Keitaro Satou is 30, successful at his job... and single. With worries about his future, he decides to have an arranged marriage to satisfy himself and his family, yet while his prospective "wife" is a beauty, problems are bound to pop up!
Happy Negative Marriage is a manga that follows similar themes to Ryuta Amazume's other works. That being of a Mature, Slice of Life focusing on a believable romance, with some kind of hook to it. This time that hook is an arranged marriage.
Keitaro Satou is just some guy who turned 30. Nothing particularly special about him as he's just like a lot of us who coax through life, never attempting to venture out of his comfort zone. That is until he is forced into some arranged marriage meeting (Omiai). Of course he's has an aversion to this situation, but ends up going, to not disappoint
his parents and it is there that he first meets Akio Shimako. So there you have it, a summary to your typical 'love at first sight' kind of romance; though it is somewhat peculiar, since an Omiai is usually used as a plot device to separate the main couple, not bring them together. But apart from that minor peculiarity it's your standard romance with: the pair going on dates to deepen their relationship, friends constantly getting themselves involved and... Not much else. Really, as of the 2nd volume the story has been rather straightforward. In other words it's falling into the usual trappings of some of Ryuta's other works. Both the story and characters.
About Keitaro... what can I say... Well for one, he's similar to a lot of the protagonists Ryuta-sensei comes up with. So he's average but can show his worth when the need arises. The same can be said about the, heroine Akio and how similar in cuteness & quirks she is to the other heroines. Not really a bad thing, mind you, just very familiar. However my main complaint is on how dependant Keitaro is on others. Sure that means that side characters are much more involved in the story, than in the mangaka's previous work "Love is for those Over 30", however it just makes Keitaro that much less appealing.
Speaking of comparisons, I could not help but compare this to the American live action Rom/Com "40 Year Old Virgin", but with a dash more Japanese and a bit less Comedy. Those who've seen the movie will understand what I mean. Now those who are wondering why I've yet to mention the art; well it's not surprising since I expect anyone reading this to have read the previous mangaka's work (Nana & Karou, Toshiue no Hito, etc.) and have an overall idea of what to expect in that department. But for those who haven't, let's just say that the art is incredibly well done and really brings out the subtle quirks in the characters.
Well that sums up my thoughts on this piece. Chances are my opinion on this manga may change but as of now I feel that it has potential to be something really interesting, but right now it's barely doing enough to be more than a solid romance.