When new series begin in Weekly Shonen Jump, I check out their artwork and read the first chapter to see what kind of series it is. Normally I will also buy the first tankobon to better get a feel of the series, which is easier when I have seven or eight chapters in print to read at a time. Alongside this I follow the reception of the series on various forums.
When Nisekoi debuted in November 2011, I didn’t pay it any attention though. I thought a romantic comedy (rom-com) series wouldn’t interest me while I was busy reading typical action series like Fairy Tail and One Piece. It would take seven volumes of Nisekoi to be published before I even gave it a chance, but I’m glad I did.
Nisekoi has an anime coming up, it was revealed this summer. This is definitely a good sign for the popularity and lifespan of a series, having an anime produced after running only around 18 months. The reveal made me think that there must be something interesting about Nisekoi, so I ordered the first seven volumes as well as the eight, published in the beginning of this month.
Well, of course I couldn’t wait with the story, so I read the entire series in a scanlated edition online. It took me about two weeks before I was through it. From this point I stop reading the scanlated versions and simply read each book as they are published.
If you don’t know, Nisekoi is a series about a boy and a girl, both from opposing criminal organizations. To prevent a war from breaking out between these organizations, the only solution they could come up with was if the heir of each group would start dating. One of the main story elements is to portray how the couple has to pretend to be dating and in love, both in their classroom and while around their families, even though it’s only out of necessity. The girl, Chitoge, is a boyish transfer student who initially has trouble talking to their classmates. The boy, Raku, is both kind and popular. It might seem like he treats Chitoge a bit roughly as their personalities are really different, but ultimately he always consider her feelings and tries to help her.
This wouldn’t work as a romantic story if there wasn’t another girl involved, so of course a second girl, Kosaki, is introduced. With all three of them in the same class, all sorts of crazy and akward situations arise. Chitoge, Kosaki and Raku are bound together by the second main element of the story — a pendant that Raku carries with him from his childhood. He remembers having made a promise to get married ten years ago, and that it has some link to this pendant. Who the girl he promised was, how she looks or even her name, he doesn’t recall though, and when both Chitoge and Kosaki have made similar promises in their childhood as well, it’s central to the story of Nisekoi for Raku to identify who is his destined partner.
When the author, Naoshi Komi, doesn’t progress the story by evolving the mystery of the pendant, he usually writes comedic chapters about the miscellaneous challenges of the couple living with their highly criminal and dangerous families, some of which only seek to uncover some sort of flaw in the pretend-relationship between Chitoge and Raku.
Recently Nisekoi has been criticized for lacking progress because of too many of these side chapters. I don’t agree with that. I think the element of the pendant is in itself somewhat simple and might risk being shortlived if the story were to progress at a normal pace. It’s only wise of the author to only move the story on in bits at a time. I’m sure this point of view is because I read all the chapters in succession, this way of reading is always more lenient on the story and doesn’t require too much progress to be made. If I were looking forward to a new chapter every week, I suppose I would be disappointed as well when it was another 20 pages of a random side story event. This is a benefit of reading the printed volumes as well: you think of that volume as a whole, and so it’s actually a joy that some chapters drive the story forward and some are comedic and funny or crazy.
If you consider reading Nisekoi then read the first volume worth of chapters and then judge it on that. It’s pretty much consistent in what it delivers all the way through. I think there are a lot of likeable characters and you come to care for each one, which is difficult when they develop opposing interests. I especially like Kosaki’s sister, Haru, but they’re all fun to follow.
To follow up on the developments in my manga collection, I gave up starting Gintama. It was too big a job and I didn’t have the motivation needed. Instead I started reading Haikyuu!!, a volleyball manga in WSJ. I will add that to my collection. Starting this sports manga made me realize that Kuroko no Basket might be interesting to me too, so I will buy a couple of volumes of that to test it.