Mikakunin de Shinkoukei Review

This is review number three hundred and fifty one. This anime is part of the Winter 2014 lineup, and I think I’m close to completing it. I just need to push more, and then I can move on to newer anime. I need to close the gap soon. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is called Mikakunin de Shinkoukei or “Engaged to the Unidentified”. It’s a twelve episode anime about a girl and a guy, and there’s also a loli in it. It’s a fun show. Let’s read on.

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Story

Upon turning sixteen, Kobeni soon discovers that she has been engaged to a guy she doesn’t know. To make matters worse, the guy will now live together with her under the same roof. Kobeni doesn’t really want a fiance, but she decided to give it a go for now. Along with her sister and her fiance’s little sister, their household has become a lot livelier. Kobeni soon discovers though that she has met the guy before, and she has a deep connection with him that she realizes.

Taking the Pants Off

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This anime is something that is actually sitting in my Downloads folder for a good two years now. Back when I was updated with currently airing anime, I really lost interest for a long while. The one that killed my motivation is the endless marshmallow shows I reviewed over and over. These are cute girls doing cute things shows, and they’re all the f*cking the same. Review five in a row, and it will kill you. I barely recovered, but I decided not to touch another marshmallow show for a long time. Mikakunin de Shinkoukei looks like a gawd damn marshmallow show, so I outright avoided it. I ignored this damn thing for two years, and I finally decided to watch it this week. My gut was right. It is the same slice of life bullsh*t about a bunch of cute girls doing some random sh*t in the format of skits because it’s a 4-koma adaptation. Oh sweet flaming Pikachu, kill me now. I would love to say that I hated this sh*t just for the principle of it, but I’m actually wrong. This show is really good. I like this show a lot because it tries to be different while still being a true marshmallow show. Reviewing anime for so long, I recently realized that I love shows that mix genres and absolutely nailing it. D-Frag is a good example where Shounen and club theme anime combines to make one hell of an anime experience. I recently discovered Natsume Yuujinchou has four different genres wonderfully blending together. Mikakunin de Shinkoukei does the same thing. It mixes three different genres, and it creates an anime experience uniquely its own. Of course, it’s not as great as D-Frag but there’s still enough to love beyond the marshmallow format. This show actually wants you to underestimate it so it can deliver its soft plot twists in an effective manner. I’ll talk about those soft plot twists later on. For now, I just want to go back in time and smack myself in the head. Afterwards, I’ll show him this review of an anime I undeservingly looked down upon.

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This anime is about a girl and a guy forced to be together. Kobeni Yonomori recently discovered that she is engaged to a boy named Hakuya Mitsumine. Kobeni also discovered that he’ll be living with them from now on. From the get go, the show already established that this’ll be a RomCom anime focusing on the romantic exploits of the two. Kobeni doesn’t want to be paired up with someone she doesn’t know, and living with him would be a bit hard for her. Hakuya is surprisingly quiet though, but he truly does want Kobeni. The timid girl now has to adjust to her new life while also slowly realizing that Hakuya isn’t that bad of a fiancé after all. As you progresses to the first episode though, you soon realize something isn’t quite right with this romcom anime. Kobeni and Hakuya’s story easily has potential, and I didn’t mind a straight forward romance between these two characters. Unfortunately, this is a marshmallow show. It’s supposed to be a cute girl doing cute things slice of life anime. We are reminded of this when Hakuya’s little sister makes her appearance, and she suddenly hi-jacked the show. A GIF can easily explain how:

