If we had to choose a girl we wanted Raku to choose, we’d have to say we’d still choose Kosaki, even though she’s unfathomably inept at expressing her feelings for him as he is, and even though she may not even be the girl he made a pact with when younger. It’s hard not to root for any Hana-Kana-voiced character—unless she’s trying to kill all the other characters, or is simply annoying.
However, we have to say Chitoge probably won this week’s round. All Raku wanted was to be paired with Kosaki for the test of courage, during which they’d have to hold hands the whole time. As it happens, all Kosaki wants is to be paired with Raku. When the show decides not to pull a fast one and actually pair them up, it’s almost too good to be true; and it’s another case of the two being virtually paralyzed by their mutual (but oddly not fully mutually detected) attraction.
But the moment Raku learns that Chitoge is lost and alone in the dark woods with a broken flashlight, he grudgingly abandons Kosaki’s soft, warm, possibly nervous hand and goes to his fake girlfriend’s aid. Kosaki loses, but nevertheless Raku’s actions reinforce why she loves him: he won’t stand by while a friend is in trouble. Raku can deny caring or worrying about Chitoge all he wants, but we know better, and so should he.
And just as Kosaki was as enthusiastic about being with Raku as he with her, Chitoge is just as hopeful the boy who loves her will come to her rescue. Raku arrives on cue, and while the two exchange forced gestures of indifference towards each other, the fact Chitoge insists she and Raku start addressing each other by first name is less about being seen as a more convincing fake couple, and more about unwittingly becoming a real one.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Chitoge’s interest has been piqued by the mystery of her first love, but further investigation is put on hold by “open-air school.” Maiko fixes it so their team consists of him, Raku, Ruri, Kosaki, Seishirou…and her. Once again, Nisekoi shows that nobody airing can match its close-ups of characters’ faces—not even Kill la Kill.
Whether its everyone’s reactions to learning they’re in the same group (and have to share the cramped bench in the back of the bus), or their hapless attempts at poker faces during a game of Old Maid (which had just as much intensity and pressure of a karuta match in Chihayafuru), this episode was a veritable cornucopia of heated emotions, not the least of which because Chitoge is starting to entertain the notion that Raku could be her first love. He’s got a scar, after all.
And in Anime Land there are few stages better-suited for the proliferation of high-level discomfort and tension than a hot spring inn, which is ironic, because in real life they’re probably exactly the opposite. Thanks to Claude switching up the gender-specific curtains the the bath entrances (which shouldn’t be that easy to do in the 21st century), Raku ends up in the enviable but potentially disastrous position of being a boy in the girl’s bath.
There are many obvious ways of proceeding with such a scenario; many of them involving much physical punishment and social ostracism being exacted upon Raku. To it’s credit, the episode doesn’t make Chitoge a conclusion-jumping idiot (this time at least), and not only doesn’t blame Raku, but even does everything she can to get him out of there without being seen. Despite some very close calls (and an accidental kiss to Raku’s upper backside), she even succeeds!
Rating:7 (Very Good)
This episode was probably a bit of a slog for those not enamored with Tsugumi Seishirou. Fortunately, we like her just fine, and we also liked this very Seishirou-centric episode, in which odd changes in her body start to occur and she seeks answers and advice from her acquaintances. Her description of her “symptoms” are so precise and clinical, both Chitoge and Claude initially recommend she seek medical attention. Thankfully Seishirou doesn’t stop with those two, and eventually the common refrain of more normal people is that she’s suffering a bad case of love.
Seishirou may claim to not know anything about love, but we know that’s bullshit from the way she devotes herself to Chitoge and enjoys being by her side. She’s just never met a guy who has caused these reactions, and is totally at a loss for how to process them. Nothing Raku does to her deserves the harsh physical reprisals she visits upon him—on the contrary, he’s nothing but a decent, sweet and chivalrous fellow to her—but in the absence of any guidebook or roadmap or training in matters of love, she goes to her default assassin setting.
Knowing her odd upbringing and years of conditioning meant to erase her femininity, suddenly becoming a slave to her heart is akin to being faced with an unknown enemy, so it’s logical and understandable for her to lash out, as offense is the best defense in her normal workings. The many closeups of her expressions as she wrestles with these strange emotions are enough to illustrate the intensity of her internal dilemma, as is her complete loss of concentration in assembling her gun at the mere mention of Raku by Claude. She’ll only be able to hide her compromised state from her mentor for so long; though Claude is a pretty dense fellow, even if he’s more suspicious than the other people around the fake couple.
But while Seishirou is growing into an interesting, if somewhat frustrating character in her own right, she also serves and important purpose in the central “fake” romance: she is the link to a past Chitoge has forgotten. Seishirou again betrays the fact she does indeed know at least something about love since she witnessed it betwen Chitoge and her first love, and waxes nostalgic about it, to the point Chitoge’s interest is sufficiently piqued that she digs up her old diary from the time and discovers that not only did she fall in love and make a promise to a kid with a distinctive scar, but that the diary also contained a key that looks very similar to Raku’s locket.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Shimao-as-Hazuki agrees to let Rokka wash his back, but she demurs when he asks her to bath with him. Both frustrated, he leaves, but not before drawing something in his sketchbook. Wanting to clear her head, Rokka spends her Sunday helping Miho tend her garden, but the roses there remind her of Atsushi. She retreats to the library, where Shimao-as-Hazuki happens to bump into her, and they go for a walk, during which time Rokka confesses to him that Atsushi was her first and only love, but now she’s fallen love in with him (Hazuki) too.
Atsushi remains in complete control of Hazuki, until the very last moment of the episode (we…think…?), and in this time, he and Rokka make a lot of headway. If there’s one thing he’s learned from both his time as a ghost observing Hazuki and his time as Hazuki himself, it’s that Hazuki ending up with Rokka is all but inevitable; it’s a matter of when, not if. This is confirmed when she finally confesses to Hazuki – Atsushi is the one to finally get her to say the words…and he’s the one to hear them as well. Learning he was the only man she’s ever loved (or been with) puts a look of shock on his face we’ve heretofore not seen.
Which brings us to the big dilemma of this episode (and last weeks, as well), at least from Hazuki’s perspective: he’s been lost in a pastel fairy tale land all this time, and thus hasn’t experienced any of these crucial moments in his relationship with Rokka. Atsushi half-reluctantly, half-regetably brought his wife closer to him, but will he know that when he wakes up? Will he gain the memories Atsushi formed while possessing him, or will he return to his body totally blank on the last two days? Will these recent events be a secret Atsushi will keep from him, leading to a misunderstanding between the real Hazuki and Rokka? We hope not. Or to put it like Hazuki did: we’re basically optimistic by nature, so we won’t let this bother us.
Rating: 9 (Superior)