Ignoring the most obvious pussy jokes, Nyan Koi is an unabashed romantic comedy. The opening seconds are rife with familiarity: the sun streaming through classroom windows, a waif-like schoolgirl standing demurely opposite the rag-haired boy. Were it not over in a few seconds the temptation to turn it off in disgust would build to almost unbearable levels. To say the road has been well travelled would be an extreme understatement and all the kitschy hooks in the world aren't enough to save lazy writing and tired character types. Talking cats just don't provide the impetus necessary to last twelve episodes or more, especially when up occupying a genre dominated by heavyweights like the recent Toradora! and similarly veined Kannagi.
The premise concerns Junpei's ability to communicate, Doctor Doolittle style, with cats after a mishap with a local feline shrine. His family's neck-scarf wearing cat speaks of a curse that can only be lifted if he helps one hundred "distressed" cats lest he turn into a cat himself - a fate he is sure would lead to his death given his allergic reaction to cats. This last fact is swiftly forgotten about by the third episode when it becomes obvious the modus operandi of the curse is to introduce and ingratiate Junpei with as many young ladies as is possible. In three episodes his skirt collection is already burgeoning and with a set of twins and an angry looking youth featured in the OP and ED still to come, the pieces are arranged for well-trodden tedium.
It could be entirely unfair to brand Nyan Koi at only a quarter of the way through its run, however there are no hints that the series will blossom into something either more comedy focused or emotionally tighter. The male protagonist's infatuation with the air-headed but blatantly interested Mizuno could lead to a face-off with the abrasive Sumiyoshi as implied by the intensely squeaky OP but in all likelihood this will end up being as limp as the premise. The cat sub-story which acts as the catalyst for most of the male's interactions seems similarly fruitless with blind faith being put into the local feline mob; chances of subterfuge are high with the series shying away from the more outlandish supernatural elements - odd given loquacious pets.
The colourfulness is a definite high-point with bright bold tones - most of them sported by the initially mamba Sumiyoshi - fitting with the light-hearted tone and, while the finesse dips somewhat in the third episode, overall the visuals are a treat. Compared with the perfunctory characters and the varying cat designs - from standard bobble-headed tabby to the most svelte of pedigrees - the result is a mix which comes off bright but ultimately unspectacular. Combined with an undistinguished voice cast - the exception being Atsuko Tanaka as Nyamases - and an instantly forgettable soundtrack, the entire package is pleasant and inoffensive but nothing more.
Predictions for a twelve episode rom-com are always the same: emotional turmoil for boy, target of affection secretly likes boy, alternative girl also likes boy, other females in vicinity coo and act like twits. The presence of the talking cats is immaterial to the meat of the show which is merry nonsense: the preview for the fourth episode promises a hot-spring visit and requisite fanservice, something the first three episode are blissfully free off and standard high-school situations are likely to follow such as Christmas, New Years, Golden Week and summer holiday if the time covered stretches as far. It would be immeasurably pleasant to be surprised by Nyan Koi, but experience and evidence to the contrary signpost a time-waster of a series.