Having recently discovered this series I adored the romantic triangle, the awkward moments between characters, and the silly, humorous nature of the title. Who would have thought you could make a gang like the Yakuza silly? I check out the latest volume to see if it’s as good as the first.
Nisekoi: False Love, Vol. 15 (Viz Media)
Viz Media’s official summary of the series reads:
Love triangle! Comedic antics!! Gang warfare?! You won’t want to miss out on Shonen Jump’s laugh-out-loud feel-good manga series! It’s hate at first sight when Raku Ichijo first meets Chitoge Kirisaki. But much to their chagrin, the two are forced into a false love relationship to keep the peace between their feuding gangster families.
This volume’s summary:
Raku’s childhood friend Yui declares her love for Raku! When Chitoge overhears, she freaks out! Raku’s left to spend the day alone with Yui after everyone in the house leaves for vacation. When Chitoge and the others catch wind of it, they’ll do anything to stop the two from being alone!
Why does this book matter?
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to read the fantastic Love Fights from way back in 2004, you will love this series. The series uses inventive ways to highlight the drama of that tender age of not knowing if someone likes you and reacting as awkwardly as possible. The story and art by Naoshi Komi has a traditional manga feel, but manages to infuse the characters with unique voices which makes the dynamics interesting.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A heck of a lot happens in this volume and about halfway through I got the impression I was binge watching a TV show. From the opening chapter where we learn Raku’s childhood friend (who he calls sister!) has a crush on him, to a day where the gangsters leave and it’s just Raku and a bunch of girls, to a beauty contest; there’s a lot going on in this single volume. It never feels like it’s dragging due to lack of ideas, though. Meanwhile, Raku’s life is more complicated than ever with plenty of suitors going after him. They’re all too shy to really go all the way and let him know–and he’s too naive to notice–which is the general schtick of this series.
The art is quite nice and inventive. In one chapter, probably the best in the book, Marika reads about a love technique in a magazine which makes her ignore Raku for a whole day. Just her luck they’re constantly alone and she can’t tackle him (she seems to do this a lot). She’s dying on the inside about this, but keeps up her resolve and continues to give him the cold shoulder. Meanwhile, a cute little devil and angel rest on her shoulders telling her what she should do. Throughout this chapter Marika imagines herself doing things to Raku and they’re silly and fun.
Probably the funniest chapter in the book involves Raku and Chitoge being interviewed about their relationship. They’re pretending to date so that their parents’ rival gangs don’t go to war (wow, heavy) but the interviewer suspects it’s all fake. Instead of just asking them questions though, she shows them videos of interviews she did with their friends who are all pretty terrible at keeping up the lie. Komi throws black bars over their eyes to protect their identities, but the bar doesn’t obscure enough or isn’t even covering the eyes at times. It’s a clever element that makes for a comical running gag.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m admittedly probably not the target age group for a book like this, but I found the fawning girls to grow tiresome after a while. While each chapter mixes things up quite a bit, the girls never really grow or change their perspectives besides being boy crazy. That makes them feel quite flat over time. Most of them are dying to be with Raku, but don’t do anything about it.
I’m not sure if the book is somewhat sexist or not–it does seem like the girls care way more about Raku than they should, and there are some somewhat sexist elements in play although it’s not that overt. One example is how Komi has categorized the women in groups of bad cooks and good. As if a woman is a better catch if they can cook tasty food. Certainly not a good message to send young girls!
This is a funny comedy about teenagers who have crushes but can’t follow through with them. Much like its art this manga is inventive, constantly changing things up with innovative twists and plots.