Nisekoi 2 – 10

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Nisekoi 2’s intense episodic nature means we’re never quite sure what we’re going to get from week to week, and considering the success of other rom-coms with more serialized format, often leave us feeling like it’s taking the wrong approach. But this week demonstrated that when it wants to, Nisekoi can do a lot in just one week.

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Submitted for your approval: four-eyed class clown and horndog Maiko Shuu actually gets DIMENSION, and gets to make more than just sly cat faces! I sure didn’t see that coming, but once it got going I was not complaining.

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While they go way back, Shuu has always been far better at hiding who he likes than Raku, whom Shuu knows full well loves Onodera. All Shuu gives away at first about his love is that she’s an “unattainable flower” who will ultimately break his heart. Raku bounces this idea off of Tsugumi of all people, which is perfect because she happens to be in the very situation he’s presenting to her as a hypothetical.

Fortunately for Tsugumi, Raku is far to dense to pick up on the source of her embarrassment, but Tsugumi ultimately treats his questions with respect, telling him she’d probably never tell that unattainable person how she felt, lest she cause trouble for him; matching Shuu’s position on the matter.

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One can make the case that Tsugumi’s unattainable love is Raku, assuming what she’s feeling for him is love (something she’s not at all sure of). But Shuu’s love is the teacher, Kyoko-sensei, who suddenly drops the hammer that she’s getting married and quitting teaching.

Shuu reacts to the news with a big smile and lots of laughter and hearty congratulations, but inside he’s devastated. And yet, because it was the older Kyoko who told him he was the most mature of the guys in his class, he’s apparently determined never to tell Kyoko his feelings—something he may regret—but will instead live with that regret, like adults sometimes must do.

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Shuu-as-Raku’s-mirror works surprisingly well throughout the episode, especially as the perennial Best Girl Chitoge and clingy Marika are all but absent this week. We can focus instead on the triangle of Tsugumi, Raku, and Kosaki. Raku’s affection for Kosaki is so strong, merely thinking of her being married off to some other guy makes him cough up black stuff and does significant damage to his soul. Heck, I felt pretty awful about that dark fantasy!

Yet, when Raku gathers himself, he can indeed see himself living life under those circumstances, as long as Kosaki is happy. That’s when Tsugumi flags him down, eager to clarify her responses. She maintains that she could see herself never confessing to that hypothetical guy and choosing to live with that, but that doesn’t mean she wants to…nor does it mean she can.

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That settles things for Raku, who clarifies his position to Shuu: he’ll stand by whatever decision he makes, including not confessing to Kyoko. But he’ll also give Shuu a push if asked. Shuu asks, Raku pushes him, and he manages to catch Kyoko right before a taxi drives her out of his life. We can’t hear their exchange, only the pounding rain, but we don’t have to: Shuu gets the gentle rejection he knew he’d get. Even when Raku worries he meddled too much, Ryuu is thankful for his push.

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That push was made possible by Tsugumi, and led to Raku giving himself a push by asking Kosaki, who was looking all over school worried about him, to walk home with him, not because anything is wrong, but because he feels like it. Kosaki is initially shocked by his forwardness, but still accepts, as readily as Kyoko rejects Shuu. You can’t spend your youth wallowing in unpleasant hypotheticals: you gotta enjoy!

That brings us to the final piece of the puzzle this week: Ruri. Frankly, I thought we’d see more of her this week than we ended up seeing, but what we got was still pretty good, as the episode was peppered with moments of her love-hate relationship with Shuu and her status as an attainable—but up-till-now under-noticed—flower in Shuu’s life.

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Nisekoi – 20 (Fin)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

Total Cumulative Average: 7.70
MyAnimeList Score: 8.25

Nisekoi – 19

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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!

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Nisekoi – 18

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 – 05

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Still suspicious of the nature of Raku and Chitoge’s relationship, Ruri presses forward in her crusade to help Kosaki win Raku’s heart. Kosaki herself has reservations about stealing him from Chitoge, but if Ruri can confirm they’re not really together, and that Raku has a crush on Kosaki…well, that’s different, isn’t it? To that end, we get a pool episode replete with graceful swimsuit and changing fanservice.

It doesn’t detract so much as call attention to the fact that this is a SHAFT series and Shinbo doesn’t skimp on close-ups, no matter what it’s a close-up of. In contrast to last week’s ill-fated study session, Raku and Kosaki fare much better during his one-on-one swimming lesson; though Raku does have to run to the nearest seaside cliff to shout his desire to make her his wife. Being in swimsuits also means the locket and key aren’t on their respective persons, only the show teases us yet again by having Raku use the wrong key.

