What They Say:
10 years ago, Raku made a secret promise with a girl he met that they would “get married when they reunite.” Since then, he never let go of the pendant she gave him…
Like any average high school student, Raku lives with FAMILY pressures… Unlike most teenagers, he’s the sole heir to the head of a Yakuza Family. One day, a beautiful girl named Chitoge transfers into Raku’s class. Their chemistry was more than off. Not a moment went by without them fighting. But, through a weird turn of events, Raku and Chitoge agree to become fake lovers. Although his heart is really interested in his classmate Kosaki, Raku must pretend to be Chitoge’s boyfriend.
The audio presentation for this release gives us a pretty pure version of the show as we get only the Japanese language track in the uncompressed PCM format. The series is one that is largely dialogue based with what it does with a few wacky comedy-action moments along the way to spice things up a bit. There’s a decent bit of placement and directionality for the show in how it moves around and some of the designs to it with the way some of the comedy plays out, but it’s not a huge factor to it. The opening and closing sequences definitely help to bump up the overall presentation well as there’s a good warmth to it with a full sound that works the forward soundstage well. Dialogue is strong throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With five episodes to this release, it’s all on a single disc and definitely looks good. Animated by Shaft, there’s a lot of really great character design detail and sets/backgrounds that definitely have great color design to it. With a high bit rate throughout it, both in the quiet scenes and the really busy ones, there’s a slick and appealing look here that definitely takes advantage of being in high definition. The colors are vibrant and have some great pop in a lot of scenes and the way you can get into checking out the detail of the backgrounds can be pretty engaging. Visually, it’s a very appealing series and the transfer captures it perfectly.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that has a slipcover that partially replicates what’s on the case. The front cover is a great piece as we get the detailed and very colorful image of Kirisaki leaping across it in some very “teenage” clothes the clash in a good way. The colors really drive it up in a big way to make it eye-catching, though it can overshadow the logo a bit, which is along the lower right. I do like the logo as it uses pieces from the theme of the show within it with the key and locket in a good way. The back of the slipcover is standard, though a little hard to read, with thin yellow lettering against a strong pink background.
We get a decent look at the premise and a few decent shots from the show that plays up the fanservice a bit. The episode count is clearly listed as are the standard features and the extras both on disc and in the box. The technical grid covers the basics in a good way along the bottom as well so you know exactly what’s included. The Blu-ray case has the same front cover but works with a simpler back cover with yellows and pinks that shows off a few shots from the show while breaking down the main cast and staff. There’s artwork on the reverse side as well with a very bright smiling Kirisaki close-up. The packaging includes a great selection of postcards with some great detail and a nice three panel poster that uses the Kirisaki artwork from the cover but with a pink background.
The menu design for this release uses the colors from the packaging in a very bright and engaging way as it’s an all pink background with a few colored widgets strewn across it to bring in some blues, greens and yellows. The right half is made up of a good full faced Kirisaki image that’s very bright and colorful while below her we get the series logo and volume listing. The left side breaks down the navigation strip with the episode by number and title and submenu selections as needed. It’s a simple menu that pretty much just gets you right to the show and that’s what you really want. With it being a monolingual release, you can turn the subtitles off, but it does default to them being on as it goes right into playback when you first load the disc rather than going to the menu.
The only extras we get here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga series by Naoshi Komi that originally started off as a one shot before becoming a full series, Nisekoi is a twenty episode series animated by A-1 Pictures. The show was a bit of an unusual one with its episode count, but it ended up doing well enough to get not only two additional OVA episodes but also a second season that’s coming in the future. The manga got picked up prior to the series by Viz Media, so that seeded things nicely by coming out at the same time and giving fans a chance to experience both at the same time, which doesn’t happen too often. I had missed out on the series during its simulcast run, but the first five episodes here for this set definitely makes for a good bit of fun in a very slick and polished kind of way.
