Original Run: October 9, 2022 - December 25, 2022 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Yuuki Kanamura
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for More than a married couple, but no lovers. Reader discretion is advised.***
For third-year students to graduate, they must complete their “marriage practical.” For an entire year, randomized boy-girl pairs must live together as though they are a married couple. Their success depends on how close students grow as “husband and wife.”
For Jirou Yakuin (voiced by Seiichirou Yamashita), he hopes to pair with his childhood friend and long-time crush, Shiori Sakurazaka (voiced by Saki Miyashita). However, fate has other plans. To his shock (and annoyance), Jirou’s wife becomes Akari Watanabe (voiced by Saori Oonishi), one of the school’s most popular girls.
Jirou and Akari, the latter of whom also has someone they would have preferred as a husband, run into personality conflicts instantly. Fortunately, if the two raise their married rank high enough, they can choose new partners. Thus, Jirou and Akari decide to give it their all to achieve their ideal scenario.
Little do they realize, though, their efforts will prove to be a little too effective.
Among the good qualities often associated with slice-of-life romances – relatable characters, gripping love stories, and exciting drama – beautiful visuals don’t usually come to mind. That isn’t to say such shows are rough on the eyes. It’s just top-tier animation isn’t something you typically expect to see. More than a married couple, but not lovers. (More than a married couple) was no different, and yet, here we are.
This series was breathtakingly gorgeous. To take things a step further, this easily ranks as one of the most stunning anime to release in 2022. Why More than a married couple went as hard as it did is a notion beyond the scope of this review.
Of what we are about to cover, calling this show’s production cheap would be a bald-faced lie.
However, to hint at the direction this review is heading, the quality of a series’ animation is only a scale-tipper. It is not something you build a foundation on. Sure, the enjoyment value of an anime with a middle-of-the-road story and cookie-cutter characters might come down to the visuals. The problem is that if a show’s crucial elements – the aforementioned story and characters – fail to prop up the overall effort, pretty pictures become a nice paint job over a broken product.
Therefore, should we consider More than a married couple to be broken?
That is too harsh of a sentiment since this series was neither annoying nor infuriating. Still, this show did find itself on the path that could have led to that conclusion.
With that said, there were several standout moments throughout More than a married couple. One that immediately comes to mind is the scene when a tearful Akari calls Jiro for help. The subsequent interaction between these characters was surprisingly moving. This show was constantly telling us Akari and Jiro were developing mutual romantic feelings. Here was an instance that proved that was what was happening.
In fact, we need to give More than a married couple some serious credit.
There are countless other romance anime where two characters are vying for the heart of one love interest. While many of these shows try to play it off as though there is a truly fierce battle of wills, more often than not, there is always a clear favorite. There is frequently a “right choice.”
Granted, if that “right choice” isn’t also the other main character, good luck with it coming to fruition.
For More than a married couple, that is not the case. Both Akari and Shiori have strong chances to – for the lack of a better word – win. Despite this show never missing a chance to play up the sex appeal of its female leads, it did make the effort to portray them as more than pretty faces with big boobs.
And for his part, Jiro wasn’t a bad male protagonist either. He did plenty to demonstrate why someone could eventually (emphasis on the word “eventually”) fall for him.
Regardless of the strengths it might have had, More than a married couple never managed to be anything special. That by itself shouldn’t have been a death sentence; there are plenty of bare-average anime that are worth a look. The issue is, this series dumped itself into a whole damn near immediately. As a result, what could have been harmless blandness found itself in the shadow of a particularly poor first impression.
If we expect a good show to stem from a flawless run, we may never watch anything that reaches that standard. Mistakes, missteps, and the occasional poor decision happen, and a series can recover from them. However, that only occurs when there is something worth latching onto – a fun story, interesting characters, thought-provoking themes, etc.
For More than a married couple, it was so safe and by the book that we can hardly consider it remarkable. Sure, there were a few well-done scenes between the characters. But due to a rushed and hamstrung beginning, this series was never able to find a firm footing.
First, let’s establish that Jiro was a character that had likable qualities. He was kind, thoughtful, and when push came to shove, he would step up to the plate. At the very least, he wasn’t the main love interest only because he was the main character. As a result, it is not inconceivable why Shiori had feelings for Jiro (and him for her) since they had known one another for many years. She had experience with his better qualities.
By that same standard, by the end of More than a married couple, Akari falling for Jiro (and vice-versa) made sense. But again, that was due to an established history.
Why, then, did Akari’s heart skip a beat at the first semi-intimate interaction between her and Jiro? An interaction, mind you, that came after an entire episode’s worth of build that made it clear Akari and Jiro’s “marriage” was undesirable for both of them.
Given the inherent nature of More than a married couple and other shows like it, Akari and Jiro would always have their love story. Rather than enjoying the journey for their eventual coming together, this show rushed into setting up what we already knew would be an inevitability. Kickstarting from essentially nothing took away any fun from what might have been an interesting ride.
It also didn’t help that this series’ ending had a similar problem. Where at the start, everything just started with no build-up, the finale came just as suddenly. It was as if the makers of More than a married couple began thinking they would only have one chance at this story, but they then decided to set things up a possible continuation at the last moment.
And while the instant-love pacing between Akari and Jiro wasn’t great, this series found itself overburdened within the opening seconds. The entire idea of the “marriage practical” wa incredibly stupid.
It was already hard to accept that any school anywhere would run such a program, but then there were these arbitrary rules that made it a pointless affair.
Among the most glaring problem was why. What was the point of the practical? Everyone kept saying it was to prepare students for married life. Except how did this assignment go about doing that? Consider that:
- Students didn’t get to choose their partners.
- There were plenty of ways to game the system.
- There was a massive assumption that marriage was on the cards for everyone
- The points students needed to earn were based on intimacy, except sex itself appeared discouraged.
- Except (again), potential sex was almost guaranteed since no one came rushing in to stop it even though the students were being monitored.
- And why was there a mechanism that allowed students to change their partners?
All these cropped up the moment this show made mention of the practical.
So, disregarding its most problematic issues, More than a married couple wasn’t the most remarkable romance anime. But as soon as you add an over-rushed beginning and a bizarrely stupid premise, you can see how this series fell flat despite its beautiful visuals.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Now, to be fair, a poor first episode doesn’t have to be a death nail. If a series manages to find its footing, things can recover.
Sadly, never happened here.
Sure, there were decent moments indicating a real love story going on. Unfortunately, this show was in such a hurry to get to those moments; it didn’t take the time to earn them properly. Instead, everything found itself bound by the arbitrary rules of its own making.
What was perhaps a ploy to stand out ended up being this series’ biggest weakness.
Thus, More than a married couple, but not lovers. is one you can skip.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise More than a married couple, but not lovers.? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
If you liked what you’ve read, follow Anime Hajime on our social media to never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.
If you wish to add your voice to Anime Hajime, why not consider writing for us? Check out our Write For Anime Hajime page if you want to contribute. We welcome your style.
For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.