Love and Lies – Anime Preview
Synopsis: In order to increase birth rates, Japan implements a capability calculation that assigns partners to young people when they turn 16. Yukari Nejima confess to his childhood crush Misaki Tazaki, only to find out he has been assigned to Ririna Sanada. (Official Anime Strike Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Shows taking a unique approach and solution to Japan’s real life dwindling birth rates have been sporadically popping up throughout recent anime. In that sense, Love and Lies isn’t completely original. However, it manages to put its own little spin on the topic and more specifically on how the romance between two of its main characters plays out in the very first episode. Also, the way the show handles its more absurd plot elements in an extremely serious manner lends the entire sequence an air of unintentional comedy. For example, two officials turn up at the park where our main character Yukari is waiting, right at the stroke of midnight to hand him his appointed fiance letter, like they’re in some Cinderella-esque tale, with nobody commenting on how ridiculous the whole scenario is. It’s already a little bizarre that the government is, apparently, in the match making business but even more so the fact that two government officials take the time and effort to track and hand over a random kid’s letter to him in the middle of the night. Especially when you compare it to the fact that someone else in the episode just gets a text about their fiance appointment.
Tom: The idea of a country forcing marriage contracts and there not being some kind of significant push back from the populace is undeniably melodramatic and a tad outlandish. But as dystopian tales go that is often par for the course and speaks to their ‘cautionary tale’ nature. It’s a your mileage may vary element, but adds plenty of potential drama as our hero, Yukari finds himself forced into a troubled love triangle, one not dictated by a confused heart, but an unstoppable force: The Japanese Government. Already the series has pushed the conflict and emotional heartache to the forefront with a fairly effective final few minutes that set the stakes and emotional turmoil for the season.
Linny: The way the show depicts the romantic exchange between two young teenagers experiencing what’s likely their first such interaction is very well done and realistic in an otherwise bizarre premise. Watching them awkwardly confess to each other and their awkward first kisses should probably have older viewers remembering their own awkwardness and maybe prepare younger viewers for all the clumsiness first experiences can contain.
Tom: Love and Lies’ continued quality will largely depend on the second girl poor Yukari is forced to romance, Lilina Sanada, who only gets a brief appearance in the 1st episode’s final moments. Speaking of the characters, Yukari himself feels like a very honest portrayal of a young man. He’s, like most teenage boys, caught in the confusion of love vs lust, having convinced himself that his feelings for Takasaki Misaki are genuine and deep. It’s unclear yet if the show will at all delve into exploring the difference between earnest love and infatuation. Otherwise Yukari is a fun lead, with plenty of quirky, yet relatable and awkward mannerisms, and even a few not so normal. He can be both funny and anxiously relatable as he suffers emotional pitfall after pitfall.
Linny: Yukari’s infatuation with Misaki definitely feels a bit shallow but honest when you consider his age. Both of them also feel somewhat bland for now, nothing that makes either stand out but on the other hand it can work well for audiences who want more relatable characters in teen romance tales rather than over the top tropes. Also, there’s always the possibility that more episodes will lead to more character definition.
Tom: Takasaki Misaki is where I draw some issues. At times she feels real, as Linny talked about before with how she and Yukari interact and express their affection for one another during the confession scene. And again, her reaction to Yukari’s arranged marriage development is endearing and heartbreaking. That said, earlier on she feels like a fantasy. At school Misaki lies to Yukari about remembering him, and later we learn that was an excuse because she was embarrassed. This doesn’t feel real, but rather a play into the male fantasy to explain away a girl’s otherwise dismissive behavior. It’s a minor annoyance assuming Misaki doesn’t react to various developments in a similarly male fantasy way.
Linny: My next complaint is something that is more or less a personal one than an actual criticism and it has to do with how the show draws the eyes for its characters. They’re ginormous even by anime standards and almost remind me of amateur attempts to draw manga style characters that I have seen floating around on the internet. It’s something so prominent that if you do not take to it, it’s rather hard to ignore.
Tom: There’s no question that Love and Lies’ artwork is libel to be divisive. It and Welcome to the Ballroom this season take liberties with the artistic interpretation of the human form, transforming body parts or features into prominent spectacles that feel impossible to ignore. While Welcome to the Ballroom puts all attention on the necks, Love and Lies focuses on the eyes. As Linny said they’re big, huge even and if unappealing, hard to overlook. As long as the artistic direction isn’t unsettling for you, Love and Lies feels like it has the most promise of any Summer anime we’ve checked out so far. It’s not perfect, but it’s doing enough right to hook me into seeing whether Yukari and Misaki will be torn apart by a society bent on propagating in the most efficient way possible.
Linny: Love and Lies’ main appeal is its rather realistic and relatable first romance interaction scene between its leads. While the rest of it could be dismissed as too bizarre or too bland, that romantic exchange alone gives the show a huge boost and if it can keep delivering similar, it should make this a nice realistic romance…bar the extremely convoluted premise of course.
Love and Lies is available for streaming via Anime Strike