My Happy Marriage by Akumi Agitogi was originally published in print as a light novel and has a manga and a live-action movie adaptation. An anime is in the works and set to release in July 2023 on Netflix for English audiences. This review is for the light novel.
Cinderella meets Beauty and the Beast in this chart-topping shojo series.
Miyo Saimori has not lived an easy life. Born into a prestigious family, she was expected to do well to attract a suitable marriage partner and further strengthen her family’s political power. But like with all plans, nothing works out as it was intended. Miyo’s mother passes away, her father remarries a woman who despises her, and Miyo never shows a sign of having supernatural powers. In a world where magical strength equates to political power, Miyo becomes useless in the eyes of the Saimoris.
Not long after her father’s second marriage, Miyo is relegated to a servant girl in the home. All of her possessions and keepsakes of her mother are taken away, she is removed from her bedroom and put into the servants quarters, and it is made clear that amongst all of the staff, she is at the very bottom of the totem pole. But even this is not enough for her stepmother and sister. The two make it their life’s mission to cause Miyo every ounce of pain they can, both physically and emotionally. After years and years of suffering this abuse by her family, Miyo has accepted her fate and locks all her emotions inside, accepting the unjust punishments thrown at her with quiet resignation.
When Miyo’s father tells her she is to marry Kiyoka Kuduo, a prominent and highly decorated commander, not even this feels like an escape. Kuduo is known to be as heartless and cruel as he is beautiful. Every young woman brought to him as a bride has fled his home within three days. Still, she resolutely accepts this newest duty, hoping only that her husband-to-be isn’t any worse than her family.
But not everything is as it seems. Monsters were once men, after all, and even a mouse can save a lion.
With a sweet premise and a full cast of characters, My Happy Marriage has done very well for itself, having gotten not only a manga adaptation, but a live-action movie and an anime to boot.
Miyo is the kind of character that evokes a lot of sympathy, spurring readers to cheer for her every step of the way. Conversely, the series does a great job of making the villains easy to hate. Seeing them get their just rewards is the delicious cherry on top for the volume. Then, of course, there’s the tsundere love interest, Kiyoka. Watching him come out of his shell to reveal a heart of gold is just as enticing as the rest.
The world-building in this title is interesting and decently fleshed out. Most of the story is written in a third-person limited POV from Mio. This means the availability of information about the world is sporadically placed, but works fairly well for the story. It did remind me a lot of the world in The Irregular at Magic High School–both series are low fantasy, set in a version of modern Japan where magical ability controls power, wealth, and alliances.
While it’s easy to see why the series has done well within its demographic, it’s not one that I personally fell in love with.
Miyo is a very weak character. Her personality is basically nonexistent, more akin to a beaten dog than anything else. After suffering the abuse she did, it’s not surprising that her mental state built up a brick wall to keep anything else from harming it. She’s a very sympathetic character, for sure, and I felt bad for her character the whole way through. I’m just not a fan of damsels in distress stories where the female MC has to rely on the male MC for everything.
Most of Miyo’s growth stems from her interactions with Kiyoka. Early into the story, he dissuades her from constantly apologizing, says and does things to strengthen her self-confidence, and shows her the courtesy and respect that everyone deserves. While it’s very touching to see this man reach out to this vulnerable and broken young woman, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I would have liked to see some of Miyo’s character development happen organically and away from Kiyoka’s involvement. And though she does slowly find her own two feet to stand on, it was always for Kiyoka, or because of Kiyoka. Even after gaining a sense of independence, there are passages where Miyo asks permission from Kiyoka to do the most basic of things, like talking to someone privately a few feet away from him. The entire volume gave me misogynistic vibes, and I’m not the kind of person who can find enjoyment from stories like these.
The plot as a whole is unoriginal as well. From the first chapter, it’s easy to see where the story will go. The author took the fantasy shojo roadmap, put an interesting spin on it, then proceeded to never deviate from the plotted course. Even the handful of plot twists are obvious and expected. Other than the absolutely gorgeous cover by Tsukiho Tsukioka, absolutely nothing stood out about this book.
My Happy Marriage is average in every way. The characters, the plot, the writing–nothing is unique or interesting enough to differentiate it from any other title in the same subgenre. And while the cover art of the volume is beautiful, it does nothing to hide the misogynistic tones inside. By following the patented formula, My Happy Marriage fell flat. It could be that Volume 1 is the weakest entry in the series and it picks up significantly later on. Maybe I missed something in the reading, or am too jaded to care enough about Miyo as a character. Or maybe its achievements are a fluke. Whatever the case, My Happy Marriage didn’t endear itself to me, and I’m not planning to pick up the next volume of the light novel. Maybe I’ll give the manga or the anime a shot, but at this point in time, I’m not banking on that happening.
My Happy Marriage can be purchased at Right Stuf, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble.
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Written by Akumi Agitogi
Cover Illustration by Tsukiho Tsukioka
Translation by Kiki Piatkowska
Published by Yen On
- The story has a multitude of mediums to read or watch
- Interesting world building
- Story gives strong misogynistic vibes
- Story is bland and predictable
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