Nisekoi, Vol. 19

By Naoshi Komi. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz Media. Translated by Camellia Nieh

I was recently called out for spoiling a plot point in a recent review, and had to go back and put in a disclaimer. Regular readers of my reviews will note that I spoil everything shamelessly, often without thinking. It’s rare when I actually try to keep something a secret for the sake of those who haven’t read it yet (which one could argue defeats the point of reviews, but hey). But it got me to thinking about this most recent volume of Nisekoi, which I haven’t actually done a full review of since it began. It’s now over in Japan, and indeed has also ended in North America, being one of the series that ran in Viz’s Weekly Jump magazine. Any big fan of the series knows how it ended. But of course the volumes are about a year behind the chapters, as with most Jump titles. So, when I talk about this new volume, and note how well the author succeeds at keeping the harem balanced so that the reader isn’t quite sure who Raku will end up with… who am I supposed to be fooling?

I will try, however, for the sake of the one or two casual readers of Nisekoi who read my reviews and also don’t wish to be spoiled (there must be one or two, right?) not to give away the ending. I will note that fans of romantic fluff will love this volume, be they Chitoge fans, Kosaki fans, or Marika fans. (Tsumugi does not get much of a look-in, but she’s had big moments before and will again). We open with the resolution of the “Chitoge is moving away’ arc, in which Chitoge’s father, who’s always been pretty cook, gives in at last to his daughter’s demands. Raku defensing her is awesome, even if it is (of course) undercut by his realization of who she is to him… his BEST friend! Yes, Raku is still dense, as otherwise the title would be over. Most of the volume then covers Kosaki and Raku on a date… sort of. Tricked into it by Haru, but not really against the idea, this shows off the shy, blushing, embarrassing aspect of romance, which many Western harem readers prefer to Chitoge or Marika’s more forward brusqueness.

Lastly, speaking of Marika and brusqueness, Raku is literally kidnapped by her and brought to a South Seas island (which he takes far better than you’d expect, as Marika herself notes… Raku is a nice guy almost to a fault). At first this just seems like the usual Marika that we’ve seen before, going too far as always. But Marika’s health has always been in the background of her character as well, and it may finally be failing her. There have been ominous hints that she is, if not dying, at least far more ill than she lets on. In which case, vanishing to a South Sea island, and then getting shipwrecked on a different, more deserted one, may not be the wisest choice. But then, of all the heroines, Marika’s love has always been the most desperate.

So there’s something for everyone here. Fans who know how Japanese harem mangas tend to resolve may have a sneaking suspicion who will eventually win, but Nisekoi does a much better job than most in making the journey fun and heartwarming, mostly as Raku is the type where you understand why they love him. This is still quite highly recommended.

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