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Yes, gawd fudging damn it, she’s a loli. The romcom is easily overshadowed by that, and it really took me by surprise. Really, we’re going the loli route? I actually wanted to hate the decision, but I soon realized that it can actually work. From the first episode alone, the character interaction is so bright and vibrant. It’s easily the most entertaining thing in the show. Kobeni is a timid and proper girl while the loli character is a loud mouth that has no filter. Meanwhile, we are also introduced to Kobeni’s sister and she happens to be a big loli fanatic. The show has now established this pretty decent group of interesting characters. There’s a proper girl just smiling in the background while the loli character is fighting off all the comedic approaches of the loli fanatic. While all of this is happening, Hakuya is in a corner doing some stuff by himself. I’ll be the first to tell you that marshmallow shows with a romcom element doesn’t really work out that well. I’ve seen two shows that tried to pair the two, and it didn’t really work out that well. Koutura had the same marshmallow romcom combination, and the two genres actually clashed. It was an awkward experience through and through. It’s mainly because romance needs to have a serious element to it, but that can be squashed when the characters are suddenly making fun of each other in four panels. It’s hard to take it seriously when the characters aren’t taking it seriously as well. Acchi Kocchi also had romance, but this show actually had an even worse combination. The romance is used as a side element, and it ended up being a nuisance than anything else. The show is so gawd damn boring, and the romance didn’t help. Yeah, it’s cute, so what? It’s easy to screw up pairing these two things, and I’m honestly not that hopeful Mikakunin de Shinkoukei can pull it off as well. After all, Hakuya is a quiet type and Kobeni is a timid character. No one will really take the lead, and I don’t think anything serious can happen here. The show is really setting itself up for failure, or is it?

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This show has four chapters, and it’s easier to talk about the anime this way. The chapters really mark the progression of the series. In the first chapter, it’s a giant loli show through and through. The character that hi-jacked the show is now stealing every scene. Our loli character, Mashiro Mitsumine, is the big focus of the first chapter. Everything she does is adorable, so it’s easy to fill up three episodes of just her. Mashiro is an interesting character as well, so she can make some comedy gold interacting with anyone. She is absolutely adorable having a cute quarrel with Benio, Kobeni’s sister. She also has some great moment with Kobeni and her cooking. It’s really not much, but you can do a lot with Mashiro. She harnesses her loli potential to the max, and it makes the anime interesting. I think another GIF can deliver the point clearly:

Look at her, so f*cking adorable. Something is amiss though as the show approaches the second chapter. Kobeni realized that Mashiro is too young to be in her class, and yet she is now her classmate. When she asked Mashiro about it, she answered with this:

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And it is a bit unsettling. It’s just a brief moment, but you just now something is up. The second chapter now focuses on the romance Mashiro overshadowed. It is mentioned that Kobeni and Hakuya has met before. When they were kids, Hakuya and Kobeni played a lot together. In fact, an incident happened when they were young playing in the mountains. Unfortunately, it’s an incident that Kobeni doesn’t remember, and it’s something the Mitsumine siblings don’t want to talk about. The show then piles more things on top. The fact that Mashiro and Hakuya grew up in the mountains were focused on. Hakuya displaying some weird superhuman speed and the way he convey his feelings by petting Kobeni’s head adds to the unsettling feeling about the show as well. It ultimately leads to one big reveal at episode five or something. This is one of the soft plot twists in the show. The incident that relates to Hakuya and Kobeni is explained and the actual title of the anime now makes a lot of sense. Kobeni is indeed engaged to an unidentified, and the show revealed it really smoothly. I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say there is now a supernatural element to the anime. It doesn’t overtake the show though, and it doesn’t clash with any of the established genre. Instead, it is used to actually make the current genres a lot more interesting. More comedy gold is delivered thanks to the supernatural aspect, and the romance actually progressed in a smart manner thanks to this element as well. In fact, the romance didn’t really have a chance from the beginning. Without Mashiro, this show would be boring as hell if it features Hakuya and Kobeni from the get go. With the supernatural element though, the pair now has a connection with each other and it now acts as that serious component that makes romance stories work. They now have a bond that the romance can work with, and it now becomes a big part of the show. Let’s just say that this show isn’t like Koutura or Acchi Kocchi. The marshmallow and romcom elements now works together to give us a really wonderful anime experience. The show has done a lot to overturn the odds against it. I actually thought this show would fail, but it developed in a good way. It came off as generic when you first watch it, but it actually does some great things thanks to some soft plot twists waiting to be revealed.

