Romantic comedy manga can thrive or end up cancelled depending on how the series begins. Even the most stereotypical manga can turn into a franchise with over a hundred chapters and counting if it has enough going for it. Some of you may have heard of the mangaka named Naoshi Komi before as he has tried his hand at a few manga series before, but none of them took off until his latest manga, Nisekoi, hit Weekly Shōnen Jump back in 2011. Now that Viz has brought the first volume of Nisekoi: False Love to print in North America is this manga series worth picking up?
Raku Ichijo does his best at school and is looking forward to going to college and becoming a stand-up member of society who helps others. There is a problem with this as he also is the only son to the local yakuza gang and he is not only protected by tough looking thugs anytime he leaves the house but his home life is rife with distractions as the yakuza members either end up hurt in conflict or pestering him about becoming the next leader.
Recently things have been getting noisy in the town and the yakuza gang has been getting into a lot of fights with a rival gang that has recently moved into their territory. Still, Raku does his best to let this pass by him and attend school where he fantasizes about Kosaki Onodera, a girl in his class that he has had a crush on for quite some time. When he arrives at school he is suddenly kneed in the face by an athletic blond girl he has never seen before.
This girl turns out to be a new transfer student named Chitoge Kirisaki and after their initial meeting and forced pairing by the teacher, Raku and Chitoge simply cannot stand one another. To make matters worse, when Chitoge hit him in the face Raku lost a locket he has held onto for the past ten years. You see, ten years ago he made a promise with a young girl, of whom he has no recollection of, that they would meet and when she used the key to his locket, they would marry.
Despite their hate for one another, things get become even worse when Raku returns home and he is told by his father that he will now be pretend dating the daughter of their rival faction in an effort to avoid an all-out bloodbath in the middle of the city. This girl just happens to be Chitoge and now not only does Raku have to deal with this violent girl he hates and act as her fake lover, it has put any chance he might have had with Onodera on hold. Can this odd couple manage to keep up the charade and avoid a war or will Raku’s sanity be lost in the process?
As with many romantic comedies, Nisekoi: False Love’s premise is something fans of the genre have likely seen before, but this time repackaged a bit differently but you know what? Even with the initial setting being rather standard, Nisekoi manages to make it work and it does so with great characters and enough great comedy to make me laugh every single chapter.
Although this is just the start of Nisekoi and currently only Chitoge, Raku, and Onodera have been given any time to develop, the situation that Chitoge and Raku have been placed in, as well as their constant dislike for one another and complete opposite tastes in pretty much everything make the series hilarious. Put this alongside the numerous visual gags that the series uses throughout the chapters and it would be nearly impossible for anyone to read through the volume without laughing.
Chitoge’s tsundere act is almost entirely tsun as she reacts violently to anything Raku does while Raku simply wants to try and avoid being caught in the lie while also trying to not push Onodera too far away with misunderstandings. Volume 1 ends with a nice cliffhanger concerning Raku’s locket after giving readers enough to care about the characters and invest in where the series will go from here.
Now one thing that stood out for me throughout Nisekoi and is probably the best part of the manga is how Naoshi Komi handles each character’s face. The reaction faces found throughout this volume are outstanding as they can be all over the pace in quality but regardless of that the over exaggerated expressions as each of the character’s react to any given situation is absolutely wonderful and the highlight of the series.
Outside of the character expressions, the characters have a fairly standard design with a few noteworthy panels given some impressive level of detail, usually highlighting Chitoge or Onodera in an emotional moment. The backgrounds are fairly standard with some basic linework and Viz’s translation of the series does not obscure any of the artwork and flows fairly fluidly.
Nisekoi: False Love Volume 1 comes with a few basic inclusions throughout the volume. At the end of each chapter readers are given a simple sketch of something from the chapter, usually a look at something from behind the scenes of the events occurring during the chapter and spaced throughout the volume are a few four panel gags about Raku and Chitoge taking care of some rescued animals and a karaoke moment.
Nisekoi: False Love’s first volume helps highlight all of the strengths that this series has going for it right at the beginning as readers are given some time to learn a bit about Raku’s past and experience how Raku and Chitoge get along, or should I say not get along, with one another. With hilarious moments in every chapter and priceless facial expressions, Nisekoi: False Love Volume 1 does nearly everything right to ensnare the reader and keep them looking forward to the next volume.
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