by Theron Martin,
If you're a fan of Kosaki Onodera then episode 11 should be golden for you, as it is the only episode in the franchise to date which focuses exclusively on her and her viewpoint. (Though Kosaki was the sole girl involved in the typhoon episode of the first series, that episode was as much about Raku and his viewpoint as hers.) It also consists of what are easily the most personal stories about Kosaki that the series has yet aired.
Like many of the episodes this season, episode 11 is split into two distinct parts. The first half almost entirely involves Kosaki fretting over what she believes is a significant weight gain and thus deciding that she has to go on a diet before Raku notices. (Naturally, she does not realize that her home bathroom's scale is broken.) Comedy ensues as she attempts unwise approaches for this, like skipping breakfast, until some sweet words of concern from Raku eventually set her at ease. The second half, which has Kosaki flashing back to her middle school years, takes a different approach. Instead of going the comedic route, it becomes a narrated introspection about how Kosaki came to fall for Raku during her middle school years, to the point that she strove to get into her current high school specifically so she could continue to say “good morning” to him every day. Because she wasn't a good student then, either, she ended up getting in only off of a wait list. For her, though, that was enough.
The contrasts in storytelling styles between the first and second halves offers a pleasing variety which represents well the two sides of the series this season: a funny side and a more deeply introspective one. The former provides some good laughs and the amusingly ironic notion that, as bad as Kosaki's cooking skills are, she is still her family's most proficient taste-tester. (And damn, but those candied sweet potatoes which Raku produces at one point looked divine!) The latter does not change the long-standing impression of Kosaki as someone who leads where her heart goes, even if she is embarrassed to admit it; in fact, if anything, the second part reinforces that impression. This can make her come off as a little shallow, but growing to like someone because they consistently seem decent and considerate is hardly a stretch. Besides, there are certainly far worse reasons to base your choice of school on than to follow someone you like, even if that person has never indicated that he/she reciprocates. After all, it can be amazing how much more tolerable a job, training, or school endeavor is if someone whose presence you enjoy is also present. If she has felt that way about Raku for that long, though, then that half also only further reinforces the mutual ineptitude of the two at never having managed to make their feelings plain to each other or at least appreciated that the other seems to like him/her, too.
The artistry has some rough spots in the first half but recovers nicely in the second half, as it does a good job of de-aging its characters by a couple of years and provides some pretty, unusually detailed winter backdrops for its late scenes. (see the screenshot.) Overall, the episode seems like just a set of vignettes rather than something which is building towards a meaningful conclusion or cliffhanger, so let the speculation on whether or not we will see a second cour later this year begin.
Nisekoi: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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