What They Say:
The season is summer – a time for unforgettable memories. At Kosaki’s request, Raku helps out at her family’s shop. Everything is going smoothly until a seasonal typhoon hits the town, rendering it impossible for Raku to go home! Now, Raku must spend the night there while Kosaki’s parents are out. At the summer festival, Chitoge is forced to confront her true feelings when she receives from Raku a matchmaking charm customarily exchanged when a man proposes marriage!
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 another solid piece as we get the detailed and very colorful image of Tachibana in a white summer dress with some good blue lines to it that really delivers in making it feel very airy and lightweight. It also helps with the other spring and summer aspects brought into it and the pale pink background. 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 light pink font against the yellow 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 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 the four main characters together with the keys and locket between them. The packaging includes a great selection of postcards with some great detail and a nice three panel poster that uses the Tachiba artwork from the cover with a pink background. The case does have some artwork on the reverse side with a rather adorable image of Tachibana that’s done as a close-up.
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 blue 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 Tachibana 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.
The first season if Nisekoi comes to a close here and it again proves to be interesting to me to see a series end with just twenty episodes. Part of me appreciates the idea of doing just a run that actually works that doesn’t feel drawn out as opposed to something with a lot of filler. But Nisekoi is essentially a show that’s playing with familiar material that doesn’t really stretch itself, and instead really sets itself apart by its style and design more than anything else. In a lot of ways, you can look at the story of Nisekoi and if it had been animated by a more traditional and standard design here, your lower budget kind of release, it wouldn’t garner nearly as much attention. It’s not that the show is bad, far from it as I rather enjoy it, but it’s all about the execution and quality that helps elevate the familiar and at this stage mostly predictable material.
With the final five episodes of this season, we get some familiar movements that continues to make the relationships complicated. On the plus side, some of the more recent additions are minimized for it as we get less of Tsugumi overall and even Tachibana gets a reduced role. It’s not that they’re bad characters per se, but it’s appreciated to get a bit more focus on Kosaki and Chitoge overall. And we get some good stuff right off the bat when Ichijo ends up helping out at the sweets shop that Kosaki’s family runs, which is just hilarious from the introduction with Kosaki’s mother and the way she wholeheartedly approves in a big way, even setting things so that the two kids spend time together there. There’s fun with them running the shop and just spending time together in Kosaki’s room, especially when she races up to clean up in the way you usually see the guys do, but it also takes a good turn when a small typhoon hits the area and they spend some quality quiet time together. It doesn’t provide a game changing moment, but it’s another slow and steady growth of the relationship between the two of them.
Other familiar that comes into play here has an episode focusing on the local festival, which has Ichijo working it for the family and trying to get a relationship charm. This doesn’t really start with him hanging out with anyone, but he ends up connecting with Chitoge during it and the two have an awkward time together that’s made worse as it goes on as he ends up giving her the charm through a series of events. That comes after she reads the history of the charm and its greater meaning, which Ichijo himself doesn’t even realize until later when he reads about it himself. Since that has her believing he’s making a firmer commitment to her, she’s flustered at first but eventually starts realizing after talking with others that she really may be developing feelings for Ichijo. And that’s just hugely conflicting for her in a way that makes her even more flushed and fidgety than normal. It’s the nudge to move things along, which of course is timed right after he got closer to Kosaki in a small way.
Which, naturally, means a beach episode follows up right after that. There’s a key moment towards the end of this, but the bulk of it is just fun with swimsuits, fanservice and a whole lot of silliness in general. It’s definitely a highlight of the set, but not because of any particular story element. It’s fun because it’s all about the characters having a lot of fun with each other and just the enjoyment you can get from such fanservice material. The only downside I had with it was that the Tsugumi material just went too easily with everyone abusing her over her chest size. It’s an expected gag to be sure, but it just rubbed me the wrong way overall because it was too easy of a target. Where things get complicated is the late night scene on the beach where Ichijo and Kosaki have some good time together, and a near confession made real, that turns really bad for Ichiko when he talks to Chitoge afterwards and keeps to their usual derisive banter that ends up going too far. Or rather, she takes it more personally after what happened at the festival and that leads her to shutting him out entirely and putting the charade behind them as she’s done with it, and being toyed around with like this.
With a festival and beach epsiode, where is there to go with the final two to bring it all together? The culture festival of course. There’s a few things at play there, but the big piece is that the class is doing a Romeo & Juliet play and Ichijo and Kosaki are the leads while Chitoge is doing other things elsewhere. There’s a lot to like in seeing the way the two take to the roles and the way they get to “play” at expressing themselves as they throw themselves into it fully. There are a lot of tensions that play out between Chitoge and Ichijo across as well to provide the drama, and the balance of the two sides of the triangle works well since for a lot of it you have Ichijo just unsure of why Chitoge is so upset with him. That it all comes to a head is no surprise, especially with drama with the play ahead of its debut, but what I really liked is that Ichijo really owned up to what he said to her at the beach, apologies for it and tries to do better. He’s not entirely blameless in a way since he hadn’t realized their relationship had changed some, but it was good to see the two of them work through it and then head into the fun of a very ad libbed play.
Nisekoi brings its first season to a close in a solid enough way that does, in the end, keep everything in the status quo. But not exactly status quo because we are getting some good, gradual and mildly realistic changes here as the core three players interact with each other and the situations are evolving as it progresses. The first season is one that I definitely enjoyed overall and had a lot of fun with, particularly with the execution and animation, but also because I really liked the characters themselves. I’m still of the mind that Chitoge isn’t right for Ichijo overall and I’m big on Kosaki and Ichijo being the right pairing, so I’m enjoying seeing their relationship go. But there’s also some good growth when it comes to Chitoge with this in how she’s growing and changing, and the way it’s lightly nudging Ichijo as well, though he hasn’t quite realized it yet. I’m definitely looking forward to the second season of this series.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless 2nd Opening, Textless Ending (Heroine Version), Textless Ending (Chitoge & Kosaki Version)
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: May 26th, 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.