Love and Lies is a Summer 2017 anime adaptation of the 2014 manga by Musawo, bearing the same title. The title started off with some quite intense views on love and destiny, and discussed the theme of perfect soulmates and ideal partners. Let’s see how well it succeeded in doing so…
Love & Synopsis
The protagonist of Love and Lies, Yukari Nejima, is a very, very, very average teenage boy, living in a present-day inspired and slightly dystopian Japan, where marriage partners are handpicked by the government, thanks to the ‘Red Threads of Science Program’. He is severely infatuated with his long-time classmate Misaki Takasaki, and as he turns 16, in light of receiving his marriage notice from the government, he decides to express his feelings for her. Misaki acknowledges and shares these feelings, only to later find out that she is not his assigned wife. Instead, Yukari has been paired with Ririna Sanada, a young loner and overachiever, who longs to fall in love. Instead of forcing herself upon Yukari, he encourages him to pursue Misaki and be with her.
Love & Plot & Story
Love and Lies is a moral and sentimental dilemma; not so much that of choosing the right girl to marry, but that of whether as a human being you have the right to have options when it comes to your personal life. The government in Love and Lies implements and operate this system to increase and improve the genetic productivity of its subjects: make sure that they are not wasting time and energy in the wrong person and that they are producing the best offspring possible (hence the fact that in the beginning of the show there is a reference to the increasing IQ of children of arranged unions). Doesn’t this, however, turn the people into livestock whose personal preferences and the right of having the choice to be tormented and hurt by their partners is being taken away? What about the maturity that comes along from such experiences? But more on that later.
Let’s have a look at the anime: it started really strong, and, (inevitably) comparing it to the recent romantic anime awesomeness that was Kuzu no Honkai, I have to admit that in the beginning it gave me a lot more feels than I expected. Yukari’s affection for Misaki and his bravery when he asked her out, the evident pain in both knowing that they cannot and will not be together, Ririna’s self-sacrifice for their happiness, it all went really well. And then they started camping. And organizing cultural festivals. And going to weddings, and wedding photo shoots. And somehow, I stopped caring.
I’m not entirely sure if this is clear enough in this show: in order to care about ordinary nonsense in the lives of the protagonists, you need to first deeply empathize with them. And that takes time. You can’t just give the viewers a few good episodes and then flood about 70% of the show with fillers. Again, unlike Kuzu no Honkai, the pacing in Love and Lies is severely problematic and unstable. The tension lasts for very brief periods of time, and what is left is mostly trivial shenanigans of the protagonists; and hey, guess what, no one watches romantic shows for that. Romantic love, or eros, or, if you prefer in Japanese, koi, is about pain and tension. The even distribution of these is crucial to any romantic show, and this is where Love and Lies failed.
The characters inevitably fall into that very same loop: Yukari is ordinary, Misaki is secretive, Ririna is lonely, Yusuke is and oddball, and these themes keep playing repeatedly throughout the whole season, to the point where it’s almost funny. When I heard Yukari saying how he’s not anything special for the hundredth time in the last episode, I flipped a table over.
Love & Art & Music
I loved the art of the show. Even though this facial styling is actually not my favorite, the lovely quality of hues and textures in the right spots just filled my heart with joy. The color palette skilfully bouncing between vibrant yet somehow appropriately muted tones (Ririna’s hair, the school outfits, the backgrounds) created an atmosphere that fitted the romantic yet cruel theme of the show exceptionally well. Absolute personal favorite: the blush on knees, fingers and elbows, making them look like they’ve been digitally water colored. So lovely.
The animation was nothing shocking to look at. I would characterize it as plain sufficient, and the music was actually pretty good: even though I cannot remember most of the soundtrack, I did enjoy the playful yet bitter opening, and looooved the sexy upbeat musical undertone every time something sexual was happening (the one that sounded very much like bubbles popping).
Love & Themes & Trivia
Dystopian futuristic environments are a rather common theme in anime culture, even though they don’t often focus on the aspect of love. I guess what I enjoyed most about Love and Lies was the speculation over whether something like the Red Threads of Science is a good or a bad thing. Kind of like Death Note. It makes you take sides, and find yourself wondering whether something like this (even though imaginary) would be acceptable.
Truth of the matter is, emotional intelligence is not very far away; this scenario is not as far-fetched as you might think. It is quite possible that soon, given that we are willing to provide some very revealing part of our personalities, we could potentially be able to find ideal partners, thanks to algorithms. And that is when such a thing become a question of morals, privacy, and of course, life choices. Choosing wrong partners is a hurtful yet very important rite of passage we need to go through as adults, to examine others as much as ourselves. Our lives are already made too easy, making us depressed and craving adventure – can you possibly imagine what it would feel like, not craving to fall in love anymore?
Love or Lies?
- Opening Theme
- Ririna’s school uniform
- Yukari’s love of burial mounds
- Yusuke’s eyes
- Moral speculations
- Crappy pacing
- Too many fillers for one season
- The ending was absolutely ridiculous, it looked like something out of an outdated Victorian novel
- Tiring repetitive dialog
And the verdict is this: Love and Lies could have done a lot, like, A LOT better. With so much great material available, why give us such a mediocre result? A Season 2 has not been confirmed yet, but even if there was one, I don’t know if I could sit through the whole thing again, even though I honestly crave to find out what is eventually going to happen. If I could suggest anything, that would be making the show deeply invest and question the story, rather than use it as ground for pointless decorative elements that, let’s be honest here: nobody cares about. Gender-bending Romeo and Juliet. Ground-breaking.
But what did YOU think about Love and Lies? Did you love or hate it? Leave us a comment below, and whether it’s the truth or just a lie, we promise, we won’t tell. （。＞ω＜）。