My Happy Marriage 01 – September Graphic Novel of The Month.

Based on a hit web novel, the manga adaptation of My Happy Marriage makes its English debut courtesy of Square Enix. Considered nigh worthless for having failed to inherit the superhuman powers of the bloodlines into which she was born, Miyo Saimori lives her days unwanted and unloved. Her stepmother and very own father have little time or affection for her, and Miyo must suffer being treated as a servant by her half-sister who, unlike Miyo, is blessed with the unusual powers of their blood. Ultimately seen as nothing more than a nuisance and a drain on the family wealth, Miyo is packed off to the Kudo house as a bridal candidate for its heir, Kiyoka Kudo. Whispers abound about the Kudo clan, the most powerful in all the land, but will the allegedly cold and cruel house into which Miyo aims to marry prove much warmer than the family she left behind?

Inspired by Cinderella, My Happy Marriage is a surprisingly deep story which goes in directions you might not expect. The setting of Taisho-era (1912-1926) Japan provides a perfect context for this style of story with arranged marriages and inheritances being at the forefront. We also have a suitably nasty step-mother and unpleasant half-sister in Kaya who is afforded all the opportunities Miyo is not and is viewed by her family as the perfect daughter. Miyo is a victim of the most toxic upbringing imaginable, and it is a blunt examination of how family affairs were handled in the that time period of Japan.

Miyo initially accepts she is simply a victim of her the times she is in and – though in a state of sadness – offers no resistance to her family’s whims. She has no reason to believe anything good will come of her own arranged marriage. But Kiyoka turns out to be far different than the reputation that has preceded him, and he quickly learns that she is not like the other women previously presented to him. Akumi Agitogi does a masterful job in playing with expectations, but most importantly never lose sight that Kiyoka’s situation isn’t one that can be simply brushed under the carpet by finding love.

Rito Kohsaka has a delicate style which proves to be a perfect fit for bringing this story to manga form.  Tsukiho Tsukioka’s characters designs are all very memorable and Kohsaka does a great job in bringing them to life. The more unpleasant characters are standouts with Kaya’s beauty not disguising the unpleasant streak that is evident in her actions and expressions. The romance aspect of the series also shines through, with the main couple of Miyo and Kiyoka being particularly striking.

A perfect romance manga that explore different territories and makes great use of its historical setting, My Happy Marriage has plenty to offer for manga fans.

My Happy Marriage 01 (Manga) is out 15 September from Square Enix Manga (9781646091461, p/b, £11.99)

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