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Impressions: Love and Lies

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Both Are Forbidden

Love and Lies is set in an alternate reality where Japan has figured out a way to stop their socioeconomic issue of declining birth rates. How, you ask? They forbade love. In this new system, your marriage partner is picked by the government through some advanced scientific method that takes into account various factors like genetics and personality type. It’s called the “Red String of Science” which is basically a substitute for the common East Asian concept of “Red String of Fate.” In the latter, soulmates are connected by the proverbial string of fate but these days, we believe in hard evidence offered by the former concept.

Compared to your usual arranged marriages where parents, relatives or some weird psychic pick out the individual they think suits you best, this method, which is apparently backed up by reliable data, sounds slightly better to the average citizen. From a government perspective, I think it’s a pretty good move. It serves to reduce a lot of other issues Japan faces at the moment, including the popular “hikikomori” crisis.

Of course, there is someone who seeks to defy the almighty government. An underdog who just wants to follow his heart, despite the penalties he will face for not completing his civic duty as a Japanese citizen. The penalties include a drop in social status (such as losing your job), not being able to enter the university of your choice, and other rewards from working hard.

The hero of our series is fifteen-year-old Yukari Nejima, who falls into the trope of the below average dude in academics and sport. Despite the show featuring a lead with a generally dull personality, he managed to attract two hot and popular chicas. Chica number one is Misaka Takasaki, who Yukari has been in love with since he gave her half his eraser in class before they hit puberty. However, he didn’t have another conversation with her for the next five years. On the night he turns sixteen, he plucks up the courage to confess to her. And what do you know? Misaka has loved him for all these years too! Following this, they proceed to have a steamy make-out session with a white string of saliva connecting their mouths.

Two things that I love about the characters is that their teenage horniness is emphasized in the very first episode (most romance anime I’ve seen take five seasons have them join pinky fingers) so this is great. Secondly, I find the term “love” is used way too arbitrarily in our world and in this one too. The “love” they profess to each other would be more believable and hold more substance if they actually knew one other better. I’m not denying that observing someone from afar gives you some insight into their personality, but for the sake of the story, it would have been more realistic if they had at least been acquaintances.

Chica number two is Ririna Sanada. She is Yukari’s assigned marriage partner and a fascinating character. She has some tsundere qualities but does not completely fall into this trope. Even initially, I don't find Ririna cold or uncaring. She is socially awkward and refreshingly straightforward but through the series we see her make friends and come out of her shell a bit. Yukari and Ririna form a strange friendship that initially centers around a mutual goal to make team Yukari x Misaka work. Yep, Ririna is a sucker for romance stories and since she isn’t in love with Yukari (yet), she is cheering her supposed rival on. All three of them hang out together and have an interesting time (it’s not a threesome, don’t get your hopes up).

This will, as you have already guessed, turn into a love triangle that I am very interested in watching. Yukari and Ririna's attachment slowly starts to escape the friend zone territory so right now the endgame is at fifty-fifty. I think both girls are too good for our main boy but I’m on Team Riri at the moment. Misaka, though, has a layer of mystery surrounding her that intrigues me. I don’t want to force too many spoilers but two strange things stick out about her.

Before Yukari gets his notice that confirms Ririna is his assigned marriage partner – it is hand delivered by weird government officials who randomly turn up at his location late at night- he receives a text message that reads Misaka will be his future wife. But the message flashes for barely a second before his phone screen goes blank and the government authorities brush it off as a glitch – that sounds shady. Despite having turned sixteen a few months ago, Misaka has not yet received her notice, and her family has some weird connection with the government. Hopefully, as the series progresses, we'll be rewarded with tasty unraveling that features some dark past.

The most obvious questions people will have about this societal structure revolves around the marginalized LGBTQ group. The answer will be revealed in the form of Yusuke Nisaka – a hot homosexual dude who also appears to have an interest in Yukari. Seriously, what is it about him!? So far (we’re at episode six) we don’t know too much about Yusuke’s family life or his past but I’m pretty sure he'll be causing some welcomed upheaval – start a revolution, dude!

The premise of this story is gripping and it seems like it will be ambitiously tackling some important themes surrounding forced sexuality, the meaning of love, social control, advanced technology and perhaps other things I cannot currently think of. The art would be more appealing if not for the overly emphasized eyes. In terms of sound, I enjoy the ending song “Can’t you say” by Roys. The opening, “Kanashii Ureshii,” by Frederic is alright, and some of the background music does not fit the scenes well. While the characters aren’t anything special, I’m curious to see how their interactions and relationships will develop.

Overall, this anime has me hooked enough to see it through to the end. If you’re a sucker for drama and hot action that has a healthy dose of ecchi, then this is for you.


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Karishma Roy
Karishma RoyContributor   gamer profile

23. Nurse. Lover of all things Asian. Cat crazy. Globetrotter. Little bit of an adrenaline junkie. more + disclosures


 



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