The lineup of anime this season includes the adaptation for Tsumugi Musawo’s manga Koi to Uso (lit. Love and Lies). I’ve been meaning to read the manga before but I just couldn’t get in the mood. That is until I’ve watched the first episode of the anime adaptation. As of writing, the manga has 137 chapters.
Gathering my thoughts regarding the series, this post inevitably contains some spoilers from the manga (I’m not sure if the anime will cover some of them). So either please read a better post and come back whenever you’re ready or continue if you don’t mind spoilers/have already read the manga and is curious about other people’s thoughts.
Synopsis (from mangaupdates):
Lies are forbidden and love is doubly forbidden.
In the near future, when young people in Japan turn sixteen, they are assigned a marriage partner by the government. People don’t have to go through the trouble of looking for someone, and everyone accepts that the country will find a compatible partner to make them happy.
Yukari Nejima is fifteen years old. He lives in a small corner of the country, and just can’t seem to get ahead in life. Both academically and athletically he’s below average. But in within him, he hides a heart burning with passion! In this world in which love is forbidden, what will happen to him when he falls in love?
As I said in my post here, when I first read the synopsis, I was reminded of Matched, a dystopian novel by Ally Condie. Because I wasn’t able to stop myself, I compared and contrasted the two of them there, too. But I’m not here to repeat those as I will give my thoughts on Koi to Uso’s other aspects.
Involvement of the government and the shrinking population
Governments exist to help the citizens live better, more organized and productive. There are various branches focusing on the different aspects of life — health, education, agriculture, finance, security, and others. Now in this series, the government is even involved in the more personal aspect of citizens’ lives — marriage. Marriage is a lifelong commitment and it greatly affects the growth or decline of the nation.
For years, Japan has been suffering for its population decline that it is said that Prime Minister Abe’s government even hosted speed-dating events for his nation’s people. Obviously, the low number of youth is a problem to a nation because it needs people who will carry on the race, plus the work force can’t all be handled by old people.
Of course, any government will encourage married couples to bear more children if that is the case. Or it will encourage the bachelors and bachelorettes to find a spouse to raise a family. I think this is part of the reason why Japan has a lot of manga and drama series concerning women in their 30s or 40s pursuing (or not) love/marriage life like Totsuzen Desu ga, Ashita Kekkon Shimasu; Watashi Kekkon Dekinainjanakute, Shinain Desu; Kekkon Shinai; Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu, and a whole lot more.
That’s why if Japan would ever implement something like the government notice system as in Koi to Uso, where their life partners are chosen through some kind of scientific process, I wouldn’t be too surprised. But I still think that would be too much meddling for the government. Anyhow, the premise of this series sprang from the country’s problem, so in a sense, it’s not all crazy. I appreciate that not all of the couples are government-arranged, too.
But I think it is still crazy, especially with this. In this chapter, government-arranged couples are made to attend a “special course” with the objective of giving them lecture about sex education as well as to show that video to stimulate the couples’ desires toward their respective partners. Honestly, I was disturbed while reading this part. I mean that is MANIPULATION. It’s pushing the matter too much. And after that, they were even sent to private rooms for a hands-on exercise. But of course, Lilina and Nejima were able to overcome the challenge thanks to Lilina’s wit.
Parallel situation to Yajima’s life
Now, we got this character, Yajima Motoi. I don’t know how much exposure he’ll gain in the 12-episode anime adaptation, but he plays quite an important role. Yajima is one of the government officials who went to the park at exactly 12mn to bring the documents to Nejima. He is the one responsible for stirring up Nejima’s thoughts more, too.
You see, he has some similarities with Nejima in a sense that he loved (and still does) a woman yet he yielded to the system and is now living a life of regrets. Yajima would like Nejima to carefully choose who to marry in order not to suffer the same regrets. I feel like he’s leaning more on supporting Misaki but he isn’t really vocal about it because, well, he’s a government official managing the notice system.
The love and the lie
Yajima poses this question. Which is the woman who Nejima truly loves? Is it the one who he loved first or the one who he was told to love?
First, there’s Takasaki Misaki, the girl Nejima claims he is in love with since fifth grade when she smiled at him after giving her a piece of rubber eraser. Nejima confessed to her before his 16th birthday and it’s apparently a mutual love. So now, their story looks like that of Romeo and Juliet. Star-crossed lovers. Separated because of the cruel government system.
Many people support this pairing because it is said that she is the one who he truly loves. They’re continuing with their secret rendezvous and kisses. If Nejima will choose Lilina, that would mean that the meddlesome government is right and, of course, we don’t want them winning, especially with that “science of love” of theirs which is incomparable to real love.
