OP Sequence

OP: 「かなしいうれしい」 (Kanashii Ureshii) by フレデリック (Furederikku)

「初恋」 (Hatsukoi)
“First Love”

Sappy love stories aren’t usually my cup of tea, but when something like Koi to Uso pops up, well, my body is ready. I had some hope (no matter how hesitant) for this one heading in. The premise was eerily possible in real life, the implications obvious, and the potential for some serious drama very real. Sure it leans more Nisekoi than Kuzu no Honkai, but I’m optimistic here. Even if the opening was not entirely impressive.

Right off the bat KtU reveals all: at 16 the government matches you with a marriage partner. You marry that person with no exceptions, you have babies with that person, and by hell you live a happy and fulfilling life with that person because the government says so. Trust the government, you know it never lies. It’s already quite the premise for dystopian fiction, let alone a romance, but with Japan’s lethargic birthrate and looming demographic time bomb, it’s one that’s entirely possible. Most people blame a lack of time from work or a fear of rejection in the pursuit of romance, ensuring the noticeable decline in long lived relationships. Since the modern day love marketplace is apparently so challenging to navigate, who wouldn’t jump at the chance for someone else to do the heavy lifting for you? It’s more likely than you think.

While a meaty premise, I’m not sure yet how far KtU plans on taking the idea. Yes we already have the corrupted text and the black suits magically appearing right at midnight upon our love struck couple—seriously laughed at that one—but these seem to be more elements designed to set up the love triangle (or square) bearing down on us. It would feel like a copout if KtU procured a happy ending from a mislabelled form when the theme is clearly one of courage and bucking the system. Neji (Osaka Ryota) already broke years of romance tradition by confessing and showing the French how it’s done in one episode after all, I want to see this boy keep it up. The struggle to attain an impossible love, the dilemma of losing that love to outside influences, there’s numerous paths open and plenty of room to explore the consequences of one’s romantic choices.

The main concern for me going forward though will likely be how KtU approaches its relationships. No matter how sweet or idyllic Neji’s and Misaki’s (Hanazawa Kana) love appears, it’s certainly feels contrived and a little too perfect. Mutually falling in love over an eraser and a quick thanks? Not impossible, but not all that likely either. And don’t get me started on the four hour late meetup. The benefit for KtU, however, is that this setup succinctly laid the story foundation with minimal fanfare, ensuring the focus now is on the established Neji/Misaki relationship and not how they got into that relationship. So long as the future girl(s) don’t pull similar contrived stunts it’s all good, but considering the premise, I think there is no worries. Still going to take some work getting used to the artwork though, those eyes are weird in places.

With the necessary introductions out the way, the fun should really begin next week. Neji has his match, he’s going to meet the girl, and by god we’re going to get some wholesome drama. One way or another KtU promises to be a fun ride, it just remains to be seen in what way. Considering Neji’s fascination with burial mounds though, I know how I’m betting.



End Card


  1. >”Eerily possible”

    Bitch please, it’s the Asians that have bulging, raging hard ons for that kinda concept. You Western folk would probably overthrow the government AR-15s in hand if that were to happen today :V

    >”Those eyes are weird in places”

    So weird they melt steel beams. I hope you got your goggles at the ready then Pancakes, cuz I sure do

    >”Sappy love stories aren’t usually my cup of tea”

    Their sap is made of 100% pure grade shallow and insincere diabetic love, that’s probably why we’re allergic to them

    >”Japan’s lethargic birthrate and looming demographic time bomb”

    Deny it as you may, the real truth lies in a more realistic Kuzu no Honkai situation that is all too prevalent, combine that with a lot of kusoyarous roaming about and you have the perfect ingredients for a sinking Yamato

    In all, I refuse to watch the show but boy oh boy, you can bet your maple syrup Pancakes that I’ll be following these posts true and through. A toast, to a simple plan~!

    Nishizawa Mihashi
    1. “Deny it as you may, the real truth lies in a more realistic Kuzu no Honkai situation that is all too prevalent, combine that with a lot of kusoyarous roaming about and you have the perfect ingredients for a sinking Yamato”

      Genuinely curious, what do you mean by this?

      1. The factors many, but the gist of their problems lies in their outlook towards life. In a sense, they no longer become able to escape their suffering due to the sheer attachment they have to certain principles that define them as a people, hence why I said that. Every factor that is significant is a symptom, and not truly the cause.

