Nisekoi: Who Holds the True Key?

  • OTAKU
  • CULTURE
  • Nisekoi, released in English-speaking countries as Nisekoi: False Love, is a much-loved anime series. It is comedic and romantic and is popular both in Japan and among fans throughout the world. It is also adored by people of many different ages and among both males and females.

    Originally a manga series, Nisekoi has also been adapted into two seasons of an equally popular anime series which began their release in January 2014. The anime has also proved to be incredibly popular, particularly the top-notch graphics and designs.

    If you are a fan of manga or anime, or just want to see a great example of Japanese series’, you should definitely read or watch Nisekoi. It has a cute but unique romance to it but is also funny, engaging, and meaningful.

    The Plot of Nisekoi

    The story of Nisekoi focuses on the life of Ichijou Raku, a young high school-aged boy. He is the son of an infamous gang leader and has a somewhat chaotic life and upbringing.

    Raku made a promise to a girl he met once when he was very young. They both promised that they would marry each other when they both grew into adults and met each other again. Raku always remembered this promise and wore a locket to prove this, of which he gave the key to the girl.

    Ten years on from this promise, Raku’s life takes a surprising turn when his father makes peace with a rival gang. To cement this new peace, Raku is forced to enter into a relationship with the daughter of one of the rival gang leaders.

    However, he always thinks of the girl he promised to marry, although he cannot remember her name, who she was, or where he can find her. He must find the girl with the key to his locket, but there are many girls with keys who want to try!

    The Main Characters

    Here are the main characters in Nisekoi. Note, there are some spoilers here so perhaps skip this part if you don’t want to know any further details before watching or reading it for yourself!

    Ichijou Raku(一条楽)

    Ichijou Raku is the min protagonist in Nisekoi. He is of high school age, and is the son a Shuei-Gumi Yakuza clan leader, Issei Ichijo.

    In order to settle a feud between his clan and a rival Yakuza gang, Issei resolves to pair his son with the daughter of the rival gang leader. This is seen as a symbol of a new friendship and peace between the two gangs.

    Raku is forced to stay in this forced relationship, with the daughter called Kirisaki Chitoge, throughout his time at high school. He develops a romantic interest in one of his classmates, Onodera Kosaki, but cannot act on it.

    Raku is a popular young boy, but always wears his locket around his neck, the symbol of his childhood promise. His feelings for Chitoge are quite unclear throughout the series, but become more visible as the series goes on.

    Throughout the series, Raku encounters many problems in his fake relationship, and desperately tries to find the girl who he made his promise of marriage too so many years ago.

    Kirisaki Chitoge (桐崎千棘)

    Kirisaki Chitoge is the beautiful daughter of the Beehive Gang leader, and is Raku’s fake girlfriend. Chitoge is half Japanese and half American, having transferred to Bonyari High School in Japan after coming from the United States with her family.

    Chitoge also made a promise of marriage to a boy in her childhood years, and holds a key to the boy’s locket as proof of the promise. However, although she has a diary from her childhood with many details on it, she never write the name or the details of the boy she made the promise with, so cannot remember who he was.

    Chitoge has a bodyguard, a female bodyguard by the name of Tsugumi. Tsugumi always protects her. Raku calls Chitoge ‘Gorilla’ as a nickname, but as time goes by Chitoge begins to develop real feelings for Raku despite their relationship being forced and them often not getting on with each other.

    Onodera Kosaki (小野寺小咲)

    Onodera Kosaki is one of Raku’s classmates at school, and also becomes his love interest in the series. Kosaki comes from a family who own a bakery and make delicious pastries and Japanese sweets. Raku often helped out in the bakery, and the two of them are good friends.

    It is soon revealed that Kosaki has feelings for Raku and has had feelings since they became friends at middle school. In fact, Kosaki chose the high school she wanted to go to because Raku was planning on attending the same one.