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The picture is very, very slowly being pieced together in the slow-churning minds of the star-crossed lovers: both are entertaining the possibility that the other is the one they made the promise to, but progress remains slow. Meanwhile, while it’s clear Raku has a crush on Kosaki, Ruri is growing more and more perplexed with Raku and Chitoge, probably beause she sees as we do without even knowing it that the fake relationship grows more and more real the more time they spend with each other.

Yet again Raku and Kosaki’s progress is mitigated by a similar development with Chitoge, as he is the one to drop everything and dive in after her when she cramps in the pool. Kosaki is spared having to see them lock lips (she doesn’t need mouth-to-mouth, though Shuu tries to make it happen for Raku), but Chitoge learns yet again that Raku isn’t the gutless bean sprout she’d created in her mind…except, apparently, when it comes to going after who he truly wants.

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Stray Observations:

  • The Girl’s locker room is apparently “very retro”, which is why the key is so easily mistakable for an ornate locket.
  • We don’t know if the voices of the characters are sped up in production, but if they’re not Touyama Nao and Uchiyama Kouki deserve props for some seriously articulate high-speed, spirited arguing this week.
  • There’s no official episode count for Nisekoi as of yet, but it’s starting to look likely there’ll be two cours, since there’s two main characters hiding in the shadows of the OP that haven’t even been introduced yet.
  • We like how the omakes typically add texture to the main story, rather than act as random standalones. To whit: we catch insightful glimpses of Chitoge, Raku and Kosaki dealing with Valentines Day in junior high.
  • After that, Chitoge visits Raku’s house for New Years and learns he’s a kickass Enka singer. Nothing much manlier than that!

Nisekoi – 04

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If left to their own devices, Raku and Kosaki would remain stationary for eternity, so it’s up to their respective friends-of-the-same-sex to nudge them towards some kind of action. Enter Maiko Shuu (Kaji Yuki) and Miyamoto Ruri (Uchiyama Yumi), who immediately establish themselves as the most perceptive people in the cast by far, which is to say they’re not dense as insulation foam. Both of them see right through Raku and Chitoge’s sorry excuse for a fake relationship, and at the same time, know full well that Kosaki has the hots for Raku and vice versa. If anything, they’re a pretty annoyed the two haven’t become an item yet, and now things are complicated by Chitoge.

Realizing nothing will happen if Raku and Kosaki aren’t at least in regular contact, Ruri arranges a study group at Raku’s manor. Kosaki’s presence in Raku’s house, his room, and right beside him is more than he can take, rendering him totally unhelpful in the homework department, while Onodera is equally nervous (she really digs the fact Raku’s room smells like him). Their odd behavior is not lost on Ruri or Shuu, but the yakuzas are just upset Raku isn’t putting any moves on Chitoge, so they set a very silly and obvious trap, and the two fake lovers end up locked in the dark together. This situation essentially nullifies Ruri’s original intent to bring Raku and Onodera back together, and further muddies Raku’s romantic waters.

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That’s because Chitoge turns out to be severely nyctophobic and claustrophobic (due to a traumatic five-hour experience in a washing machine). Her harsh facade melts away, revealing her weak side. In the dark stillness, with her clutching him tightly from behind, Raku notices for the first time just how beautiful she is. When he refuses to leave her alone while he climbs a ladder out to get help, Chitoge notices that once again, Raku is being a cool, considerate gentleman, and has no choice but to add that to the growing list of positive qualities he possesses. They come very very close to kissing, thanks to her perfectly-timed trip-fall.

Then Claude bursts in, gun drawn, followed by Kosaki who both get the wrong idea about the couple being locked in the shed together, and undo whatever progress Raku had made with Kosaki, which was minimal anyway. But we don’t think Claude and Kosaki’s idea was completely wrong. After all, we hear Raku thinking to himself he can’t fall for Chitoge; he’s already promised his heart to Kosaki (despite not knowing she’s the keeper of the key). Chitoge too feels the need to ammend her own diary to admit Raku did good today, and she’s determined not to fall for him. But it’s clearly already happening. One fact that may be in Shuu and Ruri’s blind spot: it’s not necessarily the love Raku and Chitoge are faking; it’s the hate.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Another reason Chitoge has not to hate Raku: he’s helped her find her social bearings at school, and she’s smiling a lot more as a result.
  • Hiyama Nobuyuki is his exuberant best playing fiery warrior-types, and his Ryuu here is no exception, adding zest and vitality to a bit role.
  • While Shuu and Ruri know full well Raku’s feelings for Kosaki, Chitoge has no idea. But interestingly, she worships Kosaki as the Perfect Girl just as Raku does, and isn’t taken aback at all by his ebullient praise.
  • Shuu points out twice that he and Ruri should be pals because “after all, they both wear glasses.” Ruri isn’t convinced.
  • As much as we hate her doing them, Kosaki’s “crazed panic flights” are fun to watch.