I don’t usually care for rom-coms, and Nisekoi was a stereotypical rom-com harem manga where we have a boy with a crush on a girl and vice versa, but with neither realising each other’s feelings. A whole cast of females fall in love with our oblivious male protagonist, and they go off on their adventures in high school trying to figure relationships out while trying to remember some promise from years ago.
Nisekoi is different in the sense that it doesn’t draw out the harem situation to milk the series. It ends the thread for each girl, a proper rejection and a ‘narrowing of the field’, so to speak. It really annoyed me when Rosario+Vampire II ended with Tsukune having a real harem, which is ‘normal’ for a vampire. But Nisekoi didn’t do that.
And Nisekoi took time to try and develop the characters’ feelings for each other. There was genuine warmth in the story, which can sometimes be absent from manga where the harems are haphazardly slapped together with little to no explanation. To Love-Ru is an example of that, although it has improved over the years.
It’s just one of those sweet love stories that through its twists and turns, makes you root for the main pairing more and more. It was pretty evident early in the series that Raku and Chitoge were going to be together, but the series took its time to build the relationship from both sides, which is more than I can say for other series I have seen (e.g. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley…ugh).
The story also ended with a proper pairing, with no ambiguity, with everyone finding their place in life. It’s a happy ending I can’t begrudge Nisekoi for having, because the mangaka took the time and effort to build the story to its natural, eventual ending.
I can’t say that the plot is anything amazing, because the clichés are endless. I can’t say the characters are brilliantly deep and three-dimensional, because they aren’t. But it’s a love story that warms the heart, and I’m glad to have been along for the ride.