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  2. Speaking of dystopian fiction, this premise seemed pulled straight from the YA “Matched” trilogy where citizens are paired with the person they will marry by the government at the age of seventeen. The main character of that story is briefly shown a different boy than whom the government claims is her actual match which shows that the system is not infallible. While I doubt this series will get anywhere near as dark as that series did I am pretty interested to see where they will take things. Yeah some of the scenes were a bit on the silly side (100% agree about those “black suits” showing up right at that moment), yet I thought this was a pretty strong setup and I’m liking everything so far. The character design is kind of weird but not in a bad way once you start watching, the animation is clean and pretty, voice acting is strong, and decent music as well. So far so good.

    1. And I thought I knew of all the recent dystopian YA series out there, thanks for pointing that one out! I agree on the setup too, for all the contrivances it’s not that bad and gives a firm basis to start into the actual romance. Plus with Hanazawa Kana voicing one of the main girls, you know it will be good 😛

      I image it will, the premise is tailor made for romance stories and with the increasing focus on love and relationships it’s not long before others start thinking on the concept. Pretty much romance’s answer to the recent wave of fantasy/sci-fi alternate world stories.

  3. Thanks for the coverage Pancakes! Knew you’d do an awesome job. I agree that it’s much more like Nisekoi than Kuzu no Honkai. You won’t get any of the porny NTR stuff, and any deeper exploration is not of the psyche, but rather at the government system in place. Don’t know why the anime decided to make their kiss a lot more sexual. I certainly don’t remember it being so explicit in the manga!!

    Gotta say though, Team Misaki represent! Though I suspect we’ll be heavily outnumbered by the Lilina fans.

    1. >”Though I suspect we’ll be heavily outnumbered by the Lilina fans


      >”Thanks for the coverage Pancakes!”

      Pancakes is love, Pancakes is life. Without Pancakes, what use maple syrup? ╭ (oㅇ‿ o#)ᕗ

      Nishizawa Mihashi
    1. I can take big eyes up to a point, but not this point. When the characters were staring wide-eyed at each other I was actually afraid their eyeballs were going to fall out. Strange really that this is shounen, I thought abnormally large eyes were more a shoujo thing.

    2. Funnily enough the size isn’t what bothers me, it’s the highlighting/shading. In some scenes the upper iris is highlighted alongside the lower iris, occasionally producing a “split” image you also get when watching a 3D movie without the glasses. The effect for me is really noticeable when indirectly looking at the face and confuses me to no end lol.

  4. Wait… why are kids’ IQs increasing all of a sudden due to this scheme?

    Japan’s obsession with raising the birth rate has gone out of control. Instead of blaming people nowadays for not having enough kids, they should blame their baby boomers for breeding like rabbits. If everyone consistently had around two kids per couple, they wouldn’t be in this pickle right now.

    1. Wait… why are kids’ IQs increasing all of a sudden due to this scheme?

      Eugenics, I bet. According to the setting, the government analyzes the genetic information of citizines. The protagonist even lampshades it in the manga: “we are promised happiness through genetics”.

      Emotional and psychological compatibility? Who cares about that when you have eugenics.

      1. Oh. Thats bizarre. I thought with no natural and sexual selection, which weeds out the weakest and least genetically sound, the average IQ would decrease. (Although the range between the lowest and highest would increase).

        I’ve also read somewhere (written by a Korean researcher on the matter) that it doesn’t really work like this, because intelligence rests on the X chromosome, and is therefore only passable by the mother. The dad just has to be strong enough to provide his half of the resources.

      2. Well, I wouldn’t try to find the series’ logic in true science, but in rule of fiction.

        Or perhaps rule of sociology and psychology? The background details of the setting reveal that, technically, the government’s matchmaking is not mandatory. In fact, when the programme started, only a few people applied. Later, however, it was said on TV that the “yukari couples” were happier and more stable, and their children performed far better academically. Social pressure did the rest. Problems in non-yukari families were blamed on the lack of matchmaking. Nowadays, there are still families out there that refuse to apply, but they are in the minority and no kid is crazy enough to reveal that about themselves.

        So, is it really the wonder of fictional eugenics? Or perhaps is it more the result of the very real Pygmalion effect? If this was real life, I’d bet on the latter.

