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ANIME REVIEW | Good Laughs, Cute Premise Found In The “Unidentified”

By
Posted on May 2, 2014 AT 06:47am

The concept of arranged marriage has appeared in many an anime series, such as the classic Ranma ½ and My Bride Is A Mermaid. Many deal with the concept of misunderstandings and out-of-worldy events that would never happen in real life. This past winter another such romantic comedy peeked its head above the snow-covered grounds with hopes that it could stand out from the rest of the herd: Engaged to the Unidentified.

The anime follows Kobeni, a high school student who recently turned sixteen. Out of nowhere she finds out that she has a fiancée, much to the dismay of her overprotective sister Benio, and finds that the groom-to-be and his sister will begin living under their roof. Enter Hakuya, a quiet boy with a secret, along with his little polar opposite sister Mashiro, who quickly becomes smothered by Benio’s love and affection. Soon the revelation behind the cause of the arranged marriage is revealed, which opens up questions behind who (or what) Hakyua really is.

Normally when I watch a show that has featured a sibling doting over another sibling I get a weird, icky feeling in my stomach. Usually it’s a younger sister fawning over an older brother, or vice versa, leading towards more awkward moments than cheerful ones. So why is it that when I watch Benio act lovey-dovey over Kobeni or Mashiro that uncomfortable feeling never comes about? Perhaps one of the key elements of Engaged to the Unidentified that keeps it from reaching that weirdness is the fact that the show features characters that have, well, a lot of character.

When Kobeni finds out about the arranged marriage she reacts the same way any sixteen-year-old would: with confusion and difficult comprehension. She knows it may not be something that she can’t get out of, but at the same time still manages to show her true feelings about the whole ordeal. There is a bit of an amnesia back story thrown in for her character, but fortunately it’s not presented as overkill; rather, it helps convey what happened in the past to lead towards the arranged marriage in the first place. Because of this Benio’s feelings for Kobeni are a tad more understandable. (After all, if you had almost lost a sibling, wouldn’t you want to spend almost all your time with them?)

Hakuya comes off as the nonverbal type, one who’d rather listen to the conversations on hand instead of voicing his thoughts and opinions. It can be off-putting at times, but it’s when he uses his actions where his warm mannerisms start to show his true nature. Mashiro, however, is the most vocal of everyone and not afraid to scold those who seem to question her thought process. In most anime series, a character like Mashiro would be deemed “the annoying one,” but here she’s actually the funniest of the bunch. How she reacts to Benio’s doting sisterly antics had me in stitches on many occasions, and her mannerisms feature some of the cutest moments caught in anime in recent memory. (Case in point: her dance in Episode 3.)

Adapting Cherry-Arai’s four-panel comic for the screen Fumihiko Shimo (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad) captures the characters and the world surrounding them wonderfully, showcasing the funnier moments of the original source material alongside the more sweeter events. Studio Dogakobo brings everything to life in a bright and vivid realm. What they were able to do for last year’s Love Lab showed how they were able to keep a comedic look that matched well with the show’s zaniness, and bringing that sort of style to Engaged to the Unidentified helped to flush out some of the funniest moments in the series. Jun Ichikawa’s soundtrack captures the right mood for each scene, whether it’s seeing Mashiro battling it out with one of the secondary characters in a silly fight or a scene involving Hakuya protecting Kobeni from the harsh cold.

Lastly there are the theme songs performed by the voice actresses behind the three main female seiyuu (Haruka Terui, Eriko Matsui, and Yuri Yoshida): the opener “Tomadoi -> Recipe” and the closer “Masshiro World”. Both are incredibly catchy and fit perfectly with the mood and spirit of Engaged to the Unidentified. The enthusiasm shown in these two songs alone equates to the performances of the voice actors in the series: filled with life, enthusiasm, and much care to the source material.

Engaged to the Unidentified won’t win anyone over with its arranged marriage plot line (unless you are really, really desperate to find someone), but at the same time the anime will melt your heart with its wonderfully sweet moments and laugh-out-loud moments. If you are in need of a good smile, then the lives of Kobeni, Benio, Mashiro, and Hakuya may just do the trick.

Story: 8/10
Animation: 8.5/10
Voice actors/actresses: 9/10
Soundtrack/score: 8.5/10
Final Grade: 8.5/10

Engadged to the Unidentified can be viewed on Crunchyroll.

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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