I’ve said it before: I’m quite susceptible to pretty colors, cute things and fun. Niskeoi (SHAFT, 2014), based on the Weekly Shounen Jump manga by Naoshi Komi, has all of those things. Now, having all those things in your show does not a good anime make, and at times Nisekoi kind of teeters on the edge between being a good show and a not very good one. But, fortunately, Chitoge and company land on the good side more frequently than they do the other. And so, for looking pretty, being pretty and for having Nao Toyama as Chitoge, Nisekoi garners a fluffy 6/10 from me (Ranking).
When I watch shows like Nisekoi, I always feel I’m watching them from a different perspective than I watch other shows. There are some shows which I can tell don’t have the weight or depth to bear up under critical observation, yet I still inflict that upon them. And then there are shows like Nisekoi (or the recently reviewed Nyarko-san) which I also know aren’t really capable of sustaining heavy critical observation, and which I don’t assess in that manner. What I guess I’m trying to say is that, while I didn’t love it, I liked Nisekoi. And now it’s my responsibility to explain why.
I really do think there’s a lot to like about Nisekoi. It’s more or less the archetypal harem story (a reasonably nice guy has a whole bunch of girls who like him), with enough small twists to the formula to keep things interesting and solid aptitude in maintaining the formula when it chooses to play things straight. There are even moments when it pushes back slightly against the tropes that inhabit the genre. As a romantic comedy, there a plenty of funny moments (the facial expressions are a major highlight of the series). Generally, the comedy is best when the whole group is around, but there are isolated moments of comedy in the one-on-one moments between the characters.
But, where the show really shines (and I literally mean shines), is in the visuals. Say what you want about the inconsistent direction and strange momentum twists in the pacing of the story, Nisekoi looks really pretty. Pretty is the key word, though, and I’m deliberately using it instead of beautiful. Nisekoi‘s pretty, but not beautiful, except in isolated instances. It’s atheistically pleasing (at least for someone with my sensibilities and preferences), but while I LOVE color scheme and enjoy the visual style, they lack the sense of grandeur or depth necessary to push Nisekoi into the territory of beautiful.
It’s not impossible that my overall impression of the show’s story might affect my view of the visuals, but I want to make clear that when I call Nisekoi pretty, but not beautiful, I don’t mean it as a knock against the show. The visual presentation, and this includes Akiyuki Shinbo’s direction, made Nisekoi a better overall product than it otherwise would have been. It’s stylish and fun, and even occasionally dramatic. The visual excellence of the show doesn’t act as a replacement for the substance that’s lacking elsewhere, but it makes Nisekoi more interesting and more fun to watch.
Honestly, I don’t feel as if I’ve really said anything of value about this show, but that’s really because I’m not sure there’s a lot to say. Nisekoi is a fun show, but it’s also not a show with much depth or much to think about. Even now, I’m scattering in pictures because I feel my review is insubstantial. And, in the end, that could be the perfect explanation of what Nisekoi is: a show that needs its visuals to stand out. Again, it’s not necessarily a knock against the show; it’s just how things are.
For fans of SHAFT, blonde tsunderes and rom-coms, Nisekoi is exactly the sugar rush you want. Inconsistent at times, it’s not quite solid enough a production to warrant a unreserved recommendation, but it’s an enjoyable watch. It’s certainly a cut above your generic harem anime, if only by the merits of its animation.
Reasons to Watch:
- Very, very pretty SHAFT animation with a lovely color palate.
- Chitoge is best girl. And a pretty well done tsundere, too.
- Raku shows more spunk than your average harem protagonist, and has moments where he acts like a real human being.