What They Say:
Raku and Chitoge continue bickering, which does not help the situation, as their relationship status is already under scrutiny by Ruri and Kosaki. But when Chitoge confesses to them that their relationship is actually fake, Kosaki decides that she will let Raku know how she feels about him. Then one day Seishiro, a beautiful girl dressed like a boy, transfers to their school. She is actually a hitman hired by Claude to expose Raku and Chitoge! Although Raku is her enemy, when she comes in contact with Raku’s kind nature, Seishiro is confronted with a new emotion that leaves her totally confused. Meanwhile, Chitoge finds her diary from 10 years ago and remembers the promise she made with a certain boy. As their feelings sway, the group sets out to the open-air school where they can expect unforgettable experiences with the hot springs and even the test of courage!
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 A-1 Pictures, 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 Onodera in what you could easily call either her casual outfit or what she would wear for that special Sunday date with that someone special in her life. While not as vibrant as the first volume in a way since it has more colors to it and a more muted background, it still looks great and has a lot of great soft colors that has its own kind of pop to it. 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 as it’s along the lower left. The back of the slipcover is standard, though this time around it’s easier to read with a purple font against the muted 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 orange 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 Onodera artwork from the cover but with a pink background. The case does have some artwork on the reverse side with a rather adorable image of Onodera close-up as she’s really getting a little red in the cheeks.
The menu design for this release uses the colors from the packaging in a very good and engaging way as it’s an all muted beige background with a few colored widgets strewn across it to bring in some blues, pink and white. The right half is made up of a good full faced Onodera image that’s very pretty 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In a way, the opening volume of Nisekoi surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Granted, I could see all the standard cliches here as we get the childhood promises story told in the present, kids that have gangsters for parents, a romantic triangle of sorts where not everyone is fully on board with what’s going on and the usual array of friends that provide some decent material to bounce off of. There were no surprises to it when you get down to it. But what made it work was the execution. The animation for it definitely stands out and there’s a real polish to it that definitely makes it fun to watch, as well as the performances that give it some good life, as you got the sense that everyone involved is certainly at the top of their game. They just don’t have material that, at this time, goes above and beyond its cliches.
With the second installment of Nisekoi, we get another five episodes that moves us into the second of the four acts of this series that ran originally for twenty episodes for the season. The first set did all the heavy lifting of introducing the characters, establishing the school and home settings and the kind of relationship dynamic that now exists between Chitoge and Raku while also making sure that Onodera had her proper place as well so as to not be forgotten and left behind. The real focus was on Chitoge and Raku though as the energy between them with her outgoing way and his rather decent defenses at times, and his own interest in Onodera since he believes her to be the one from his own childhood promise, really worked well. But here, it’s about expanding upon the cast some, shaking up the situations and advancing things in small but important ways.
The changes we see in the relationship between Chitoge and Raku are important since both of them have to come around to the idea that there may be something more there. Since he performed CPR on her previously to save her life, he’s been freaking out over how she’ll react to losing her first kiss in a sense to him of all people and in that way. While he’s coping with that, she’s oblivious to what he’s thinking of and is just struggling in being able to say thank you for what he did. While it does end with the usual outlandish physical comedy elements, both of them misinterpret what the other is saying long enough that there are now some seeds planted into both of them that the other may be looking at them differently with a new kind of interest. That’s nudged along well since Chitoge isn’t one that can understand her own feelings well and while Raku is just feeling conflicted over the possibility that she may like him since he’s still so focused on Onodera.
While the pair do circle each other repeatedly over the course of the episodes here, there are moments where things do progress more. We get the naturally silly hot springs encounter where they’re both in the same bath as Claude sets it up to humiliate Raku, but Chitoge ends up saving him from the humiliation because she doesn’t want to be tied to someone for a few years that has that hanging over him. And, of course, she’s softened a bit towards him in general. We also get the expected Test of Courage, high school style, that gets underway at the hot spring resort and Chitoge ends up lost in the dark without a working flashlight, which plays heavily on her fear of the dark based on childhood events. Raku handles it well and proper here, but it’s one of those moments that brings a lot of memories ot the surface for Chitoge but also forces her to realize that they really need to adjust how they interact with each other in order to pull off the ruse. But also because she really feels that he’s earned the right since even though he’s paying attention to Onodera as his real interest, he’s also paying real attention to her as well and that makes an impact.
Unfortunately, Onodera is kept largely to the side in these episodes as we get a new transfer student arriving at the school to take up more time. Said student is Tsugumi, who dresses and largely looks like a boy but is really a girl, which most don’t find out about for the majority of the first episode she’s in – including Raku. Tsugumi naturally doesn’t care for Raku since she’s spent her years trying to improve herself to protect Chitoge from the evils of the world since she loves her in a very sisterly way and that adds a new headache for Raku to deal with. Tsugumi isn’t a bad character, but rather a very familiar one with what she does here. It’s played well for the fanservice and the surprise factor of it initially, which is nicely done when Raku discovers it and tries to protect her honor by hiding her from others finding out. Tsugumi for her part does have a minorly amusing back story as to why she’s like she is, owing a lot of it to her adoptive father, but there’s nothing terribly new here with her. But again, it’s the execution – and animation design.
The second installment of Nisekoi largely builds off of what the first set did and it’s definitely solid all around for what it’s trying to do. We get the expected expansions of the cast and the slowly changing dynamic of the relationship between Raku and Chitoge in several different places. Admittedly, you could probably plot all of these out episode by episode just looking at the basic premise of the series without watching any of it. But with the team working on this show and their skill and quality applied to it, it all becomes something more. Again, it’s not rewriting the genre (at least not yet) or doing something amazing, but it takes a familiar property and shows that with the right talent and approach, you can make it very fun and enjoyable to watch even if you know the beats of the story by heart. And with as much as I watch, I certainly see these familiar hooks and beats often. Nisekoi plays to it expertly and beautifully.
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: January 27th, 2015
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.