Nisekoi – 20 (Fin)

nise201

After all the fun, often loopy entertainment this show has provided the past nineteen episodes, I was pretty much going to be happy with whatever they threw at us for the finale, as long as two characters didn’t end up dead like another Romeo & Juliet episode. Director Shuu seemed just as invested in repairing the rift between Raku and Chitoge as he was with having a successful show.

nise202

To that end, he takes ample creative license with Romeo & Juliet, delivering a product only nominally resembling the Shakespeare play. In this loose adaptation, he exploits the long-sufering fake couple’s “aggressive affection” and capitalizes on their penchant for bickering to entertain the audience.For most of this show we’ve been that audience, so it’s no surprise that it works with the audience of the play.

nise203

Shuu also tosses in subplots that serve as curtain calls for Seishirou, Marika, and Claude, which Raku pacifies one after the other until finally reaching Chitoge, who by then had fully come to the terms that she’s in love with the guy. Their final scene in the play is as moving as the previous ones were funny. Oh, and no one got stabbed!

nise204

Afterwards, Chitoge sits with Raku, apologizes for acting so crazy, and asks for forgiveness and for things between them to return to the way they were. Raku is fine with all of this, simultaneously thrown off and comforted by Chitoge’s adorable face. She doesn’t confess, but that’s okay; it’s not really the proper time to do so. Maybe after they get back into their groove.

nise205

The episode’s final act appropriately features Raku and Kosaki at the after-party. While Raku doesn’t straight-up realize Kosaki loves him as much if not more than he loves her, he does get the feeling she really really wanted to be Juliet. So he invites her on the roof to act out the scene in costume, just the two of them. It’s a lovely, beautifully-lit scene…though I wish we could have gotten a kiss in there somewhere.

8_ses

Second Cour Cumulative Average: 8.29
First Cour Cumulative Average: 7.39

Total Cumulative Average: 7.70
MyAnimeList Score: 8.25

Nisekoi – 19

nise191

It’s telling that despite getting one of the things he’s always dreamed of—the opportunity to play Romeo to Kosaki’s Juliet—Raku can’t stop thinking about Chitoge. He can’t enjoy being closer with Kosaki knowing something is up with Chitoge. And the more he presses Chitoge about what that something is, the more cold stone walls Chitoge puts up in front of her.

nise192

When Chitoge insists she wants nothing more to do with him—despite what it could mean for their families—and worse still, tells him she never once enjoyed being with him. Raku, taking all this as the gods’ truth, responds in kind, telling Chitoge off to the point she slaps him and storms off. Neither are able to say what they’re thinking, and end up at rock bottom, having scorched much earth in their wakes.

nise193

But the show brings them both as low as they’ve ever been so they can be brought back up. As if the universe acted to right all missteps the two have taken, poor Kosaki ends up spraining and ankle, and with her understudy Marika home sick, Raku must beg Chitoge to step in as his Juliet, putting aside the fact they “hate” each other. It’s a great little moment when he takes her spatula’d hand, proclaiming “Found you!”

nise194

This gets them talking again, and rather than exchange more barbs at one another, they say actually say a bit of what’s really in their hearts. Raku realizes he hurt her at the beach, and Chitoge learns he doesn’t hate her (not by a long shot). He’s still convinced they’d make a terrible real couple, but he knows they make a great fake one, which makes her the Juliet he needs in the here and now. Their mutual relief upon “finding” each other, after lifting the veil of mutual scorn, is palpable. Break a leg, kids!

9_ses

Nisekoi – 18

nise181

When Shuu arranges a late summer beach trip with everyone, we expected a full-on war between the girls interested in Raku in various ways. But while there was competition, most of the silly stuff was dispensed with relatively quickly, again giving way to Kosaki and Chitoge’s struggles. It would seem Kosaki can’t even when her thoughts accidentally surface into words (blurting out her desire to kiss Raku as they gaze at the moon from a pier), because Raku had nodded off in that moment.

nise1821

But while looking for the two, Chitoge does hear her. She somewhat convinces herself she misheard and Kosaki was talking about kimchi, but she’s just as frustrated that it matters. She shouldn’t care if Kosaki likes Raku, because she doesn’t…right? Well, no. When Chitoge confides in Kosaki (passing her problem off as a friend’s), Kosaki diagnoses it as a crush. All the symptoms are there. Even Chitoge knows it, as much as she doesn’t want it to be true.