And then, there is also Sanada Lilina, the girl chosen by the government to be Nejima’s lifetime partner. She is a girl with a sad past, as she was bullied and left alone because of her personality. She is innocent, too, and one who wants to know what love is. She pushes Misaki and Nejima to pursue their love for each other, even demanding each of them to kiss everyday, because she likes both of them (they were her first friends) and she wants them both happy. So, she’s in with the plan to defy the government by not making moves to deepen her relationship with Nejima.
We also get Nisaka Yuusuke, Nejima’s best friend who is surprisingly revealed to like Nejima, though he still has no clue about it. Nisaka is shown to have some kind of connection with the government that even his father doesn’t know about. He knows something. And he is also aware of Misaki’s feelings for Nejima as well as their secret relationship.
Many people want him and Nejima to be the endgame. Of course, that not only defies the government, but it also promotes that love is for everyone no matter what your preference is. If that will happen, this will be a satisfying turn from the usual cliché.
Personally, I care more for Lilina and Nisaka than for Misaki. I just can’t like her character, what with her dilly-dallying. Though I’m quite sure that’s got something to do with what she’s hiding. But she’s still an uninteresting character to me. Anyway, I guess it’s also because I’m not a fan of Romeo-and-Juliet-esque stories. And I mean the type where the characters fall in love easily. Basically of love at first sights. I prefer those which are founded on friendships, those which gradually developed. Slow romance. So, Misaki x Nejima doesn’t appeal to me.
I’m also not that convinced by their “love” for each other. Yes, they may have found interesting things about the other through observations (Misaki gave her reasons for loving Nejima to Lilina), but they barely talked before. The first proper and long conversation they had was during the confession. To me, because of that, their kisses look like their outlet to release their raging hormones.
I won’t mind if Nisaka will be the endgame, but who I’m really supporting here is Lilina. She’s pushing Misaki and Nejima together and is now distancing herself from Nejima because she wants him to choose her friend even if she’s finally developing her feelings for him. Of course the government chose them to be together because of compatibility, and they do have good chemistry, but I also believe that shared moments are important for genuine feelings to develop. Or maybe it’s just really me preferring the arrange marriage trope more than the love at first sight’s.
Fishy things and some guesses
First of all the suspicious matters in the manga is the glitch on the government notice Nejima received through phone. Despite the unclear message, it still obviously says that his marriage partner is Misaki. Yajima and Kagetsu said that the official document is still the legitimate one, though. What’s with the glitch? When Lilina received hers on phone, it’s the correct and legitimate one.
Moreover, as seen on this picture on the left, it looks like Misaki is surprised. And not the kind of happy surprise Nejima has. It is said that she still hasn’t received her government notice, but I don’t think it’s true. There are already a couple of suspicious happenings — Misaki and Shuu being on the government room, Nisaka’s mysterious knowledge about the “special course” as well as connection to the government, and that seemingly hostile relationship Nisaka and Misaki have toward one another. I don’t think that’s only because of their awareness of the feelings each of them harbor toward Nejima. I’m joining the group of people who think that they are assigned with each other but chose to keep it to themselves.
Then, there’s Shuu, Misaki’s best friend who knows about the notice Nejima received during his birthday. She’s a relative (granddaughter, IIRC?) of the person who started the Yukari law. Shuu knows Misaki likes Nejima. She’s also familiar in the government because of her relations. So, I think she did some things to make Nejima receive that notification. That, or she got hold of the information beforehand and knew that Misaki is truly the one assigned to him so she was confused as to why he was with Lilina.
If that’s the case, we can suspect that the government is brewing something here. Perhaps the people behind the system are testing its effectivity or something?
I think the author wants to let the readers contemplate the meaning of “true love”. Is the “romantic love” Nejima feels toward Misaki real? Is the “romantic love” Nejima will most probably develop for Lilina true, considering it’s influenced by the government? Though I think they could both be true, just one fading after the other surpasses it. It could also show how Yajima’s and Nejima’s cases may be different, emphasizing that it’s all down to people to choose who their “true love” is, so the government should just scrap the system and let people choose who to marry. I’m guessing the system will cease operation by the end, though.
Ahh, I don’t know anymore. I just want to get these all out of my system because it’s bothering me. This will probably the second to the last post regarding this series, the last one being about the conclusion of the story, if ever I decide to continue reading it till the end. If someone wants to discuss this with me, please do so!