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I call them soft plot twists because they don’t really affect the show dramatically. Some plot twists changes the course of the show like when Rail tracer is revealed as the conductor in Baccano. He’s actually just a psychotic human than the preconceived supernatural monster. In this anime, the plot twists really just enhance what’s already there. Even if Kobeni is engaged to an unidentified, the show is still a laidback marshmallow anime with romcom elements. The twists just liven things up, and it also accomplishes something most marshmallow shows doesn’t have: a story. Actually, a marshmallow show is designed to not have a story, because the focus is on how much cute sh*t you can dump in twelve episodes or so. If there is a story, it’s mostly just some random thing the girls are doing or a season themed activity to break the monotony of the pacing. It’s not as elaborate as this show where Kobeni’s relationship with Hakuya gradually intensifies without breaking the norm. It’s still a one skit comedy after the other kind of show, but there is a much better flow to the episodes. The big reveal in episode five had such a notable impact, because it’s been building up since the first episode. I remember Kobeni baking some scones is mentioned two episodes prior, so you can just imagine how elaborate things get from there. The supernatural element is fleshed out in an even more impressive manner, and it’s all done without breaking the marshmallow format.

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The third chapter introduced more supernatural things. This is where the show focused on the student council secretary, Konoha Suetsugi. The anime gradually introduced the dynamic of the student council when we realized the loli fanatic is actually little Ms. Perfect at school. Her vice president is someone she would constantly disturb with her loli problems, and the secretary is revealed to be a huge fan of Benio. In the third chapter, it’s revealed that she actually changed herself to be more suited for Benio. She’s an obsessive fan, and that’s fine until Konoha actually relates to the other characters. Konoha is actually shoved into the story rather forcefully. She soon starts connecting with everyone. She is jealous of Mashiro, she loves Benio and she even gets connected to Hakuya and Kobeni’s as well. The show introduced her first as only the obsessive character, but she soon gets her part in the romance and the supernatural aspects of the show as well. The anime then blows up as it features Konoha being caught up in the entirety of the show. This is actually similar to Mashiro’s case in the first plot point, because Konoha gradually hi-jacks the show. She doesn’t ruin anything the show already established, but she is heavily focused on for the third chapter. She does some cute playful things for the marshmallow part of the show, and she also does some interesting things for the romance part of the show. Again, nothing too big. Her inclusion to the romance is just another soft plot twist for the show. I honestly did not see it coming, and I think I already ruin it for you if you do pick up the show. The anime has a way of downplaying certain aspects, and so it effectively delivers its soft plot twists. I was so caught up in Konoha having playful banters with Mashiro that I forgot there was a romance angle to the show. It’s a small trickery I actually only experience in this anime.

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At some point in the third chapter, the show just soon becomes a giant comedy skit featuring the relationship of different characters. You can tell the 4-koma appeal is hitting its peak here, because everyone has a thing with everyone. Benio acts loli crazy with Mashiro, Mashiro acts like a snotty kid with Konoha, Konoha unleashes her country bumpkin side unaware that Kobeni is behind her, Kobeni acts as this little sister for Mashiro, Mashiro acts as a big sister for Hakuya, Hakuya is a quiet and cute person when he’s with Kobeni, Kobeni is revealed to be having a tough time as Benio’s little sister, and Benio is the apple of Konoha’s affection. Everyone has a thing with everyone, and they all have their own jokes to present. In a way, it eliminates the boring element that most marshmallow shows have. This show still gets a bit tiresome at some point, but it has a lot to work with so you’ll only feel bored when you don’t find certain interactions entertaining anymore. I think I got tired of Mashiro fast, but seeing her interact with other characters makes her interesting all over again. It doesn’t end there. This anime also has the romance story and the supernatural element in its back pocket should it decide to branch out of its marshmallow format. It’s a pretty complex show, and the fun part is that it doesn’t really seem like that at first glance.

