To recap, Ichijo and Chitoge, children of the bosses of rival yakuza gangs, are forced to become boyfriend and girlfriend as a way of bringing peace to their warring families, despite the fact that they heartily detest one another. Not to mention that Ichijo is already secretly in love with his classmate Onodera, who is as ladylike and feminine as Chitoge is loud and brash.
What fuels his passion for Onodera is his belief that she is a long-lost childhood sweetheart whom he promised to marry many years before. But his recollection is a bit fuzzy, and by the time we’re a few episodes into this second half-season, there are at least two other likely candidates for the role.
And if it wasn’t bad enough being embroiled with two girls while in love with a third, as the series progresses Ichijo starts to wonder if he might not have feelings for Chitoge after all …
Nisokei: False Love isn’t the easiest of anime to get into thanks to its rather contrived plot devices, but its on stronger ground when it sticks to the more traditional elements of romantic comedy – crossed wires, embarrassing misunderstandings, fleeting moments of intimacy rudely interrupted. Despite the harem format, the mood is innocent and there is little of the blatant sexualising of teens which can be a problem for western audiences. Our old friends the resort episode and the end of term Culture Festival crop up, but on the whole the show ekes out its thin material cleverly, and there’s a kind of fascination to the way in which it milks maximum comedy and drama from every situation.
A lot of this is achieved through the animation aesthetic adopted by Shaft – bright and breezy if a little basic at first sight, but piling on the FX, with every gag hammered home with a chibi-styled double-take and a comedic music cue. Nothing we haven’t seen before (apart from some “zombie face” reaction shots from Ichijo which are extremely funny and look new), but Nisekoi pushes the envelope with the sheer quantity of such devices.
Add to this reams of chattering, fast-paced crosstalk and Ichijo’s frenzied interior monologues, and you have a show which might just be a bit of froth, but it’s froth that has been whipped up with some impressive skill. 6/10