Happy Marriage?! Volume 10
The mismatched romance manga series by Maki Enjoji concludes in Happy Marriage?! volume 10. First, we have to abruptly wrap up the cliffhanger from the previous book, with Chiwa attacked on the street. Hokuto is handling the situation badly, since it reminds him of the event that killed his mother and setting him on the competitive path he took to take over the family company.
That’s the big plot element that has to be resolved before we can get to the happy ending, finally revealing who was behind the family scheming. There’s another showdown, first, throwing in another secret that shakes everything up. I don’t mind this kind of soap opera, if done well, since it can highlight universal family feelings through exaggerated machinations, but at this point, I’m tired of the whole thing. I’ve never found the emotions in this series at all realistic — and there’s nothing wrong with that, if the series can be entertaining for other reasons, but the stories were never that humorous or exciting or memorable either.
So, summing up, at this point, I’m glad it’s over. Particularly since the two decide that the best way to solve the mystery of who’s attacking Hokuto and members of his family is for the couple to get divorced. Perhaps that has a significant meaning, legally or otherwise, in Japanese culture, but it didn’t come across to me as anything but more artificial drama showed at these two nondescript characters. I find it easier to process stories about the importance of blood ties and family obligations if they’re given more of an historical cover, since today those tales seem so outdated. Here, it just leads to lots of time-wasting as Chiwa goes back to her father’s house and sits around worrying. At least that’s consistent with the earlier books in the series. She’s never done much.
There are grand gestures, with people showing up at family meetings full of pronouncements, pleas, and deals. Perhaps the final revelation means more if you’ve read more of the series more recently, but I didn’t even recall seeing the relevant character before. As for the personal development, the last chapter is all about how mismatched they are as a couple, but instead of addressing any of the concerns that annoy each other, they decide that that’s just their way. They say their vision of marriage is tiring, which I totally agree with, but it’s just accepted, a solution I found feeble. Instead, we get more stereotypical romantic myth-making, wedding dress and all, at the end. (The publisher provided a review copy.)