Almost good: Engaged to the Unidentified

Or Mikakunin de Shinkoukei if we’re purists (and I tend to be). It’s a romantic comedy anime which is heavier on the comedy than the love part, which saves it from the crapper, I think.

It revolves around an arranged engagement, so we have believable mixed emotions and turmoil, but we don’t get bogged down in it because of ridiculous obsessions.

This is a show about weird contrasts, which are inherently funny to our brains, so I think it has a solid humor base. The yokai-girl is obsessed with UFOs and Unidentified Mysterious Animals from the Japanese version of the Syfy Channel. The super-popular student council president has a (non-sexual) “little sister fetish.”

At the crux of our plot is Kobeni and her surprise yokai fiance Hakuya who comes to live with her family on her sixteenth birthday. And Hakuya’s little sister Mashiro, who comes because she thinks he’s too spacey to make it in the “big city.” (They’re from the remote mountains, and they don’t name-drop Tokyo, so chances are this is a “normal” Japanese city.)

And then there’s Kobeni’s older sister, Benio, who is probably the main reason why this show is as funny as it is, with her little-sister-centered antics. I find Mashiro pretty funny, but I can see why people would find her annoying.

engagedtotheunidentified

And that’s why I hesitate to call this show good, because there are a lot of weak points. Mashiro can be annoying. Benio’s little-sister obsession with Mashiro can possibly be triggering in its stalky and boundary-violating way. The 4-koma manga is doing a weird sort of love triangle thing with another disguised yokai girl that’s really going nowhere, but thankfully the anime cut that down to something actually palatable.

But the biggest, most crippling weak point is that our male lead, Hakuya, is about as compelling and dynamic as the corrugated cardboard in the cats’ scratch boxes. I’m okay with unconventional love interests, but he ends up more like the Token Girl in cowboy or war movies who’s the Designated Love Interest and not anything else.

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You wouldn’t even look at this picture except for the cat. Proves my point.

But he has SO MUCH potential to be something else. So does Mashiro. A lot of what I find interesting about her is because she’s so curious and excited about “big city” things like Western food, malls, and Western food. (Possibly because I had a deprived rural childhood and I relate to that.)

Why can’t Hakuya be like that, but in different directions? Why can’t Hakuya make guy friends? (Hakuya is literally the only distinct onscreen dude character without throwaway lines.) Why can’t Hakuya also discover something new to be interested about (tho we probably have enough obsession to go around, between UFOs and little sisters)?

The anime does a good job about emphasizing some personality details into Kobeni with her cooking talent and fear of being left alone. I will totally take more cooking-show filler. The only thing the anime does for Hakuya is give him a more consistent hobby with building matchstick models, and even that’s rather throwaway in favor of more UMAs, UFOs, and little sister hijinks.

It may be because this anime only had one season, but so far there’s not much plot in the several volumes of manga after that (tho I’ve only read as much as there are scanlations for). It’s kinda irritating, because they could do much more expansion on the Hakuya and Mashiro’s yokai background, but it’s just giving it out in little threads and dribbles.

But this is why fan fiction was invented, to give headcanon reality. I just wish the fiction-writing parts of my brain were online, because all I’ve managed to do is stare at the word processor’s blinking cursor for minutes on end and delete all I’ve attempted.

Heck, maybe I should start with porn. It’s not like plot or dialog matters in that.

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