Weekly Jump Anime - Their First Episodes is my attempt to look at various Weekly Shonen Jump manga and the first episode of their animated adaptations.

This time I'm taking a look at the recent romantic-comedy Nisekoi!

Yakuza tsundere incoming!!

(Apologies in advance, I was going to post this earlier but my image host was down for awhile!)

Okay, let's get this out of the way: romantic-comedies are not my forte. As far as Jump titles go, I have a tendency to lean more towards the pure comedy or action series... but that would be kinda boring if I didn't go outside of my comfort zone and reviewed something out-of-the-ordinary... and something I have no previous knowledge of. That's right, I haven't read the original manga for Nisekoi nor seen any of the anime past it's first episode. So what you'll be reading is my initial impressions of Nisekoi that could change as I get around to viewing the rest of the anime.

Before we get to my review, however, let's get the episode summary going!

The Lord of the Keys didn't exactly set the world on fire...

Nisekoi - Episode One: The Promise

Our story begins in a field where a young boy and girl are having a tearful farewell. Both are deeply in love and decide to make a promise. The girl gives the boy an odd locket and she keeps the key to unlock it. They promise that when they are older and are re-united, they will use the key to unlock the locket and take out what's stored inside and get married.

Ten years later... (insert Spongebob French-narrator voice here)

The boy, now a high-schooler, is our main protagonist: Raku Ichijo. (who seems to share a similar taste in fashion with a certain character from Hidamari Sketch...) Raku is in the kitchen, diligently and elegantly cooking up a meal for someone. Finished, the teenager declares breakfast is ready to a room full of tough-looking gangsters... who in turn cheerfully greet Raku as the 'young master.' It turns out that Raku is the son of the yakuza gang Shuei-Gumi's leader and the heir to his father's business... something that the slightly effeminate Raku wants no part of. He wants to get a civil job, settle down with a 'cute wife' and have a kid... basically a normal, straight life.

Raku's father enters the room and tells his son that he wants to have a 'serious talk' in the next few days. Curious, Raku is escorted to school by his father's men, who warn him of a rival gang that's been moving in on their territory over the past few days. The poor teen reflects over his life as the son of a yakuza gang leader and the fact that he's studied so much to get into a top college that he has a poor social standing with girls and so never had a girlfriend. He then remembers the locket he has kept since that fateful day, takes it out and starts to twirl it on his finger as he heads to class.

Cue high-school girl running late to school with toast in her mouth...

Oh god, she's gonna eat me!!

The blonde, blue-eyed girl with a bunny ear-like bow in her hair jumps over the fence... where Raku happens to be walking by. The two make eye contact and the girl accidentally knees poor Raku in the face, causing him to lose the locket that was spinning on his finger. The girl is in such a rush to get to class that she half-heartedly apologizes and zooms off. Raku heads to class, where his friends Onodera (a girl he has a crush on) and Maiko ask him about his bloody nose and he tells them about the brutish girl who bashed his face in. Class then starts and the teacher introduces a new half-American transfer student, Chitoge Kirisaki... the girl who kneed Raku in the face. The class loves her but--

The 'barbarian' Chitoge and 'girly' Raku go at it with Raku reaching a boiling point and calls Chitoge a 'monkey-girl', which prompts the blonde to deliver a powerful punch, ending the argument. (The classes' reaction to all of this is pretty funny.) Even after that little ordeal, Chitoge is seated next to Raku and the two continue to hate each others guts. Through some internal thoughts, Raku comes to the realization that his prized locket is gone and remembers he lost it when Chitoge kneed him. He makes her take responsibility and the two try to find the locket in the grass around the area that Raku lost it but have no luck in finding it.

During class the next day, Chitoge struggles with Japanese... after class, Raku gives Chitoge some notes on Japanese but is rudely told off for butting into her business. Later in the day, Raku meets up with Onodera and she tells him that she knew about Raku trying to help Chitoge and she asks about his locket. He tells her that he made a promise and that it's his treasure. After school, Raku and Chitoge continue the search for the locket. He asks her why she transferred at a weird time but she dodges the question and walks by him... he gets a whiff of her scent... a familiar scent...

They continue the search the next day (their seventh time at it) but Chitoge loses it. She tells Raku that their classmates think they're going out because they're spending so time after school together. Onodera finishes up her own school activities early and heads over to help the search for the locket... only to find Raku and Chitoge arguing. Chitoge belittles and insults Raku for his 'childish obsession' over some promise that a girl probably doesn't even remember... this causes Raku to snap and lash out at the blonde, yelling at her and telling her to get lost. Chitoge, furious, quietly walks off...


However, the next day Onodera tells Raku that Chitoge is looking for him. Chitoge finds them first, however, and delivers Raku's locket to him via a baseball pitch. She runs off and Raku comes to the conclusion that Chitoge isn't all that bad and agrees that his childish promise is something that he should forget about. Onodera disagrees with him, saying that if the girl he promised remembers then she would be sad to find out that he didn't keep his end of the promise and that it could be something dear to her. Raku, hearing Onodera's response, changes his mind and decides to continue keeping his promise and walks off. Onodera then takes out a key, regretting that she didn't ask Raku about it again...

Raku arrives at home and his father finally has the 'serious talk' with him... apparently the rival gang that's been moving in on their territory might be going to war with the Shuei-Gumi. It turns out, though, that the boss of the rival gang is a friend of Raku's father and they've come up with a plan to avert this war...

Raku must date the rival gang leader's daughter, which should put the younger gang members at ease and end the war before it even begins. Raku protests but his father says that it doesn't have to be a real relationship... a 'fake love.' The daughter happens to be in the house and Raku's father reveals that it is none other than Chitoge! Then everything clicks together for Raku: Chitoge's sudden transfer to a new school and the smell she had... was that of gunpowder.

The two promptly freak out as it turns out that they must keep up this charade for THREE YEARS. End of episode.

Swiggty-swooty, I'm comin' for the booty...!

Whew, that was a long summary! Anyways, this was a decent first episode if a bit erratic. I feel the story progression jumps around a little too much which makes the episode feel a bit disjointed. The comedy is quite good and the little instances of drama works well.

The characters aren't much to write home about... Raku feels like a standard Shonen rom-com lead (complete with an uninteresting character design) and Chitoge is bit too grating but the chemistry and interactions between the two makes the show interesting to watch and has me looking forward to what'll happen in future episodes... the locket plotline isn't something I'm too interested in at the moment, though.

The animation by Shaft is very good with many scenes carrying a very stylized look and flowing animation. It's a very colorful and nice looking show to watch. I wasn't too impressed on the audio side of things, though. The voice acting is pretty good but the music by Satoru Kousaki is completely forgettable and the opening theme "Click" is standard J-Pop fluff.

All in all, Nisekoi at the moment feels a bit by-the-numbers in concept but the execution makes it an entertaining watch. I look forward to watching the rest of the series.

Nisekoi is available to purchase from Aniplex USA and is streaming on Crunchyroll and other sites. Unlike my previous entries, the original manga will be available for purhcase from Viz Media in January of next year.

Next time, I'll be taking a look at one of Jump's big hits, Bleach!

See ya next time!