Nisekoi – Episode 2: Encounter
You really do have to feel sorry for Ichijou and Chitoge – forced into a relationship by their fathers to prevents all out war breaking out between their two factions. That said, I’m sure that, in time, they’ll come to appreciate this gift to them – as is the way with romantic comedies. But I digress. Episode 2 of Nisekoi was marvelous, encapsulating all of the over-the-top comedy and cutesy romance aspects of the show and birthing yet another aesthetic treat. If only the OST were as good as the visuals…it’d be a sensual masterpiece…
In the first half of the episode, we’re introduced to Chitoge’s father and Claude – basically, the “enemy” faction. They break down a wall, the situation gets all tense, Romeo and Juliet are (in a shocking turn of events) burdened with one another by their own respective families, and, well, a beautiful relationship is born. At a first, more superficial, glance, Chitoge and Ichijou are opposites – not meant for each other in any way, shape, or form. Ichijou likes Onodera, sweet and charming girl that she is…in his eyes, Chitoge is the antithesis of this ideal – a gorilla, for want of a better simile. And, in equal respect, Ichijou is just the kind of beansprout that Chitoge hates. However, the fact of the matter is, they’re really quite similar and it is this similarity that brings out the “worst” in them. In contrast, it is also this similarity that brings them closer together. After hearing Ichijou’s childhood love story, you’d expect Chitoge to call him a hopelessly romantic wimp; she doesn’t. Instead, she is enthralled, charmed by the hazy illusions of love, similar to that of a fairy-tale. If anything, Chitoge is still a little girl at heart (yes, she’s a tsundere) and it is the love-stricken little boy side of Ichijou that lures her in. Not to jump the gun or anything, but, if it turns out that Chitoge doesn’t have a key (which I’m beginning to think she doesn’t, seeing as how she didn’t recognize his story), I think it will be this side of them that ultimately brings them together. You know how anime logic works: the first girl the guy meets is the girl he’ll end up with. That’s the way it always is.
Also, bit of a side note but….Claude has white hair? Since when? In the manga, his hair always looked blonde… My mistake, I suppose…
The second half of episode 2 is all about the date… Ichijou has always wanted to take Onodera out on a date, he then using this template to cater to Chitoge as a result. Naturally, his attempts fail. Chitoge is not Onodera. Chitoge is a gorilla. And, naturally, Ichijou ends up saving that day regardless when Chitoge is surrounded by a bunch of older men who attempt to entice her into a nice meal (seriously, this is one of the biggest cliches in anime and it paints the Japanese youth in a very bad light!)… Ichijou and Chitoge then proceed to hold hands as he leads her away…cute. Whilst the date scene was cute and comical, nothing really jumped out at me as “amazingly refreshing and new”. A bad date that turns into a good date, the boy saving the day in some way and the girl blushing? I like this formula, don’t get me wrong, and at the time I enjoyed the episode, but in retrospect, it feels kind of cheap. It was nice to see Ichijou and Chitoge developing as a (fake) couple, but maybe place them into a more original scenario next time? A fireworks show, Tanabata, a summer trip – all very original ideas.
And then Onodera bursts onto the scene…well, actually, it’s more like she gracefully floating onto the scene, cute blushing and all. But what can Ichijou do, surrounded by his and Chitoge’s men as they are? He can’t deny that he’s in a relationship with Chitoge (which he does), and he certainly can’t try and make a move on Onodera (which he sort of does). You’ve gotta feel bad for the guy…especially since it looks like Onodera might like him too…and also because she has a key. Yup, that’s right, Onodera is now candidate numero uno for the past lover and childhood friend…nice. The situation they’ve been placed in is tough for all of the kids, and I can only hope that Ichijou gets a chance to explain himself to Onodera…in the sake of mixing it up a bit, please!
Ultimately, episode 2 of Nisekoi proves an excellent introduction into the series characters and the plot dynamic. The crutch of the series, and of the series romances, is the relationship between Ichijou and Chitoge. Many a lusty teenage girl shall bemoan as their paragon of manly goodness is taken into the arms of the beautiful blonde gorilla, Chitoge. Weep men, for she is lost.