Is cliché truly a bad thing? I’d argue not, and Nisekoi (Japanese for Fake Love) kinda proves my point here, to be quite honest.
To give some background, Nisekoi is written by Naoshi Komi, who had previously written several one-shots and the cult hit Double Arts. Now, while I’ve never read Double Arts for more than a skim (and see no reason to), it apparently brought a lot of new ideas to the table, they were just executed in a non-compelling fashion.
So, when Naoshi goes and releases a title like Nisekoi, which is genericness personified, but well-executed, it was no surprise that people were disappointed. I mean, this guy is essentially writing the polar opposite of his first series. But I find Nisekoi worth my time more than Double Arts, and am happy to read it every week. Not only that, but it has, as of this writing, remained popular enough to not even slightly dip into the lower half of Weekly Shonen Jump‘s Table of Contents (which are determined by a series’ popularity 8 weeks prior, but more on that some other time). Not only that, but the first Volume was just released in Japan. Amazon sold out almost immediately, and this is a common sight in retail stores across the country:
The reason for this almost unprecedented popularity for a new series? Nisekoi isn’t just genericness. No, then you could just ignore it and toss it aside as garbage. It’s generic stuff, but it’s well-written generic stuff.
Why do people think they need to avoid cliché? As TV Tropes has said before, tropes as not bad, tropes are not good. Tropes are tools, and Komi Naoshi has shown in Nisekoi that he’s damn good at using some highly popular tools. And why should that be a bad thing? A story should be read on its own merits, and Nisekoi does these generic things better than most other series.
Going for gimmicks of weirdness is the sign of a bad writer unless you actually try writing something generic first. Writing a generic work can tell you a lot about your writing skill and style, since the genericness makes your quirks easier to notice. Nisekoi is an example of this, with its rather captivating one-shot that made me want more, and did not disappoint. Naoshi wrote it to test the waters for a new serialization after gimmicks failed him, and it worked.
So take this as a lesson. Don’t toss a title aside for not being different. Don’t toss aside an idea for a story because it’s too generic. Try reading/writing it. You may be pleasantly surprised.