Premise: A boy in high school, Raku Ichijo, wears a necklace every day to remind him of his long-forgotten love. He met a girl, whose face and details remain unknown, whom he pledged to meet again and marry. The necklace that he wears is a key to a similar necklace that the girl has as a locket. Despite Raku’s attempt to have a normal life and find this girl, he has to deal with the fact that he can’t remember her and the fact that his family is a yakuza clan. Complicating matters is the girl that he has a crush on, Kosaki Onodera, who very obviously returns his feelings. Just when he is summoning the courage to talk to Kosaki, Chitoge Kirisaki lands in his life. They hate each other from the moment of their first meeting and vow to not speak to one another. But there’s a hitch: It turns out that Chitoge is the daughter of a rival gangster clan and to keep the peace, she and Raku have to fake a relationship for three years.
Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you like romantic comedies and can deal with the clichés that practically hit you in the face constantly, you can and will probably like Nisekoi. It’s done in the vein of every other romantic comedy out there, down to the details of “amnesiac” lead character who struggles to remember his lost love to the tsundere female lead who eventually changes her tune. The clichés are plentiful but it’s funny so there’s enough to keep things from becoming boring.
Breakout character: Chitoge Kirisaki. Chitoge is an ass, plain and simple. But she makes her presence known as a lead character early on and is strong enough to carry the show almost without Raku as her counterpart.
Funniest episode: Episode 7, “Rival.” The emergence of Seishirou Tsugumi as rival to Raku for Chitoge’s affections causes some truly laugh-out-loud moments in the early part of the series. Chasing Raku at almost inhuman speeds means laughing at the fact that he can’t possibly get away fast enough from a guy who may or may not be obsessively stalking his childhood playmate. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, there’s a plot twist that you can see coming a mile away that still manages to be quite rather funny.
Where it’s going: Chitoge and Raku have to acknowledge their feelings are possibly changing, and there are more girls added to the mix. Also, someone has to say something about the fact that Kosaki could be one of the girls who has the fabled locket to match Raku’s key.
Your protagonist — male or female, it doesn’t matter — is going to conveniently forget his or her’s first love. They will struggle to remember just who the person is, will struggle with their feelings for this person and then miraculously remember every detail, down to exact conversations they may have had when they were young.
2. Young romance grows up
The protagonist is quite outgoing and will make a friend or two that they will inevitably leave behind. They will encounter this person years later and will find a way to reconnect based on their previous dealings with each other. In this new age, they will rediscover that which they have in common and it will recreate a long-forgotten romance between them.
3. Opposites attract
The main characters that are destined to be together will not like each other. In fact, they downright hate each other. They can’t stand each other but somehow keep finding themselves thrown together in situations that require them to interact and learn something new about each other. Before long — usually by the end of the series — they will find themselves together.
Anime: Kimi ni Todoke
4. Valentine chocolate is strictly forbidden
Giving the gift of chocolate for Valentine’s Day is a ritual for school children worldwide, and more so in Japan. It’s so prevalent that it’s usually an episode in a romantic comedy series or any type of romance series that involves school. What usually happens is that the main characters will attempt to bake chocolates or buy chocolates for their intended special person. It will either be extremely problematic or won’t happen at all. Hilarity or drama can and will ensue.
Anime: Lovely Complex
5. The payoff scene
Required for every romantic comedy by the third to the last episode in the series, the main characters have to have a confession scene. One of the characters has to be obvious about their feelings up to this point, and the other has to be oblivious to it until a revelation occurs that makes them take notice of the fact that the other character has been panting behind them since the first episode. What happens next is important: There has to be payoff for the buildup. They have to confess feelings and kiss, enter a relationship or resolve everything by the end of the series.