Story and Art by Maki Enjoji
Chiwa Takanashi is in an odd predicament. At age 22, she works two jobs to support her unemployed and clueless father. She has little to no experience with men outside of her night job as a hostess. You can imagine her surprise when the chairman of the company she works for during the day asks her to marry his grandson, the president. The proposal came from the chairman, a way for him to pay back Chiwa’s family and honor her grandmother’s memory. To Chiwa, it is more like a burden.
Hokuto Mamiya, the chairman’s grandson and president of the company, is a strict, stubborn man. He sees the marriage to Chiwa as a way to gain favor with his grandfather and continue to rise in the company. He expresses no love for Chiwa at first, or guarantee of her happiness outside of settling her family’s debts. However, he is willing to put up appearances privately and make the best of the situation he and Chiwa have found themselves in. Publically, Chiwa and Hokuto must keep their relationship a secret to preserve Hokuto’s image as a “handsome bachelor president”, complete with a sexy secretary named Taeko Soma. Hokuto is possessive, stubborn, and manipulative – not really husband material in Chiwa’s eyes. Over time, he expresses concern for her wellbeing, giving readers a taste of the real Hokuto.
Chiwa and Hokuto’s relationship is filled with awkward interactions (like accidental flashing), stubborn refusal of feelings, frustration at suddenly living with another person, and questioning whether or not they should have gotten married. In a way, Chiwa and Hokuto face many of the same problems newlyweds face in the beginning stages of their marriage. While they are getting to know each other in general, there is a sense that they care for one another. Happy Marriage?! is first and foremost a romantic comedy, not a commentary on marriage. However, it’s difficult to not look at how committed Chiwa and Hokuto are to the relationship once they decide to make it work. There is something to learn from this strange couple.
Several themes reoccur in this first volume. Chiwa and Hokuto both deal with issues of regret tied to entering the marriage. They occasionally waver back and forth on their feelings connected to their new marriage, weighing the pros and cons of being together. Chiwa must overcome her apprehensions with physical intimacy while Hokuto repeatedly makes advances. The embarrassment Chiwa has concerning intimacy with Hokuto, from kissing to sex, is a central theme in Happy Marriag?! She begins to show some growth and maturity in her relationship with Hokuto in this first volume. Overall, Happy Marriage?! volume 1 is a great start to a funny, heart-warming story of two unlikely people thrust into a marriage.