My Happy Marriage on Netflix - ©2023 Akumi Agitogi, Tsukiho Tsukioka/KADOKAWA/My Happy Marriage Partners
©2023 Akumi Agitogi, Tsukiho Tsukioka/KADOKAWA/My Happy Marriage Partners

12 episodes (2023)
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Based on the manga and light novel series by: Akumi Agitogi, Rito Kohsaka and Tsukiho Tsukioka
Streaming on: Netflix
Rating: TV-14

MY HAPPY MARRIAGE, a 12-episode historical romance anime series on Netflix, focuses on a young woman who grew up in an abusive household, and her betrothal to a cold and ruthless military man with supernatural powers. As the two learn more about each other, everything they believed about the other is tested, and a romance blooms between the two amid a backdrop of dark magic and demonic creatures.

Called “swoon-worthy” by its fans, the first season of the My Happy Marriage anime has concluded on Netflix, and due to its popularity, it has been renewed for a second season.

The first season of the anime follows closely the story in the original light novels (written by Akumi Agitogi, which are available from Yen Press’ Yen On imprint) and there’s a manga adaptation as well (published by Square Enix Manga and Books), as well as a live action feature film and a stage play adaptation. Here’s the anime trailer from Netflix:

My Happy Marriage tells the story of nineteen-year-old Miyo Saimori, a girl who has grown up in an abusive household with a neglectful father, a wicked stepmother, and a half-sister Kaya who derives joy from tormenting Miyo. In this fantastical version of Taisho-era Japan, people are born with supernatural abilities, such as telekinesis or spirit sight, but Miyo was born without these gifts, and thus is less than nothing to the Saimori family.

Her only solace is her childhood friend Kouji Tatsuishi, who occasionally visits her when she is doing chores to bring her gifts of sweets and gentle conversation. Kouji has been in love with Miyo, but everything changes when the announcements are made: Kouji is to be engaged to Kaya, while Miyo is to be sent off to the home of 27-year-old Kiyoka Kudou, a powerfully gifted man rumored to be so cold that his previous fiancées fled from their engagements to him within three days. The Saimori family expects Miyo to suffer at the hands of Lord Kudou and discard her—they don’t care about what happens to her, for they’re more focused on younger sister Kaya’s betrothal to Kouji, who’s also the son of another noble family.

Miyo is ordered to immediately leave her childhood home. She packs very little for her move to Lord Kudou’s house, since most of her belongings were destroyed or taken from her by Kaya and her stepmother. She braces for meeting Lord Kudou, having heard the rumors about him. But she’s greeted by Yurie, a gentle older servant and cook who’s been with Lord Kudou since childhood. She is excited to meet Miyo and has every hope the engagement will go well.

Miyo and Lord Kudou - ©2023 Akumi Agitogi, Tsukiho Tsukioka/KADOKAWA/My Happy Marriage Partners
©2023 Akumi Agitogi, Tsukiho Tsukioka/KADOKAWA/My Happy Marriage Partners

When Miyo is ordered to present herself to Lord Kudou, she is meek and humble, bowing and apologetic, and this immediately seems to irritate Lord Kudou. Lord Kudou is stern with her, and she feels that she has already made a bad impression on him. The thought of returning to her childhood home is unthinkable, so Miyo is desperate to make a good impression on her future husband. While he comes across as cold and curt to Miyo, Yurie assures her that he’s actually a kind and generous man. Soon, Miyo finds this to be true, and she may be a part of a loving household after all.

Amid the growing romance between Miyo and Lord Kudou are the evil forces known as grotesqueries, which threaten the new capital of Japan. These are malevolent spirits bent on human destruction, so those who are Gifted (possessing supernatural powers) are tasked with hunting them down. Lord Kudou works as a commanding officer of the Anti-Grotesquerie Unit of the military. As he is one of the most powerful of the Gifted, he is a formidable opponent. While he wishes to be at home with Miyo, his dangerous work often pulls him away. As the series continues, the threat of grotesqueries—and even the plots of the emperor—promise to pull the two apart. The fantastical elements add to the romance to create a unique take on a love story with a historical backdrop.

My Happy Marriage is a journey between two people who are meant to grow in their love for each other, where they learn to trust and depend on each other even while family politics and forces of darkness threaten their every happiness.

The anime, currently on Netflix, consists of twelve episodes for the first season (a forthcoming season two was recently announced). The series is gorgeously animated, with lots of care spent on the scenery and clothing, as well as the characters—particularly their eyes are animated expressively with a gorgeous array of colors and emotions. Here’s a behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of this anime series from Kadokawa Anime’s YouTube channel.

The characters are memorable, particularly the heroine Miyo. She has lived a terrible life and never expected to experience anything beyond that. The abusive treatment has shaped her into a timid woman who apologizes for everything, even when she isn’t at fault. One of the joys of watching this series comes from seeing Miyo develop into a more assertive character who is strong enough to fight for what she wants and believes in. She transforms into a strong woman by the end of Season One, and the transformation has been wonderful to watch. Her budding romance with Lord Kudou is also especially heartwarming.

My Happy Marriage (manga) vol. 4 from Square Enix Manga & Books
My Happy Marriage (manga) vol. 4 from Square Enix Manga & Books

The My Happy Marriage manga series, published in English by Square Enix Manga and Books, currently has four volumes available and covers part of the episodes in the anime, up to the meeting at the Tsuruki estate. The manga is worth a look because there are some noticeable differences from the anime.

For example, some character designs are slightly different in the anime compared to the manga (Miyo’s father and stepmother, for example—her father no longer wears glasses, and her stepmother has lighter hair like Kaya’s). More importantly, readers get a chance to see the narrative from different characters’ points of view. While the main story follows Miyo, there are parts in the manga and the bonus prose chapters at the end of each volume, where we get to see the inner monologues of characters like Lord Kudou and Kouji. This enriches the story and allows readers a deeper look into who they are.

My Happy Marriage (light novel) vol. 5, from Yen On / Yen Press
My Happy Marriage (light novel) vol. 5, from Yen On / Yen Press

If watching all 12 episodes of the anime has left you hungry for more, you can see what happens next by checking out the light novels, published in the US by Yen Press as part of their Yen On light novel imprint. Right now, there are four light novels available in English, with the fifth coming out on October 17, 2023. In Japan, a total of eight novels are planned for publication so far (currently the sixth is available in Japanese). They follow Miyo’s point of view and are a compulsive, quick read.

If you enjoy quiet romance that builds slowly over time, endearing characters, historical settings, and dashes of fantasy mixed in, My Happy Marriage is a treat and highly recommended.

My Happy Marriage Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.
My Happy Marriage (light novels) volumes 1-4 by Akumi Agitogi and Tsuhiko Tsukioka are available now from Yen Press/Yen On, with volumes 5-6 available for pre-order
My Happy Marriage (manga) volumes 1-4 by Akumi Agitogi and Rito Kohsaka are available now from Square Enix Manga and Books.