The series revolves around high school student Raku Ichijo, a young man who comes across as a pretty decent guy, smart enough but not top of the class, and someone who seems like someone you’d easily hang out with. Unfortunately for him, circumstances have kept him from having the kind of high school life that he should have, which includes having a girlfriend or close friends, because his father is a yakuza family leader. Because of that, people certainly keep their distance and he has a kind of distant feeling himself since he’s regularly watched by the members of the family. Ichijo handles it well when you get down to it, but a lot of it is just him waiting to get past high school so he can get on with his life as he wants to be a civil servant and nothing to do with the yakuza at all.
Ichijo has a past that he’s trying to figure out as well, which is a childhood promise to a mysterious girl that they would be together some day. He knows it must have happened because he has a locket from that time that can be opened with a key that the girl kept. He’s held onto the locket all this time and is hopeful that the girl who has it is Kosaki Onodera, one of the really nice girls in the school that he’s totally smitten with and who actually likes him, but doesn’t really act on it. What’s nice is that we know from very early on that it is pretty much her with they key (unless there’s a twist later of course) and seeing her being so shy about the whole thing, unable to admit what she has, makes her pretty fun to watch. The two have a great ease about each other but also the right kind of tension to make you see some good relationship potential there as well.
What throws Ichijo’s carefully balanced life into chaos is the arrival of a transfer student from America named Chitoge Kirisaki. She’s half American and half Japanese who easily acclimates to the school climate when she gets there, though she does find some of it to be difficult when it comes to the actual learning. Ichijo’s meeting of her is done in a rough way as she’s leaping over the wall to get into the school and knees him hard in the face. That sets them to tense moments for pretty much all the time after that, but a lot of it is accentuated by the fact that when they first met, she knocked his locket off and it was lost in the high grass. This does get resolved, but she puts a lot of bad vibes out there in how she derides him about it for awhile. Kirisaki is a big, outgoing personality and the two of them clash easily. It also doesn’t help that the teacher forces them together to get Ichijo to show her around the school, which reinforces the distaste they have with each other.
Suffice to say, we get to see plainly that the two don’t get along. So what makes it worse. As it turns out, Kirisaki’s father is the leader of the Beehive Gangsters and he and Ichijo’s father have brokered a peace that has them playing the part of boyfriend and girlfriend for the next three years of high school in order to settle things out. While there may be hope that the two of them get close during it and it becomes real, the initial reactions are abject horror on both their parts as they want nothing to do with each other. they also realize failure to perform will have various members of their respective families kill them. For Ichijo in particular, we see how Kirisagi’s bodyguard named Clyde has it in for him from the start and is convinced something is off here. They get stalked hard and have to really play up their “false love” in a big way while out and about. This means dates, hanging around and walking to and from school. It’s only at school they can ignore each other, but it’s not long before even that ends up going south and everyone finds out they’re dating.
Which, of course, complicates things for Onodera as she’s been pining for him but has been unable to pursue him herself. This gives us the romantic triangle of sorts, especially as Onodera’s friend knows her true feelings and can’t understand how Ichijo and Kirisagi are together, and that leads to a swim meet episode that provides a whole lot of fanservice and fun that also starts to illuminate more what kind of good guy Ichijo is in particular. A good romantic triangle is one where you find yourself seeing how all the participants interact in different but great ways with their particular interests and you can see all of them working as opposed to writing one off instantly and not liking them together. With what we get in the first five episodes here, the characters are laid out well and we get a good feel for the basic kind of relationship potential, and that leaves me viewing as Ichijo being a good fit with both of them where they’d both be very good for each other.
The opening installment of Nisekoi gives us a familiar story to be sure, but it’s one that’s executed with great polish. There’s a very appealing design to the show with its animation and attention to detail which elevates it above other shows of a similar nature. While I would have preferred more episodes here to get into it, the foundations are well laid out and you find yourself generally liking all the characters for different reasons. I do wish we had more of a supporting cast to work with though, but the lack of it means more focus on the core characters and I like seeing how Ichijo interacts with both Kirisaki and Onodera separately and together while trying to figure out how best to let Onodera in on the ruse, even as the ruse slowly but surely changes little by little. It’s a great looking release here that’s just vibrant and fun.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: November 25th, 2014
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.