NisekoiTomomi MaruyamaAyami NakajoMarika Matsumoto
Nisekoi (live-action film)
Medium: film
Year: 2018
Director: Hayato Kawai
Writer: Shota Koyama, Noriaki Sugihara
Original creator: Naoshi Komi
Actor: Ayami Nakajo, Marika Matsumoto, Haruka Shimazaki, Genking, Natsumi Ikema, Kento Nakajima, Ryo Kato, Daigo Naito, Mark Chinnery, Tomomi Maruyama, Kaede Aono, Shin Takuma, Jiro Dan, Yuta Kishi, Hana Kawamura, Gregory Snelgar
Keywords: Nisekoi, rubbish
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 118 minutes
Website category: Japanese
Review date: 21 February 2020
It's my most unwatchable thing of the week, "beating" the live-action Marmalade Boy film (which had head-bangingly stupid writing) and Orgies of Edo (which was insanely disgusting and horrible sadist torture death exploitation). What's more, I like the Nisekoi anime. Well, its first season, anyway. It goes downhill the deeper it gets into cookie-cutter harem territory.
The story involves two heirs of gangster families who have to pretend to be in love to avert a bloodbath. Raku Ichijou (played by Kento Nakajima) hates the yakuza and just wants to be a normal high school student, then eventually a civil servant. Chitoge Kirisaki (played by Ayami Nakajo) is a half-American transfer student from New York with a fiery temper and a habit of punching Raku. They hate each other at first, then... okay, you've worked it out. You don't need any more. However there will also be other girls, some of whom are nice, quiet and normal (Onodera), some of whom are the police commissioner's daughter (Tachibana) and some of whom made a childhood promise with Raku that they'd get married one day.
The story's fine. It'll deteriorate, but that's much later on and shouldn't affect a one-off movie. Characters are fun. Jokes are fun. What's the problem, then?
Answer: the tone. Hayato Kawai is taking the piss and I must remember to avoid anything else he's directed... no, wait. He did the 2015 live-action version of My Love Story!!, which was as good as the (lovely) anime. In that case, I can only assume that everyone here had been huffing paint fumes. Everything's larger than life, with deliberately artificial performances and absurd visuals. These include:
1. Kento Nakajima's performance, which shot at top speed through "overdone" and "needs to tone it down" to "SOD RIGHT OFF". I actually got the impression of a competent, likeable actor, underneath the physicality and gestures, but the overacting he's been told to do here is so ugly that it's hurting more than just the audience's eyeballs. His overreactions in class make him a twat.
2. Kirisaki is Spider-Man. She can leap ten feet in the air to hurdle the school gates, then later punch Raku so hard that he flies right across the room and hits halfway up the wall. She also has a wig with a colour that looks unnatural...
3. ...until you see Tachibana's.
4. The yakuza are usually okay, actually. Sometimes they'll make you want to fly to Japan and kill everyone involved in this film, but for the most part the exaggerated tone fits quite well with cartoon gangsters. Intensity taken to parodic excess isn't inappropriate for scenes where everyone's about to kill each other.
The film isn't completely without saving graces. Kirisaki's violence towards Raku can be funny. The Demure Ordinary Girl (Onodera) is indeed lovely, but more importantly she's not a shrieking caricature and so is capable of calming the film down when she's on-screen. She lets scenes breathe.
Basically, though, it's rant-inspiringly bad. Good material is being sabotaged. You'll look at the clock after fifteen minutes and gasp in horror, having assumed optimistically that you were halfway through. (You'll then turn the film off and never look back.) It'll make you boggle that the Japanese live-action film/TV industry regards this kind of thing as acceptable, but happily it bombed in Japan too. (The manga made the New York Times Manga Best Seller List. The anime did very well and got a second season. This film tanked at the Japanese box office.)
Some talented people were involved in this film, e.g. Ayami Nakajo, who impressed me in Anonymous Noise. (Appropriately, also, she's half-English and playing a half-American role.) Nonetheless, though... no no no no.