the clone wars

Olympus Has Fallen? White House Down? Dante’s Peak? Volcano? The Legend of Hercules? Hercules? Mamotte Shugogetten? Belldandy?


I think of Nisekoi as a poor man’s Love Hina. Nisekoi is a clone that comes a decade after, and it doesn’t do anything differently enough for me to think of it as anything but a clone. I guess there’s not much innovation in the “forgotten childhood promised one” genre, but that’s what I thought about the “burning hot-blooded giant” robot genre until Gurren Lagann punched that genre in the face or even Madoka redefining magical girls after Nanoha redefined it after Sakura. But that’s what separates them from the thousand or so anime series that have aired in the past decade.

The three major differences between Nisekoi and Love Hina, as I see it, are: One, Keitaro is to Todai as Ichijou is to finding his promised one. Love Hina works a lot better in that Keitaro doesn’t spend every episode pining for a girl he vaguely remembers nor does every other episode end with a low calorie (many cases, zero calorie) cliffhanger about said girl. Great, he has a girl. But the dude is more focused on getting into college. I feel like Nisekoi could be a lot better if the focus were on Chitoge’s and Ichijou’s fake relationship, but it’s given lip service at best. It’s a complication to his pursuit of a girl he desires so much, yet can’t remember her name. It’s a bad Craigslist missed connection. The whole fake relationship feels more like a cheap gag and gimmick rather than being central to the plot, which is the opposite of how Keitaro’s entrance into Todai is handled.


Second, actual fanservice. In an age of anime where sexually assaulting your daughters is not only acceptable but encouraged, Nisekoi has some lackluster fanservice, especially for a fanservice harem series from a studio that normally isn’t shy about fanservice. Great! We get an episode at a hot spring, but Love Hina takes place at a hot spring. I’m not asking for that level (or even Sora no Otoshimono level) of fanservice, but Maria Holic had more. This is a problem. (I mean, you could argue that Keitaro blasting off again is a clone of Team Rocket because of how often it happened.) I think Shaft got too caught up in figuring out how to make dialogue between two characters seem interesting with special drawing skillz that they forgot the go-to rule: when in doubt, stick a heroine in a meido outfit. Ichijou talking to Onedera about a key is boring. Ichijou talking to Onedera about a key wearing a meido outfit is much more exciting. And do we need a reason for it? It’s Shaft! Since when did they need a reason for anything?


Third, and this is the key one, there’s very little of the harem lead actually leading his haremettes. In the course of Love Hina, Keitaro improves the lives of Shinobu (giving her self-confidence), Suu (fixing her family issues), Motoko (the big one– helped her become an actual person instead of an anime caricature), Kitsune (at least she didn’t die), Mutusmi (getting her melonpan into Todai), Sarah (for being a father slash creepy pedophile figure), and Kanako (doing more for her than Kyosuke has done for Kirino). The only exception is Naru, whose life took a drastic change for the worse because he married her. They both go to Todai, he becomes a famous archeologist, and she becomes the manager of a hot springs and gets left behind? Anyway, Ichijou has barely helped any of the haremettes. All he’s done is make haremettes fall in love with him and drag them into his pit of despair over a locket. Nothing like Keitaro consoling Shinobu about her parent’s divorce.


Four, yes, fucking four, because I can, is that for a show to not be the homeless man’s version of ______, it has to do enough differently. Right now, it’s hard to look at One Week Friends as anything other than a homeless man’s version of ef or a homeless man’s version of Fifty First Dates. There’s only three possible places where One Week Friends can go once the notebook was brought out (Seriously, why couldn’t she have just taped a podcast for herself every week? “Now on Kaoricast Week 5, I got a crepe with Yuki.” It’s 2014. Do something different. I can’t wait for episode eight where she discovers Yuki’s eroge magazine collection now…): it can either end with Kaori losing the notebook, and then realizing she doesn’t need it to remember Yuki (which I’m not sure can surpass ef, unless a sheep is involved), her never regaining memory but chooses to love Yuki anyway (Fifty First Dates), or she turns into the Ultimate Weapon in order to stop an alien invasion (Saikano). There’s only these possibilities. The only reason I would watch One Week Friends is to see which it ends up with… though it could just drag it on for three seasons… which would be horrible. Keep in mind ef had two plotlines going at once too, as well as plenty of Shaft being Shaft.