      3. Reducing all these just to a matter of proteins and your psychologist grilling you on doing better isn’t all there is to what makes brains go on overdrive. There’s so many factors, the author is making things as simplistic as possible because I don’t think that’s what his focus even was…

        Try this, “Hey Mistic, come oooooooooooonnnnnnn I know yu ken du better den dis, don gibap. Dis trash raiting isn’t like yu boi. Tell me what does Mistic mean? Mistic means a writer who makes masterpieces, dam right son”

        And if you recognize that, you’d rather not fail your best bro or yourself even. At least, you try not to…

        Nishizawa Mihashi
      4. @Mistic
        That’s quite interesting being voluntary, really highlights how this solution is tailor-made Japanese and gives some hope for Neji after all.

        As for eugenics I wouldn’t say it is in this case, at least not overtly. Matches are seemingly made for prolonged happiness and compatibility, with intelligence likely being a side effect. I imagine the genetic screening is for emotional and psychological compatibility, with such “optimization” concomitantly benefiting a whole range of other traits. It could be through the Pygmalion effect as you highlight, or even the nurture argument given you’re basically creating perfect families with perfect lives. A lot of this remains theoretical psychology and biology because it’s nearly impossible to test relevant hypotheses without breaking numerous moral and ethical codes.

      5. @Pancakes

        That’s quite interesting being voluntary, really highlights how this solution is tailor-made Japanese and gives some hope for Neji after all.

        Allow me to be the first to dash those hopes: it’s actually worse for our protagonists.

        Those who apply and then get cold feet receive a penalty. They become ineligible for government jobs, and since their refusal is included in their personal data, image-conscious companies don’t hire them either. Those who never applied to begin with don’t get a penalty, but they are looked down on (they represent only 1 of 30 children).

    1. I really hope not, at least literally. Having that text actually be the correct arrangement would be ridiculous and completely negate any of the struggle and suffering guaranteed to come. Personally I’d rather the text be a symbol of Neji’s “resistance” and something never specifically focused on again.

  5. How do you feel about this anime given the current societal and dating trends? To me, this seems like a commentary on our society on how hard it is to find someone to love these days. I can’t help but relate to it in that we’re focused a lot on our careers and work that it’s hard to find time to go out and meet people and date and such, so marriage arrangements like this seem very interesting to think about.

    1. Ya gotta understand man, what you see right here is a problem that’s extremely specific to Japan. While it may be easier to imagine that other Asian nations with a similar outlook would adopt such policies, the probability is close to nil but Japan though, oh boy is the possibility ever so real. Totalitarianism can only go so far after all.

      Nishizawa Mihashi
    2. I’m intrigued by it just for that reason, it showcases an extreme option for a problem all Western societies are increasingly facing. It’s one which would never be tolerated over here—let alone considered—for example, but KtU does offer a small glimpse into the Japanese psyche. If entertainment media is exploring the issue, you can be sure some state-financed researcher has already analyzed and written a report on it.

      It’s not a Japan-specific problem, this issue (love and baby making) is endemic across much of the developed world—including China. We in North America or Europe paper it over with immigration, but the concern is real and remains a looming threat. Japan’s uniqueness comes from such a solution being considered possible, let alone happily approved of.

    3. I don’t know if you love having babies Pancakes, but I’d much rather have declining populations thanks. Plus with 1+ billion people that can’t even sustain themselves in one country, what’s the point of seeing another homo sapien roaming about. Seeing homo sapiens plop out offspring like rabbits for past traumas and no good reasons gives me severe aneurysms I tell ya. If anything, it’s that issue on love which matters more really. That one issue is causing lots of people to adopt strange, strange ideas ultimately leading to some pretty twisted conceptions and cultural mores no matter the society. Quality love, quality offspring is what I always say.

      Oh homo sapiens, why you so fragile?

      Nishizawa Mihashi
    4. I don’t think anyone would argue declining population is a bad thing, but the process carries a whole host of side effects many don’t want to consider. The welfare state, current political structures, our modern economic foundation, all are predicated on producing enough kids to feed into the system to keep it running smoothly. Interrupt that process and things start breaking. All KtU is showing is part of a much larger picture that will likely define our generation’s lives.

      1. Huh? You don’t think anyone would argue that a declining population is a bad thing? With a population of 7.5+ billion, a declining population is always a good thing. It’s just that capitalists don’t like it because it means there will be fewer consumers to buy their crap.

        Have you seen this website? Just look at us rabbiting around: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

        I can’t even look at it for long. The speed of increase makes me queasy.

      2. @PO
        It’s not as easy as that. Overopulation and populatiopn growth aren’t equal in every country. The same way hunger is a problem in some countries while others have issues with obesity, there are countries worried about declining population while in others the numbers keep going up. One thing doesn’t preclude the other, for a declining population in Japan (for example) won’t solve the problem of overpopulation in other parts of the world.

