Until the release of season 2 of Nisekoi: False Love, I had completely forgotten the names of most of the cast save for our two leads. But I did remember everything that had happened last season which is rare for me as most romantic anime shows are excellent in their familiarity to the tropes of the genre but still hopelessly generic. Every cast, while different from the last, still conforms to the expectations of the audience and so can’t help being the same, show to show. But because Nisekoi’s cast made such an impression on me, I slipped back in and was cuddled in five minutes by their energy and enthusiasm.
So to bring you back up to speed: a year after meeting Chitoge Kirisaki, Raku Ichijo is still in a fake relationship with her for the sake of their crime families. But as the events of the season finale last time proved, there’s more to their relationship than just faking it. Chitoge starts having feelings for Raku and likewise. Complicating the whole thing is Kosaki Onodera, Raku’s other friend since junior high and of course, Marika Tachibana, a girl who knew Raku when they were younger and now wants him back. On top of that, Raku wears a large locket that only the girl he promised to marry when they were ten can open with her own key. Guess which girls all have keys? Yup, all of them. So together with their friends, Raku navigates his feelings for Kosaki and acknowledging his growing affection for Chitoge and to a lesser degree, Marika.
Whew! Well, this season, the second-years think that it will be business as usual but a couple of incidents push them in interesting directions. First up is the arrival of Chitoge’s mother, Hana, who unlike her mafioso father is an honest businesswoman, if bloodthirsty for the work. The show pushes Raku and Hana together while he’s working for her over Christmas and realises that as well as being ruthless, she never spends any time with her daughter at all save for a couple of days each year. On the other side of the cast, Kosaki’s younger sister Haru joins the school too with the first years and gets off to a terrible start with Raku. Which frequently involves Raku seeing her underwear and getting a smack for it. Of course, the dolt doesn’t help by describing what’s on her underwear instead of looking away so he deserves it in this case. On top of that, Raku has to help friends realise their feelings for other people, shepherd Seishiro (Chitoge’s bodyguard) through a rough patch with a friend of hers and still find time to figure out who he really likes: Chitoge or Kosaki.
This season is only half the length of the previous season so there’s less ground to cover but it still gets to pull on the heartstrings when it needs to. Instead of the high drama of the last season, the show is less about cementing Chitoge and Raku together as it is about making sure their foundations are solid, to begin with. I loved how Kosaki has evolved in her feelings for Raku. Previous to this, she kept them locked up but this time around, she is able to tell Chitoge she likes Raku without telling it’s Raku. Chitoge for her part doesn’t pry but urges her to sort out her feelings. So Kosaki starts to make sense of her head and where it’s at in regards to Raku. In the case of Marika, she still pursues Raku but not the levels of mania in S1. Raku helps Shu, his best friend, through a painful episode and the dialogue and interactions of our hero give a depth and a slight amount of dimensionality to him that he didn’t have last year. Now, he’s still a blockhead in a lot of ways but he’s becoming an adult. Chitoge herself gets to shed a lot of problems with her mother that she’d kept bottled up for years. While she’s a strong young woman in every other way, dealing with her mother is too hard for her (and her father and all the organisation’s lackeys) and it hurts her emotionally that she can’t bridge the gap. But Raku, in one of those aforementioned moments of clarity, pushes, prods, chases and finally rams mother and daughter together even though it could cost him his relationship with Chitoge. Their reunion is made all the better by the fact that Raku’s thanks comes when he’s not around to hear it but we are.
The music in these shows is never all that noteworthy but I did like that LiSA handling the first half of the season’s opening with “Rally Go Round” which has a great opening animation which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the season. The other intro and the outros were pleasant and fit the show’s direction this season. The show maintains its antics in regards to on-screen violence directed toward Raku only now, as well as Chitoge, he now gets pummelled by Haru whenever her bloomers accidentally get displayed. It’s still not Love Hina crazy enough for me but it still gets a chuckle from me as he’s launched into a wall for his crimes, real and imagined. On one hand, he deserves it and on the other, he’s often the accidental target. Oh, Raku, why must you vacillate from the wanton and innocent? In any case, the show still has a great head of steam gathered and it coasts toward the ends not so much in a hurry like last time to answer your questions but provide a cup of tea, a biscuit, a friendly chat and a warm send off when you leave. It’s been two years since the show ended so we’ll probably never closure in an animated form but if you follow the manga from VIZ in paper or digital form, you can find out how the pieces fall in the end. For me, the ending of this season ended the only way it could without upsetting its careful balancing act.
Cross posted on Otaku News.