nise183

Her affection for Raku has simply progressed to the point she can’t simply continue to be pretend lovers or even friends. The pressure has built up too high, and she needs a release. She posits a question to Raku about whether they’d have (past tense) worked out if they were a real couple. Totally thrown off by the question and Chitoge’s seriousness, the hasty reply Raku utters feels like a total rejection, which crushes Chitoge in the more literal sense.

nise183a

Mind you, Raku isn’t necessarily lying when he says Chitoge isn’t his type, but people who really hate each other don’t argue all the time, they simply ignore each other. And neither Raku nor Chitoge have ignored each other during their time together, and it’s seemed to be less about fulfilling their familyt obligations and more about having a true friendship, like they used to have years ago. But after that night, they don’t speak for the rest of the summer.

nise184

The Chitoge that arrives at school next semester is longer crushing on Rake, nor does she appear to want anything more to do with him. Raku doesn’t like this, but perhaps this was the kind of dire situation that was needed to bring about change. Both have already thought the things they need to say to one another. Now they need to say them, without further sarcasm, pretense, or forced insults.

8_ses

Stray Observations:

  • The girls are wearing exactly the kind of swimsuits they should be wearing, except for Seishirou, who is wearing a sexy number because Chitoge made her.
  • Kosaki’s sand castles (and sand…Esthar Citys) are pretty boss. Very Shaft thing to have characters building ridiculously detailed, impressive things while chatting.
  • Looks like we’ll be getting a cultural festival for the home stretch…plenty of opportunities both to avoid each other and be together. Shuu wants to make sure of that by casting them as Romeo & Juliet. Talk about bad timing!

Nisekoi – 17

nisekoi171

Inexperienced as he is in matters of love, Raku seeks clarity and guidance in the form of a romantic relationship charm, a popular item at the summer festival, further reinforcing its perceived power. But the charm proves almost laughably unhelpful, taking him on a tour of the vertitable smör-girls-bord before him, one girl at a time.

nisekoi173

The festival and the charm’s “effects” on Raku and the girls also underlines the qualities they have going for them. Luck and circumstance are in Chitoge’s favor, as are looks (at least, she gets the most attention from random folk). Marika is the most romantically aggressive (and politically connected). Kosaki is a blend of intermittent bursts of aggression and/or good luck, typically followed by equal or greater portions of the exact opposite.

nisekoi172

Perhaps it’s the fact Kosaki is something of a complete package—a Kosaki of all Trades, master of none—that makes her the most compelling choice for Raku, and the reason she’s foremost on his mind most of the time, including when he’s going after the charm. But on several occasions this week, Kosaki’s rightful place in his mind was usurped by Chitoge being so darned earnest and sweet.

nisekoi174

Raku would probably fall for Chitoge completely if she was like that all the time, but he only gets glimmers of that side of her, just as Kosaki only has glimmers of righteous aggressiveness or luck. But with a Kosaki-exclusive episode leading into a stock-taking episode with a steady helping of Sweet Chitoge, Nisekoi seems to be reasserting these two as the main contenders for Raku’s heart.

nisekoi175

This is evidenced by there being less emphasis on Marika this week, and what emphasis there was being comedic in nature. At least here, her position looked much weaker than the original two, but of course that could change next week. A charm can show Raku which doors he has to choose from, and even open some of them a crack, but it can’t show him which one to walk through. Ahem…sorry for calling you doors, ladies.

8_ses

Nisekoi – 16

nisekoi161

Well, how about that: an entire episode devoted to Kosaki and Raku? I‘m on board. In fact, I’m just as giddy about it as the two of them were at the prospect of spending some time alone together, even if the other doesn’t know just how much the other likes them, because neither of them will ever get the point unless one of them tells the other directly, and possibly draws a diagram – which neither of them will ever do.

nisekoi162

But who cares about that? This week Nisekoi places Chitoge and Marika on the back burner and gives us All Kosaki, All The Time, showing that Kosaki may be down, but she’s not out, and she’s not ready to give up the fight. And one should never count a HanaKana character out. In addition to being almost sickeningly adorable and endearing throughout, the mere fact she asked Raku to come and work in her family’s shop is proof that she’s getting better at looking out for her own interests.

