By Dustin Cabeal
When I received the 25th volume of Nisekoi: False Love this week, I instantly noticed that it was thicker than normal volumes. Flipping over to the back cover I read the words “Final Volume” and got excited. My problem with many of the middle volumes that I read of Nisekoi was that it had that stretched out feeling that comes with a lot of manga stories that become successful. Yet, much like the way that Raku and Chitoge’s false love turned to real love, I surprisingly fell in love with this story. Part of me hates admitting that, but I can’t deny that it’s a love story unlike any other I’ve read. In particular, because it’s a harem love story in which the boy makes a choice and picks one of the women interested in him.
That’s not a spoiler either, that is 100% where the story has been heading since the beginning, it was just a matter of whether or not Naoshi Komi would do the unimaginable in manga… and break the reader's hearts. Of course, Komi can only do this by breaking each of the girl’s hearts in the process and my god, was emotionally daunting, draining and heartfelt.
Usually, I don’t bunch my reviews together like this. Especially, in manga, as the volumes are very long and full of content. When I got that final volume though and realized that I was four volumes behind, well, something told me just to sit down and read them all at once. Because I took this approach, it was like a heartbreak tour. I won’t spoil the ending or the final pick, but I will help you along with your heartbreak if you’re behind on the series as well.
I could probably combo this volume up with the 22nd as well since both are primarily Marika Tachibana’s heartbreak tour. Previously we had Yui’s heartbreak, which wasn’t as bad as the others. In a way it helps pave the way for the others, I would say it softens the blow, but I think that Tachibana’s heartbreak is the worst of all the women. She’s loved Raku openly and honestly which is something the other interested parties respect about her. Her illness consumes her a bit too much in this volume and her handler Honda swoops her up and takes her away. Raku and the gang find out that she’s been taken to her mother and that she made a deal to go to Raku’s high school. She could attend as long as she was healthy or was able to win Raku’s heart. Since neither of those happens, she’s taken away and arranged marriage. Raku and the team, with Chitoge’s encouragement, go to stop the wedding and talk sense into Tachibana’s mother. Chitoge feels that her situation is similar to her own and that it’ll just take some heart and conversation to get through to her… yeah, that doesn’t work.
Most of the gang gets locked up in the dungeon and Raku is feeling guilty, sad and confused. One of the great things about his character journey is that while he’s still a little obvious, he considers and cares about other people’s feelings. He’s not sure he’s doing the right thing by stopping the wedding because he has no intention of choosing Tachibana, but he can’t let her life be controlled in such a harsh, uncaring manner. The wedding battle ends up being a glorious moment. All the parts of the plan come into play, an unsurprising twist occurs involving Honda. The only good thing about the twist is that Komi waits until the very last moment to use it. Tachibana is glorious in this volume. She’s not annoying and actually very powerful, even with her frailty. When Raku, Chitoge and Tsugumi barge in at the end of the church, Tachibana takes a chair and says she’ll wait right there to be rescued.
It is not a pompous moment. It is not a spoiled brat moment. At that point in the story, the odds are not in Raku’s favor. It looks grim and unrealistic that they’ll succeed. When Tachibana sits down, she’s putting all of her confidence in them. She has so much belief that they’ll be able to rescue her and beat the odds, that she sits the fuck down. And it is amazing. In particular, because of how striking the artwork looks. It is one of the single best pages I have ever seen from Komi. There is power in Tachibana’s presence, but then also sheer joy on her face. She is amazingly happy to see Raku and her friends. It’s touching, power and probably one of the best volumes of the entire series.
Ultimately, Raku tells her his feelings are not the same. Making it rejection number two for him. He doesn’t gain confidence in that moment but instead feels like utter shit. Tachibana isn’t done though, she is removed from the story to get treatment for her illness, but she clues Raku in on the fact that he’s actually stuck picking between Chitoge and Kosaki.
Volume 23 is a double heartbreaker. The story wraps up Haru’s lingering feelings for Raku in which she admits that she knows Raku was her Prince Charming. Something about this episode gives her clarity in finding her path in life and gives her the chance to move on from Raku. She still cries, because damn, isn’t that just love. Even when you don’t have a shot you still feel that pain no matter what. It takes a good cry to start getting it out of your system. It was also just really nice to see that Naoshi Komi was wrapping every story thread up, leaving nothing dangling, no false hope. Definitive. It’s also worth mentioning that every woman that was interested in Raku and turned down by him finds their own path. They don’t give up on life but actually accomplish more because they stop holding themselves back for the chance to have a relationship with him.