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The final chapter focused on the romance once more. I think it covered Valentine’s Day and White Day where Kobeni and Hakuya try to give some presents to each other. Their relationship progressed at a good point for the fourth chapter, and I think there are some real feelings brewing between them now. After all, the show is now confident enough to actually focus on the romance. It has the classic setups of Kobeni overthinking things, Hakuya misunderstanding something and getting upset, and it comes to a point where their relationship moves from a mutual understanding to something deeper. I think it also progressed so much that the two of them agrees to go on a date together. Don’t expect much, because Mashiro is still ready to steal the show and the various relationships are still used for the marshmallow skits. The fourth chapter captured the adorable aspect of a romance though, and you now actually want the two of them to be a real couple. At first, the show just stuck them together but the romance gradually developed wherein I think the audience is now completely sold on the two of them ending up together. Hakuya is focused heavily on the fourth chapter, and it just gives you an idea how serious the romance got. He is just in the corner for most of the previous chapters, but he’s now making moves in the last chapter. The fourth chapter even got a climax for its romance story, and the pair came out looking good in the end.

This marshmallow show has a steady story, but it also has some very well developed characters. They actually make the show special, and their relationship even becomes the centerpiece of the show. If you aren’t yet bought into Mashiro being the loli scene stealer of this series, then another GIF is in order.

Whoops. It’s the wrong one. I may have run out of GIFs about her. Hey, I got them all from the same episode. It’s very hard to GIF things if you’re very lazy like me. Mashiro is basically like Renge-chan from Non Non Biyori. They just act very differently from the rest of the cast, and that’s because the show knows they’re special. They’re the loli comedy man in a group of straight man. They deliver their cute innocent jokes, and the rest of the cast reacts to it. They are also a ball of energy that the show constantly throws at you. The wonderful part about the show is that Mashiro is a pretty well developed character. She acts stern and serious when she’s with Hakuya, and she acts all innocent and fudgy when she’s with Benio or Kobeni. There’s a playful kid side of her and there is a kid trying to act grown up in her as well, and the show presents both sides wonderfully. She also gets along very well with everyone in the show, including the side characters, and that just makes her all the more precious. I seriously wish I have more GIF of her. Kobeni is a pretty decent character. I like the angle when it comes to her sister. She has a perfect sister, and she doesn’t like being in her shadows. She has grown used to it though, and she just accepts it now. She became timid and self-reliant mainly because she wants something that her sister can’t take away from her. There is a flashback in the show where she realized her sister is great at everything, and she learned cooking and household stuff because Benio doesn’t know how to do them. It’s not to help others, but there’s a more selfish reason to it. This is a marshmallow show, but it can get heavy at times. Even being engaged to someone doesn’t bother her that much, because I think deep down big sister can’t take it from her as well. Kobeni does grow on you though. The romance even works because it develops the same time you are starting to like Kobeni. I mostly like her because she has fan service. I think she’s the only character that delivers fan service, and you should check out the OP to understand it. No, wait, I have a GIF of that OP right here:

As for Hakuya, he’s probably my least favorite character. It’s mostly because he drags the romance down into the marshmallow territory. Kobeni is ready to get serious, but Hakuya is a comedic piece that ruins the romance a bit. He’s a standup guy, but you can tell the rest of the cast overshadows him. I think it’s on purpose, but I honestly wanted more from him. That’s just me though. Hakuya’s appeal is that he can be as cute as his sister. Yeah, he can be like our favorite loli. He can blush and go out of character. It’s fun because he is usually just stoic and disinterested. He is quiet most of the time, but the moments where he does speak is often a high moment for the show. Hakuya often takes you off guard, and I love how unpredictable he can be. With his personality though, I think he suits Konoha better. I’m riding this ship, because Kobeni feels like the kind of character that’ll step aside if Konoha ever gets serious. Plus, Konoha is the tsundere type and she just naturally blends well with a stoic character like Hakuya. Konoha can also be direct, and I think the romance would’ve moved further if Kobeni is as aggressive as her. It’s a good thing Konoha is reserved though, and marshmallow shows doesn’t have conflict in it so I don’t think Konoha truly wants to rattle some cages. It’d be cool if she did though, and we’d get ourselves a fluffy love triangle. Konoha is such an adorable character. Much like Mashiro, she just naturally stands out. She feels more cliché than Mashiro, but she still gets the job done. I think some of the memorable moments in the series actually have Mashiro and Konoha in it.

