Image source: アニメ「恋と嘘」公式‏ on Twitter

In a world where relationships are government-designated, what place is there for a hopeless romantic? Love and Lies (Koi to Uso), based on the manga of the same name by manga artist Musawo, asks such a question. The first two episodes of the upcoming anime series were shown at a premiere event in Japan and Anime Now! was there to check it out.

The story takes place in a world where, forty years ago, in order to combat population decline, the government introduced the Yukari system. Under this system, children who are sixteen years of age are sent a government notice specifying who their future spouse will be. Over the previous forty years, the system had proved to be a success.

Enter Yukari “Neji” Nejim, a high school boy who has been in love with his classmate Misaki Takazaki since they were in elementary school together. His greatest fear is that he will receive a government notice pairing him with someone else, making any sort of romance with Misaki completely illegal. On the eve of his sixteenth birthday, Neji confesses his love to Misaki and, to his joy, discovers that the feeling is mutual.

Then, at the strike of midnight, Neji receives his government notice. Unfortunately, he receives two notices. One, a glitchy email, notifies him that he has been assigned to marry Misaki. The other, a printed notice, delivered by hand, notifies him that he has been assigned to marry a different girl, Lilina Sanada.

Luckily, his new fiancée, Lilina, is not happy with the arrangement either, and because she’s very interested in the concept of “love,” she demands that Neji get back together with Misaki behind the scenes. Having romantic relations with someone else besides the one chosen for you by the government based on their DNA calculations is strictly against the law. The result is a rather unique love triangle. On one side, Neji is still madly in love with Misaki, and struggles with his responsibility and duty to his country and society. On another side, Misaki is trying desperately to act like she isn’t in love with him anymore, trying to get Lilina to fall in love with him and keeping her romantic memories of him as just that: memories. On the third side, Neji and Lilina, while feeling no romantic spark between each other, share a compatibility and support for each other that just might prove the government is right after all.

Image source: アニメ「恋と嘘」公式‏ on Twitter

While, on the surface, Love and Lies bears the appearance of your normal high-school rom-com, the existence of the Yukari system gives the story an underlying science fiction taste. This is a world where a system that controls the population has been in place for decades. Children are supposedly paired based on their genetic viability, compatibility, and, to a certain extent, personal preference. It’s a system of arranged marriage that states that love can be manufactured.

In this world, people like Neji who believe in finding love au naturel are rebels and outliers. And yet, when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is, we see than most people are willing to just obey rather than rebel. In fact, to see an active show of rebellion is literally shocking to most people.

Love and Lies is a romantic story of an individual fighting against a system at large. Yet at the same time, we are given every indication that the system in question works. It’s the story of a young boy fighting to take the hard path as opposed to the easy path when it’s unclear which path is actually the right one.

Image source: アニメ「恋と嘘」公式‏ on Twitter

Overall, the first two episodes of Love and Lies paint a picture of a very fascinating world. Watching it, I was constantly asking questions in my head about how the Yukari system works. Is it possible to fall through the cracks in the system? Where do LGBTQ people stand in this society and how are they treated? Can a system of arranged marriage like this work when who you are at sixteen is not who you are at 26 or 36? What are relationships? What is marriage? What is love? (Baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me no more.) I’m looking forward to seeing how Love and Lies will answer my questions while providing me with a heartwarming romantic story.

Love and Lies is scheduled to begin airing in Japan on July 3, 2017. There is currently no simulcast information.

Comments (1)
  1. This is the exact same plot as the book Matched by Ally Condie

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