Call me skeptical if you must, but I entered into the first episode of My Happy Marriage with a fair amount of caution. Perhaps that’s because “anime” and “Netflix” have rarely been a good combination of words, or maybe it’s that Kinema Citrus’ rather lackluster production of The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2 still wounds me. And yet, I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong, because My Happy Marriage’s debut episode is a hauntingly beautiful production that might even rival Fruits Basket or Violet Evergarden in the hallowed halls of “voluntary emotional damage.”
My Happy Marriage Episode 1 Is a Visual and Auditory Delight
My Happy Marriage takes place in mid-1800s Japan (Meiji Restoration era), and focuses on Miyo Saimori, a young woman born into a noble family. Without any supernatural talent to her, Miyo is pressed into servitude by her abusive stepmother, while her younger stepsister, Kaya, receives favorable treatment. At age nineteen, Miyo is sent away to marry Kiyoka Kudo—a military commander with a fearsome reputation. Having known nothing but emotional cruelty, Miyo resigns herself to a life of misery.
Against this bleak backdrop, Kinema Citrus has put renowned composer Evan Call to work, bringing his expertise on Violet Evergarden to bear with a beautiful arrangement of slow string instruments and mournful pianos. Every scene is punctuated by a delicate musical piece that succinctly defines the mood of our characters.
Visually, Kinema Citrus has outdone itself, with relatively new director Takehiro Kubota bringing the Meiji-era sights to life. From the sprawling Saimori manor and sweeping overhead shots of trees and buildings to koi fish flitting about a pond, every frame is a painting upon which My Happy Marriage paints a canvas of emotion.
And let’s not forget about the character designs! The light novel illustrations by Tsukiho Tsukioka have been wonderfully adapted by Shoko Yasuda, who clearly brought years of key animation work to the designs. Miyo’s expressions are small but filled with emotion; a quiet, silent beauty marred by years of emotional stunting. The episode’s final moments, introducing Kiyoka Kudo, are a fanfare of visual performance that sets up the tone for the rest of the season.
My Happy Marriage Episode 1 Is Unmissable!
Ultimately, I was incredibly surprised by My Happy Marriage’s first episode. The characters are beautiful and broken in all the ways that tug at my heartstrings, and the production values are well above my expectations, delivering a visual treat accompanied by one of the best musical scores since Violet Evergarden. Although we’ve only just started the Summer 2023 anime season, My Happy Marriage has set the bar high for other romance dramas.
If you want to get ahead of the show, remember that My Happy Marriage is adapted from the light novels written by Akumi Agitogi and available via Yen Press in English. There is also a manga serialization with artwork by Rito Kohsaka, published by Square Enix.
You can go vote for My Happy Marriage in the Summer 2023 Anime of the Week poll!
© Akumi Agitogi, Tsukiho Tsukioka/KADOKAWA/My Happy Ｍarriage Partners