Benio is a great standout character as well. She is a perfect student council president that everyone admires, but when no one is looking, she turns into a crazy loli fanatic. She gets jealous of Hakuya being close with Kobeni, and she would gush over how cute Mashiro is. She’s the pervert character, but she goes beyond her stereotype. Like the rest of the cast, she is very well rounded. She gets some heavy moments of her own. It’s revealed that she has a hand at the incident involving Kobeni, and she even tells that their grandfather would’ve married her off to Hakuya that day but she forced Kobeni to take her place instead. The pervy character has some scars she carries, and she often over compensate because she has a guilty bone in her. I love it, because she’s not the one dimensional character you expect her to be. It fun knowing how she can be loli crazy in school while still keeping up her façade as the perfect student. I like this character a lot, and the relationship she establishes with everyone is pretty fun to see in the various comedy skits of the show.

This anime is handled by studio Dogakobo. They honestly do a lot of sleeper hits, but I think they also come off as unremarkable. I like a lot of their shows, and they do a lot of marshmallow shows. I think the more they make them, the more they get better at it. They did it first with Yuru Yuri, then GJ-bu and then Love Lab. That’s how far I’ve gone with their works, but you can just tell how much has improved since then. From the animation to the general flow of their marshmallow shows, I think Dogakobo realized they can make a lot of money by perfecting this crap. I also think they’re really going for it. They recently made Himouto Umaru-chan, and judging by the OP only which I replayed countless times on youtube, I think they’ve hit gold with marshmallow shows. I think they’re doing better than KyoAni, and that calms my soul knowing a studio that puts effort in their work actually grows compared to complacent ones. I got a jab at KyoAni, this review is now complete. Now you think my misplaced hatred of KyoAni is just randomly put in here. No, it actually connects because this show is written by a KyoAni veteran. Of course, it’s Fumihiko Shimo that can put a story in a marshmallow show. Back when KyoAni is a small anime company gaining momentum with Key VN shows, it was Fumihiko as series composer for majority of them. If you like Air, Clannad, FMP: Fumoffu and recently, Amagi Brilliant Park then give your thanks to this guy. If this guy is actually back in KyoAni then I think I’m willing to give their new shows a try. He also did Non Non Biyori, and I think there’s a reason why Mashiro and Renge have the same vibe character-wise. This guy has talent, but keep in mind that he also had a hand with Golden Time and Infinite Stratos so he isn’t that good of a script writer. His skills needs to match certain shows, it seems. That’s fine. I think it’s easy to spot most of his works, and I can’t wait to see his new ones. I think the director did a lot to make this series special as well. Yoshiyuki Fujiwara spent a lot of time storyboard and key animator for most of his career, and you can tell this served him well. The pacing of this show is great, and the feeling that it has a story is certainly something he contributed to the show. He did give us GJ-bu first, and that anime is clunky. I think he improved though, because Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is freaking amazing.

Sight and Sound

Character design is unbelievably well-done. In the anime, the characters are a lot more “moe” and the color palette makes them child-ish in a way. It makes sense because you want it to feel like a marshmallow show. These types of shows usually have a more calm and laidback feel reinforced by the color palette. This isn’t the case for Cherry-Arai’s actual design. There are a lot of details that are often not translated more properly in the show. First of all, Mashiro is an actual loli character. Her childish look is a lot more dangerous in the manga, and her relationship with Benio is a lot more suggestive. It’s the joke though, but the visuals can really drive that point home effectively. The anime punctuates that with the dialogue, but it’s different in the manga. She’s a lot younger in it or something. The design is pretty cool though, because her heavy inked hair indicates that she’s stealing the scene in the manga as well. It’s especially noticeable when Benio is drawn more lightly on purpose. I love Cherry’s design, because she puts a lot of detail work in a 4-koma. I think the four panel manga business has gotten a lot more competitive ever since K-On became a titan, so a lot of the artists are trying to repeat that success. Cherry really put some amazing details on her work, and I think it makes her manga a lot more attractive. The details on the eyes are amazing, and it’s matched by well-drawn hair. In four panels, there are a lot to look at. If you’re not perplexed at how different Mashiro is, then I think Kobeni’s design will boggle you a bit. I mentioned that she is fan service in the anime. Well, she is a lot more in the manga. Her breasts are bigger, and there’s a dumb slut vibe to her that really surprises me. I’m glad this isn’t translated in the anime. Cherry would put effort in making sure Kobeni’s breasts are emphasized in those panels, and it’s just freaking awesome. She even puts less emphasis on Kobeni’s hair so the breasts would pop up more. Good gawd, this author is amazing. I think the adjustments the anime made certainly fit the characters a lot more. The fluffy and cute vibe of the marshmallow genre certainly adds a lot to the characters, and they come off more as cute girls doing cute things.

