Nisekoi is one step from being good. If not for one critical flaw, I would be enjoying it unabashedly. As is, I’m filled with constant, low-level aggravation.
That flaw is Raku’s pendant.
Nisekoi is often compared to Love Hina, but while there are certainly similarities, Love Hina is the stronger story. I could point to many reasons, among them that Keitaro has a stronger character arc – if only because he starts out much lower, going from universally loathed to universally loved, and he even seems to deserve it – but I don’t need to go that deep. The answer lies in the two series’ central conceit.
Both stories involve a childhood promise, and multiple girls that may be the main character’s promise girl. The difference is that while in Love Hina requires someone to remember what happened in order for the promise girl to be found – a tall order, being that they were all children at the time – in Nisekoi the promise can be verified fairly easily.
That’s right, Raku’s pendant. It ruins everything.
A useful rule of thumb is that if most readers are ever going “Just ______ already!”, the author has done something wrong. That means the characters aren’t doing something they could easily do, and without a damn good reason, that’s frustration incarnate.
I couldn’t get mad at Naru for not remembering what happened when she was a child. That’s reasonable. I damn well can get mad at Onodera for not testing her key on Raku’s pendant, though.
I understand that Onodera’s shy, she’s uncertain, and maybe she doesn’t want to find out in case he’s not the one, but when it would be so easy to check – swipe the pendant if you must, or play it off as a joke! – it’s frustrating to see her not even try. That part of the show should have been over at episode two, and yet it still marches on. What a shame, when that critical flaw should have never made it into the story at all.