Written & Art By Naoshi Komi
ISBN: 978-1421557991 & 978-1421560045
High school romance is a common manga theme, where teenagers try to find their “one and only” predicated by some sort of past connection made in childhood. Upon first reading Niseoki, this plot device haunts the first chapter as Raku Ichijo hopes to one day reunite with the girl who gave him an ornate locket. She holds its key and he wants to make good on their promise to be together. Not surprisingly, his classmate Kosaki Onodera has a key that bears a striking resemblance to the locket and she wonders if Raku is the boy from her childhood.
Just as they are about to talk to each about their growing feelings, new girl Chitoge Kirisaki transfers to their class. She and Raku take an instant disliking to each other. The interesting twist to Niseoki is that Raku and Chitoge are heirs to rival mafia families. The gang members are killing each other and in order to stop the feuding, their fathers force them to fake a relationship. Raku continues to pursue Kosaki and it places all three of them in an awkward love triangle.
Niseoki sets up you with a typical romance manga scenario that is laughable to read and almost makes you put it down. Then it does a 360 involving the rival gangs and Raku and Chitoge’s hatred for each other. It’s a romantic entanglement that is extremely clichéd, but it’s the presentation that makes it good, becauseNiseoki makes fun itself for being a romantic comedy. The characters comment on how absurd the situations are and their attempts to maintain normalcy usually make things worse.
The comedic moments push the drama forward similar to Ranma ½, minus the martial arts, and there are some sweet moments to show the characters’ deeper side. Action scenes are traded for everyday entanglements, but not all of the usual harem hijinks come to visit either. The entire manga is a combination of the better aspects of high school romance while adding new ideas into the usual tired genre.
Naoshi Komi draws Niseoki softer than the typicalshonen manga. The character designs are a tad rounder with shojo elements. Regular manga motifs aren’t prominent either; they’re there but not directly in your face.
Niseoki draws entirely on established high school romance works. That usually would be an automatic toss into the rubbish bin, but Komi makes fun of the genre and gives it an original spin.