Sometimes an anime throws something so unexpected at you and executes it so perfectly that it makes you feel an emotion that — in the moment — you believe you’ve never felt before. There are few moments like this that I can name off the top of my head, but one that I can always immediately recall is an episode somewhere in the middle of the train wreck known as Air Gear, in which the anime took a moment to detour from the main plot and tell a romance story between a student and a teacher. This story was told through various flashbacks and by the end, the anime — for the first and last time — made me experience something unforgettable. Nisekoi did something very similar this episode and did it in a way that moved me exactly how Air Gear did, even if Nisekoi is a trillion times better.
While most of Nisekoi rides on the back of jokes and silly antics every episode, while occasionally also throwing in serious elements when the show needs it most, this episode took a little bit of a break from that usual style of doing things with a more serious turn. This episode focuses on two characters that don’t get a whole lot of time in the spotlight: Shu Maiko and Kyouko. The episode also slightly revolves around Ruri and it hints an awful lot about her being important later, but I won’t get into that. This episode follows the story of Shu’s crush and even goes further to say goodbye to Kyouko, who has been an entertaining character since season one. To be completely honest this episode’s story was a highlight over almost the entirety of Nisekoi with the only better one being the finale to the first season. It was something extremely unexpected and it played all of the right cards to break my heart by the very end. I actually had sympathy for a character I thought I could care less about, aside from just as someone to help pull the strings (which was more of Ruri’s thing to begin with, let’s be honest now) and my eyes were glued to the screen for the entire episode. I find it hard to believe that the rest of the season will be able to outdo what I just watched.
Another thing I wasn’t quite expecting was the beyond flawless animation and art. The animation was super smooth and flawless during all the right moments and the art always fit the emotion of the situation perfectly. It was like SHAFT took a few of their editing techniques from Monogatari and integrated them into Nisekoi for a little, and it fit rigorously. This episode actually held a lot of things that makes the Monogatari series so addicting for me to watch. Constantly changing visuals at just the right pace so that it’s not obnoxious but still keeps your attention, a dialogue-driven story that progresses at just the right rate so that you can follow along perfectly without ever getting distracted, and making you curious about every single character involved in the process. Quite frankly, Nisekoi has never done this to me before and the first time that they truly took on the SHAFT style that I started watching SHAFT shows for it was one of their absolute best episodes. Sure, they had sprinkles of SHAFT here and there, spectacular visuals, head tilts, some dialogue heavy portions, but nothing quite like this episode. I might be overlooking all of the other times Nisekoi did this, but this was the one time it worked.
Overall, this episode was probably the most I’ve enjoyed myself with anime in awhile. Sure, there was when I binged to catch up and that was a huge source of enjoyment for me, but winding down and watching this episode was so much more than just a binge of a good anime. I may have just over-enjoyed the episode, but this was something seriously amazing. Well done, SHAFT.
Ruri doesn’t get enough love. (Pixiv link)
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