nisekoi1633

This is also one of the funnier episodes of Nisekoi, from the manic energy of Kosaki and Raku during their initial nervousness, to Raku imagining all of the things Kosaki does in her room, calling to mind the final act of 2001: A Space Odyssey, to Raku cursing the typhoon for not being able to “read a room.” We enjoyed the brief appearance by Kosaki’s mom, who is the opposite of Kosaki in that she’s forceful and speaks her mind, embarrassing both Kosaki and Raku, but not saying anything that isn’t true, either.

nisekoi164

Her mom doesn’t have to convince Raku to marry into the family; it’s something part of him already wants to do, and the more fun he and Kosaki have together, the stronger the feeling gets. The only things stopping him are an impending mob war and the ire of the police commissioner, and at least three partially broken hearts.

nisekoi165

The episode ends with Raku going home, both he and Kosaki proud of themselves for the progress they made, but at this point in the game, I still think they should have said a little bit more to each other. Raku at least gets Kosaki’s e-mail at last, and she comes SO FRIKKING CLOSE to texting him that she had a crush on him, but deletes the words, retreating again.

nisekoi166

The divine punishment Kosaki worried about after such a perfect day with Raku is already in effect from what we’ve seen: despite being the perfect couple in so many ways; despite knowing each other so well, and sticking out to each other in photos, neither is capable of believing the other likes them.

9_ses

Nisekoi – 15

nisekoi151

Last week I lauded the addition of Tachibana Marika to the cast, and my positive impressions were only reinforced this week. Among the hesitant, dilatory Kosaki and the tsunderes Seishirou and Chitoge, Marika is a breath of fresh air. She’s aggressive about her feelings for (and legal claim to) Raku in a way the others simply haven’t been, and it feels like her approach is already influencing Raku while simultaneously making his choice a lot more difficult.

nisekoi152

The memory of meeting and falling for Raku is still fresh in Marika’s mind, as she tells the story of how he visited and played with her while she was bedridden. Even back then, Raku was a kind, decent fellow. When she brought up the subject of what kind of girls he likes, Raku told her, and ever since then, she’s made herself into that ideal. She put the work in and kept the flame burning, something you can’t say of any of his other suitors.

nisekoi153

Raku also finally gets Kosaki, Chitoge and Marika together to brief them on the situation: there are three keys, but only one locket. Marika doesn’t remember anything about the other two any more than the other girls do, only the memories involving her and Raku, and the locket is still being repaired, so the moment of truth is postponed. But regardless of whose key opens the locket, Marika is working to make Raku hers, even as Raku clings to his certainty that Kosaki is the one he presently loves.

nisekoi154

As I said, she’s succeeding due to her uncompromising devotion and aggression. It doesn’t matter if he hasn’t accepted the engagement; as far as she’s concerned, they’re all but married already. As such, she invites Raku to her penthouse home to meet her father, who is frikkin’ HILARIOUS. In addition to being voiced with gusto by Tachiki Fumihiko, he’s scary as all get-out; far scarier than any yakuza Raku’s met. There’s abundant comedy just in watching Raku squirm, and it’s just as funny how Marika acts naturally through all of her father’s intense outbursts.

nisekoi155

When it comes down to it, though, Marika’s father gets the full truth out of Raku, and turns out to be a fair, perceptive man who obviously cares for his daughter. Whatever Raku has going on, be it another girlfriend or a girl he’s really in love with, he reiterates that at the end of the day he must keep his promise and make Marika happy. There’s no threat in this statement; it’s simply plain words from one man to another, both of whom have staked their honor on this arrangement.

nisekoi156

Perhaps the best part of this episode of all is when Marika asks Raku in the hallway how she could further transform herself to make herself more desirable to him. Taking a page out of her book, Raku is truthful and aggressive, heaping all the praise she deserves upon her, and telling her she’s cute, awesome, and sweet, regardless of her hairstyle or accent. I’m inclined to agree.

