Like a pro.

Ichijou Raku wishes he was an ordinary boy, but he isn’t. He’s the heir of a yakuza family, although they’re vaguely supportive and even in awe of his desire to not follow in their footsteps. He’s very dedicated to his cause to get into a good university and thus as far away from their lifestyle as possible, and has concentrated so much on his grades that he’s never had time for trifles like romance. Which is rather ironic considering how romantic he is – he still carries the locket his childhood friend gave him everywhere he goes.Only she holds the key to it, and the plan they made as children was to reunite, reopen the locket and get married. Because he is a romcom protagonist, he can’t remember her name or face but hopes he can find her again one day, although he does have a major crush on his classmate Onodera.
One day a new girl transfers into the school who is almost the polar opposite of his ideal moemoe Onodera – a half Japanese, half American by the name of Kirisaki Chitoge who is tough, brash and quick to anger. They get off on the wrong foot and start to resent each other….but then it turns out that Chitoge is actually the daughter of the new gang that’s showed up in the area and has been warring with Raku’s family’s. With the gang fights reaching critical levels, Raku’s grandfather devises a plan to cease the fighting – Chitoge and Raku must become a couple…or at least fool everyone else into thinking they are.

There’s some really great colours in this.

When I was still living in Japan I had started buying Shonen Jump each week to read on the train, and the Nisekoi manga started around this time. I never really liked it at first, the ‘promised girl’ thing made my eyes roll and the ‘but I can’t remember her name or face’ made them roll so hard they just about fell out. But it was an easy read and the art was attractive enough so I never actually missed a chapter, and gradually I actually started to enjoy it. The characters grew on me and it even reached the point where I started to anticipate next week’s installment. So when I heard about it getting an anime, I knew I’d probably end up First Impression-ing it and making a post about how I know the start of the story is dull and lame but hey It Gets Better and maybe the anime does too, and also maybe a spiel about how I wouldn’t keep my hopes up because anime versions of Jump manga are usually really badly animated. And then I found out that SHAFT were doing it.
It’s honestly amazing what SHAFT’s magic touch can do to a seemingly dull premise. The show looks amazing, it’s colourful, bright and manages to be visually interesting without all that usual SHAFT pretentiousness with eye closeups. There’s so many great little tweaks here and there – the way Chitoge jumps up show-dolphin style to grab the bread that she flung from her mouth while jumping, the completely redesigned postmodern school and classroom interior, even the opening scene of Raku fixing a meal for his yakuza family is great to watch. Perhaps even best of all, the opening theme is by the amazing dream-team collaboration of ClariS and kz, and kz tends to instantly make me happy.
Given that the manga is still ongoing, I’m not sure exactly what SHAFT plan to do with it – make a short series with their own ending or give it multiple series, nor do I know which would be better. I’ll be watching though; it may be another highschool romcom, but its a damn good-looking one with a good protagonist and that honestly doesn’t happen every season.

I liked these scenes best. I think SHAFT did a similar grass effect in Arakawa Under the Bridge but it looks a lot prettier here.

Out of 5,