      3. +Mistic

        If everyone had the same quality of life as an average American, we would need three and a half earths to support our resource consumption. Yes. 3-1/2 Earths.

        Clearly, we want everyone’s living standards to be the same as those of the Nordics, the North Americans, and Japan. No one is aspiring to live like a Bangladeshi. And since every nation is heading towards the living standards of Western countries, we NEED everyone to have fewer kids so that the Earth can freaken support all of us.

        Clean water is already the source of international disputes. Same with displacement due to rising sea levels. It’s not exactly rocket science. Fewer people = less competition = less aggression. We only like minorities if they stay minorities. Why do you think white flights happen? We need to get our population down so that people can LIVE COMFORTABLY WITH EACH OTHER.

      4. @PO: Do you know how they came up with this number? They calculated how much trees you have to plant to absorb all CO2 humanity would emitting. So the claim we need 3.4 worlds is total crap, because there are more clever ways to deal with the CO2 problem. Talking about overpopulation it bs, if you don’t take the technology in account.

    5. In regards to economic output, I’d say that you’d eventually have to automate lots of things really to make up for all the elderly that will pass away. Frankly I really don’t mind that at all. The only problem with automation is, if everything’s automated then how does one even determine the value of labor? And with that, would currency remain relevant as a critical concept for the exchange of goods and services, i.e a return to people basically doing what is needed based off obligation and record-keeping alone?

      On the other hand, you could also develop technologies that revolve around various biochemical, digital and mechanical enhancements for homo sapiens to solve the problem of retaining a highly skilled and capable work force, but such endeavors would probably require you to build gigantic walls protecting your research facility in addition to the costs of R&D.

      Most people are losing their minds about declining populations because they’re terrified of what precisely? I don’t know about welfare since where I live generous welfare policies are very foreign to us. Would whatever hybrid democratic system even benefit from gigantic populations? Like, is that even necessary? I’ve already discussed the economic side of things just now. Anyways, that’s just what’s coming to my mind at the moment. In any case, enjoy the romance man. Hopefully the romance is good though.

      Nishizawa Mihashi
    6. Hell no! I am one of those people who honestly never expected to get married, but here I am engaged. Plus, forget getting married just for reproducing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I quite enjoy being able to go home after work, not having to worry about children. I may have that mentality because I am a preschool teacher, but I quite enjoy that freedom. I understand this is to address a situation that is going on in Japan, but even then it is not something that should be forced upon anyone. If anything, if Japan really wants to have a population where people are making babies and getting married, then work relations need to change so people actually have free time to socialize with others.

    7. Although this might be a bit late in the discussion, but I wouldn’t say it’s as bonkers as most people think of it. Indeed marriage incentive schemes has been around in Singapore for quite a while. Even if people outside the country may see it as disgusting, it is undeniable how much economic progress its society has made.

      And on to the problem in Japan, the seemingly declining population necessitates extreme measures for procreation. Otherwise, who is going to pay the bills for deteriorating infrastructure and to sustain an aging population (medical care, etc)? Believing that automating jobs or decreasing the population is going to solve the problem is unrealistic. Automation itself does not create value for society, but merely decreases costs for the company itself. Let’s presume the automation creates products. The problem then becomes who is going to buy the product if there aren’t enough people (presuming a declining population policy is implemented) to sustain the company’s profits? To recoup costs, the company will have to drive up the product’s prices, causing even more people to be unable to pay for the product. The same goes for services. Imagine this in a wide scale and you will see a huge need to at least sustain a relatively stable population. Government arranged marriages are not as insane as people think. To me, it’s pretty much the same concept as central banks maintaining the economy.

  6. The story has a good potential but the first episode felt a bit too rushed for me. Will have to watch a couple more to determine whether to continue watching or not XD

  7. Well the set-up of the romance felt heavy-handed and rushed, but overall I have a very good feeling about the show. I liked how the feelings of the main characters are explored in the later part of the episode. Regarding the 4-houre wait, the strange message and the timing of the government agents maybe it’s sloppy writing, but I hope that this is foreshadowing for some mysteries looming in the background. How stacked is Nejimas situation?

  8. Casting Kana Hanazawa as Misaki is a big red flag, as she has a poor track record when it comes to winning in love triangles and harems.

    1. Nisekoi
    2. Freezing
    3. Oreimo
    4. Bakemonogatari
    5. Kaminomi

    And many more… 😛

    Magnus Tancred

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