Cinderella has been done about a bajillion different ways and Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon is the newest addition to that. I personally am not a fan of Cinderella, so this series will have to be pretty amazing for me to get past that.
It plays up to the Cinderella roots pretty strongly- Miyo (Ueda Reina)gets downgraded to servant status after her father’s remarriage and birth of a step sister, Kaya (insert word or phrase here). Miyo even gets soot on her during kitchen work. The characters are all by the books- Kaya (Sakura Ayane), is a bitch, but in a very stereotypical mean girl way- not much interesting there. Same goes for the step mother. It’s kind of hard to believe that the father could be so cold towards his daughter and that he would have hated his first wife so much- though I suspect a lot of that attitude is to please wife 2 point no rather than his true inner feelings. Miyo is your stereotypical servile princess, submissive to a fault with no outburst of anger or feeling of her own other than resignation, even has that annoying docile voice. And Koji- he pisses me off. The whole “I want to help you” reason for liking her and wanting to marry her- strikes me as condescending savior complex. Yes, Miyo has had a terrible life, but don’t treat her like a pity case- she deserves more dignity than that.
Things go from bad to worse for Miyo- the one thing she really wanted, a life with Koji (Nishiyama Koutarou), gets taken by Kaya to become the Saimori’s adopted heir and she gets booted from the house to serve as the fiancée to the man of ill omened repute, Kudo Kiyoka (Ishikawa Kaito). We don’t know much about him, other than that he is supposedly so horrid all his other fiancées ran away- I highly doubt he’s going to be quite the monster he’s made out to be (do I smell a bit of Beauty and the Beast here too?). Her reception at his estate doesn’t correlate with that- his maid seems to be a sweetheart and I don’t know that someone like her would willingly work for a terror of a man.
Apparently, as often was the case with marriages then, there were backroom politics going on. In exchange for marrying Koji off to Kaya, his father arranges an engagement with Kudo and Miyo, under the excuse of helping Miyo by getting her out of the house. His father does have a point- Koji’s so passionate about helping Miyo and her marrying Koji would not change her circumstances at all- she’d still be in the same house with the same mistreatment, only Koji’s frustration and misery would be added on to that when he eventually would come to the realization that he can’t protect her from her family’s derision. Marrying her off to Koji could be leaping out of the frying pan into the fire or it could turn out better than expected- at the least being out of the home, she has a slightly better chance at finding a better life.
The cherry tree plays a big role in the background, closely tied with memories of her mother. The symbolism there is pretty obvious- the transience of life that quickly blooms then dies, like her mother. In addition, cherry trees are associated with female spirits connected to it- perhaps this has some bearing on her mother having been something out of the ordinary (which the series synopsis hints at).
My gripes with the premise aside, I did like the historical setting, which I would date circa 1914 or slightly after that, as that was when the small size packages of milk caramel Koji had began to be sold. The visuals were lovely and the music gorgeous as well. I will tune in for next week just to see where it goes, but I’m kind of a skeptic at this point.