What They Say:
It’s an old story: Boy loves girl. Girl admits her love for Boy. And then the government says, “No, you have to marry THIS other girl instead.” Because, in the world where high school student Yukari Nejima lives, the government decides who you marry and the feelings of the parties involved don’t matter.
So while Yukari loves his classmate Misaki and she feels the same way, their other classmate Ririna is going to be his mate! Or is she? There’s an unexpected turn when Ririna indicates that she’s not against Yukari and Misaki being a couple despite their impending marriage and things get even more convoluted when Ririna finds herself attracted to both of them! Get ready for the ultimate case of unwanted government interference as everyone gets caught up in the romantic bureaucracy!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. I do wish shows like this had dubs more often if only to give the actors a bit more to work with. What we get here is very much a dialogue driven series where there’s not much of anything that “goes big” along the way or really stands out. There may be some mild moments where the music swells to give the impression but it is largely a pretty straightforward piece that focuses on the variable levels of dialogue with some minor placements. It’s a very small show in a lot of ways, focusing on two or three character groupings at a time, and the way it comes together works well. There’s some mild placement at times but beyond that it’s simple but effective. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three breakdown. Animated by Liden Films, the series has a really great look to it with distinctive character designs and a mildly soft filter that helps to bring it all together. It’s not a series that’s going big on action moments or really high-motion material and that allows it to step things up with color design quality and the details in costuming and backgrounds. The encoding for this works really well as it brings all of that detail and color design to life in a great way. It’s richly done with a clean and problem free encode as there’s no noise to be had or breakup throughout. I really loved the look of it as it adapts the manga as it gives it a great life here.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with both discs against the interior walls with no hinge involved. The front cover uses the familiar key artwork of the four main characters in their school uniform where it has an illustration style look. Placing that against the white and pink background that blends well with the logo that adds the black underlayer, Love and Lies is a straightforward looking cover overall but with just enough to catch your eye since it doesn’t overdo the look of the girls or their sexuality. It has that group of friends look that works well. The back cover breaks things up with pink and white sections while spreading some good sized shots from the show all over it. The summary of the premise is clean and easy to read as is the small breakdown of what extras are on the disc. The production credits are straightforward and the technical grid lists how the show was put together for the release in an accurate way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release stick to a simple static approach with some nice character artwork similar to the cover designs being used. This lets a few different characters get into the mix so that it’s not just a repeat of the cover design and gives it a little more variety. The navigation is kept to the left with more of the pink and white design with the black as well serving as the underlayer similar to the cover. It’s a smooth and easy to use design since it’s essentially just episode selection but the second disc adds in the extras with a submenu. Everything looks good and is quick and easy to load both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga Koi to Uso by Musawo, Love and Lies is a twelve episode series that aired during the summer 2017 season. THe original manga began in 2014 and has seven volumes so far while running in Shonen Magazine Comics and the anime covers a decent chunk of that from what I can see. Love and Lies was pretty easy to write off as another teenage romance series based on the initial promos and if you didn’t look closely at the concept, which made getting into this series a good bit of fun as it was a surprise. It’s the kind that I like and the kind that I thought there’d be more of by this time considering the population growth issues Japan suffers under and the way that anime and manga can explore the potential and consequences of a lot of different ways to address it.
The premise is one that takes place in a relative near future as the government put a plan into motion to deal with the low birth rate that was occuring. When kids turn sixteen they get an assigned partner that they’ll marry in a few years time and procreate with. It looks like that this has gone on for some time as the parents of at least one of the kids here were a part of the program that lead to them. But let’s be clear, this is not a deep or rich exploration of this concept but just a trapping to the main story itself. That said, what we do get is certainly interesting because you do wonder more of how it deals with problems that come into play in terms of real incompatibility (regardless of what the algorithms come up with) and any gay kids. That aspect is just rarely dealt with in mainstream manga and anime in general so it’s an out of sight out of mind thing but it’s what I want to see explored.
The core group is made up of four characters, though it’s really three that drive the narrative. Yukari’s sixteen and is just getting his notice from the government about his assigned wife. It comes just after he confesses his longtime crush on Misaki, who reveals that she’s in love with him as well and they get pretty intense at the park at night before his phone goes live with a notification of who his assigned wife is. When it’s revealed to be Misaki that’s a pretty big boost – until his phone craps out and actual government employees show up with paperwork that reveal that his assigned wife is a young woman named Ririna Sanada. That sparks the confusion as Misaki pulls back so as to not interfere with the official aspect of things and Yukari simply becomes confused and uncertain about what he got (we almost never reference that notification again) and tries to figure out how to navigate things as there are penalties to backing out of an assigned marriage.
Naturally, Yukari begins to spend a lot of time with Ririna after going through the family introduction part that plays like the arranged marriages of old and the two are definitely interesting. He’s fairly open about what had happened just prior to getting his notification and the conflicting one that he got and that has Ririna, already nervous about the whole idea in general, opting to use it as buffer of sorts by getting him to continually try and explore things with Misaki. The problem is that, as expected, she becomes more and more interested in Yukari as it progresses and she becomes a really good friend with Misaki as well. She realizes that much of the man that Yukari is today is because he wanted to be better for Misaki – even though the two hadn’t really talked for years since the childhood crush got underway – but it makes sense with how it unfolds. There’s a small background concept at work with the red string of fate and trying to figure out who is really tied to who and I love that it alludes that they’re all bonded in the same way. Watching as they go back and forth in dealing with their emotions and feelings is far more engaging than most series where they won’t even admit a tiny bit of interest in each other so that it can be drawn out to create the anticipatory feelings more than anything else.
With the show focusing on this trio throughout in different configurations there are things that I definitely like and am frustrated by. On the frustrated side is the use of Yusuke Nisaka. He’s not really fleshed out that well beyond being popular because of his good looks and a kind of cool friend toward Yukari. He’s obviously painted as someone with a romantic interest in Yukari as well but they just can’t seem to do more than hint at it throughout after giving us the potential of a stolen kiss early on. On the flip side, Yukari gets a lot of face sucking time with both Ririna and Misaki and there’s an acknowledgment of desired sexuality there that a lot of shows avoid. The first episode has some really great intensity and there are regular kissing moments throughout, as well as some “training” time for Yukari and Ririna that makes both uncomfortable but uncertain of how far they need to go. As much as anime loves to play with fanservice and sexuality, it rarely addresses things of real intimacy and feelings associated with them like it does here.
I didn’t go into Love and Lies with any expectations other than yet another simple romantic comedy/teenage drama show. While there are certainly elements there as we get familiar subplots such as culture festival and school play stuff, the bulk of it is an interesting exploration of romance in a near future where marriage partners are assigned at a young age. There isn’t a deep or rich exploration of it but it provides a bit more than just simple trappings and what it does provide allows for some really good character material with our core trio of characters. It’s the kind of storyline that again leaves you thinking polyamory is the way to go here and I really can’t decide who I’d pair here overall, which is always a welcome change from the usual black and white view I end up with. Sentai put together a great looking release that I wish had a dub but in the end it’s the show that makes it worth purchasing in general and this incarnation succeeds by looking great and telling an interesting story.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.