Warning: This book review contains spoilers for the standalone manga “I Married My Best Friend To Shut My Parents Up” by Kodama Naoko. If you don’t want spoilers, you should find a different, non-spoilery book review.
Happy September, everyone! I hope all of you are well during these unprecedented times.
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing the standalone manga “I Married My Best Friend To Shut My Parents Up” by Kodama Naoko! I previously mentioned this manga in my Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag, and I finally have it in my hands to read and review!
Here is a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Morimoto, a young professional woman in Japan, is tired of fending off her parents’ questions about her being single. They want her to marry a man and settle down, and they’ll insist on nitpicking her choice of groom to death. In an unexpected move, another woman in the office—who has a crush on her—offers to be her wife in a sham marriage, which might make her parents back off. But this “fake” marriage could unearth something very real!”
There is some homophobia and mentioned abuse (parent to child) in the book, but it’s nothing too hugely-graphic and those scenes are fairly brief. Still mentioning it here, though, just in case anyone is sensitive to reading said content.
Character Development: 4 out of 5 stars
I think there was more individual character development on Morimoto’s end, compared to Hana, her love interest. To be fair, Morimoto is the main character, so it makes sense that the bulk of the development focuses on her, but I was hoping for more development for Hana and who she is other than what she is given.
However, I do enjoy that Hana and Morimoto were almost like night and day to each other, when it came to differences. Hana was bright, bubbly, outgoing and an artist, while Morimoto was more serious, a bit of a workaholic at the office, and struggled to work past how her parents previously abused and pushed her in order to stand up for herself, especially after she marries Hana. I loved the part of the story when Morimoto really stood up against her mother when said mother acted horribly to Hana, because it showed a turning point in Morimoto’s development to be her own person and not act according to what others expected of her.
Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars
Romance Development: 4 out of 5 stars
If there’s something I really appreciate in this manga, it’s the fact that this manga did not shy away from issues that arise for a working woman. For instance, sexism in the workplace was touched upon (with Morimoto overhearing how she could be denied further work opportunities due to her being a woman and being expected to be married and have children), as well as gender-specific expectations of her as a woman (getting married to a successful man and settling down, as shown from her interactions with her parents). Homophobia is also not shied away from (her parents disapprove of Morimoto and Hana getting married, with Morimoto’s mom even calling Morimoto and Hana’s marriage “disgusting”). I enjoy reading how both Morimoto and Hana had to handle those issues (Morimoto more than Hana, given that the manga focuses on her more heavily) and how it affected them and their relationship.
Given that this is a romance manga, the bulk of the plot also does lean heavily on the romance. A quick warning, however: Though it’s very clear Hana has a lot of interest in Morimoto from the start, this is still a very slow-burn romance otherwise (at least on Morimoto’s end). If you came for kisses, hugs, and makeout sessions from these two, you won’t get much until close to the end of the manga. It takes a while for the chemistry to build up, even with the reveal that Hana has pined for Morimoto since highschool, but it does pay off in the end with said kisses and hugs, as well as both characters genuinely falling for each other (more on Morimoto falling for Hana than vice-versa, though, given that Hana had a lot of affection for her even since highschool). There is some discussion of making the relationship more physical, and Hana does push it, but she also does back off before the issue can get into any uncomfortable areas, which is good.
I also enjoyed reading how both characters’ ideas of marriage turn out to be not quite what they expected it to be when they initially married each other, especially considering that Moritimoto had only married Hana for the sake of making her parents stop pushing bachelors onto her, and how it affected their slow-burn romance. However, I do wish there was more time put into the two having more development. The overall romance was a slow burn as I mentioned ealrier, but the transition from the ‘do we really love each other’ to the ‘okay, we love each other’ stages of their relationship felt a little rushed at the end of the story, though it may be due to the entire story being a single, standalone volume rather than, say, a trilogy or duology.
Overall, I’m rating this manga 4 out of 5 stars!
If you’re looking for a cute, standalone romance, you will definitely find it in this volume. I recommend this for anyone who wants some lighter, fluffy romance scenes, as well as anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of a slow-burn with said romance.
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