I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up
I was in the mood for some light manga that resembled a rom-com, so I was looking forward to trying I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up. The premise is in the title: Machi agrees to marry the bubbly and persistent Hana in order to get Machi’s parents to quit pushing her to date and marry. Hana wanted to move in because she’s losing her apartment, and in return, she takes care of the housework.
Machi knows that Hana likes girls, because Hana confessed her feelings for Machi when they were in school together. Which already makes this a bad idea. I didn’t get the fluffy romance I hoped for, because Hana’s persistence at pushing herself on Machi made me uncomfortable. She blackmails her into bathing together (allowing for a topless panel) and pushes herself into her bed.
Machi knows she’s a disappointment to her parents and won’t advance at work due to sexism, but she still finds herself working overtime to avoid going home. She thinks she’s incapable of love, so we’re supposed to root for Hana teaching her how to be more honest with her emotions. That’s admirable, but Hana not respecting Machi’s boundaries isn’t fun or funny.
Seeing Machi stand up to her parents’ homophobia is worthwhile, but there isn’t enough space here to really explore the nature of gay marriage in Japan or family reactions to it or even Machi’s traumas, which are laid on as plot devices without emotional authenticity. I was never clear about Machi’s sexuality — when she speaks for herself about her feelings for Hana, it’s all in terms of “I don’t hate you when we live together.”
Much of the problem is that the main story only has three chapters (plus four comic strips played for laughs). There’s also a single unrelated story to fill out the book, about a student with a crush on an athlete. I can’t recommend this book for both artistic — an unsatisfying story that doesn’t fulfill what it sets up — and consent reasons. The best thing about it is the title.