|Nice comedy, likable main character, good surprises, steady progression||Some love or hate characters, not all mysteries resolved|
There are just series that turn out better than people would have expected and just defy expectations. I really have to make “Mikakunin de Shinkoukei” or “Engaged to the Unidentified” as one of them. The first episode pretty much had this series as not getting much credit out of the gate. It’s really hard not to give myself credit for thinking this was going to be good and it ending up being good. I won’t because I didn’t actually end up covering it. I will say though that this is definitely a contender in my mind as the best series from the winter season. This series has good laughs, consistent character development and wasn’t afraid to continually make key revelations. Almost every episode felt like something important had happened and that helps keep the interest going.
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei just did things right when it comes to the main character and making proper use of the supporting cast. Romantic comedies are going to be tricky things to pull off right since comedy really is such a subjective thing. But I feel this series did the right thing in keeping the focus as much on Kobeni as possible. Because this was the show where the girl was without a doubt the main character here. Everyone else acted in support and while doing a good job of that it did allow Kobeni to shine as a character.
Kobeni was a really well done character all things considered. They managed to strike a good balance with her that I liked quite a bit. She wasn’t the perfect character by a long shot. Pretty weak in sports, has a serious inferiority complex when it comes to her mother and sister, is uncomfortable standing out, etc. But all her flaws did have some basis to them and did make her a more interesting person. Her sister is almost inhuman in how talented she is in athletics, academics, and pure charisma. It’s only natural to feel inferior to someone like that. Her health issues weren’t just thrown in to make her a sympathetic character, but actually had good reasoning behind it.
In the end Kobeni is just a purely likable character. A considerate person who does take things hard when she feels responsible. Tends to play the straight man because she is surrounded by a lot of unusual people, but can get carried away herself. Sometimes plays the tsundere when it comes to her romantic feelings, but isn’t hard to read and is someone you want to see things go well for. But even saying that Kobeni wasn’t really any specific stereotype. Which was one of the things I did like about her, Kobeni was just herself.
While I could go on forever about Kobeni, there was a whole cast for this show too XD. Obviously the character who got the most early concern is the main (if actually only) male character in Hakuya. First impressions probably weren’t great for him because he is a more quiet type that doesn’t easily get across his feelings. Honestly early on you could almost consider him the male version of the Ayanami Rei archetype. Which is odd because in a female character it’s great but in a male character not so much. Though really that’s not what he is. Really Hakuya is a good character and develops nicely through the series. He is one of the more quiet types that thinks about things and usually says things that have impact.
Hakuya does open up through the series and while not a chatty character even at the end, he gets his feelings across clearly. It’s more about reading the tone, expressions with him. He’s a really considerate person who has some similarities to Kobeni. Both characters can really beat themselves up over things they feel was their fault and both do try to consider the other person’s situation. While Hakuya arrives as this fiance he really tries not pressuring Kobeni or overwhelming her with information. Because one other thing I did forget to mention was that Kobeni did lose some memories of her childhood so this really is a sudden change in her life having Hakuya and Mashiro show up. Simply put, Hakuya is a good person and is clear about expressing his feelings about Kobeni if nothing else.
The other two main girls in the Kobeni household are her sister Benio and Hakuya’s sister Mashiro. Both are definitely two of the main drives for the comedy in the series. Mashiro is a cute young girl who tries to act mature, but often has no problem doing childish things when they catch her attention. Someone who cares quite a bit about her family and is an important intermediary between Kobeni and Hakuya since she is more expressive than her brother. She really doesn’t play the sister-in-law card long before she just feels like part of the family without trying. Nothing is more fun than when Mashiro allows herself to not need to act so mature and be as childish as she wants.
