Koi to Uso (Love and Lies), 2017
Signed up the 22/05/2017
Coming to us in the Summer Season of 2017, Koi to Uso is a high school romance anime based in a very interesting and promising setting. I found it frustrating; however, for various reasons that I will cover at length in this review, before moving on to complain about the greater problem that this anime personified despite all its potential. For the most part, I liked it, but I felt that it often tried to rely on tried and tested methods which... just don't work so well anymore. Anyway, enough introductory rambling, there is much to be understood and unpacked within this anime and overall it isn't a bad show - it's quite a ride, so be prepared!
Sometime in the near future, Japan implements a complex system to address the low birth-rates which have become associated with the land. This system is known as the "Red Threads of Science" uses highly complex mathematical calculations based off of data collected over an individual's life - this information is used to match them with their perfect partner. From the age of 16, people are assigned spouses by the government, with severe consequences for those who do not comply. For an average Joe, the system is a "balancing of the scales", giving people like him a guaranteed chance at a fulfilling family life.
Except, that's not how it turns out. Yukari falls in love with a girl he goes to school with and spurred on by these emotions, he confesses his love for her and she returns those feelings. Unfortunately, Yukari's 16th birthday means that his government notice is due - his assigned partner is a girl named Sanada Ririka. After an unsavory first impression, Ririka's curious mind is aroused by Yukari's ongoing forbidden romance, forcing him into a complex web of lies.
Koi to Uso didn't really boast any characters who truly stood out by any measure; however, the characters and their motivations were quite interestingly woven into the story. We see really interesting conflict within the mind of a single character with Yukari's love interest, Takasaki Misaki. She's in love with Yukari as he is with her; however, she has chosen to relegate herself due to the arrival of Yukari's life partner. She denies her own feelings out of concern for Yukari's wellbeing in the future, as well as out of respect for Rikika, with whom she becomes very good friends. The situation is messy as one would expect, since, as expected, Rikika and Yukari begin to fall in love with each other - as the government predicted, of course.
The anime very quickly throws the characters into high-strung teen angst by putting them into this love triangle; however, nothing tragic happens to anyone. I enjoyed the fact that it was very focused on the emotions present in the situation as a result of their initial plotline instead of torturing their characters. I liked the fact that both Misaki and Yukari seemed to base their feelings off of really mundane interactions, because this is both aggrandizing their romance while keeping it down-to-earth and plausible... Well, within the confines of this anime's universe, anyway.
What I didn't quite enjoy was the fact that other than a hypothetical couple mentioned in a story by one of the characters, Misaki and Yukari seemed to have been the only teenagers who developed any feelings for anyone else other than their assigned partner in the entire show. There are many different ways in which Yukari and Misaki's romance could have gone; having other couples who mirror them would serve as a brilliant way to explore different realities.
Despite the potential there, various parts of the plot were vague and unexplored, such as the issue surrounding Yukari's initial government issue, which was extremely frustrating to watch because the characters themselves seemed to be confused by the events of that night, yet they made no attempt to explore Yukari's phone to find traces of the message or anything of the like. Even if their strange choices throughout the anime were entertaining to some degree, the characters themselves were very shallow, almost devoid of any true sense of self. It didn't make sense that being forced to marry someone at a certain age caused everyone in society to completely forfeit the ability to fall in love with people anyway, so it was strange that no other couples seemed to exhibit this, save for one.
The anime caught up to the source material in no-time, resulting in the age-old anime plague which has affected many titles before: the studio ending. With the anime catching up to the source, the anime studio went with whatever they deemed fit in terms of the ending - resulting in what I will rate as one of the most frustrating endings I've seen in a while. Anime like this generally end without truly closing any of the sagas they explore in terms of romantic relationships between characters, and Koi to Uso was no different. At the end of it, it felt like it went full circle - nothing had actually changed in terms of the overall situation and worse off, we couldn't even get the protagonist to finally attend to his feelings and actually choose a best girl.
Overall, I thought Koi to Uso was an interesting concept which wasn't explored quite well enough, as a result of pacing as well as the use of cliched tropes to arrive at a conclusion which wasn't quite a conclusion at all. I felt that it was quite enjoyable at times, but I rolled my eyes at various junctures because I felt the characters to have been frustrating in their dealings with their own feelings and those of the other characters. However, I did like it, at the end of it all, watching it was pretty entertaining and sometimes that is all we truly want.
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