Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 1

By Maki Enjoji. Released in Japan as “Hapi Mari” by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Petit Comic. Released in North America by Viz.

Viz has started to slowly dip its toe into the waters of josei, first a few years back with Butterflies, Flowers, and now with two new series, of which this is the first. They’re all being put under the Shojo Beat imprint, because a) it’s a brand people look for, which a Signature title isn’t necessarily; and b) honestly, most of these titles hit the same beats as their shoujo titles, it’s just that the protagonists are adults and there is sexual content. It wouldn’t be hard to see something like Happy Marriage?! reimagined to high school and Sho-Comi, with Hokuto as the hot new transfer student or something.


The basic premise isn’t too hard. Chiwa is an office lady whose father is a bit of a naive idiot, so their family is in heavy debt. She’s trying to deal with it by taking extra jobs, but that’s not going so well. Then the company chairman has the brilliant idea of marrying her to the company president, a smooth yet vaguely jerk-like guy naked Hokuto. Neither of them are really enthused about the idea, particularly Chiwa, who is a twitchy virgin who has no idea how to handle anything like this. Will they gradually grow to love each other as husband and wife and find true love and sexual satisfaction?

It’s hard not to compare this title with Butterflies, Flowers, Viz’s first foray into the world of Petit Comic. Both have the same types of hero and heroine, both involve company power issues (he has far more power than she does), and both heroines tend to freak out when bad or confusing things happen to them. Happy Marriage?!, though, is a far more natural and mellow title than Butterflies, Flowers ever was. There’s no real exaggeration for comedic effect here. No superdeformed heroines, no over-the-top sexist behavior as of yet, and zero Gundam references. Hokuto seems a bit standoffish, and like many shoujo/josei heroes likes to smirk smugly on occasion, but compared to other types I’ve seen he’s not too bad. Likewise we see Chiyo standing up for herself on occasion, though her lack of life experience and self-confidence is no doubt going to be one of the issues this manga deals with through its 10-volume run.

Of course, the problem with not having the appalling lows of Butterflies, Flowers is it doesn’t have the amazing highs either. The comedy and gratuitous appallingness of the latter title was what kept audiences reading, as they wanted to see what outrageousness would happen next. There’s not as much outrageousness in Happy Marriage?!, so what you’re left with is just a bit duller. It feels like one of many other shoujo titles, just grown up. Which is something you could say for a lot of josei, really. Chiwa in particular hasn’t really done much to separate herself from other blushing blonde heroines. Hokuto at least is more reserved than this type usually is, and I liked that we see he doesn’t really understand his new wife any more than she understands him, he’s just better at hiding it.

This is a good start to a romantic series, and I look forward to seeing if it avoids other ‘smutty shoujo’ traps once our heroes get hot and heavy (which they don’t here). I’ll check out another volume. But it’s not making my jaw drop the way its predecessor at Viz did.

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