8_ses

Nobunaga the Fool – 14

nobu141

Since some French was spoken in this episode (albeit not much…and not well), I’ll use some as well: this episode lacked the particular je ne sais quoi of previous episodes that had held everything together and held my interest. This episode was kind of a mess, and rather boring even when it was supposed to be at its most exciting. I chalk this up to a combination of disappointment that the trip to space was postponed, and the fact Nobu’s latest Round Table adversaries are lame as hell.

nobu142

Honestly, I don’t know why the show bothered wasting names like Hannibal and Charlemagne on such hollow, silly, short-lived characters, who show up in a menacing cloud of frost with fangs bared, but it turned out to be all bluff and bluster. Once Caesar and Uesugi arrive, the battle is essentially over, and there wasn’t anything particularly memorable or satisfying about it. Ranmaru means well, but is too quick to believe Hannibal’s promise and gets abducted for her trouble.

nobu143

I’ll admit I thought it was pretty great that Ichihime picked up a spear and told Caesar if he wouldn’t go to the aid of her homeland, she would. Caesar had earlier gone against traditional role of an Eastern man by baking her a chocolate cake. She, in turn, goes against the traditional role of an Eastern woman, and reminds me that she’s one of the few reasons I’m still watching the show. If her role diminishes in the second half, someone else will be hard-pressed to pick up the slack, because Ichihime is The (Wo)man.

5_brav

Nisekoi – 14

nise141

Four. Now there are four girls after Raku. Just what the hell kinda pheremones are on this guy? That’s a lot of girls in one show to be after one guy, and the episode seems to acknowledge that by having poor Kosaki fade into the background, as well as limiting Seishirou’s screen time.

Thus, out of all the triangles that could be drawn, the one this episode focuses on is between Raku, Chitoge, and the new girl Tachibana Marika, voiced by the prolific adorable-girl-voicer Asumi Kana. That said, everyone had a nice “Are you fucking kidding me” reaction to her sudden transfer into their class.

nise142

As it turns out, adding a new girl puts a welcome charge into the show, especially considering her circumstances: all evidence so far points to the fact that she was the one Raku befriended ten years ago. Marika and Raku’s dads agreed that Raku would Marika. Because Marika’s dad is Police Commissioner, Marika’s claim to Raku can’t be easily set aside without causing trouble for his family.

I liked how Marika obviously maintained her love for Raku all those years, but is also fully aware of the leverage she has over him and the other girls after him. She’s also not above lying to be alone with him, or setting up situations where he’d pity her (the incident in the park when she left her purse, knowing he’d go after her and hear about her frailty, which may acutally be a real thing). It’s also notable that she considers Chitoge gorilla-like, just as Raku does.

nise143

Marika gets more complex still when Raku admits he doesn’t remember her at all and frankly doesn’t know what he did to make her love him so much. Hearing this causes her to erupt into a fit of rage, exposing her Kansai dialect, which in turn jogs Raku’s memory. Looks like she tried to become the ideal woman he described ten years ago, but in the process, became someone he didn’t recognize until she dropped the act.

I like Marika. I also like how well she can spot a tail (her dad’s a cop after all); I like how she’s not as perfect as she initially seemed, and I think she has the best claim to him (assuming she’s not deceiving him). But the ball is still firmly in Raku’s court with regard to which girl to choose. Too often in these situations the girls always go through more than they should because the guy is being indecisive, leading them all on.

Raku’s been able to blame lack of information for his dalliance thus far, but that window is closing. If he can’t pick one girl, and soon, then he doesn’t deserve any of them.

8_ses

 

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 12 (Fin)

wizbar121

We were a bit weary that this last episode would be another nightmare of poor animation and cut corners, but thankfully there was enough gas in the tank for a respectable-looking finale. We even get a shot of Cecil talking next to a reflective sculpture; a nice effect. Ironically, while this was a far better episode in terms of production values, we thought the previous episode had a better story.

wizbar123

That’s because the resolution to the Makusu trial left us a bit cold. We will say that it hardly made sense for him to suddenly cooperate with Cecil after carefully planning the ritual only to fail to summon Lucifer, so it makes sense that come trial time, he double-crosses his counsel and even accuses her of murdering Shizumu. It’s the word of the former Chief Justice against an excitable teenager with a history of getting into magical trouble, and he spins a good yarn for the court.

wizbar124

While his betrayal made sense and we were on the whole glad to see the last episode return to its legal procedural roots, we found the trial itself a bit clumsy and random. Part of that was the fact the prosecution seems more on Makusu’s side than his defense. But Cecil suddenly pulling Grimoire 365 out of the talisman Shizumu returned to her, combined with the surprise trump witness (why didn’t Makusu make sure he was dead?); those were were plot conveniences that gave Cecil victory without actually having to do any sleuthing, hence the leaving us cold.

