Shaft brings us Nisekoi, a romance anime with fresh visuals and eyecandy girls. Can it go beyond cliché?
I dislike most harem anime, especially because it seems unlikely to be relatable for the viewer. The sense of multiple girls swarming around doesn’t seem applicable to most guys and the IQ levels attributed to the girls are distasteful.
Chitoge and Raku are forced to hold up a fake relationship to prevent two Yakuza clans from starting an all out war with each other. Along their relationship, Raku made a promise 10 years ago to a girl that he can’t recall, but she holds the key to his lock that symbolizes their undying love.
The lock is the main plot driver of the story as it connects the different girl characters to Raku. At least it’s supposed to be. The significance of the key and lock is trivialized along the way, leaving the viewer wondering why such a ‘key’ element has such a minor role during the story. It’s used as a narrative tool, but I hardly consider it as a plot driver.
Romance anime can often times be a hit or miss. They can be overly unrealistic, such as many girls wanting the same, ordinary, guy. Giving this more thought, it seems logical to give an ‘ordinary’ male viewer a position in which he feels admired or at least give a sense of escapism. On the other hand, as I stated before, I find it of poor taste to portray those girls as helpless and/or of low intelligence.
Nisekoi went towards that direction where a set of cute looking girls all went for Raku. Which is a shame, because I found the Yakuza plot very interesting. The key and locker was trivialized and when I have to pick, the relationship between Chitoge and Raku feels the most natural.
The other girl characters have their own set of unique character traits and have their own, supposedly, history with Raku. I didn’t find Onodera, the number one crush of Raku, a very convincing character. The relationship between her and Raku feels more like a plot device and not so much a natural occurrence that gives the story a romance back-story.
The first episode of Nisekoi hyped me for the rest of the season, only to later find out that the series didn’t live up to the first impression. The visuals were truly spectacular and I thought that this would be a blow of fresh air through the romance genre.
My hunch is that SHAFT used all its resources to create a good first impression, making it impossible to maintain momentum over the course of time. It’s a shame that the series lost a bit of the magic along the way.
As I mentioned before, the first episode was a true spectacle, but Nisekoi couldn’t keep up with the expectations. The show’s intro song was a nice touch to the overall look and feel. SHAFT did its best to stay true to their style and most of the times it worked out decent, but it feels like there was more that could be done.
Nisekoi felt like it would be the romance anime that would refresh the genre, but instead it became a regular harem anime. The main plot, the yakuza and the key, was trivialized along the way. There was much potential in both stories, but instead they did a bit of both, which didn’t do the show justice. I therefore rate Nisekoi an 7 out of 10 for not using its full potential.