Third-year high school student Jirou Yakuin is in love with his childhood friend and classmate, Shiori Sakurazaka. Thus, he hopes to be paired with her for the “marriage practical”: their school’s practice of randomly selecting boy-girl pairs to live as pretend married couples while monitoring and rating them on how close they have gotten. Meanwhile, the lively Akari Watanabe wants to be assigned to her crush, the popular and good-looking Minami Tenjin. Much to their dismay, Jirou and Akari find out that not only have they been paired together, but so have Shiori and Minami! Determined to be with their crushes, Jirou and Akari strive to earn as many points as possible, as the top 10 pairs earn the right to switch their partners—so long as both couples agree.
More than a married couple, but not lovers, also known as Fuufu Ijou, Koibito Miman, is an anime series by studio MOTHER (the same studios responsible for titles such as Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest) and is based off the Japanese by Yūki Kanamaru. It has been serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s seinen manga magazine Young Ace since March 2018, with its chapters collected and published in nine tankōbon volumes as of October 2022. An anime television series adaptation by Studio Mother aired from October to December 2022. The anime series consists of 12 episodes of 24 minutes each. Similar anime recommendations include Toradora!, Nisekoi, Golden Time, and Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai.
I was caught a bit off-guard with this anime and the “marriage practical” theme. I find it a bit odd grouping teenagers in school up with a partner of the opposite sex and having them live together in an apartment whilst pretending to be married. I also find it odd that preparing children for marriage is in the school curriculum. Having said that the anime was mildly enjoyable and entertaining.
The idea of classmates being forcibly paired together for the practical causes the relationships between characters to also be somewhat forced, an example of this would be Jirou (the main male character) and Akari (one of the main female roles) would normally never have interacted with each other, but Jirou likes Shiori (another female main character) and Akari likes Tenjin (more of a side character). The narrative follows the two as they accept that they need to humor each other in order to get enough points in the practical to later swop out and hopefully pair with the partners they actually like.
During the practical both Shiori and Akari visit upon themselves a couple of misunderstandings and Akari starts to fall in love with Jirou open up all three characters to a love triangle. All the characters in this anime are relatively likable except for Akari’s group of friends who are your typical gossips and mean girls. Jirou is a sweet guy who just always happens to be there for Akari when she’s having a rough time, despite her demanding nature. Akari also endlessly teases the innocent Jirou which also sends a lot of mixed messages. Shiori also likes Jirou, but she can’t commit to her feelings and be straight and upfront about it, meanwhile Jirou keeps misunderstanding her intentions as her not being interested in him at all. These girls really don’t make things easy for poor Jirou.
By the end of the story the two girls have basically declared war on each other for Jirou as Akari is now completely invested in getting together with him, leaving Tenjen (who I suspect actually likes older women, but is confirmed to have no interest in Akari) in the dust. Unfortunately, the anime ends before we know who ends up with Jirou which has been quite a disappointment. The anime is enjoyable if you have some free time to spend. I wouldn’t say I’m super hyped for a second season, but it would be nice to know who Jirou ends with eventually. The comedy is fair albeit a little slapstick, but mostly plays off the characters’ embarrassment and shyness so it does get a bit old by the end of the series. I think the saving grace here was that the art was bright and colorful, and the animation was definitely the highlight of the series.