I was really excited to watch Koi to Uso. The plot summary for the series felt like Minority Report meets moe, where a high school boy wants to be with the girl of his dreams, but is assigned a different match by the Japanese government, which at this point of the future assigns marriages to all students based on certain criteria. Although the show didn’t give me exactly what I was looking for, I still really find the idea fascinating, particularly in an Avengers-Civil-War kinda way – what’s better, freedom that leads to social problems and broken families, or lack of freedom that creates more stable and harmonious homes?
The setup is hard to accept, and I think the vast majority of us would probably pick the freedom to make such important choices, for better or worse, but there are good reasons to go the other way. It perhaps helps a lot of people who might otherwise struggle to develop a good relationship (see the opening example of the regular joe who marries a famous actress). And it’s hard to argue with the results as presented in the series. While there are a lot of reasons that divorce happens, and any of those could occur in the context of a marriage, whether chosen by yourself or an all-seeing eye, it seems to me that the Japanese government in this show has matchmaking down to a science, correcting a lot of the reasons for disagreement – conflict in values, personality type, weaknesses, interests. And who wouldn’t want a relationship where we’re matched just perfectly?
It made me think of my own relationship and this: she and I are really, really different. Not only that, but our differences don’t usually balance out. For example, I’m pretty impatient, but so is she. And our interests are vastly different, too. Even when they cross, as with anime, we don’t like the same shows – I can’t get past one episode of Fairy Tail; she couldn’t make it 15 minutes into The Perfect Insider.
But then how do we love each other, day after day, year after year? How is our relationship stronger than it was five years ago? Ten years ago? These differences should drive us apart and many times, these and far deeper challenges have affected us and pushed us to the edge. But whenever big arguments happen, when we make remarks or do things that no loving couple should do, we return to what we’ve been taught, we go back to what we’ve been given. We fall into grace.
Love is easy when there’s no challenge, no obstacle for the love. And surely you want to have a kind, consistent warmth in your romantic relationship, but in conflict, there’s something really significant that can happen. The two parties can at the end choose to resolve it by saying, “I love you anyway.” And that kind of love, where you choose to take that person back again despite their sins against you, despite how they treated you, that’s the kind of love that builds a relationship. Like piling rocks on one another to built a mountain, it’s the kind that requires work and leads us from the bottom-up.
Compatibility surely is important, especially when it comes to core values. Grace, after all, is a core value. But incompatability is not the end of the world, nor is it a reason to immediately dash prospects for a couple’s future. If you work at it and indulge yourself in the work that is love, you might even discover what I have: when you don’t have everything is common, you might have more opportunity than most to nurture love, help it grow, cause it to shine, and build something that even you may have thought would never last. Such is the beauty and power of grace.
Koi to Uso can be streaming on Anime Strike.