Koi to Uso – 12 (Fin)

Ririna doesn’t simply say she’s willing to abandon their arranged marriage for Yukari and Misaki’s sake; she lays out in a very detailed and realistic way exactly the way it’s going to happen, and it involves her and Yukari pretending like they hate each other’s guts—in other words, lying.

Yukari doesn’t like the sound of that one bit, as he doesn’t want to even pretend he doesn’t like Ririna. But Ririna appeals to Yukari’s deep and inspiring love for Misaki—without which Ririna would never have come out of her shell—and is able to get him to agree to her plan.

That means, at some point, if all goes as planned, Ririna will have herself “recalculated” to find another partner to marry, and asks Yukari to ‘show her what to do’, so to speak. The practical excuse aside, both Ririna and Yukari are lying here as well.

Ririna loves both Misaki and Yukari, so she doesn’t want to hurt either. What she fails to realize is that Misaki and Yukari have the same exact reason they don’t want to hurt her: they love her too. Forget about levels or tenure; love is love, and especially during one’s youth it can be extremely hard to distinguish one form for another.

As a result, Yukari initially stays away from the wedding dress fitting, convinced he’s hurt both Ririna (by agreeing to her plan) and Misaki (by kissing her in the chapel), and not wanting to cause any more pain to either. Nisaka shows up and lays it out as only Nisaka can: people who are hurt by loving him is not his problem; it’s theirs.

Nisaka speaks from experience here; he knows he’ll never have Yukari or even get him to look at him the way he wants…but he’s not going to bother him about it. He tells Yukari that when it comes to love, you have to look out for number one.

In Yukari’s case, he doesn’t feel comfortable living life without Misaki or Ririna. At the chapel, Misaki assures Ririna that her plan is impossible, because she, Misaki, loves both Ririna and Yukari. She couldn’t let Ririna drop her marriage to Yukari any more than Yukari or Ririna wanted to hurt Misaki by getting married.

It’s quite the conundrum! And certainly one for which there are no long-term answers. Presumably, Ririna and Yukari will one day marry, just as Misaki will marry her match (we finally learn definitively that she hasn’t received her notice yet). It would seem that love is not a problem for any of the three; it’s just a matter of learning what kind of love that is, and how that will (or won’t) jibe with cultural and societal norms.

Is this finale a cop-out that lets everyone off the hook by delaying a concrete decision on who marries whom? Sure is. But I asked for someone to win last week, and it would seem that, for now at least, everyone wins…Except Nisaka!

Ultimately, this show lacked the teeth that I had expected of a premise in which people were, if not outright forced, very strongly nudged into arranged marriages. As I’ve stated in earlier reviews, Japan’s appallingly low birth rate is a crisis that threatens the nation’s very existence. Drastic societal measures are needed that the notoriously unreliable bureaucracy likely won’t even begin to tackle until it’s too late.

Koi to Uso was initially, and could have remained, a fascinating look into the “what-if” scenario. But ultimately, The Yukari Law was little more than window dressing for a watchable but otherwise by-the-numbers youth-love-polygon show. It could have been much more, but would have had to go to darker places it clearly wasn’t interested in going.

Kimi no Iru Machi – 02 (Fin)

After seeing Haruto holding hands with Kanzaki, Eba gets right back on the train, devastated. Back at the hotel where his class is staying, Haruto tries her phone in vain, and finally decides to sneak out and visit her at her house. When he gets there, he meets her stepsister Rin who only teases him. He wanders around the city aimlessly, hoping to bump into her, and eventually does, at the station where he’s about to give up. He apologizes for Kanzaki, but Eba isn’t that bothered by it after all. They affirm their love and promise one another they’ll make the long-distance relationship work somehow.

Here we are, finally revisiting what was at the time the only straight-up romance we’d seen in a while. Since then we’ve seen quite a few, including four current series and the excellent Sakamichi no Apollon and Natsuyuki Rendezvous this past Summer. After watching the first installment, we were a little disappointed the drama relied so heavily on unlucky coincidences, poor planning on Haruto’s part, and a overly-rigid adherence to school rules. Whatever punishment the school could mete would be worth it if only he got to meet up with Eba. Then there was the silly cliffhanger in which Eba finally appears, only to witness her boyfriend holding hands with his longtime childhood friend. Uh oh.

Thankfullly, this second installment not only minimized the impact of that encounter (Eba is upset at first, but gradually, sensibly realizes it wasn’t what it looked like), and while Haruto is tortured a little bit more – both by Eba’s sly stepsister and by time and circumstances – he does finally meet up with Eba, or rather encounter her by chance. One of his other friends (whose boobs we see in a naked public bath scene that exists for some reason) says “the red string of fate” connects Haruto and Eba, and while it’s not always straight, it is strong, and they’ll always end up finding each other in the end. And we couldn’t help but feel ecstatic when they finally reunite, Eba shrugs off the Kanzaki thing, and they simply enjoy each others’ company for the short time they have. After all the contrivances the conspired to keep them apart, their closeness felt very real and natural.

More satisfying is the fact that this doesn’t end with Haruto deciding to move to Tokyo, or Eba deciding to move back to the village where they first met – years and years ago – and he cheered her up by showing her fireworks. We see a lot of flashbacks of happy times there, and a lot of what we see happen in the present echoes those times, but that was the past. Now they still love each other deeply, but have a long-distance relationship, and simply have to deal with it. It’s tough – their farewell scene really drives that toughness home – but that red string of fate shows no signs of breaking. They will see each other again, and even if it’s not enough, it will have to be.

Rating: 8 (Great)