Nisekoi – First Impressions
Naoshi Komi is a manga creator who I’ve heard quite a lot about. He worked on a short lived series in Weekly Shonen Jump called Double Arts, and he also created a number of one-shots, as many manga artists do. I never got the chance to read his first series, but I have read some of the one-shots he wrote, and I’m starting to understand why this guy has so many fans. His stories have some of the most unique premises I’ve come across, which makes him stand out from the crowd. In fact, the people he reminds me of the most are the protagonists of Bakuman. Simply read the premise of his story Personant and you’ll see what I mean.
The problem I had with his stories, though, is that the ones I’ve read never really offer a lot aside from the unusual premises. It’s been said that a lot of the stories in Bakuman wouldn’t be very interesting if you read them in real life, and I can see why. That’s why I was so interested when I found out his one-shot Nisekoi would be turned into a full series. I knew I had to read this for myself, if only to figure out how the hell you turn that story into a full manga.
The very first thing I noticed when I started this manga was how familiar it all was. I remember an episode of the anime Seitokai Yakuindomo that made fun of how a lot of shojo start off. That’s almost exactly how this manga begins. The two lead characters, Ichijou and Kirisaki, get into a fight outside school only to discover that they’re in the same class, which leads to a number of zany situations.
There are two main differences between this series and the standard formula that I really noticed. The first is the main premise, where the two characters are the children of mafia/yakuza families and must pretend to be going out in order to prevent a mob war. How fun. This was the whole story of the original one-shot, which concluded with the two leads narrowly stopping a conflict by fulfilling a childhood promise. Since that exact promise no longer exists in this version, it’s hard to say how the story will diverge.
There is a childhood promise, though, and this is where the second big difference from the usual formula was. Ichijou owns a special locket with only one key, and that key belongs to a little girl he knew as a kid. Here’s the catch, though: that key does not belong to Kirisaki, but to another friend of Ichijou’s named Onodera. And she’s the girl he had a crush on before the whole mafia business began. And she’s really bad at keeping this secret from him.
Currently, there’s two possible ways I can see the story going. One, Ichijou starts to progressively care more about Kirisaki, to the point where he has to decide between his past love and his present one. It would make for a nice conclusion to the love triangle, especially if the two girls can remain likable. Two, it turns out the locket/key they own was actually mass-produced and every major female character will have a key of their own. This is similar to how Love Hina turned out, though I doubt it will actually turn out like that. Still, it would make for a nice gag or two to have characters realize this possibility.
Naoshi Komi’s reputation has been for coming up with unique ideas, but the problem is that it hasn’t done the best job at showing the uniqueness yet. All the premise has really lead to so far is a lot of over-the-top comedy, and while it’s nice to see the male lead actually yell back at his tsundere love interest, it’d be nicer if they didn’t clearly dislike each other right now. The seeds for an interesting story have been planted, and now we just need to hope that they’ll get the nourishment they need to grow.
The thing I was worried about most of all was whether the series would get canceled before it got interesting. Recent Shonen Jump series have had considerably shorter lifespans than they used to, and I don’t know how long the premise can last here. I recently checked the Shonen Jump rankings and this series has been doing surprisingly well so far. I don’t think it’s dropped below the top 10 yet, and the most recent rankings placed it in the 5th rank. I only have Bakuman to go by, but I assume that’s doing fairly well so far. I have hopes that this series will live up to everything I’ve heard, but it may take time for that to happen. Let’s just hope it gets the time it needs.