What if “Romeo and Juliet” met “My Bride is a Mermaid”? You would end up with “Nisekoi”, a quite entertaining romantic comedy, although one can argue the use of the term “romantic”.
“Nisekoi” (“Fake Love” or “False Love”) tells the tale of high school student Raku Ichijo, the son of a leader of the yakuza faction Shuei-Gumi. A new kid is on the block, yakuza faction Beehive. There is that gang/turf war confrontation and this can only lead to bloodshed and unwarranted police interest. Into Raku’s life leaps Chitoge Kirisaki….literally. Blondie jumps a wall to find Ichijo there and knees him in the face. Ooooops! However, this little incident causes him to lose his locket (you can see the monstrosity hanging from his neck). He discovers she is a transfer student into the school and forces her to look for the locket. Their deep and abiding hatred foments at this time.
Upon returning home, Raku learns that the Shuei-Gumi and Beehive gangs have agreed to settle their feud….by pairing their leaders’ children. Raku learns that his girlfriend-to-be is none other than Chitoge. For the next three years, they must pretend to be in a relationship to maintain peace between the gangs. If they fail at any point, the truce is off and everyone dies! No pressure, right?
Adding to the mayhem is that he was ready to confess his love to the one he truly adores, Kosaki Onodera, but now he cannot do that at all without the entire universe falling into chaos and total destruction. The series details the massive efforts both Raku and Chitoge go through to make people think they are in love, even though the only thing they would truly love is for the other person to get torn apart by wild beasts. And since a lot of people feel there is something not right in all of this, the eyes of the disbelievers is upon them with painful, unrelenting scrutiny. Much like the NSA, but more obvious.
Now, let’s talk about that locket, as that is the focal point of the show. Ten years earlier, he and a mystery girl betrothed their love for each other, agreeing to meet up in 10 years and get married. He has the locket; she has the key. Who is this mystery woman? Raku can’t remember, but this propels the plot along. Complications get complicated and things go from horrible to intolerable.
Then, if things weren’t muddled enough, a third candidate enters and perhaps SHE is the one. If this show wasn’t red-faced, flop-sweaty, shock and horror double-take enough, our new girl now ups the ante, forcing everyone to ‘shove the pile in’ and take their chances.
At 20 episodes, it, seriously, could have been trimmed to 13, as some of the episodes felt padded. And 20 is such an odd number to have for a run. The slow-down point is all the reaction shots and reactions to the reaction shots, as each and every discovery or potential exposure is played to the hilt. Personally, I would have liked to see more of the respective gangs and their whole approach to things. We get snippets, but nothing as bizarrely complicated as when Young Miss and Young Master go on a date, shadowed by, what appears, the entire world.
If you can put aside some of these glaring annoyances, you actually have a very funny show, as Raku has to try and figure out how to get what HE wants without causing the total meltdown of all of Tokyo. However, it ain’t over. They left just enough out there to try and have a second season, as the main question didn’t get answered. However, Episode 20 is a real hoot fest, as you will never see a more bizarre mishandling of the aforementioned “Romeo and Juliet” anywhere.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (A bit too sweaty for me)
Plot 8 (Nice approach to an old idea)
Pacing 7 (Runs hot and cold)
Effectiveness 7 (Works well, but could have been better)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 7 (But still too erratic)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Bean sprout!