Manga Review: Nisekoi: False Love Volume One

Nisekoi: False Love Volume One is a manga by Naoshi Komi, and it was released by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint. The series is rated “T” for teens.

Nisekoi: False Love Volume One
Written by: Naoshi Komi
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 7, 2014

Raku Ichijo is a high school boy who is from a yakuza family. 10 years earlier, Raku had made a promise with a girl he knew then that they would get married someday. He has a locket that the girl gave him, and she has the key that will open the locket. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen this girl since, and he has no memory of her name or what she looked like. Currently, Raku has a crush on a girl in his class named Kosaki Onodera.

One day before school starts, Raku has a run-in with a new transfer student named Chitoge Kirisaki. It turns out that Chitoge is in his class. When Chitoge jumped onto him, Raku’s locket came off of him. He makes Chitoge help him look for it, but they don’t seem to get along any better.

One day, Raku’s father tells him about a new gang that’s come into the area that’s been giving their gang trouble. The head of the rival gang has a daughter Raku’s age, and the two fathers agree that their children should pose as lovers for the next three years in order to try to keep the peace between the two factions. Raku is surprised to discover that Chitoge is the girl in question.

Since these two dislike each other so much, it makes this task more difficult than it would be otherwise. They think they don’t have to do this at school, but after the two of them are seen on a “date” by a couple of the guys in their class, word spreads on campus. So this now creates an awkward situation for the both of them. It’s especially rough on Raku, since he likes Onodera and doesn’t want to pretend to be Chitoge’s boyfriend around her. And it doesn’t help that one of the guys from Chitoge’s father’s gang isn’t buying the lovers story, so he’s watching the two of them like a hawk. Near the end of the volume, we see Raku and Chitoge starting to better understand one another when they realize how similar their home situations are and the lengths they’ve both gone to in order to hide those situations.

The reader also discovers that Onodera has a key that looks like it could go with the locket, but she tries to pass it off to Raku as a house key. This sets the stage for a harem to begin developing for Raku.

I have to admit that my first exposure to Nisekoi: False Love came from reading later chapters of the series in VIZ Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital anthology when I started reading the publication back in late March of 2014. Because of that, I’m able to come into this volume with knowledge that I’ve already gained from those later chapters. However, this first volume was able to start filling in some gaps that I have due to the fact that I jumped into this story in the middle of the series.

Between what I’ve read here and from what I’ve read in Weekly Shonen Jump, I can see blatant uses of concepts that have appeared in other series that I’m familiar with. For example, the promise with a girl years earlier that he doesn’t remember comes straight out of Love Hina. The relationship set up between two fathers, and the fact that the girl Raku’s set up with can’t cook come straight out of Ranma 1/2.

Nisekoi: False Love isn’t necessarily a bad series, but it feels a bit derivative to me. Perhaps if I didn’t have knowledge of the other series that this one feels derivative of, I might be able to enjoy it better. For readers who may not be familiar with series like Love Hina or Ranma 1/2, Nisekoi: False Love might feel fresh and interesting to them. But between what I’ve read here and from what I’ve read in Weekly Shonen Jump, there really hasn’t been anything to make this series stand out to me so far.

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