Ichijo is the son of a mob boss, but otherwise a normal high school student. His crush on a girl in his class has thus far gone unrequited. A gang war threatens to break out with a rival family. The family heads "resolve" the issue by having their heirs pretend to be dating in order to keep the peace. Since they can't reveal the plan, confessing his feelings to his crush gets farther and farther away with each misunderstanding.
Ichijo is now supposedly dating the beautiful Chitose, who is nearly the opposite of the girl he has a crush on. Keeping appearances with this fake love is probably more tiring than the real thing, but as the two spend time together, it might not be as fake as they'd like to pretend.
I picked up Nisekoi (Fake Love) thinking it had a sure fire concept I'd love. It didn't work out that way, and I prepared to blast this anime but it did come around eventually - more in line with my expectations. Even getting to that point takes a while, then to only deliver standard anime romance stuff. And it hasn't concluded (but do these shows EVER conclude?).
Nisekoi has a good setup from its outward description, however it kinda doesn't do that. The mob family stuff is rarely touched upon, and Chitose is only one girl among many interested in Ichijo. Instead Nisekoi painfully stumbles through every tired romantic comedy / harem trope ever. Ichjo carries a locket which only a certain girl can open with the respective key. A (cheap) plot element which could resolve the story mystery in 10 seconds, yet still hasn't in 36 episodes.
Season 1 is mostly Ichijo agonizing over 3rd grader level romance stuff like hand holding, but drawn out to agonizing lengths with internal dialog. Chitose plays the other side of the fake relationship, but strangely this anime doesn't focus on her much - which is just as well since her personality sucks. Instead Nisekoi becomes distracted by adding more girls. Ichijo has a crush on Kosaki, who's so sweet and timid she's boring. Two more girls are shoveled in which add no value, but we have to endure the same tired anime romance crap surrounding them too.
I should mention Nisekoi is attractive in a very gaudy sense; very "over-produced" for what it is. Scenes never show a still character, it has to continuously shift scenes every 3 seconds, like the animators had a combination of nicotine withdrawal, caffeine overdose, and attention deficit disorder. And holy shit the SPARKLES. Like a little girl's first foray into makeup to end up looking like a circus clown, someone on the production staff for Nisekoi discovered "sparkles".
I became bored with Nisekoi, so the more I watched the faster I wanted to get it over with. But episode 17 (out of 20), does an impressive reversal, getting things on track. Wait, that's almost the end. Well... yeah.
But then there's another season with FAR better execution, picking up where the better trend left off - and someone turned off the raging SPARKLEMASTER 9000. Chitose realizes she's in love with Ichijo (who remains clueless), softening her character and making her more appealing. Kosaki remains sweet yet flat, however her character works in concert with two others. Her friend tries to push her and Ichijo together, while her little sister tries to keep them apart, with Kosaki awkwardly stuck in the middle. The 2nd season doesn't lag with drawn out dialog (and sparkles), instead packing two stories per episode which improves the pacing. Aside from romance stuff, there's a fair amount of dud material, but occasionally more fun detours as well.
Worth picking up? If you are patient: maybe. Nisekoi is also un-concluded (right now). If you like a shounen styled romance, and you're okay with that, give Nisekoi a shot. For me, wading through the poor start, to get a weak story, so-so characters, then lacking a finish.. not so much. That said, with another season concluding the story with Ichijo choosing a girl, it would be an okay watch.
Marika: Love is something you must see through to the end. Even in the face of such obstacles such as girlfriends.
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