I was reminded that I needed to do this by a reader of ours that goes by Hye Su Lee. After being disappointed by the fact that Double Arts was cancelled, I needed to see if Naoshi Komi had anything else that was in the works. I was very surprised to see that he had a manga that was getting serialized by the name of Nisekoi. I wasn’t only excited by the fact that I enjoyed the author, but because I really enjoy reading romantic stories. We all know that in a lot of japanese harem stories there are certain tropes that characters end up falling under. A favorite of mine is the childhood friend and if you like those, boy do I have a story for you.
Imagine that your family is part of a shady world. You do not wish to get trapped in this less than easy life style and want to get out through the school system. However, your father requires a favor and you basically have no choice in the matter. You shrug it off thinking that it is no big deal until you realize that it is something that will forever change your life. You are just some average guy and you are introduced to a girl who is , while beautiful on the outside, a “Gorilla” by nature. You are put off only to find out that the two of you must pretend to be together in order to prevent all out war between two local crime organizations. Sounds crazy right? That is the premise of our story that follows the high school life of Ichijou who just wanted out of the Yakuza and is now stuck with trying to hold up this charade of a relationship. Not such a bad thing unless you factor in the part about the girl who he actually likes being in the same class that the two “love birds” must now enact their performance in. How do you handle high school life with these extra complications? How can you get away from the Yakuza life when you are trying to hold back an all out war? How do you know what the girls around you really think of you in all of this chaos? I can answer that last one actually. This is a shounen romance so the guy couldn’t tell red from blue even if they were the only two colors in the world, let alone actually read the mood when he is around actual people.
Our main character is Raku Ichijou who is the son of a Yakuza leader. All Ichijou wants to do is live a normal life and possibly confess to Onodera who he has liked for quite some time. Even though these curve balls are constantly thrown his way, we learn that Raku is a generally nice guy who is oddly adept at housework. Chitoge is the main female character and the daughter of a gang leader. Although very tough, Chitoge really wants to make friends because growing up around shady individuals has left her somewhat socially strained. Onodera is the girl that Ichijou has his eyes on and is your typical nice girl. She and Chitoge become friends and share the funny characteristic of being about as adept in the kitchen as my dad. That reference lacked context; my dad calls in pizza if my mom can’t make dinner. Tsugumi is a girl that was essentially raised with the goal of protecting Chitoge. The only stereotypical issue with that is the fact that Tsumigi is actually a reverse trap, thus a girl. Trust me though, Tsumigi is as tough as any guy in the series. Marika is the daughter of the city’s chief of police and the only character that is openly affectionate with Ichijou and is not your typical girl with the weak constitution. Throughout the series we are introduced to many side characters that lack the importance of the lead male and the girls that have growing emotions surrounding him because, let’s be honest here, not a lot of harem stories utilize more than a handful of key characters. I can guarantee you this though, there is no lack of childhood friend action in this group of characters.
I am really enjoying Nisekoi. Although not all harems have a solid story and like to rely more on fan service, I am feeling really attached to these characters and the great humor that Nisekoi brings to the table. The awkward humor that Double Arts had has found its way into this series which is a personal favorite part of the story for me. Nisekoi is the kind of series that you read for fun because of its casual feel in contrast to a Fullmetal Alchemist which has a lot of very serious things going on in it. To this point I have really enjoyed reading this story and it has begun to differentiate itself from your average harem story. That says a lot because I honestly only feel that way about this story and Shuffle! when it comes to this specific kind of story. A lot of fans agree with me when I say that it is hard to put my finger on it, but when you read this story, you get this warm emotional response that has made for some embarrassing moments in real life. If my mom sees me reacting to a romantic story, she calls me a bitch and walks away.
I suggest that you read Nisekoi if you want to check out a nice romantic comedy or are just a fan of Naoshi Komi. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but any fan of the childhood friend trope must read this series and I am very serious when I say this. Unfortunately the manga has not yet been released over here in the states. So, unless you have access to it over in Japan, I can only really suggest that you check out the scans for the series. I am looking forward to more and so should you.