More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers Review: Rent-a-Girlfriend – Revengeance

There is an art to creating a title that might escape the average viewer. It’s not easy to devise a short handful of words that both tells the audience what to expect of the story and neatly encapsulates the content. It’s so difficult, in fact, that the world of anime, manga, and light novels has largely given up on trying to give brief titles.

Usually this results in titles that are extremely descriptive. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai tells you that we have a precocious young man entangled with, you guessed it, a bunny girl senpai. Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is, other than being a complete sentence, an adequate name for a series whose plot kicks off because the protagonist tried to get a girlfriend in a dungeon.

So, pray tell, what does More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers mean? I’m going to hope it’s a mistranslation, because I’m racking my brain here. Ostensibly, for romantic partners, there is no stage past being married, so there’s no point where you can be “more than a married couple”. That goes doubly for the simple fact that if you’re not lovers, you can’t be more than a married couple.

Heck, the vast majority of legal systems and religions don’t even recognize an unconsummated marriage, so the absence of being lovers means that you have already robbed the marriage of one of its key components. This title is a train wreck!

What? I have to actually talk about the anime itself? Fine, but that title is getting a full dissection at some point.

In a program that I can only assume was instated as Shinzo Abe’s dying wish, Japanese teenagers participate in a program where they are randomly paired up with a student of the opposite sex to live as a married couple. I’m going to be honest; I have no idea what purpose this could accomplish except cranking your school’s teen pregnancy rate to 100%, and to facilitate a very specific story.

In the title, I compared this anime to Rent-a-Girlfriend, but I think Scum’s Wish would be the more apt parallel. Jirou is a pretty typical otaku pining for his childhood friend Shiori, who gets paired with Minami, the crush of Jirou’s partner Akari. In a contraption I can only call a love dodecahedron, everybody wants a piece of somebody else.

Where the Rent-a-Girlfriend comparison comes in is that Jirou’s honestly pathetic, just like the much-maligned MC Kazuya. I mean, props to you for kissing the main girl in episode one, but I don’t know how someone gets you so frazzled that your first instinct is to french. So far, Jirou’s main conflict is that his crush has hit it off with her partner, while his own is making things…difficult. See, I’m not going for low-hanging innuendoes here, this is a blog with class.

And…that’s kind of it. Akari is a stuck-up gyaru, while Jirou’s a doormat nerd. I  won’t say they have no chemistry, but it feels barebones. Rom coms thrive on character interactions and how those interactions make the most of simple storylines, but all we’ve seen so far is that they have some sparks. I have my doubts that they can stretch these characters to fit a whole season of television.

But hey, we’re not here for the writing, are we? At least that’s not the main appeal of a show like this. The presentation of an ecchi show is essential, and I’m rather pleased to tell you that More than a Married Couple is one of the nicest looking shows this season.

The character design has a tendency to be either painfully simple or too busy, which is perfectly encapsulated by our leads. I can see them angling Jirou’s plain appearance to work as a self-insert, though he’s got too much of a bad personality for that to work effectively. Akari is just a ton, and I understand that it’s part of the gyaru aesthetic, but it lacks the good fashion of something like My Dress-Up Darling to balance that out.

However, I’m a big fan of the color palette. The story isn’t a grounded romance, so there’s no point in making the visuals say it is. The colors are bold, bright, and contribute to a bubblegum aesthetic. It’s pleasant to look at, and gives the show’s art style a necessary push.

And the fanservice is good, albeit limited primarily to Akari. The whole purpose of a harem or love triangle is to give audiences the chance to pick their side, but if you’re not into plain childhood friends or loud gyaru, you’re not going to find a ton of fulfilling fanservice.

Then again, in episode 2, Akari buys matching PJs for her and Jirou, and his neckline is just as plunging as hers, so actually, the fanservice is spread out better than I would have thought.

Now, why should you watch this over any of the competition? It has a similar set-up to Scum’s Wish, but it doesn’t make me so depressed that I want to die. So, if the idea of “I’ll make do with you until I can get with them, but we wind up falling for each other” appeals to you as a plot point, I’d say watch Toradora instead.

Okay, that’s not entirely fair. Toradora is substantially subtler and more complex than More Than a Married Couple, but watching one doesn’t really substitute for the other. Toradora is heartfelt, its characters are all deceptively complicated, and More Than a Married Couple…well, it’s horny.

I’d say its only direct competition is something like Rent-a-Girlfriend. Jirou is a lot less painful to watch than Kazuya, but Akari is certainly no Chizuru.

The problem is that I don’t know if More Than a Married Couple has anything going for it that you’d watch it over any other rom com. My Dress-Up Darling is better at being silly and horny, something like Toradora and Horimiya are more thoughtful, and harems like Quintessential Quintuplets just handle their romance better.

But if you’re a fan of romance, like a hearty dose of fanservice, and can appreciate a loud color palette, then I think there’s a fun time here, especially if you’ve already seen all the other shows I just mentioned.

So, More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers is not going to set the world on fire. I think if given the chance, it could develop the romantic tension between its two leads and really make something worth watching. However, if it manages to capitalize on that tension and not lose its entire audience before then is another question entirely.

I reviewed two really good shows, two really bad ones, so where does that leave More Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers? Let’s call it Neutral Fine and cross our fingers that it gets better.

This is usually the part where I give some kind of hint about the next show I’m going to review, but to be honest, I have no idea what is next. There’s a lot of shows left, but I only left six spots open, so…I guess we’ll both find out what the next review is when it comes out!

But maybe you want a hint of what it’s going to be, in which case, might I recommend checking out my Twitter @ExhibitionOtaku? I talk about all the anime I’m watching over there, so you might be able to pick up a crumb or two. Or you could follow the Otaku Exhibition on WordPress to get the notification of when it goes live, and if you really want to show your support, why not like the post? Until next time, thanks for reading.

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FineMore Than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers
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