First Impression: More Than a Married Couple But Not Lovers

Remember those classes in high school where you had to take care of a bag of flour or a baby doll for a couple of weeks to learn responsibility? Well, Japan decided to step things up in this anime (as they always seem to do)! Our third-year high schoolers are about to participate in a “Marriage Practical,” a lesson designed to ensure students become good marriage prospects. Each is paired off with a randomly selected partner and made to live in a fully furnished, well-stocked training dorm together, with a camera placed in the living room to monitor how they live and interact as a couple. Think “Big Brother” but for teenagers. Thankfully, the pair are given separate bedrooms to dissuade… ahem… friskiness. The teams are given points based on how well they interact with each other, and by extension, points are deducted if their interactions are less than favorable. Oh, and by the way, this practical is a requirement to graduate. If you score ZERO points, you don’t get to graduate.

Enter our characters: Jiro Yakuin, a typical teenage boy who is into handheld video games; Shiori Sakurazaka, the happy and bubbly childhood friend of Jiro; Akari Watanabe, a gyaru girl (think Marin Kitagawa from My Dress-Up Darling but turned up to 11) who comes off as brash and rude, but has a somewhat sweet and shy side; and Minami Tenjin, the all-around perfect guy that most girls have a crush on, including our female lead Akari. The story pretty much plays out how you think it will; Jiro has a crush on his childhood friend Shiori, and Shiori, in turn, has a crush on Jiro, so naturally…they do NOT end up being “married.” Instead, Shiori ends up with Minami, and Jiro, bless his heart, ends up with Akari. The latter couple gets along like oil and vinegar as their personalities clash—with Akari putting up her gal facade while Jiro is more withdrawn and flustered, dealing with her over-the-top nature. Jiro, meanwhile, gets a little jealous when he sees how well Shiori and Minami are getting along. Akira and Jiro conclude that to achieve an A-Class Score (which will allow them to switch partners if they wish), they must put up the facade of a happy couple while in range of the cameras. Engage the shenanigans!

So, I liked this one. While putting two teenagers in an apartment together to live as a married couple does give me pause, it is a fascinating concept to watch as an anime. I also love that these characters are complex, especially Akari. She’s not just some rude gal who only selfishly goes after what she wants; Akari has a shy, sensitive side, and she decides to ally with Jiro to help them get what they want. This show also gives me some Toradora vibes—a gentle and lonely boy and an outspoken, headstrong girl who both have crushes on other people try and hook up with their respective loves but end up falling in love with each other instead. Hey, if you’re going to imitate, imitate the BEST. 

One of the things I didn’t like about this show was, yet again, we get the typical “LOL Virgin” jokes coming from Akari. I’ve made my feelings on this clear MANY times, but I am disgusted by this joke. As someone who is saving themselves until marriage, I am here to say there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with not having had that kind of relationship. The joke that virgins are always these lonely, anti-social weirdos that deserve ridicule and scorn is a long-played-out joke, and it needs to be consigned forever to the ash heap of cringe history. And this applies OUTSIDE of anime too. If you need to resort to joking about someone’s sexuality (or lack thereof), take some advice from the Cajun Samurai—get better jokes. Okay, rant over. Also, much like with Marin in Dress-Up Darling, it seems as though the animators feel comfortable with making our female lead character wear as little as possible at times, and getting some rather awkward camera angles. Good grief, guys. Cut it out!

So, where does that leave us with this one? Well, I’ll be willing to give this one the “5 Episode” treatment. I’m intrigued enough to keep up with it. The characters are amusing and appear complex, the story is fascinating, and the animation looks great. Though it’s still very early, More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers has the potential to be one of the better romcoms this season! I just hope there aren’t any more “virgin” jokes. 

More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.


3 thoughts on “First Impression: More Than a Married Couple But Not Lovers

  1. Something about the Japanese government’s policy of “we’re making high school seniors live together, but don’t worry, we gave them separate bedrooms so that absolutely nothing can go wrong!” reminds me of 1950’s sitcom logic- where the mom and dad would always have separate twin-size beds despite the show clearly establishing that they are a properly married couple.

    1. Agreed. I mean, in the show “I Love Lucy”, although Ricky and Lucy were shown sleeping in separate beds…SOMEHOW Lucy ended up pregnant. While the idea of the rooms having fingerprint locks makes sense to keep their items separate and to prevent the stereotypical “Oops! I just walked in on you while you’re changing your clothes!” trope, if two kids living on their own want to fool around, ain’t nothing stopping them from just opening the door and letting them in!

  2. I hadn’t watched this one till this week and I finished all 12 episodes! I enjoyed it, but I also didn’t enjoy the same points you brought up. The virgin jokes, awkward camera angles (they get worse), and fan service was way too over the top. I’m not sure why this time, the fan service didn’t bother me as much. I think because Jiro wasn’t into it, and he would try to look away and Akari would do it as a tease so I can understand that.

    Did you keep watching this one, or it got dropped like it’s hot?

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