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My Happy Marriage - First Thoughts

My Happy Marriage - First Thoughts

Posted on 30 Aug 2023

I'd been hearing a lot about My Happy Marriage, possibly as it found a home on Netflix and subsequently found a wider audience than the dedicated anime streaming services. Based on the light novel series by Akumi Agitogi, the series is a period drama following a young woman named Miyo, eldest daughter of the Saimori family cruelly abused by her stepmother and sister following the death of her mother. Basically treated as a servant, the first episode shows the only humane presence in her life, Kouji, betrothed to her sister in an arranged marriage, while she is whisked off to be wed to the notoriously cruel soldier, 27 year-old Kiyoka Kudou. 

I decided to watch the dub, as I imagine that's how most people would be watching it, and I'm very pleasantly surprised by the calibre of the talent involved. Admittedly we spend most time with Miranda Parkin as Miyo, and she has a lovely timbre to her voice that eschews vulnerability and you can absolutely believe that she's been ground down to almost nothing. Her step-sister Kaya certainly comes across as a spoilt bitch, so similar props to Lizzie Freeman for making such an attractive character so thoroughly unlikeable.

Kaya Saimori
Kaya Saimori played by Lizzie Freeman in the English dub

We meet her new fiance only briefly, but his stoicism is reminiscent of Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, so I'm guessing we're in for a similarly honourable performance. 

The show looks beautiful, in particular the backgrounds showcasing the countryside (the episode opens with a gorgeous water effect in a stream) and it reminded me in part of Fruits Basket for the melancholy atmosphere and tragic heroine. As that was one of two shows that got me back into anime during a pretty serious slump (the other being Gundam SEED) I'm delighted to have found a show that gives me the same vibes as Natsuki Takaya's pretty flawless drama. The flashback toward the end of the episode, showing a young Miyo's mistreatment against a heart-rending score, was incredibly moving - moreso I imagine for those of us with young daughters of our own.

It's only through little Wiki reading that I understand the show has a supernatural element to it, and that's certainly nowhere in evidence during this first episode. There is a hint via a flashback showing some fire, but no explanation and I'd be none the wiser without the research.

As always, First Thoughts is a series of articles to ask whether or not a series grabs me on the first episode, and I have to say this one absolutely has. Releasing weekly and enjoying the water-cooler chat such an approach brings, this is now on my "to watch" list and I'll be reviewing the series in full on The UK Anime Network in due course. I'm already rooting for Miyo and I'm sure you will be too.

My Happy Marriage is streaming now on Netflix.

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