Benio is….well Benio. If there was a bizarre entity in this series it would be her. Honestly, she’s probably the most flawed person in the series. While Kobeni has all her problems, Benio has a handful of huge ones. She can play the elite athlete, the student counsel president, the intelligent academic, but wow her downsides are equally impressive. She’s imouto obsessed maniac. It doesn’t even need to be her actual little sister in Kobeni, Mashiro is also a fair target. Almost at yandere levels with how obsessed she is. All the housework and cooking that Kobeni is amazing at is something that’s impossible for Benio to handle. She really has no sense of limits and you just have ot watch out when she gets going. I’ll say Benio is often a good source of comedy, but she can also cross the line. The balance in the series is not giving her too much screen time that you get annoyed with her.
When in doubt though, Benio’s friend Nadeshko is key for shutting her down. The one person in the series who sees both sides of Benio and will just outright knock her around if it means getting her back on track. The other side characters are pretty good. Kobeni’s friend Mayura is important as a confidant for Kobeni who is dealing with her romantic troubles, Konoha is a Benio fangirl who actually has more plot relevance as the series goes on and Niko is Konoha’s friend and an obsessed reporter that actually can go beyond Benio level of insanity at times. As a whole the cast for this series was a good one. Everyone did well in their roles and supported the heroine of this story nicely.
Moving on from the characters, the story itself was good. It never left it’s main objective of following Kobeni as she finds out she has a finance and deals with this major change in her life. The story just helps make that an interesting journey. What was really enjoyable about this show was how every step along the story had something interesting happening. It didn’t feel cheap, but a natural extension of what was going on. We learn more about Kobeni, we learn more about Hakuya and Mashiro, we see how various discoveries affect Kobeni, things like that. The series does pull off some interesting surprises, but they do them well. Even the most strange of developments does tie into the overall plot. Just when I thought I had the full picture there was just a little bit more to learn.
Even by the end there are still some things that could have been delved into, but nothing I felt needed to in order to have a satisfying conclusion. And really one of the strong suits for this series is the consistent feel of the story. It always feels like we were moving forward right to the end. And honestly the final episode for this series was practically perfect in my mind. It continued the pattern of moving the story forward and just did it in a way that made me almost want to applaud it for a job well done. It’s so easy for series to stumble at the finish. The kind of ending where they can continue on (and I’m sure in the source material it does) it ends on a pont where I can just walk away with a smile. All this from a series adopted from a 4-koma manga. It never felt like one, the story just moving forward in a way that felt natural.
The music was pretty good for this series. It probably has one of the most fun combinations of OP/ED for series currently airing. Both have a nice feel to the music and the visuals especially for the OP are active and entertaining. One of the few times I watched the OP/ED for a series for just about every episode. Even if you don’t watch the series it’s probably worth checking out the OP/ED. The OP especially does a good job introducing the characters, but having some interesting art going along with it. Really I give props to the voice actresses for Kobeni, Benio, and Mashiro who do the singing here. Music as a whole was pretty good, it never overly stood out to me, but simply supported the visuals.
I’ll say the voice work was also well done in this series. Of the main characters only Hakuya’s voice actor has a lot of experience. Kobeni, Mashiro, and Benio all had actresses who haven’t got large resumes or having done major characters up till this point. And really I think they all did an exceptional job there. I’m looking forward to more series for all of them since they really sold those characters to me.
Visually I had no complaints for this one. This isn’t the kind of show that often needs any flashy animation, but it did step up when needed. I’d say it was pretty high quality and certainly above average. For a series where you’ll be watching the characters more than anything that’s a good thing.
In the end this is a series I’d fully recommend to people. Obviously if you aren’t interested in a romantic comedy then this wouldn’t be a fit, but I do think it’s worth checking out in general. Considering some reactions on the first episode I’d support the idea of going with the 3 episode rule. Within that many episodes it will show you just what kind of series you can expect. This was a very consistent series and I’d say consistently good. I had plenty of laughs and really did enjoy the development of Kobeni’s character and her relationship with Hakuya. This series focused on its premise and by the end of the series a lot of ground had been covered and without feeling rushed.
This season was certainly a weaker one in general. Only a few series I’d consider really good with a few that were simply average. Still, this was definitely one of the good ones. It told a great story and left me in a position where I’d love to see more. Easy call for me to give this an A grade.
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