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[My Happy Marriage]
AKA: わたしの幸せな結婚 ; Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon
Genre: Shoujo Fantasy
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 25 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on Netflix.
Content Rating: TV-14 (Fanservice, violence.)
Related Series: A live-action film
Also Recommended: Raven of the Inner Palace
Notes: Based on online light novel series by Akumi Agitogi (author) and Tsukiho Tsukioka (illustrator)

My Happy Marriage


Miyo Saimori is close with Koji Tatsuichi, but to the shock of both of them, her father, Shinichi, her stepmother Kanako, and her stepsister Kaya announce that she is to marry one Kiyoka Kudo, an allegedly cruel man who heads the "Anti-Grotesquerie" military unit (it fights evil spirits), while Koji gets paired with Kaya. But the Miyo/Kudo pairing turns out to work much better than the chief plotters of this arranged marriage- Miyo's and Koji's fathers- had thought it would, and they end up trying to force Miyo into renouncing the arrangement.


This one needs some quotes:

"For sure I'm disappointing everyone around me"- Miyo

"No need to cower or say you're sorry"- Kudo

"I would prefer if you were honest like that rather than always apologizing"- Kudo (again)

"Every time I try to talk to someone, it's 'sorry' this, or 'forgive me' that, and 'I'm not worthy' "- God, in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Since Miyo has obvious reservations about taking Kudo's advice, she should at least listen to God; they're on the same page about this. Miyo is a kind young woman, and a strikingly beautiful one- her character art is absolutely gorgeous (particularly the subtle iridescence the artists put in her eyes); but her near-constant groveling DOES get on the nerves.

Mind, it's due to a complete lack of self-esteem that her stepmother and stepsister drilled into her at an early age. This show's world is one where magical ability is prized, and Miyo seems to have no talent for it at all, while Kanako's biological daughter Kaya passed her magical test while still a child, so Kanako and Kaya have an additional reason to treat her like dirt besides the usual one of preferring a biological child to one from marriage. Kanako and Kaya expected Miyo's supposed lack of magical ability to cause Kudo to reject her; when he treats her with respect and love instead, they become insanely jealous, with emphasis on the "insane" part. By the way, if you suspect that the magical test used doesn't always accurately measure one's magical ability, then you've seen enough of these stories to know how things always turn out.

But that magic thing...

When I first started watching this, I thought it was going to be a "straight" shoujo period piece about a girl cruelly forced into a marriage, but who then discovered that the husband assigned her was not that bad at all. (Cue In This Corner of the World here.) I had pretty mixed feelings about the introduction of magic into the story.

Why? First of all, let's consider a very different show I reviewed a while back, Eureka Seven A.O..That one was set on a parallel world which had a political, cultural, and technological history almost identical to ours- except aliens (scub corals) had been on Earth, and interacting with the human race, for hundreds of years. I'm absolutely sure that one can't get a political, cultural and technological history identical to ours under these circumstances. (The original Eureka Seven, more realistically, had most of the world under a military dictatorship.)

I would think the same reasoning would apply in a world where magic existed, even if only a few had this talent (or "Gift", as it's called in the show.) But the world of My Happy Marriage seems to be almost identical to that of Taisho Era Japan, with its mix of traditional (clothes, marriage customs) and the modern (automobiles), and the only obvious signs of magic in this world are Kudo's uniformed "Anti-Grotesquerie" squad, and a huge cemetery for the Gifted where magical barriers are enacted to keep the spirits of the Gifted dead (which apparently can turn evil) from escaping. (And from that you can guess what ANOTHER major plot development is going to be.) I realize it would be hard work to think through all the political and cultural implications of a world where magic was practiced- and the result might be a setting not that familiar at all. (Though even a fluffy comedy like Level 1 Demon & One Room Hero takes a stab at it.)

(By the way, the Wiki article on this show identifies the era as "19th-century Meiji Restoration", but that doesn't seem compatible with the presence of Model A automobiles in the show. I think Taisho Era is a much better match to what's shown.)

Another complaint I have is that there's another character, who's loyal and true, and loves someone enough that they're willing to give them to another if they'd be happier with that person- and the reward this self-sacrificing individual receives is to go effectively into exile, and disappear for the rest of the show. Yes, I suppose it's self-imposed exile (like going into the Foreign Legion "to forget"), but it just rubs me the wrong way to remove such a self-effacing character from a show simply as a convenience to the plot. (See my comments on Big Fish and Begonia.)

OK, I concede that the core relationship here, between Kudo and Miyo, is interesting, though mainly because Kudo, despite being assumed to be a cruel man, is remarkably kind to (and remarkably patient with) Miyo; and, for her part, she finally DOES discover resolve enough to never back down on at least one thing. As period shoujo romance, it gets a passing grade.

But the show peaks dramatically (well, MELOdramatically anyway) well before the end, and the introduction of another group of characters also seeking to break up Kudo and Miyo never quite reaches the dramatic intensity of the earlier episode, if for no other reason than that the chief instigator, while smoothly deceptive, turns out more equivocal in the end than the earlier group of, uh, home-wreckers.

It looks great, but becomes too predictable, and I would have liked Miyo better if she'd discovered self-esteem a little earlier- or if she'd been at least a little less INTENSE about her self-deprecation. There should be a bit more to her personality than perpetual apologies.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: Miyo at one point is physically tortured, and it's just as unpleasant to watch as I suppose it would have been for her to experience. There's also a duel (of sorts) in which injuries occur. No real sexuality, though there's a brief spot in the opening credits where Miyo actually manages a sultry gaze (which you will NEVER see in the show itself.) So violence, mature themes. Netflix rates TV-14.

Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
My Happy Marriage © 2023 Akumi Agitogi/Kadokawa/Netflix
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