Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern (movies 1 and 2)
Benio Hanamura has embraced the progressive ideals of the Taisho Era, declaring that she will not be forced into becoming the demure bride in an arranged marriage. (She's making a point of this by deliberately failing "bride school.") But what if her pre-arranged groom is a handsome, considerate young Army officer who comes from a distinguished family (and lives in a mansion)? Will she still be able to resist?
AND the guy she's been "reserved" for, named Shinobu Ijuin, ALSO says he backs her "progressive" ideals. (Though he kind of undercuts this by being the one who patronizingly refers to her as "Miss Modern.") The show makes the Path of Least Resistance for Benio ALSO the most ATTRACTIVE path for a variety of other reasons as well- which really doesn't make for good drama.
Still, Part 1 (the first of the movies) is not without merit. Benio has several altercations, some physical, with the patriarch of the Ijuin clan, who's anything BUT progressive. She's surprisingly good at holding her own against him, too.
The show also uses the historical background of the Taisho Era to generate some melodrama. I either had forgotten- or perhaps didn't know- that Japan was also a participant, along with Britain and the U.S., in an ultimately futile effort to depose the Communists in Russia shortly after World War I.
Part 2 (the second movie) is, however, a major disappointment. EVERY cliché of shojo drama is there, to the point where it's just painful to watch; in the end, the show is even willing to move heaven and Earth (LITERALLY) to go exactly where I expected it to. (The show features the most outrageously convenient, and absurdly exquisitely timed, deus ex machina I've ever seen. I was rolling my eyes so much that I got a little dizzy.)
Again, the better stuff is almost all in Part 1. This includes a table-pounding gag that's pretty terrific; the introduction of Benio's long-time (and long-suffering) male friend, a kabuki actor named Ranmaru, who goes to great lengths to stay close to her; and her best female friend (and fellow rebel at Bride School), Tamaki Kitakoji, who's maybe a little more faithful to her vows than Benio might prove to be.
I did note one glaring anachronism: I don't believe that UFOs were a "thing" until 1947.
The Rec this time is set about two decades after this one, and deals with the arranged marriage issue quite a bit more seriously.
The concept of marriage as a contract between two families (instead of one purely between the spouses) seems uncomfortable to most of those likely to read this review (though it persists in some cultures, and even in more modern societies within certain subgroups); but what's even MORE unsettling HERE is the way this show loads the dice so that there seems very little downside to just "going along with the program." And the by-the-numbers, predictable schmaltz of the second OVA didn't help. Overall, if you're content to see something you've seen many times before, you might be OK. To quote a song lyric, if you don't expect too much, you might not be let down. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Mature situations, I suppose. Rightstuf rates the Part 1 DVD at 13+.
Version(s) Viewed: Amazon Prime stream
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern (movies 1 and 2) © 2017-2018 Wakai Yamato / Kodansha / Movie Version Haikara-san ga Touru Production Committee
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