The back half of the story was particularly moving for me. I, of course, have a horse in the race as they say. That’s what makes this final arc so incredible, in that most readers are going to be heartbroken when their pick isn’t picked. I had a dark horse in the race, it wasn’t my first pick, but a backup that I would have been happy with, and that’s Tsugumi. She finally finds out that the relationship is fake and in her own way makes a move for Raku. She dresses like a girl and ends up getting hurt which puts her on Raku’s back. She asks him what love feels like and what he says resonates with her. But in realizing her own feelings, she sees Chitoge’s true feelings and asks her one more time if she feels anything for Raku. Chitoge confesses to her, and it’s a quick and painful scene. Chitoge releases some of that pressure she’s been building, but Tsugumi is completely deflated. She has this saddening moment with Raku in the classroom when they’re alone where she almost goes to hug him and tell him how she feels but pulls back. Like just being that close and getting that closure was enough. It fucking killed me it was so goddamn sad.
If you think that only one love story is being wrapped in this series, then you’re wrong. Volume 24 sets the stage for the final story, but it’s not all about Raku, Kosaki, and Chitoge. A good portion of the story is spent with Shu and Ruri. They find a lost girl together and help her find her way, and Ruri starts to notice more and more about Shu. They have a lot of heartfelt and deep conversations and not all of them pleasant.
There’s a meteor shower coming and typhoon. Guess what happens? That’s right, our love triangle, which is officially back to being just a love triangle, get stuck in the school. Things happen, and Raku gets knocked out. Chitoge goes to get stuff from the nurse’s office when the eye of the storm heads over them and Kosaki can see the meteors and confesses her feelings to a passed-out Raku. Chitoge hears this but pretends not to and eventually runs away. She goes to New York to work with her mom, they chase after her, Shu helps Raku figure out who it is he’s in love with, and we meet Raku’s mom. Strangely enough, we never see her face… which was super weird, and I didn’t particularly understand that.
Here it is, the ending. Everything is revealed. The past from ten years ago, who knew already and who didn’t. Ruri confesses to Shu and tells him that she’ll wait for him. The final heartbreak comes, and it is handled in the only way it can. It couldn’t be bigger than the finale. If it were, it would steal the happiness there, but even then. There are still a lot of tears. A lot of fucking tears. My goodness, this story has reminded me of how hard love is. If you’re married, you should read it just to appreciate what you have because dating, and pre-dating is hard.
The past parts are paced wonderfully. They don’t feel like filler, and it all leads up to the ending. Everyone gets a moment to shine in the story, even our last two heartbroken women. That’s right, Tachibana comes back for the ending, and this time, instead of helping Raku, she helps Chitoge.
I’m not mad at the ending. It felt like the natural progression of the story, and I will refrain from saying if it was my pick or not. It was handled so wonderfully, and with so much care that it should make every reader of the story happy and fulfilled. The final chapter on the other hand… was pretty meh. It could have done without it. The last two chapters could have been dropped, and the story would have been better for it. The “a few years later” part started fine, but then when it hit up every character with a vague “here’s what they’re doing now” and then finally got to the happy couple, it was just off-putting. It made the characters seem distant when they had previously been so close. That part could have been much better, and it is, unfortunately, the last part you’ll read. Komi says that it’s the end for now, but teases that the story could pick up in the future. I hope that doesn’t happen. Especially seeing how overly happy the future is for all of them. No, what’s here is a fulfilling and great ending to the story. It doesn’t need more and could’ve done with a little less.
It’s been a journey. A story that I felt was hollow, typical and full of filler ended up hooking me in the end. I doubt I would have felt the same had it gone on for several more volumes. Its still an insanely long story, but because there is actually heartbreak and decisions made in the story, it saves it from being fluff.
Now, I also don’t usually give individual scores when I bunch reviews, but this is a special case all around.
Volume 21 – 4/5
Volume 22 – 5/5
Volume 23 - 5/5
Volume 24 – 4/5
Volume 25 – 4/5
Nisekoi: False Love vol. 21-25
Story and Art by: Naoshi Komi
Publisher: Viz Media