Love and Lies – Mid Season Anime Review
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)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Six episodes in Love and Lies greatest positive is its characters. They still manage to feel like fairly honest portrayals of teenagers struggling with budding love. Our lead, Yukari Nejima remains ever the love-struck fool, strongly adherring to his feelings, even if he perhaps doesn’t entirely understand how shallow they really are. Since the first episode we’ve seen the cast shake up a bit with the addition of Ririna Sanada, Yukari’s assigned wife to be. While Misaki, the girl Nejima believes himself madly in love with, seemed like a major character, she’s taken a backseat to Ririna, as has Yuusuke, Nejima’s cold, pretty boy high school friend (although he does have his disruptive part to play). While the other characters feel relatable or at least understandable, Ririna is harder to pin down. Her take on the situation she and Nejima find themselves in doesn’t feel quite as understandable.
Linny: Love and Lies has a rather far-fetched setting and it unfortunately fails to really sell its bizarre premise. It’s already one thing to have a strange premise, but the situation is exacerbated by how unreal its characters feel as well, something I disagree with Tom on. Specifically Ririna, our state selected fiance, comes off as a rather unusual being, one that is obsessed with encouraging her fiance into romancing another girl for the sole reason that she wants to learn about love. It’s an excuse that barely makes sense. She often comes off naive to the point of being an idiot. Her motivations and reasons for doing so lack conviction and make her an unconvincing character. This is even more of a shame as her initial introduction made her come off as a frank and vocal young woman but by episode 6, she has been reduced to your standard awkward, blushing heroine in distress.
Tom: If Ririna ends up feeling like as a big a problem for you as she does for us, and Nejima and the rest fail to grab you there’s very few other characters to latch onto. Outside of our main four, there’s only a handful of other characters with any real recurring prominence and they only just now seem to be playing bigger roles as we reach the back half of the season. It’s as we hit the mid season that the show only now seems interested in addressing our greater criticisms.
Linny: Love and Lies’ big baddie is the Government’s matchmaking programme but for the first 4 episodes or so, there seems to be little to no real sense of danger from disregarding the pairings. The threat takes so long to even have real consequences described and then once it does, it goes into overdrive to the point of coming off as ridiculous and extreme as our lead couple overhear another discuss how failing to have sex during a government sanctioned night together led to someone getting bad grades at school.
Tom: I think the real trouble is that Love and Lies doesn’t have a true sense of depth to its world. It doesn’t always feel like what’s happening between our characters and this world of arranged marriages entirely connect with one another. As Linny said it takes a long time for the consequences of the shows premise, and the actions our characters take that stands in the way of that, to really connect. It’s only in Episode 5 that audiences are given an understanding of what happens should anyone take a stand against their assigned marriages. It’d be one thing if the show teased us as to the darker nature of this society, and the steps it takes to ensure people remain committed to the path set before them. But Love and Lies offers none of that, instead wholly focused on its odd love triangle that, well, lacks any real drama. That comes from Ririna’s lack of interest in her husband to be. Not only is she disinterested in him, but spends much of the first six episodes convincing him to take things further and further with Misaki, making for a real lack of tension.
Linny: There is a slight chance/hope that Love and Lies might reveal itself to be more than just a standard, if slightly bizarre love triangle. For example, in the premiere episode, there’s the fact that Nejima gets an email on his phone claiming his official match to be Misaki but the phone immediately stops working and the email disappears. And then, even though we see almost everyone else getting their official pairing through email or letters, Nejima has his physically handed to him by two officials in the middle of the night in the park where he just happens to be. However, ever since that first episode, there’s been such a heavy emphasis on the love triangle/quadrilateral that those two events seem like a random incident than a solid ongoing plot line.
Tom: With episode six addressing many of our early complaints, it starts to feel like the series is finally adding in the tension and drama first promised in its premiere. But that means the first six episodes feel more like a series filled with tomfoolery and time biding than anything actually engaging. As Linny mentioned that text message Nejima got, signaling his potential engagement to Misaki, before being snatched away by a second hand-delivered notice adds all kinds of mystery to the series– but feels wholly underutilized. Even Nejima himself seems to have completely forgotten about that moment, a moment that should have left an incredible impact and doubt on his notice to marry Ririna.
Linny: Love and Lies has potential, I’ll give it that. It has such a bizarre premise and characters in its love triangle that’s also secretly a love quadrilateral… maybe even a love pentagon, that anyone who manages to develop even the slightest interest in it could want to stick around to get some answers and exposition. However, due to its failure to really sell and establish that very peculiar setting and cast, it’s just as likely to turn away anyone who doesn’t find themselves warming up to the show and characters early on. So proceed with caution if you’ve been debating checking this one out.
Tom: Compounding things is Love and Lies soundtrack. While unique and intriguing, filled with plenty of bizarre and memorable tracks, it’s ineffective in its ability to blend with the action on screen. Love and Lies music is so overbearing, so attention seeking it can actively pull you from the events on screen. It doesn’t help that the series often plays its background music at a very high level, sometimes threatening to drown out the rest of the audio. Couple this with its lack of tension six episodes in, and a hamfisted reintroduction of the threats to Nejima and Misaki’s love first hinted at in episode one, Love and Lies isn’t bad, but hardly remains a stand out either.