Raku Ichigo is a young man determined to ensure that he has a bright future ahead of him - the studious and hard-working sort that leaves him little time for friends, let alone those of the female persuasion. Besides, who'd want to bring a girl home with you when you're the son of a Yakuza family head?
The only real romance in Ichigo's life is little more than a distant memory from ten years previously when, as a child, he was given a locket by a girl who he can no longer recall with a promise that they'd one day meet and get married. Even this little item of comfort is soon to be denied him however, as on the way to school one morning Ichigo finds himself being used to cushion the landing of a decidedly acrobatic girl who is rushing to school herself. Not only is this girl a transfer student, but she's also in Raku's class, which is pretty much the dictionary definition of "getting off on the wrong foot".
The beautiful Chitoge Kirisaki might be the talk of the class, but there's little love lost between her and Ichigo, and things only get worse once Raku realises his pendant is lost and demands that she helps him look for it. As they spend more time together in their search, so rumours as to their relationship begin, making things fraught to breaking point. Even once Ichigo has told Kirisaki to get lost and stop helping however, it seems that there is at least some warmth towards him beneath her cold exterior, as she sets out to find the pendant herself without Ichigo's knowledge. Thus, his precious item is recovered, and we might even have an idea of to whom the key which unlocks it belongs, but all this is about to be thrown out of the window in favour of a piece of news that Ichigo really isn't going to welcome.
After all of this, I think Nisekoi can be added to the list of the winter season's solid opening instalments - it doesn't dazzle or amaze, but it fits quite a lot into this first episode and does a pretty good job of introducing its characters and scenario. It's a scenario that really couldn't be much more cliched, so I'll be intrigued to see how it fares in animated form - for some reason, the manga succeeds in entertaining in spite of the feeling that you've seen everything that it attempts done better elsewhere before. Hopefully SHAFT can repeat that magic, even if their usual visual flourishes threaten to feel a little out of place within the context of this particular series.