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Final Impressions: Engaged to the Unidentified

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Secret engagement and UFOs

As much as I enjoyed watching Engaged to the Unidentified, the end of the series left me feeling more than a little conflicted. Seriously, I haven't felt this conflicted at a series conclusion since, er...Golden Time. Which was maybe a week ago. But for the sake of this article, let's pretend it's been a long time since I've been this conflicted, okay?

Basically, the things I wanted to happen never quite happened, and I'm not sure if that's a sign that the series didn't deliver on its promise, or I just got too many ideas in my head that were destined to go nowhere. I feel like the opening episodes wrote a lot of checks that the second half of the series couldn't cash, but is that just falling into the trap of saying "The story didn't go exactly where I wanted, therefore it's bad?"

I'm going to try to puzzle this out, one way or another.

Awwwwww

At the time I wrote my First Impressions of this show, I was unaware of the fact that there was going to be a supernatural angle to this tale; I thought the "Unidentified" part of the title referred to the fact that Hakuya, the surprise fiance, was such a cypher as a person that he may as well be a UFO. The early reveal that Hakuya and his family weren't just mysterious, but in fact, supernatural, opened up a lot of interesting territory for the show to explore. In the end, I think my degree of disappointment with this show comes from the fact that most of that territory was left untouched.

After 12 episodes, what kind of supernatural creatures are Hakuya and his sister Mashiro? We don't really know. What kind of powers do they have? Well, we know they can turn into some kind of animal form, jump really high, and apparently cast spells that allow them to "blend in" to various environments, but it's kind of a laundry list of unrelated powers; there's no general sense of what they can and can't do. Is Hakuya's fixation on Kobeni due to the fact that he magically imprinted on her, much like a duckling does on its mother, or does he just really like her for more typical reasons? No idea. Do Hakuya's people live in houses, or are they some kind of forest spirits who don't need most human comforts? We spent a whole episode in Hakuya's hometown, and we still don't know anything about that.

Double awwwwww

What do we know? That Kobeni's sister Benio is really, really fixated on little sisters and won't shut up about it. While I won't say that Benio's schtick is never funny (especially because Mashiro's reactions to her doting often make it work), her siscon act gets tiresome early on and seems to exist to fill time so the show can drag out the actual plot for as long as humanly possible. Thank goodness, the show does end with some kind of acknowledgement that Kobeni and Hakuya are a real couple, which puts it on a rung above most anime romantic comedies. But still; the early episodes led me to expect certain things, and I was left unfulfilled.

I think this begs a larger question of how much is fair to expect from a 12-episode anime series. Presumably, the creators want to get a second season, and you can't expect them to use up all the cool stuff from the entire series in the first cour, right? But if the first 6 or so episodes prompt the reader to ask a lot of questions, isn't it poor storytelling to just leave them hanging on most of the answers?

Leave us hanging why doncha

Ultimately, I think I would be okay with how much Engaged left unexplained if I felt like these 12 episodes were packed full of goodness anyway, but I don't think they were; too much time, especially time spent on Benio, felt like filler designed to drag out what little plot the show was prepared to cover. I think the show still worked as a pretty good romcom, but I think if the creators had been less stingy with plot elements, it could have been really, really special; and for that, I'm a little mad at it.

All that said, the show has super-likable characters (err, with the possible exception of Benio), some pretty clever jokes, and visually is a pleasure to watch; the show isn't an animation tour-de-force, but I never felt like the animation was lacking when it counted. If it does get another season, I will tell you right now that I'm totally on board with that; I think I'll always just be a little haunted by what could have been. Because at one point, I felt like this could have been an all-time great.


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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures


 



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