My Happy Marriage Volume 1 Light Novel Review

Miyo’s parents were forced to marry in hopes that merging two influential psychological (Gifted) families would yield a powerful child. Miyo’s father, Shinichi, reluctantly broke up with his lover, Kanoko, and his resentment only grew when Miyo was born without Spirit-Sight, let alone other abilities. After his wife’s death, he promptly married his old girlfriend, and their daughter, Kaya, awakened her sixth sense early.

Over the years, Miyo is continually ostracized and abused by her family. Miyo’s only ally is Kouji, a young man from another Gifted family whose father warned him to stay out of others’ business. Shinichi then announces Kouji will marry into the Saimori family — as Kaya’s fiancé. Miyo, however, is being sent to wed the head of the even-more-elite Kudou family. Kiyoka is a reportedly cruel soldier who has caused all other bridal candidates to flee within three days.

For Miyo, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fryer — and the frying pan makes it clear she is not welcome to return.

The Meiji and Taisho periods are a popular time period for Japanese supernatural stories, just as Victorian England is for Western fiction. In the world of My Happy Marriagespirits are dispatched by Gifted military soldiers, and households like the Saimori family get much of their status from having long been in service to the emperor.

But unlike, say, Sakura Wars or Otome Youkai Zakuro, this story is not about fighting those Grotesqueries; it’s a Cinderella tale. The reception Miyo receives from Kiyoka is less than welcoming, but he quickly learns that Miyo’s passive and apologetic nature is not an act but as a result of her upbringing.

This is a romance, but it’s one rooted in the culture of the time versus more modern perspectives. There are no “I love you”s, and Kiyoka goes to formalize his engagement with Miyo before telling her he intends to do so. My Happy Marriage is rooted in warmth rather than passion — for Kiyoka, a woman not after his fortunes, and Miyo, having someone who acknowledges her existence. That doesn’t downplay their feelings for each other, but the novel is not one who prefer to see fireworks between the leads — or at least a kiss.

This is the first entry into the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone work. A few plot points will likely be revisited and more of Grotesqueries and such, but for now, this is about Miyo breaking away from her old family and finding the resolve to start a new one with Kiyoka and Yurie, his caretaker. The beautiful text reflects this, full of melancholy, blossoming emotions, and even some emotional setbacks. However, the novel is also packed with cartoonishly villainous characters, from spoiled Kaya to Kouji’s scheming father. I’d like to see more characters spread across the D&D alignment chart, like good-netural Kouji, a man who wanted to protect Miyo but didn’t put forth a lot of effort into saving her.

The novel doesn’t have any illustrations, and while it may have originated as a webnovel, it’s organized into five chapters plus a prologue and epilogue. I have also read (in Japanese) some of Square Enix Manga’s upcoming manga version, and this is one of those times I wish the Yen On line would follow some of Yen Press’ manga translation standards. Miyo’s “Danna-sama” (“Husband” or “Master”) is “Mr. Kudou” here, and even the typical English equivalents like “Miss” and “Lady” lose some of the Japanese-ness of the story. After all, a lot of problems here are caused by people stuck in old ways at a time when more Western ideas were taking hold.

Anyway, My Happy Marriage volume 1 will be too mild for some romance fans, but if you prefer subtler or slow-burn love stories, it’s a sweet fairy tale with a supernatural twist.

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