wizbar1242

We will say, however, that on the whole, the series didn’t leave us cold. We really enjoyed watching Cecil befriend her colorful colleagues, defend lots of people who tried to kill her. She didn’t so much uncover the conspiracy as Makusu made numerous tactical errors, most important the fact that Tento Moyo was already Lucifer’s vessel…we think. So while the show stumbled with its ending, placing it just below Witch Craft Works on the Big Board, it was still a refreshing dark horse we’re not sorry we looked into.

6_gen

Cumulative Average Rating: 6.917
MAL Score: 6.45

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 11

wizbar111

The whole purpose of anime and most other audiovisual media, is to show as well as tell what is going on. This episode told us quite a bit, much of which could have been very interesting, but unfortunately it also happened to be one of the single worst-animated episodes of anime we have ever reviewed. It doesn’t even seem accurate to call it badly-animated, since a very large portion wasn’t animated at all. This episode simply felt unfinished, which made it extremely difficult to get invested in what was ostensibly going on. It was like trying to read this review…without vowels.

wizbar112

Mind you, we haven’t been insensitive to the fact that WizBar in general is not a show that has ever prided itself on flawless presentation. But it could also be that a lot of the production budget was spent both on the first episode and on CGI effects such as the metamoloids. Frankly, it wasn’t worth it, and we would have preferred more balance in the visuals. But the show had always managed to muddle through, with the story pulling enough weight to forgive the shortcomings.

wizbar3

But this…was something else; the shark was officially jumped. There were far too many close ups, establishing shots, lines of dialogue and actions by people we never see, and agonizingly long still shots. Some potentially powerful and/or poignant moments were thoroughly ruined by all of this nonsense. On many occasions throughout the fiasco, we felt pretty bad for the people involved in the show who weren’t responsible for bungling the budget, for they were let down as much as we were, if not more so.

wizbar114

All that aside (and it’s pretty damn hard to move it aside!) a lot happened this week: Shimuzu raided Butterfly and eventually captured Cecil, Makusu had his little ritual, and we find out that Lucifer had already awakened and taken human form, that of Tento Moyo. She merges with Cecil, who grows fangs and a tail (first instance of a tail bursting through panties…yeah, they animated that), but Shimuzu Does The Right Thing (as we hoped) in the eleventh hour and dies protecting Cecil.

wizbar115

Cecil and Makusu have one big confusing Metamoloid battle that ends in the upper atmosphere, but when their mechas dissolve Cecil sprouts wings and saves Makusu’s life, only for him to request he defend him at his impending trial, which is actually a nice twist that brings everything back to Magic Law, which we always found more interesting than Magic Conspiracies. So yeah, a lot happened! We kinda wish we could have, you know, seen all of it, instead of just parts of it…

3_gen

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil – 10

wizbar101

Cecil always knew there was something fishy about her mom’s trial and conviction, but she didn’t know there was something fishy about still being alive after the altercation. Nor did she know of the ongoing war between the Labone and Macal, two Wud factions for and against coexistence with muggles normal humans, respectively.

wizbar102

This week Cecil continues to be swept up in a torrent of new information, and while she and her fellow Butterfly barristers haven’t quite processed everything and remain in the dark about who is behind all of this and why, they are at least aware and on altert. So naturally, Cecil goes off on her own again.

wizbar103

Frankly we would have been fine with a relatively undramatic run of “trial-of-the-week” episodes, provided there was enough variety to them, but it’s clear from the get-go that the balance of WizBar was going to be All About Cecil and the conspiracy closing in on her. It was also a clever to turn the previously-foreboding Shark Knight into Cecil’s allies, while Shizumu was the bad guy all along, despite their rapport.

wizbar105

Even better, Shizumu is not 100% sure he’s doing the right thing (because duh, he isn’t). Makusu, on the other hand, is kinda dull and getting increasingly confident and thus sloppy in his methods to “procure the catalyst.” We’re hoping that inner conflict results in Shizumu turning against Makusu, but with Makusu’s power and an increasingly-sketchy Moyo stalking around, it might not be enough to save Cecil from turning into a tool of Lucifer.

7_gen