by Theron Martin,
In one review of the first series I commented on how Nisekoi seemed to be drawing at least some of its inspiration from Ranma ½. With this more serious two episode story arc, though (and especially with this episode), its inspiration instead seems to be coming more from a much more recent property: Toradora! While it falls short of achieving the quality of Toradora! (its characters are nowhere near as deep, for one, and that definitely hampers this effort), it does at least put in an honest effort in concluding the relationship dynamics between Chitoge and her mother. As a result, the emotional appeal works despite some cheesy contrivances.
In the wake of last episode, Raku still has his nose to Hana's grindstone as her executive assistant. He has shown since the beginning that he can be an industrious, take-charge guy when he wants to be, though, and this time he has a fire in his belly about getting Hana and Chitoge together, to the point of working furiously to open up Hana's schedule enough to see Chitoge. What he does not at first fully understand, though, are Hana's true feelings: she is keeping her distance from Chitoge because the one thing that she is not confident about is her relationship with her daughter, and she is actually a little scared about what Chitoge really thinks about her. Learning that leaves Raku even more determined to bridge the gap, which includes dragging Chitoge out of their friends' Christmas party to a “five star hotel” in order to meet her mother. (Naturally their friends dramatically misinterpret, as Raku definitely didn't word things clearly, which leaves the two with a lot to explain later on.) He then engages in some ridiculously improbable bicycling heroics when weather and traffic threaten to thwart his efforts, which provides the opportunity for the hashing-out between Hana and Chitoge to happen. Hana also fills in a couple of heretofore-unmentioned details about the summer a decade ago: that Chitoge's signature ribbon may have been given to her by her mother, but she requested it because Raku said he liked it, and that Raku's locket was patterned off of one in one of young Chitoge's picture books. But since that would just clear up the picture too much, someone else is also shown at the end having a book which seems like it was the source inspiration for Chitoge's ribbon.
Yeah, the writing is forcing this big-time; it even softens Hana quite a bit from what she was in episode 3 to make it happen, to the point of revealing that she is using candy cigarettes rather than real ones. (Can you even get those anymore? But then, someone of Hana's standing could probably find someone to custom-make them for her if she needed to.) Despite that, the reestablishment of the connection between Hana and Chitoge is still sweet and satisfying without being too sappy. It is enhanced by some nice artistic choices, too, such as one scene where Hana and Chitoge are in a hotel bedroom with candles positioned all around, and supported by fitting musical choices. The episode wraps with a new Chitoge-focused closer, too.
So with this story now out of the way, will Nisekoi: continue to go down a more dramedy-oriented path, or will it revert back to type? I am assuming the latter, as this feels more like a serious interlude than a direction change, but we will have to wait until next episode to see for sure on that.
Nisekoi: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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