Raku visits a temple famous for having magical bows and arrows capable of fulfilling romance, but he’ll have to contend with four would-be cupids trying to shoot him when the girls catch wind of this!
Raku’s school trip was supposed to be boring after he got stuck in a guy-only group, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting wrapped up in some weird situations. After seeing Tsugumi taking part in a street performance, Raku is called upon to assist her in a swordfight against some ruffians. However, swords aren’t the only thing Raku ends up having to dodge after he and the gang stumble into a shrine with magical bows and arrows that can enhance the love luck of the one doing the shooting! Later, the biggest shock of all comes when Chitoge gets told that she and Raku don’t have to pretend to be a couple anymore, forcing to Raku to consider his true feelings after he finds out that she’ll have to head back to America.
How Was It?
It’s definitely been starting to feeling like Nisekoi has been spinning its wheels for a little too long in terms of neglecting the main plot in favour of the (admittedly hilarious) predicaments that Raku and his friends get themselves into, so it was to my surprise that this volume actually took a fairly substantial step towards getting back on track. The usual shenanigans are there, but what sets this volume apart is that it incorporates the first progression between Raku and Chitoge that we’ve seen in a little while. This process begins early on in the volume as Chitoge trails behind Marika after she accosts Raku yet again, and she ends up hearing Raku admit that he actually enjoys spending time with Chitoge. Interestingly, we also see Raku becoming more self-aware right here in wondering to himself when he started feeling this way, and this sentiment gets built upon throughout the rest of the volume.
The feelings that Raku begins to recognize within himself continue to be highlighted throughout the rest of the volume as Chitoge is told by her father that she is moving back to America and that she and Raku no longer need to be a false couple. This was probably a long-time coming – it’s been a while since this aspect of their relationship has really had any importance, but it was cute to see the way they each finally realized that they did enjoy their time together. Of course, Chitoge had already realized this quite a while ago, but the main attraction here was that we see Raku’s feeling really being called into question in an introspective way as he deals with this turn of events. I liked the way that Raku’s mental process in a tangible way in terms of wondering if he merely enjoyed the time together or if his feelings are something more, and this felt like a pretty realistic take on his feelings given where we’ve been so far in the series. I particularly enjoyed a scene which sees Shu having a fairly blunt sort of talk with Raku in terms of questioning how he feels about Chitoge compared to Onodera, and Raku’s conflicted response was well-done in the sense that we see him in a sort of denial which feels appropriate given his history with Onodera.
Raku ends up resolving to try to help Chitoge stay with help from Tsugumi to come up with a plan to rescue Chitoge from Claude, but this segment wasn’t really that interesting because it focused on the forced dramatics of the whole thing rather than making it funny or memorable. The parts of this storyline noted above which focused on Raku and Chitoge’s feelings were much better done because they were more understated and relied upon the history these characters have built up to create the sense of actual progress. If anything, the tenuous emotional state of their relationship should have been emphasized more as the main stakes here, and in comparison, it was hard to care too much about the amount of scheming that they all go to try and get her out of that predicament because that part felt much more manufactured.
While I primarily enjoyed seeing Raku and Chitoge’s relationship pushed forward in this volume, those reading this series without a lot of regard to their development will still have plenty of reason to enjoy this volume. While Tsugumi gets a good amount of involvement in trying to rescue Chitoge as noted above, I enjoyed a chapter earlier on which shows her and Raku participating in a samurai-themed street performance and found it to be much funnier as the two spin typical gendered roles of the performance in a cool way. Perhaps the single funniest chapter in the volume sees all of the girls trying to shoot Raku with supposedly love-infused arrows at the shrine during the last part of the school trip from the previous volume, and I really thought this scene worked well because of how well it captured each of the girls’ personalities in a funny way as they try to hunt him down.
Nisekoi Vol. 18 sees the series taking some substantial steps forward in terms of pushing Raku to question his feelings towards Chitoge in a serious way, and it finally feels like the series is making some progress in terms of the overarching plot-line. These feelings are presented well as Chitoge struggles to try to get out of going back to America, but the other aspects of this plotline are generally boring because too much time is spent on them trying to scheme without a lot of the humour which fans of this series are likely reading for. That said, there are a couple really funny scenes early in this volume, with the scene at the shrine being great for taking advantage of the personalities of all of the characters in a funny way that felt fresh (which is no small accomplishment given that we’re 18 volumes in). If you’re reading Nisekoi for the long-game there might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel, but those reading for the humour as well will also find scenes to enjoy here too.
Nisekoi Vol. 18 was translated by Camellia Nieh and published by Viz Media on September 1st, 2016. Authored by Naoshi Komi, the series ran in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.
Date of Publication: November 1st, 2016
Author: Naoshi Komi
Translator: Camellia Nieh
Editor: John Bae (WSJ) & Amy Yu (GN)
Publisher: Viz Media