With the Nisekoi anime now simulcasting, there is no better time to check out the original manga by Naoshi Komi than right now, with volume one of Nisekoi: False Love.
At first glance one may see the cover and title and immediately think that Nisekoi is another Shojo-romo-com kinda title. But wait! It’s a Shonen Jump manga, mostly known here for the home of all things Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, etc. So the question becomes, what then exactly is Nisekoi? In all honesty it is a harem love comedy, but like Ranma 1/2, Fruits Basket, or Tenchi Muyo, Nisekoi is a huge cross over title that appeals to both genders, hence the perfect kind of comedy for Shonen Jump that has a growing readership world wide of both women and men.
The story starts off with the lead Raku Ichijo, who as a boy makes a promise to a young girl he falls in love with, that one day they’d meet again, and until then she would hold onto a key which in turn unlocks a pendant he will wear around his neck. Fast forward a chunk of years later, Ichijo is in high school, but life isn’t perfect. To start, for a reason unknown to us, he has forgotten the name and face of this girl from his past. On top of that he is having typical awkward school trouble getting a girlfriend, or even at most a friend in general to hangout with, because he is heir to a yakuza family, and that makes everyone a little nervous. But Ichijo is going to forge his own path and not take on his family’s legacy, by becoming a public servant of some sort, and everything seems well on its way until Chitoge Kirisaki falls into his life, literally. One day out in the yard, beautiful, blonde, half-Japanese/half-American transfer student Kirisaki jumps over the school wall, landing right on Ichijo. Ichijo brushes the pain off, but things get worse as the “gorilla girl” turns out to be in his class, and then is assigned to sit next to him. Then it turns out that when she landed on him she accidentally knocked off his pendant! Kirisaki helps Ichijo look for the pendant, while butting heads every two seconds, but then one of the worst things possible happens in Ichijo’s life: his yakuza family is on the verge of a huge gang war. His father and the leader of the rival gang both don’t want the war, and they come up with only one solution to keep the peace between the angry gangsters, which is to have their heirs pose as a couple. Ichijo swallows his pride, hoping his crush at school, the beautiful Onodera, won’t find out, but no dice, because the other gang’s heir turns out to be Kirisaki. Suddenly, two hated enemies are forced to pose as a couple everywhere they go to keep the gangs from killing each other!
Nisekoi: False Love is an enjoyable comedy that is packed with fun. Part of the coolness is the humor of watching these two who’ve grown to loath each other in a short time be forced to act like a head-over-heels couple as they know they are constantly being spied on by their yakuza families. However, there are plenty of sweet moments tucked in as Ichijo deals with his feelings for Onodera while pretending to date Kirisaki, and at the same time realizing Kirisaki may not be that bad after all. Old school manga/anime fans will be reminded of the Ranma-Akane relationship in Ranma 1/2. Komi’s art is solid. Since it runs weekly both in Japan and here in North America’s Shonen Jump, the art style doesn’t get crazy detailed, but certainly looks just as good as anything running in that anthology. For fans watching the anime series wanting a comparison, the anime adaptation is 100% spot on the manga thus far, with volume 1 compiled into the first three episodes of the show.
Nisekoi: False Love volume 1 is out now in digital and print from Viz.