Nisekoi’s first season, on the whole, managed to succeed on its own terms by challenging its harem tropes through improved characterisation. The second season picks up directly from the conclusion of its predecessor with interesting results.
Nisekoi Season 2 kicks off with Chitoge lamenting that she has a thing for Raku as a carry over from the final episode in season 1. This triggers a slew of lightly connected slice of life episodes that cover the usual formula – Raku continues to be oblivious to everything and still has a crush on Kosaki. Kosaki has a thing for Raku but isn’t willing to make a move. Seishiro doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings for Raku. Marika fawns over Raku. Shu and Ruri play support roles. And nothing gets resolved.
The series introduces a handful of new characters – Kosaki’s sister, Haru, isn’t willing to accept that Raku’s good enough for her sister and is appalled that he’s prepared to cheat on his (false) girlfiend Chitoge to be with Kosaki. Seishiro has a visitor from the US, Paula McCoy, who travels to Japan to defeat her in a fierce battle because… reasons. Chitoge’s Mum makes an appearance as well, though the rest of Chitoge and Raku’s respective families don’t get much screen time in this season.
I’m honestly a little conflicted with season 2 of Nisekoi. The start comes off as a series of checklist items and almost a little vapid, but then we get some curve balls thrown at us at different moments that result in episodes that are genuinely great. Megumi Hayashibara is absolutely superb as Chitoge’s business-focused wunderkind mother while putting Raku through his paces, and Shu (of all characters) gets an amazing episode that gives surprising depth to his character. Paula’s entrance has some great action sequences and the flashback episode focused on Kosaki was really good too.
Towards the tail end of the series we get a few episodes that combine two stories in the single 20-minute block. In some instances it comes off as a little odd as the contracted storytelling can be a little thin, and then there are times when the production team are clearly enjoying playing around with things. The magic girl parody in particular was odd and good fun, but ultimately would have benefited if it went for a full episode instead of 10 minutes to give a bit more oomph to the parody. This odd pairing of stories in a single episode possibly speaks to clashes with production schedules and potentially unforeseen reductions in budget and episode count, or perhaps I’m reading too much into it.
The ending doesn’t really help either with the conclusion sitting open and there was very little time spent going into Raku’s magic locket thingo. This may have been reflective of where the manga was at when they were planning and writing this season, but without a third season to wrap things up it comes off as a little flat.
While the storytelling lacked focus and finesse, the production values in Nisekoi Season 2 were stunning. Shaft are back once again with this season and the presentation is rock solid. Animation and keys are tight, there’s occasionally some extra flair in some sequences and the extra eds are good fun. Vocal tracks are varied since we have three different ending sequences which was a nice touch as well.
The DVD release is pragmatic – nice mastering though I don’t like the burnt-in subtitles, audio is good and extras are minimal. There’s no English dub on this collection for those who swing this way, but for me this wasn’t an issue. The burnt-in subs in particular seems an odd choice since it’s not common given it can impact the video encoding. Nit-picking I know, but I hope it doesn’t become a trend with subtitle-only releases.
So, Nisekoi Season 2 is a bit of a mixed bag. While not a terrible series by any stretch, it lacked consistency in delivering on the premise of its cast which was the saving grace of the first season. If you watched the preceding series it’s definitely worth a look given some of the highlights and to be fair I did enjoy it, but it’s disappointing because it failed to deliver on its potential. If season 1 didn’t grab you you probably won’t find much else to bring you back to this one – start from the beginning and see how you fare.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.