Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Engaged to the Unidentified (2014)

Engaged to the Unidentified is a 12 episode anime based upon the 4-panel manga of the same name.  The plot focuses on Kobeni, who is a high school girl, having just turned 16 when a boy named Hakuya shows up in her house.  Her mother breaks the news that Kobeni's late grandfather had arranged a marriage and Hakuya is her fiance.  In her household, whatever grandfather says, they must follow so Kobeni has no choice.  Not that the engagement is a bad thing.  Hakuya moves in, along with his sister, Mahiro, a young grade-schooler who acts in a position of authority.  Needless to say, they both join Kobeni at her high school and in the same class no less.

Rounding out the cast is Kobeni's sister, who lives with them, the ever popular Benio.  Benio is a little bit on the crazy side and has a sister complex.  Benio takes an instant liking to Mashiro thanks to her small cuteness, but this liking is in a creepy way, freaking Mashiro out.  The funny thing is that Benio is a completely different person at high school, being athletic, academic and charismatic.

An early plot element is the allusion that Hakuya and Mashiro's family seem to be very important as they are able to heavily influence the school.  This is evidenced by the fact that Mashiro is too young to go to high school but through her family's influence, she is able to join into the same class.  It isn't helped that the nature of Hakuya and Mashiro's family is kept mysterious, with hints throughout the episodes such as letters arriving by arrow, travelling from the mountains to the city through only walking etc.

The reveal of Hakuya and Mashiro's true nature is something out of the blue and not what you'd expect of the series which seemed like it was going to stay away from anything fantasy.  As the main character, Kobeni is great at all the mundane stuff, like doing all the housework and getting good grades at school, although she is overshadowed by Benio.  Benio is like the complete opposite, being terrible at all housework.  The main focus is of course the budding romance between Hakuya and Kobeni.  Hakuya already likes Kobeni when he arrives and eventually, Kobeni realizes that they already had an important encounter when they were younger, yet due to the shock that of that event, Kobeni had forgotten about it.

Kobeni will slowly grow to like Hakuya, even with all his expressionless demeanor and constant zoning out.  A neat thing is that Kobeni is the only one that can tell the differences in Hakuya's various expressions, something not even his sister Mashiro is able to tell with 100% certainty.  This leads to some funny moments as through Kobeni's eyes, Hakuya tends to portray his expressions via colorful or depressing backgrounds around him.  While the pairing between Kobeni and Hakuya lacks chemistry in the beginning as they are strangers only tied together by a prearranged marriage, they spark off with their shyness and insecurities later on.

Other complications in Kobeni's life include the arrival of rivals, and Benio, finally realizing that she doesn't want anyone stealing her Kobeni.  The series overall is fairly funny, with the gags involving Mashiro's reactions and disgust towards Benio being one of the highlights.  The anime doesn't cover the whole story, thus it leaves an open ending that's hopeful but also lacks closure.  It's pretty much the best the writers can do to cut it off at some point.  Overall, Engaged to the Unidentified is enjoyable and while there were scenes which felt dragged on and bland, the other parts made up for them.  The interactions between Kobeni and Hakuya, and Benio and Mashiro, makes those characters endearing.


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