Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: NISEKOI: False Love Volume 1


TRANSLATION: Camellia Nieh
LETTERS: Stephen Dutro
ISBN: 978-1-4215-5799-1; paperback (January 2014), Rated “T” for “Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S. $12.99 CAN

Double Arts was the first title manga creator Naoshi Komi had serialized in Japan’s manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump.  His current Weekly Shonen Jump series is Nisekoi, which also appears in North America in VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital manga magazine.

Nisekoi: False Love focuses on Raku Ichijo.  There are two things to know about him that are important.  Raku was born into a yakuza family, and he is searching for his childhood sweetheart.  Ten years ago, he met a girl, and they declared that they would meet as adults and marry.  The sign of their promise is a pendant lock around his neck as a memento, for which the girl has the key.  Years later, Raku can’t even remember the girl’s name or face, and now, a new relationship threatens Raku’s promise.

As Nisekoi: False Love, Vol. 1 (subtitled The Promise – Chapters 1 to 7) opens, Raku is getting ready for school and dealing with the yakuza members that crowd his life at home.  Today, however, there is going to be a surprise when Raku meets his newest classmate, Chitoge Kirisaki.  It is hate at first sight (and a knee-to-the-head at first sight) when the two meet, but they are more alike than not.  Both their fathers are yakuza!

Unfortunately for the new rivals, Raku’s gangster father has made a shocking arrangement with Chitoge’s criminal father, Adelt Kirisaki Wagner.  In order to maintain peace between their fathers’ warring yakuza factions, Raku and Chitoge enter into a false love match.  The problem is that Raku and Chitoge can barely stand each other.

When I first heard of the Nisekoi: False Love manga, I did not realize that it was supposed to be a comedy.  When VIZ Media sent me a copy of Nisekoi: False Love Volume 1 for review, I was pleased to discover that it is indeed funny.

The leads, Raku Ichijo and Chitoge Kirisaki, are funny not just because of their predicament, forced to date each other to avert a gang war, but also because of their personalities. Raku knows what he wants, but he’s a simpering coward when it comes to being honest about his romantic feelings; it would be too simple if he were merely shy – and not as funny.  Chitoge is stubborn and too proud; both make her lash out at everyone, and so she has a hard time making friends.  She is full of fury and mostly impotent.

Their different goals and personalities mean the two characters clash, but creator Naoshi Komi offers his readers a treat.  The two teens have something in common, but Komi is going to have fun making the good part of them shine through the crass and selfish exteriors.  Nisekoi: False Love has potential.  Readers looking for romance in a shonen vein will want to try Nisekoi: False Love.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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