It seems that ‘16’ is a magic number for most girls, as in a special moment where something must happen that makes their Birthday to be unforgettable. Most times anyways, it’s just any normal day for people. But in this show, that’s not exactly the case when Kobeni Yonomori finds out that she is to be engaged with her arranged fiance Hakuya Mitsumine. As a little bonus, Hakuya also brings his younger sister Mashiro to spice up the family.
The concept no doubt comes firsthand as being cliché. We have the golden trio of the show that plays on the norms of the normal, popular, and cute girl. Then, there’s the main male protagonist Hakuya with an apathetic outlook on life. Taken for granted, Mikakunin de Shinkoukei (Engaged to the Unidentified) comes off as a show that isn’t particular outstanding judging from its outer shell. Yet, the story itself is crafted with a clever way of delivery. In retrospect, it’s a romantic comedy with a simple premise involving an arranged marriage. There’s certain degrees of development between the characters as we learn about their true origins. By their origins, it’s noticeable to point out that some aren’t actually humans. More importantly however is how they fit into society and demonstrates human behavior.
Development comes from the foundation of its characters. The character cast is small yet colorful. The core of the show involves Kobeni and her new circumstances as a young girl. She just turned sixteen, which by most law sets the standards for a working girl in society. Yet, her circumstance skips that phase and goes towards marriage, an abrupt event that can change most people’s lives. After all, marriage calls for responsibilities for young women like never before. Yet, Kobeni is able to still continue life thanks to the support of others. One of them is her older sister Benio. Coming off as an elegant lady on the outside, she is viewed as an idol at school. Yet at home, she has a bizarre attraction towards the youngest in the household, Mashiro. Being only nine years old, Mashiro often wants to be noticed and demands others to see her not as a child, but as an authoritative figure. Finally, our main male protagonist Hakuya is the aloof young man without much words but holds some wisdom for the family. There’s an odd degree of mixture with these characters since none of them really are compatible with each other. Yet, they hold the show together in a laudable way with their influence. Despite not even noticing it, their actions leads to results and often bring together episodes of embellishment. This can either be in the way of drama, comedy, or story development. In essence, the characters can be quite easily to get attached to thanks to their diverse personalities. Hell, even the parents make their memorable moments despite their relatively short time on the show.
As the story progresses, we learn more about what happened in the past with clever usage of flashbacks. They give clues with foreshadowing details relating to the main premise of the story. More importantly is how our characters responds to them, especially in the case for Kobeni. Developments takes unusual turns with romance angles and characterization. In fact, we learn more about the characters through their interactions. The story also deals with supernatural elements, another unusual gag used for such a lighthearted story. While lacking the shounen action one might hope for, it makes it up with its energy. Mashiro in particular is like a light bulb that shines with ebullience. Similarly, her interaction with Benio will evoke amusing reactions given their complete opposite characteristics.
Being a romantic comedy, there’s a presence of romance developing. Unfortunately, Hakuya tends to be a character that lacks any exquisite attributes. He’s not the bachelor type or someone people see as a hero or sex idol. Instead, Hakuya is a quiet young man that often keeps words to himself. Yet when the situation calls for it, he is able to enter a conflict and tries to formulate a civil solution to bring peace. Of course, his past is a big point to the story involving him and Kobeni during their childhood. A love triangle also develops in later episodes involving a supporting character that causes trouble. She brings not only drama but some nuisance for the family because of her obsession with Benio, minor feelings for Hakuya, and rivalry with Mashiro. But as far as romance goes, most parts is still lighthearted and somewhat realistic. However at the same time, it’s predictable judging by Kobeni’s interactions with Hakuya. We also get unusual responses from Benio, the oldest sister of the family. She breaks out of her usual comfort zone and displays of annoyance towards their engagement. Hakuya also shows more of his character as he becomes more and more involved with his decisions rather than just being a standard yes man.
Comedy exists throughout the series in a variety of ways. They can come with mixed bags depending on how one perceives its execution. However on most parts, I find the comedy to be cleverly executed. Thanks to our main characters, there’s a fun mood in the show despite the tense premise. Mashiro is the mascot with her attempt to act like an adult despite being a kid. She can yell, wear adorable outfits, has a huge sweet tooth, and can dance melodiously in front of a television. Her fear for Benio is what really brings out the humor of the show. Yet, this can also become drawback for viewers who sees Benio’s tactics to get Mashiro’s attention to be repetitive. It’s hard to not see Benio going full lolicon on Mashiro. Also, fan service is minimal and there’s not much of it with even the absence of a beach or onsen episode. Camera angles aren’t suggestive and neither does skin show for any of the girls except in perhaps the main opening sequences. Rather, the series brings together more of an unusual romance comedy rather than an asinine sweet 16.
Despite the bizarreness of the presentation, there are some parts that can be dull. Hakuya in particular is a character that is hard to get used to or be relatable mostly because of his little presence. The love angle between him and Kobeni can also come off quasi with lack of sensation. Even with development, the duo doesn’t stand out much mostly because of their silent personalities. Most supporting characters only play minor parts with only one girl that makes quite the drama. Additionally, most episodes doesn’t take itself outside the home or school setting. It lacks a degree in diversity as to other locations being explored in their neighborhood. And even so, neither is their home or school distinctive in any way.
There’s also interesting aspects to the artwork style. Characters are designed with cuteness and simplicity. Mashiro in particular is a girl that stands out with her short stature and hair that seems to almost have a life of its own. Kobeni’s innocence is also portrayed well for a young girl that doesn’t go with social conformity such as putting on heavy makeup or spending hours in the bathroom doing their hair. The backgrounds are also aesthetic and comedic scenes adapts itself with clever usage of its visuals.
Soundtrack has a casual tone with its OST. It’s easy to take notice of the slice of life tone with director Yoshiyuki Fujiwara, previously involved with GJ-Club. Hence, experience some of the lighthearted background music that is coordinated with various scenes. It’s also noticeable that on many occasions, there is no OST playing in the background at all in order to illustrate a sense of realism. Characters’ voice mannerisms fits well on some parts, although Mashiro’s voice can come as both cute yet fluffy at times. Yuri Yoshida voices her character who is a rather fresh face in the VA industry that may take some time to get used to. Otherwise, Hakuya’s voice is hardly outstanding and some of his dialogues come off as monotonous as if he’s reading off some textbook. On the other hand, embrace the OP and ED song for its catchy tone and bouncy sequences.
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is more of a show for one’s self-indulgence. It will take a little time to get used to but the pleasure of enjoying this show is worth it for its characters. Even the story comes together with unusual gags despite the quasi-like clichés. The show does have some frivolous comedy and moments where it does seem repetitive. Additionally, some characters might also might strike a few nerves with their personification. In fact, to enjoy this show will take patience but in the end will be a fun ride if your mind is up for it.