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Episode 5

by Theron Martin,

After taking a more serious focus for three of its first four episodes, Nisekoi:'s second series more firmly returns to its comedy roots for its fifth. This also marks the first time in this series that Marika is more than just a minor background character, as she gets featured treatment for the first half of the episode and is at least responsible for the shenanigans in the second half.

The episode begins with everyone in the gang learning where they rank in the most recent testing. While Raku and Kosaki's rankings are decent (63rd and 88th out of 207, respectively), Shu and Ruri's rankings are better (23rd and 22nd – and that fact that Shu is thus “side by side” with her irritates her to no end) and Seishiro and Chitoge's ranks are excellent (6th and 5th). Marika, however, ranks near the bottom, which she insists is because of a lack of motivation. She eventually convinces Raku to help her study for the next Math test at her home, though Chitoge also tags along to make sure she doesn't pull anything. And indeed, it does seem to help, though Chitoge finds Marika's mnemonic device for polynomial factoring to be disagreeable. Later, she asks Raku to look after her pet parrot while she takes an overnight trip with her father, though the whole business stinks of her pulling some kind of gimmickry. Indeed, the parrot's name proves to be Master Raku, and he has been taught to spout all kinds of phrases that Raku finds alarming, such as ones that strongly imply that Raku is aggressively making love to Marika. What's worse, some of the other girls briefly encounter the parrot after it escapes, and the only way to get the parrot to come back is for Raku to shout “I love you” at the top of his lungs – which is apparently exactly what Marika planned.

The humor in these routines is hardly inspired (while not a common anime gimmick, a parrot which says inappropriate things is hardly a rare gag, either), but seeing exactly how twisted Marika can be in her obsessions is still at least a little amusing and good for a few mild chuckles. A bigger laugh goes to Ruri's reaction to being right beside Shu in the test rankings; the interactions between those two continue to be comedy gold. Despite the more concerted effort for humor, though, the franchise has definitely been funnier than this on numerous occasions, and the yukuza punks finally reappearing only to be wasted on lame lamenting about Raku's odd behavior with the parrot does not help.

The episode does a little better on the storytelling front, as it once again brings up a point suggested a couple of times in the first series: that Marika's overall health may not be that great. Given the series' dramatic turns concerning Chitoge and her mother, this will doubtlessly eventually become a bigger issue. The identity of the remaining girl in the opener – the one who kinda looks like Kosaki – is also revealed, as she makes her first face-on appearance (she was probably the girl whose back we saw at the end of last episode): she is, in fact, Kosaki's presumably-younger sister. Why we have not seen her, or heard her mentioned before, is puzzling, but she seems likely to be formally introduced to Raku soon. Obviously she will become involved with Raku, so the only question that remains there is whether she will be an open rival to her sister or secretly pine for Raku but decide to support her sister instead. I am betting on the former.

Still, that is not enough to elevate this episode above a mediocre level overall. This was not a bad episode, but it definitely was not one of the better ones, either.

Rating: C+

Nisekoi: is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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