The animation is pretty great. Again, I followed Dogakobo from their time doing GJ-bu to Love Lab to this anime, and you can tell Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is a lot more polished than their previous works. The characters actually look uniquely their own, and the small nuances in the animation helps distinguish that. They did downplay some of Cherry’s designs though, like the detailed eyes, to fit the ideal marshmallow show design and animation. That’s fine though, because the animation certainly presented the characters well. The movements are smooth, and the transitions between skits are nicely executed. Facial expressions are great especially with Mashiro, who constantly changes expressions, and the cute scenes are delivered perfectly. A lot of the punch lines are just cute stuff, and the anime delivers them great. I think it’s also pretty consistent, and this is a big deal for Dogakobo. Their past works are rough looking, but I think they’re really doing better now. I think they presented the romance perfectly as well. The blushing faces and the shoujo scope are really well done. It may just be a side element, but there is care at how the romance is presented. You won’t see much supernatural though, since it’s mostly just in the story. That’s OK because you’ll be busy trying to get over how cute Mashiro is.

The anime’s OP is “Tomadoi→Recipe” by Mikakuning! This was sung by the three main girls: Kobeni, Benio and Mashiro. It’s a pretty good song, and it is actually written to tie into the actual anime. They really went the extra mile and actually had someone write a song for this anime. I like that. It’s a cute song, but it’s typical marshmallow fluff. I do think the voices add a novelty to it, since the lyrics matches each character well. They had Mashiro talk about custard, and that’s adorable. It’s a song about Kobeni’s situation where she is forced to fall in love with someone, but it ends with a line subtlety telling the guy that she might like him back. Again, it’s a novelty song and that’s a good way to appreciate it. It’s the OP sequence that’ll hook you though. The random images at the beginning and the stunning animation forced me to GIF it. It’s now on this site forever, or until bandwidth ran out. Either way, it’s staying. It features the three girls just giving us loads of fan service. It also introduces the characters, and you can actually tell that the vibrant character interactions in the OP is proof at how strong it is in the actual show.

The anime’s ED is “Masshiro World” by Mikakuning! This song is by Mashiro, it mostly points out her character and the relationship she has with the other girls. Having her sing about liking natto is certainly another novelty for the song. Her voice is a little annoying, and she sung the entirety of it, but it grows on you eventually. It’s an OK song, but the loli power is strong here. The ED sequence is pretty adorable. It’s a cute version of the characters singing the song on stage, and Hakuya appears as a tree. It’s pretty special, especially if you’ve grown to love the show.

Overall Score

8/10 “It’s a cute marshmallow show presented by an energetic and memorable cast.”

This anime is a really entertaining one, and I can’t believe I was hesitant to watch it at first. The characters made this show special, and they made everything worthwhile. From the comedy skits to the cute romance, there’s a lot to enjoy in this anime. Whether it’s Mashiro’s loli scene stealing ways or the couple’s steadily growing adorable love story, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the anime experience this show gives you. If you like marshmallow shows then this one is a no brainer. Go see it. If you’re a fan of cute romance then you’ll love the one in this show. If you simply like some good comedy then there’s something to enjoy here as well. I recommend it.

 

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