(I like how in that old ef post, I referenced Love Hina: “What exactly is Yuko’s role in the whole story? Similar to the chorus in a tragedy? The best use of a Greek tragedy-like chorus in anime, I kid you not, are the old men who live in the town in Love Hina.” Yes, that proves my point: a decade of blogging, and Love Hina is still relevant. A few years from now, Nisekoi will go the way of Gun x Sword. What fate will await One Week Friends? Will it be the next Final Approach or the next Battle Athletes?)

That’s how I see Nisekoi. It’s going to drag on because it can, and because it doesn’t have a better place to go to. Will it be like Love Hina where, shockingly, there’s more than one promised girl? Or will the show do something different. I’m hoping for the ending where Ichijou finds out he’s promised to half his harem, and he picks a girl not in his harem. Maybe his teacher. Or Claude. That would be for the best. Because finding out Onedera, Chitoge, and Marika were all promised and then picking any combination of them… boring. As boring as not picking any of them and letting it drag on. Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but for Nisekoi to evolve the promised girl genre, it needs a different, memorable ending… full of boats, Claude, aliens, and maybe even some meido fanservice.

8 Responses to “the clone wars”

  1. Full agreement on Niseikoi more or less feeling like it was focusing on the wrong things. It’s a show like some others of late i have been annoyed with where they went a harem route where the basic premise worked just fine without it. Harem stuff in anime sometimes feels like love interests in a lot of Western movies, where they feel like they’re added because they’re “required”, nto because they’re actually additive to the story. The fake relaitonship is fine on its own. It doesn’t need to be mucked-up with stupid damned lockets and “actual love interests”. It makes the fake relationship feel like a waste of time, or it feels like it makes the third wheel (or plus as this series goes on apparently) feel like a tack-on and detracts.

    One Week Friends I got about three in and it’s got the drama, but doesn’t have the impact that ef has. Mainly I guess since it’s less melodramatic but…not compared to ef. Not sure what’s up on it. I think it’s maybe just too cutesy on how it goes at the story. So I guess that’s an issue.

    Surprsied in the title of clones you didn’t talk much about Knights of Sidonia. Mind I do like it, but it has osme parallels to Attack on Titan, just instead of being a fantasy reinterpretation of generaiton ship versus hug emosnters, it’s a hard sci-fi as hell take on generation ship versus space monsters. And well, actual clones. <_<

    And stuff.

  2. Fan-freaking-tastic post. Totally agree that there is so much more potential for comedy, drama and plain fun in Raku/Chitoge’s fake relationship than episode after episode of rote harem shenanigans. As much as people point to Love Hina for popularizing the “harem genre,” it often feels like it’s been forgotten the effort put into giving good reasons to keep the girls in Keitaro’s orbit.

    Also everyone should remember that by the end of Love Hina, Keitaro had openly declared he no longer cared who his promised girl actually was, I wonder if Nisekoi will even manage to go that far.

  3. Yeah, I completely dropped the Nisekoi anime after the first couple episodes. The reason the manga works and I keep up with it still even though it avoids the locket/key plot as much as possible is because all the filler chapters are decently fun reads and can be read as fast/slow as I want. With the anime, Shaft really seems to drag things out and make minor weaknesses in the manga seem that much more apparent.

    Now excuse me while I add Love Hina and ef to my list of anime to culture myself with (I feel so bad that I’ve barely made a dent in watching any of the more noteworthy shows of yore).

  4. Jason, now that TWGOK (the manga) has ended, what’s your verdict on it? As a harem manga? On the ending? The weakness of the last arc, and the fact that it had already been planned out since before the goddesses arc?

  5. No, haven’t read it yet. I’m like 50 chapters behind.

  6. ef was mentioned here, so I give this post two thumbs up.

  7. I thought about the comparison between OWF and ef during the first episode, but the tone and direction are so drastically different that the comparison now seems irrelevant. Not unlike, say, Sword Art Online and Log Horizon… starting with a similar concept, they diverge rapidly due to different initial conditions (launch day vs. an established game) and different motivations (clear the game to get free vs. establishing a community since we might be here a while).

    I’m not expecting the same emotional payoff from OWF that I got from ef. The atmosphere is just too different between them.

    I’m also hoping for an interesting ending to Nisekoi, but meanwhile I’m enjoying the cast hijinks. I think I liked it better before Marika showed up, though. But at least she’s not Kanako-bad…

  8. — and then everyone in Love Hina (except maybe Keitaro, because Keitaro) died, along with almost everyone in Negima, when the global cataclyms started and the Tokyo area sank down.

    Thanks a freaking lot, UQ Holder.

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