    Kosaki also has a key to a locket, and it could open Raku’s locket. Kosaki begins the series as a somewhat shy and timid character but as it progresses she grows in confidence and strength.

    Tachibana Marika (橘万里花)

    Tachibana Marika is introduced as Raku’s childhood friend. Despite being expressive of her feelings towards Raku, Marika has always had a frail body and suffers with health issues. For much of her childhood, she was ill and lived a largely isolated life.

    During her childhood, Marika spent time in a hospital on a mountainside in Japan. She and Raku met and became friends there and the latter would often visit her in the hospital bringing items he picked up from the forest.

    On the day of their parting, the two took a photo to remember their promise of being friends forever. Marika is a potential candidate as Raku’s ‘promise girl’, because she holds a key that may possibly open Raku’s locket.

    Marika used to call Raku ‘Rakkun’ when they were both young, but she calls him Raku Sama when they meet again.

    Seishiro Tsugumi (鶫誠士郎)

    Seishiro Tsugumi is Chitoge’s faithful bodyguard and close friend, and her role is to protect her at all costs. Tsugumi is also known as ‘Black Tiger’ and was raised and trained to be a bodyguard by Claude, an established member of the Beehive Yakuza Gang.

    Tsugumi is known as a somewhat mysterious but feisty tomboy, attending the same school as Chitoge and taking to wearing a boy’s school uniform. She is known to Raku too, but initially he thought she was in fact a boy.

    Although Tsugumi is seen as a side character in the series, as time goes by she develops feelings for Raku, as he is often very kind to her. Tsugumi is a tough character though, and refuses to accept that she is developing feelings for him.

    Despite this, the two of them are good friends and maintain a close friendship. Raku often asks Tsugumi for advice with problems in his life, and their developing friendship is very interesting to see.

    Kanakura Yui (奏倉羽)

    For those of you who have only watched the anime, Yui has not made an appearance yet except for in the manga series. Kanakura Yui is Raku’s older childhood friend and is also attracted to him, although Raku looks up to Yui as an older sister.

    Yui went overseas and eventually became the head of the Char Siu Mafia. Yui went back to Japan when both of her parents passed away, having no relatives or friends left except for Raku who she considers family to her.

    She eventually becomes the new homeroom teacher for Raku’s class. Yui is also in possession of a key that could possibly open Raku’s locket. Yui is an interesting character, and knows all of the other characters as she was friends with them before she left Japan many years ago.

    The Nisekoi Franchise

    The popular manga series is written and illustrated by the artist Naoshi Komi, and started out as a one-shot manga. As of this writing, 20 compilation volumes including 193 chapters have already been released.

    The Nisekoi manga series was listed at number 30 by Oricon’s Top 30 manga series in 2013, with over 1,542,417 copies sold. In 2014, Nisekoi manga series sold more than double the copies sold in 2013, ranking it number 16 out of the top 30! Since then it has continued to thrive.

    The first anime adaptation of Nisekoi was aired in January 2014. It consisted of 20 episodes plus 3 original video animations. The first season covered around 50 chapters from the manga and introduced all of the important main characters except for Yui.

    The second season was aired in April 2015, with only 12 episodes. The second series covered up to and including chapter 100 of the original manga series, and was acclaimed to the same level as the first series. It began to focus more on the developing relationships and love interests between the characters, and also introduced two new main supporting characters.

    The anime series has proved popular and has seen worldwide acclaim and interest, particularly in the United States. Reviewers have described it as being true to the original manga series and having some amazing effects and graphics to really add to the plot and the watching experience.

    Nisekoi is one of my favorite anime and manga because of its cute and slowly progressing story. There are a few fillers here and there, but this does not distract from the main story.

    Many viewers and readers are curious as to who really holds the key that will open Raku’s locket, and there is much discussion about whether Yui will appear in the third season of the anime if there will be one! So, if you haven’t seen or read Nisekoi yet, check it out. It’s a fun franchise you’ll surely enjoy!

    Nisekoi Official Website *Japanese only

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/