet and shy, and Seishiro Tsugumi is the beautiful badass. They’re endearing, three-dimensional and many times, like Raku, I’m unsure who exactly I’m rooting for. All three’s motives for liking Raku are genuine and believable. They have clear faults and they confront those faults throughout the season–sometimes because of Raku and sometimes not.
I say for the most part, because one of them, Marika Tachibana, is not. One could make the argument that her fragility and poor health adds depth to her character, but ultimately this reasoning is, like her character, flat. She appears, not as a character with her own goals and interests, but as someone claiming to be Raku’s fiancee. Her obsession over Raku is not merely her defining feature, it is her only one. She has no real goals or aspirations. We can say she is annoying, sure, but the annoyance stems only from her Raku fixation, not from something else. And perhaps it is this reason why Raku never seems interested in Tachibana. He goes to her house to meet her dad not because he wants to, but because her father is the Police commissioner. We could argue that the same is implied with his relationship with Kirisaki, but there are enough asides and internal monologues that prove otherwise.
What really irks me about this anime is its realism. Supposedly all three of these girls made promises to a boy (whose silhouette happen’s to mirror Raku’s exactly) at the same time (ten years ago) in the same place (Japan). Not only that, but they did so with locks and keys. AND they all just happened to forget what he looks like, his name, etc.
I’m sorry, but for a slice of life anime, that’s just unbelievable.
When the anime is operating in our present-day world–a slice of life anime– it is forced into the same constraints we operate in. The likelihood of all three having the same situation with what may be the same guy is absolutely ludicrous. When an anime’s realism is questioned, the trust between the storyteller and consumer begins to fray. It affects immersion and the overall experience.
Finally, what an odd place to end the season! I mean, we did get a confession out of Kirisaki, but that’s a pretty tame ending. Most animes don’t know when or if they’ll get a second season, so the fact that they end on the play seems a bit lame. It’s not as if the play was a big deal throughout the season. Honestly, I was a little disappointed in how anticlimactic the ending was.
Ultimately it’s this characterization and lack of realism that brings this anime down from a solid four. But who knows! Maybe the second season is better! Find out with me for when I review the second season’s episodes 0-13!
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your comments below!
Watch on, Annieme Addict!