From the first episode alone, Koi to Uso (Love and Lies) lives up to its name. Only in this world can someone claim that you’re a stranger in the morning and love you at night. These unpredictable emotions and wildly fast pacing make this one of the most disorienting pilots of the season.
Yukari Nejima lives in a society with staggeringly low birth rates. To combat this, the Japanese government has created an arranged marriage system, which activates when someone turns sixteen. Most marriages proceed smoothly, but Yukari knows that he doesn’t want to get married; for the last five years, he has been in love with a classmate from elementary school named Misaki Takasaki. As a final desperate attempt to catch her attention before his birthday, he stops her in the hallway to share his feelings.
As sporadic as the emotions are in this episode, many of the reactions are downplayed. When Misaki puts up a show of not knowing who Yukari is, he admits to himself with a smile that special memories may not be special for everyone. He does find the courage to ask her to meet him at the park, but when she arrives four hours late he doesn’t question why. Yukari seems like a sweet protagonist with good intentions, but his compassion has been taken advantage of and may prove to be a source of conflict in later episodes.
Koi to Uso’s strong points so far are the soundtrack and its use of symbolism. Each scene features a different song which perfectly conveys the mood of that snapshot in time. The introduction of the episode focuses on the history of the arranged marriage law, and the swelling string orchestra that accompanies it reminds us of hope and discovery. The algorithm for determining the best marriages genetically is also mentioned and referred to as the Red Strings of Science, which is a clever take on the Red String of Fate myth. Other notable occurrences are the song that plays when Yukari flashes back to his first meeting with Misaki, and the morbid implications of Yukari building burial mounds in the sandbox.
The characters may feel difficult to relate to now, but future episodes are sure to expand our understanding of their personalities as Yukari and Misaki interact more. Meeting Yukari’s future wife should also introduce some interesting challenges, from which we can hopefully learn more about this regimented society and how the characters will react to its laws.