My Happy Marriage, Vol. 5

By Akumi Agitogi and Tsukiho Tsukioka. Released in Japan as “Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon” by Fujimi L Bunko. Released in North America Yen On. Translated by David Musto.

Well, now I just feel bad. One of my go-to jokes about this series is the hideous irony of the title, after all. And in the Afterword the author says they worry about it as well, and asks readers not to constantly harp on it. So that’s half this review needing to be totally rewritten, then. That said, there are signs in this book that we are working our way there, if painfully slowly. Miyo still hates herself so much it’s almost suffocating, but is starting to realize (or be told point blank) that keeping everything to herself can actually be more painful than a possible rejection. She and Kiyoka have a scene where they share a bed (engineered, of course), and it’s as sweet as you’d expect, even though nothing happens, of course. And at the end of the book, we even get an explicit confession of love! Which, um, is actually tragically awful given… (waves vaguely at the cliffhanger)

We pick up where we left off, as the Emperor has been abducted. The Powers that Be make a decision to keep this quiet, which is not that hard given the Emperor is mostly a figurehead now anyway. That said, they really need to protect the prince from the bad guys now. They also need to protect Miyo, so make the decision to do both at the same time and have her staying at the palace, along with Kiyoka, Hazuki, and Yurie. Oh yes, and Arata, her faithful bodyguard. It should be a lot easier now, but there are still ominous rumblings. Miyo’s dreams about her mother and Usui turn out to be something he can talk back to her in, and he doubles down on destroying the world in order to teach it a lesson. Meanwhile, it turns out that the government and military is positively filled with traitors, and that’s bad news for Kiyoka in particular…

All of the My Happy Marriage books have rolled along on a sense of dread, and this one is no exception. We already know from the fourth book that Arata is working for the enemy, so the only question is whether he’s going to be a double agent or a triple agent. Usui is a wonderfully terrible villain, and the thing that pleased me most about the entire book was hearing that his arc should wrap up in Book 6, because I want to be nowhere near him again. The Education Minister’s secretary ends up being like something straight out of a horror movie, and in fact there is a fake climax to the book that reads like the end of a horror film. That said, this is the first book where The Bad Guys Win, and all seems lost. Thankfully, all seeming lost is what finally galvanizes Miyo to get off her ass and be proactive. I’m not sure I approve of her “I will do this by myself so as not to put anyone else in danger” attitude, but it’s otherwise nice to see, and terrific character development.

Still riveting, still fantastically written, still leaves you depressed. Great stuff.

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