Koi to Uso’s Marriage System and a Call for Incompatibility

I was really excited to watch Koi to Uso. The plot summary for the series felt like Minority Report meets moe, where a high school boy wants to be with the girl of his dreams, but is assigned a different match by the Japanese government, which at this point of the future assigns marriages to all students based on certain criteria. Although the show didn’t give me exactly what I was looking for, I still really find the idea fascinating, particularly in an Avengers-Civil-War kinda way – what’s better, freedom that leads to social problems and broken families, or lack of freedom that creates more stable and harmonious homes?

The setup is hard to accept, and I think the vast majority of us would probably pick the freedom to make such important choices, for better or worse, but there are good reasons to go the other way. It perhaps helps a lot of people who might otherwise struggle to develop a good relationship (see the opening example of the regular joe who marries a famous actress). And it’s hard to argue with the results as presented in the series. While there are a lot of reasons that divorce happens, and any of those could occur in the context of a marriage, whether chosen by yourself or an all-seeing eye, it seems to me that the Japanese government in this show has matchmaking down to a science, correcting a lot of the reasons for disagreement – conflict in values, personality type, weaknesses, interests. And who wouldn’t want a relationship where we’re matched just perfectly?

Shows like this is why kids growing up thinking love and “in love” are the same

It made me think of my own relationship and this: she and I are really, really different. Not only that, but our differences don’t usually balance out. For example, I’m pretty impatient, but so is she. And our interests are vastly different, too. Even when they cross, as with anime, we don’t like the same shows – I can’t get past one episode of Fairy Tail; she couldn’t make it 15 minutes into The Perfect Insider.

But then how do we love each other, day after day, year after year? How is our relationship stronger than it was five years ago? Ten years ago? These differences should drive us apart and many times, these and far deeper challenges have affected us and pushed us to the edge. But whenever big arguments happen, when we make remarks or do things that no loving couple should do, we return to what we’ve been taught, we go back to what we’ve been given. We fall into grace.

Love is easy when there’s no challenge, no obstacle for the love. And surely you want to have a kind, consistent warmth in your romantic relationship, but in conflict, there’s something really significant that can happen. The two parties can at the end choose to resolve it by saying, “I love you anyway.” And that kind of love, where you choose to take that person back again despite their sins against you, despite how they treated you, that’s the kind of love that builds a relationship. Like piling rocks on one another to built a mountain, it’s the kind that requires work and leads us from the bottom-up.

Compatibility surely is important, especially when it comes to core values. Grace, after all, is a core value. But incompatability is not the end of the world, nor is it a reason to immediately dash prospects for a couple’s future. If you work at it and indulge yourself in the work that is love, you might even discover what I have: when you don’t have everything is common, you might have more opportunity than most to nurture love, help it grow, cause it to shine, and build something that even you may have thought would never last. Such is the beauty and power of grace.

Koi to Uso can be streaming on Anime Strike.



11 thoughts on “Koi to Uso’s Marriage System and a Call for Incompatibility

  1. to clarify my position, i dont actually hate the idea of eugenics or government-mandated partners. i think there’s still a lot of discussion needed to really explore the idea, but im not entirely against it. my main complaint with the series is that it’s essentially forcing me believe that something like this just happened without issue, that citizens were willing to accept something based solely on the positive results to society. now it’s possible that this could happen in a population as small as japan’s, but i just expect that the main character’s case is common enough that there would need to be compromise. i think i give the example of allowing the government to step in when someone is unable to find a suitable partner.

    1. I definitely got that, and I agree with you. It was hard for me, too, to just buy in to the system. When you’re going with a realistic setting in the (near?) future, you’ve got to sell such a fundamental change, and the show didn’t do it in episode one.

      1. That honestly begs the question though: Why is this society less believable than the dystopian society of Psycho-Pass? People began to have suspension-of-disbelief issues with the show only when it actually stopped making sense, not with the setting from the get-go (which, although it has high technology, is arguably in the near future). Is it that the populace seems, as a whole, unconcerned with this future? As in, they’re not “rebelling” against it?

        That honestly raises a whole different series of questions about freedom and choice to me. And about how in Tales of Xillia, Gaius was unequivocally a dictator but he was also utterly brilliant at his job, and as a result his people adored him. Finding out that he was the villain from the opening movie was an utter shock, in a very good way, because it becomes hard to argue against him. You’re forced to argue that what he is doing is “wrong” according to moral principles, not outcomes.

        But more onto your actual post: That was lovely. :] Fighting can be…good and bad in a relationship, and the post shows the necessity of the “experience of survival” to the gravity of love. In order for a relationship to begin and remain solid, the parties involved have to work to overcome the friction between them. Without friction, passion quickly dissipates. On the contrary, love is *hard* when there are no obstacles. My own heart sings in the presence of tension, of fear, of threats that aren’t ever followed up on and whispered words. We long for what we can’t reach, and find ecstasy when it lets us in anyway, out of grace. Always on the edge between swimming, and drowning.

        With all that said, relationships when there are no obstacles are easy. And sometimes what you need is not passion, but the pleasure of another’s company, earned by the hard work you both committed to over many years.

        1. Well said! I appreciate you bringing in the power of grace. I believe I’m not the only one who has been brought up to believe that being gracious is weak, forgetting that there’s a difference between “letting things slide” or “giving up” and demonstrating grace. In grace there is power to sweep away those things you mentioned: tension, fear, and threats, and in doing so, to build something strong.

    2. It’ll be shown later on that it took several generations for society to really accept it. It starts out voluntarily, with only a handful participating. And then it was shown that the marriage from that lasts more and the children born from it are more healthy and intelligent than your average kids.

      Now, you can still opt out but it’s quite frowned upon.

      1. Thanks for the additional information – the show, it seems, is smarter than I gave it credit for. That’s a mistake I make almost every time with the first episode of series!

  2. I remember Chesterton remarking just that in his “What’s Wrong With the World”, let´s see… “I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable”.

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