30 April 2017



This is the most darling and adorable Japanese animé I've seen in a while, and I've been watching stuff with Pikachu in 'em, haha. It's the animé or TV cartoon version of a manga comic written and illustrated by a lady called Naoshi Komi.

It takes the form of a high school drama with students for protagonists, which is a type of manga/animé that's overwhelmingly popular in Japan. Although you could start watching from Season 2 and still pick up what's going on fairly quickly, there might be some things you'd find confusing, so I'll give you a quick overview of the plot in general.

You already know that it's a high school drama and that the protagonists are high school students in their teens, obsessed with all the usual things that teens are into. There's a core group of students that you need to get to know, but Raku Ichijo seems to be the lead character. He's the son of a yakuza leader, something you mightn't necessarily know if you hadn't seen the first season of episodes.

This might sound a bit crazy but Raku, a handsome young fella with a healthy interest in the opposite sex but an endearing cluelessness about them too, is paired up with the daughter of a rival yakuza gang in order to quell the feud between the two gangs. In other words, they have to pretend to be dating so that the level of violence between the gangs is kept to a minimum. Well, whatever works for them, I guess...!

His 'pretend' girlfriend is the cutest girl in the whole school, so you might consider that Raku gets lucky in that respect. Her name is Chitoge Kirisaki and she has the most fabulous long blonde hair you've ever seen on a cartoon character. She makes Rapunzel look like a sack of s**t, haha, and as for Anna from FROZEN, well, she can fuhgeddaboutit...!

Chitoge is the lead female character. She's typically and delightfully girly and loves all the usual things that girls of her age love; looking pretty for the lads, a nice bit of juicy gossip and going shopping with her girlfriends.

She's a feisty little thing as well, though, and not necessarily the airhead her stunning good looks would seem to imply. She gives Raku a really hard time at times and is even known to give him the odd slap as well. Of course, it's 'funny' when a girl hits a guy, right? It's the stuff that comedy is made of. Not so funny when it's the other way around, though, but I'm saying nothing...

One more thing you need to understand is the situation regarding the keys. The high school students- the girls, that is- in Raku's particular social circle all carry keys (as you do!) which might or might not unlock the locket that Raku carries, the locket that is a symbol of his lost or past love.

The series concerns the adventures that Raku, Chitoge and their other friends have in school and at home every day. All the girls have secret or not-so-secret crushes on Raku, by the way. The many ways in which they try to get his attention are hilarious and not really in keeping with the feminist code of ethics. Looking pretty, downplaying your brains and acting all coy to get the attention of some guy? Again, if I may, fuhgeddaboutit...!

Now you're all caught up and ready to look at Episodes 1-6 of Season 2. The whole of Season 2 is out now on special release, by the way, courtesy of MANGA UK and ANIMATSU ENTERTAINMENT. It'd make the perfect present for the animé lover in your life and, as it's not too adult in content, the younger teens will be able to watch it as well as the older ones.

Episode 1 is hilarious. 'Pretend' relationship or not, Chitoge is absolutely desperate to get Raku to notice her when she's changed little things about herself. She hasn't a hope. Screw that, seriously. I once dumped a guy and he didn't notice it for six months.

So what chance has Chitoge got with her new lipgloss and nail polish, her different shampoo and a change of hair ribbon? The results are very funny, anyway, and I wouldn't be
at all surprised to see poor stupid Raku getting a hefty right hook from Chitoge (Miss Piggy-style: Hi-yaaaaah!) before the episode is out.

Episode 2 sees another girl in their circle, Tsugumi, engage in a kissing competition with a female rival, but what exactly does this competition entail? Well, let's see now. It's pretty simple, really. Whichever girl manages to steal a kiss from the hunky Raku is the winner...!

Raku is simultaneously terrified and intrigued by the prospect. He's a guy, after all, so he's not going to object if girls want to throw themselves at him. But he's supposed to be dating Chitoge, right, even if theirs is only a 'pretend' relationship, so what should he do? Let events take their course or...?

Episodes 3 and 4 are a connected two-parter. Christmas is coming and that means that Chitoge's mother, the high-powered, ball-breaking businesswoman Hana Kirisaki, will be dropping by to see her daughter for a few minutes, because that's all the time she can spare for her only child. Chitoge really misses her mother's love but her mother's business interests are more important to her than anything else. Enter Raku, personal assistant extraordinaire...

By working his butt off as Chitoge's Mom's secretary for the short time that she's in town, the surprisingly stiff-backboned and honourable Raku manages to free up some time for mother and daughter to spend together. Thanks, in fact, to Raku's hard work, the reunion between mother and daughter is a million times better than any of the three of them could ever have imagined.

This is a beautiful pair of episodes. The colours and Christmas imagery are both brilliant and dazzling. It's hard not to shed a tear or two when Hana and Chitoge reconnect properly with each other for the first time in years and discover that they really do love each other after all. As if there was ever any doubt about it!

And it's all thanks to Raku and his sterling performance as the ridiculously demanding Hana's secretary. Methinks that there's more to Chitoge's and Raku's 'pretend' relationship than meets the eye. Could there be a genuine affection there after all...?

Episode 5 is another hilarious one. Marika Tachibana, another of the girls that has a major crush on the handsome but oblivious Raku, asks him to 'tutor' her for a test, much to the annoyance of Raku's 'girlfriend' Chitoge.

Chitoge is totally wise to Marika's little scam (as any woman worth her salt would be) but what can she do about it? Well, she can come along and be a third wheel on their 'study date,' that's what. Now it's Marika's turn to be deeply aggravated. Oh, and there's a parrot involved in this one as well. Polly wants a cracker, Polly wants a cracker...!

Episode 6 is rightfully called 'DELICIOUS.' It's Valentine's Day in Japan and, as per the Japanese custom, it's the girls who are giving the chocolate to the guys instead of what happens in this part of the world. But don't worry, folks, the ladies get what's coming to them the following month in a celebration known as 'White Day.'

There are two different types of 'chocolate-giving' involved. There's the kind you give to male bosses, co-workers, fellow students or friends that has no romance attached to it. Then there's the kind you give to boyfriends, lovers or guys whom you fancy and would love to have as a boyfriend, see?

'Obligation chocolate' versus 'Romance chocolate.' It's so cute, especially when you consider that the women often make the chocolate themselves as that's considered to have more meaning than something you pick up in a shop. It's really sweet, but I'd honestly never go to that much trouble for some guy on Valentine's Day. It'd be shop-bought or nothing and like it!

Anyway, Raku is being bombarded by chocolate from all the girls in his circle at school on this particular Valentine's Day. But which kind is he receiving, the obligation kind or the true
romance kind? There's no doubt which kind Marika Tachibana's is!

She gives him a giant chocolate statue of himself which she has painstakingly prepared by herself. It must have taken her days to make it. It's like Michaelangelo's DAVID, for Chrissakes, without the anatomical correctness. How will this go down with Raku's 'girlfriend' Chitoge? Chitoge also has some chocolate to give to Raku, but which kind will be?

F**k me, I really need some chocolate now. Easter's gone and so are all the chocolatey eggs that littered the place a couple of weeks back. What to do, what to do? Should I attempt to make my own? Maybe the ladies of NISOKEI will be kind enough to lend me their recipes...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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