Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Love and Lies
Anime Studio: Liden Films
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Genre: Romance / Drama
Released: November 5th 2018
Length: 300 Minutes
It’s an old story: Boy loves girl. Girl admits her love for Boy. And then the government says, “No, you have to marry THIS other girl instead.” Because, in the world where high school student Yukari Nejima lives, the government decides who you marry and the feelings of the parties involved don’t matter. So while Yukari loves his classmate Misaki and she feels the same way, their other classmate Ririna is going to be his mate!
Or is she? There’s an unexpected turn when Ririna indicates that she’s not against Yukari and Misaki being a couple despite their impending marriage and things get even more convoluted when Ririna finds herself attracted to both of them! Get ready for the ultimate case of unwanted government interference as everyone gets caught up in the romantic bureaucracy of LOVE AND LIES!
This is a series that has a very interesting premise. The whole set up of the government determining the perfect partner for people as a means to counter a lower birth rate is fascinating, and it’s something that is explored here in a little more detail than I expected at times. While we don’t get to see how calculations are carried out, we do get some information about how the testing is carried out almost covertly from a young age.
When you understand what’s happening, it does open some questions too. How will this affect LGBT youth? What happens if someone is already in love or dating someone else? If the person you love is paired with someone else, what will that make you feel? I honestly wasn’t expecting it to broach these questions too much, if at all. But it did. Throughout the story, we see the confusion between teenagers who are still learning how they feel about each other. We see get to meet a gay male who is stuck on the outside looking in as the boy he likes is paired with someone else. And we get to meet an adult who saw the system leave him without the one he loved.
The emotion in these moments are played in almost muted fashion at times, at least with the adults. Meanwhile, the kids get a little more over the top in their reactions, but without it ever seeping into comedic levels. What I really liked is that it helps give a sense of realism to some key points, and that plays well against the note that the system is working and achieving its goal of re-growing the declining population. Then there are those that found the system worked perfectly. Clearly, the one size fits all approach doesn’t work for everyone, but the success rate is such that it’s forced. That in itself creates an interesting moral dilemma with the world the characters inhabit.
The one downside to the story is that we don’t get a satisfactory conclusion. For a while, it looks like things are heading in a set direction, but it veers at the end and leaves us in a place where there’s clearly more to come. With no second season though, the characters are essentially left in limbo, with a lead suffering from the sort of indecision that is likely symptomatic of the fictional pairing system going wrong for such a young person.
In terms of fan service, the series presents a mixed bag of things. In the early episodes, we get some of the usual suspects popping up, but this lowers as it goes along, even somehow avoiding showing much at all in the expected hot springs episode. One thing that is a constant in this regard though is the use of kissing scenes that are perhaps a little more graphic than the sweeter tame moments of other romance shows. By this I mean we see a lot of tongue, and a lot of spit. It was all something that I wasn’t expecting, so it’s worth being prepared if you aren’t used to this sort of scene.
Animation wise, the show makes good use of lighting effects throughout. Unfortunately, where it stumbles is in the majority of the character designs. With the exception of Nisaka, whose effeminate eyelashes make him stand out a little and perhaps hint at his eventually revealed sexual orientation, the majority of the characters are fairly basic. You could perhaps argue that this is intentional to help create a sense of realism, but it’s all accompanied by a general level of animation that is mostly serviceable with the odd stand-out flourish mixed in.
In all, Love and Lies is a surprising series. The set up is interesting, and it broaches things that I really didn’t expect it to. Despite some underwhelming animation and the inconclusive ending, the execution of the story itself is very good. As such, I have no hesitation in giving the series a solid 4 out of 5. It is worth noting though that the synopsis from Amazon (pasted above) is slightly misleading with Ririna not technically being a classmate of Yukari and Misaki, and the concept that she is attracted to Misaki not being something that it is really touched upon in any great degree of detail.