Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Nisekoi: False Love
GN 7 - The Reason
Once again back on track with their fake relationship, Chitoge and Raku are about to face their scariest hurdle ever: the yearly return of Chitoge's mom to Japan! Her powerhouse mother is both terrifying and insanely busy, and Raku soon notices the strain in the mother-daughter relationship. Will he be able to help them to spend a happy holiday together? Meanwhile Ruri loses her glasses and gets a lesson from Maiko (of all people), Tsugumi has a scary visitor of her own, and Marika schemes to get Raku to tutor her for their upcoming test.
There are many things about Naoshi Komi's Nisekoi - False Love that make it one of the most entertaining harem manga out there...and sadly, not a whole lot of them end up in this volume. That's not to say that it isn't still a good book; the final arc about Chitoge's mother is very strong in its combination of emotional content and humor, both drawn and written, but the previous content in the volume feels like a let-down after the much tenser and wackier volume six. Had this book not come directly after the Romeo and Juliet storyline, it may have made a bigger impact.
Regardless, there's a lot to enjoy about this volume. As I mentioned, the final four chapters are absolutely the strongest. Christmas is approaching and as plans are being made, Chitoge mentions that her mother always comes home to spend the holiday with the family. Raku notices that she seems uncomfortable and learns that Mrs. Kirisaki is an extremely busy, fairly terrifying business woman who almost literally works 24/7. Chitoge and her dad are both clearly afraid of her, but Chitoge is also excited – after all, she's her mom and she loves her, even if as she's gotten older Chitoge has begun to wonder whether or not her mother really cares about her. Moments after she enters the scene, we can see why: Hana Kirisaki seems to have very little emotional attachment to anyone and tells Chitoge that her ribbon (which we pages earlier learned was a precious memento of her mother) is old and disgusting and that she ought to throw it out. The strength of Komi's facial expressions really comes through her, showing us how crushed Chitoge is without her having to say it aloud. In fact, the best, most expressive art in this volume is when Chitoge is thinking about her mother and the ribbon; the scene at the end of chapter sixty is heartbreaking.
Raku is at his best here as well, understanding that there is more going on than can be seen on the surface and remaining undeterred even when Hana puts him off. It's an indication of why Onodera and Chitoge, at least, like him so much, and if his kindness can make him a bit of a wimp where Marika is concerned – although in all fairness, he does stand up to her; she just doesn't listen – it also allows him to help those he cares about. Even though the story only takes up four chapters, it makes for memorable reading and helps us to understand Chitoge herself more. None of that can be said for the goofier chapters which precede it, although the studying one, chapter fifty-six, is the weakest. This one focuses on Marika trying to get Raku to help her study while a suspicious Chitoge tags along, and feels like it was written simply to give Marika more page time. Of all of the contenders for Raku's heart, she's probably the least interesting and most irritating, a one-note character whose single-minded pursuit of the hero appears to be her one defining characteristic. Onodera is a fairly basic “nice girl” character, yes, but she at least shows us that she has other talents and interests, as well as a close female friend in Ruri and a more grounded reason to like Raku. Marika seems simply unable to let go of a past that she's built up in her mind.
Of the other short stories masquerading as chapters in the book, Ruri's is the most fun and interesting, largely because we haven't gotten to see her in the protagonist role before. (It is also a story that may incite fear in those of us with poor eyesight.) Komi himself mentions that he had never imagined Ruri becoming such a big character, and it does feel unusual to have an chapter from her point of view. More interesting is the way Komi uses it to address the way she's always pushing Onodera to be alone with or confess to Raku...a bit of character development that comes from Raku's pervert friend Maiko, surprisingly. Getting to see both of these characters in a different light makes the otherwise ordinary story more special, and while it isn't as strong as the Hana storyline, it's still pretty good.
As usual, Komi's artwork is both clean and attractive, with a nice range of facial expressions and body language, as well as differing body types for both males and females. He also gets points for giving Hana practical shoes for her lifestyle – she wears what look like comfortable boots without a high heel rather than the spikes that are the norm. That both Raku and Chitoge are recognizable even when they change their hair styles is also a plus, and some of the freaked out faces that characters make are priceless. The translation also remains smooth and readable, and I was particularly struck by the use of “like a cellphone on vibrate” as a description of Chitoge's nervous tension.
All in all Nisekoi remains a fun mix of emotion and humor, with the characters behaving like the high school students they are in the face of at least two crazy families. This volume feels like a bit of a let-down after volume six, but it's still a good book and worth reading. Fans of shounen romance who haven't picked this series up yet should consider giving it a try, because not only does Komi know how to hook us with a story, he knows how to keep us reading just as happily seven volumes in.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : A-
+ Chitoge's mother storyline is very strong, art continues to be vibrant. Some good translation choices, nice to see Ruri get the protagonist's spot.
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