Nisekoi – 17

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nisekoi – 16

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nisekoi – 15

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nisekoi – 14

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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.

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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.

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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.

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