June 19, 2024

My Happy Marriage

Starting perhaps with the Sakura Wars franchise, the two decades from the end of the Russo-Japanese War through the Taisho era (1905–1926) have come to encompass Japan's steampunk period.

Also known as the Taisho Democracy, a flowering of democratic ideals leading to a short-lived parliamentary system, it is the setting for My Happy Marriage, Otome Youkai Zakuro, Demon Slayer, Golden Kamuy, Taisho Otome Fairy Tale, Taisho Baseball Girls, and many others.

My Happy Marriage and Otome Youkai Zakuro also share a similar premise. Though the modern age is upon them, they still live in a demon-haunted world and those demons have to be dealt with.

In My Happy Marriage, Kiyoka Kudou is the stoic leader of the Special Anti-Grotesquerie Unit, while in Otome Youkai Zakuro, Kei Agemaki is the stoic second lieutenant in the Ministry of Spirits.

Kudou's team pacifies rampaging youkai while Agemaki (aided by two fellow officers and three youkai allies) is tasked with dispatching the worst of the lot while reaching negotiated settlements with the rest.

Though as the title suggests, My Happy Marriage primarily concerns itself with the relationship between Kudou and Miyo Saimori and the complications that ensue. As a result, he ends up spending more of his time fighting other human magic wielders than actual youkai.

Miyo Saimori is the Japanese Cinderella in this story and Kudou is her prince charming, except he is not at all charming when they first meet. He's more like Fitzwilliam Darcy on a bad day and his reputation precedes him.

Even during the Taisho era, the aristocracy used marriage to conduct business and politics. Kudou, for one, is tired of the gold diggers and opportunists showing up on his doorstep and assumes the worst of Miyo as well. Once he realizes that all she wants is to be nowhere near her stepmother and stepsister, he begins to warm to her presence.

I was wary at first about My Happy Marriage for fear of being drenched in Miyo's misery. But the worst of it is over by the end of episode one, with the evil step-people making a return visit in episode five.

Convinced that Miyo had no supernatural powers, Miyo's father was eager at first to get rid of her and was surprised when Kudou accepted. A little genealogical research later, it becomes apparent that Miyo is a descendant of the powerful Usuba bloodline on her mother's side. Even if she has no powers now, they are likely to manifest later.

So now they want her back. But in the meantime, Kudou has grown quite fond of her. He is not about to give up this diamond in the rough without a fight. You really don't want to get Kudou mad and have him go all Hulk Smash! on you.

A big difference with Otome Youkai Zakuro is that we don't actually see Kudou doing his job until the second half. In the first half of the series, he's got his hands full dealing with his in-laws. In the second half, Miyo's connection to the Usuba clan has caught the attention of the powers that be, who fear she will upset the status quo.

My Happy Marriage concludes with the Taisho emperor (Yoshihito in our world) going off the rails (which he did in our world too) and Takaihito (Hirohito) stepping in as regent. Miyo is safe and the situation has stabilized for the time being. But hardly permanently. So a second season is in the works.

My Happy Marriage is streaming on Netflix.

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