This Week in Anime
How Did Love and Lies Become So Boring?

by Nicholas Dupree and Jacob Chapman,

Love and Lies started off with a premise too ridiculous not to be entertaining, but recent episodes have dragged the series into the doldrums. This week in anime, Nick and Jacob try to figure out what went wrong.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

You can read ANN's weekly coverage of Love and Lies here!

Jacob
Nick, I have a problem. :(

Nick D
Sorry to hear that Jake. Is it something I can help with?

No, I don't think there's any saving this one

GAH

First Princess Principal, then Love and Lies...I just can't count on anime to be hilariously BAD this season!

Okay, it was a good surprise in the case of Princess Principal. I thought it was going to be a laugh-a-minute disaster, and it's just fine entertainment. But Love and Lies was like, I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you, HOW DARE YOU. How did it drop the ball this hard, look at that gif, it could have been beautiful garbage.

Instead it's just garbage.

As somebody who's sat through more high school romance anime than is medically advisable, I think I have a good idea of why that is.

Please diagnose this illness I have given myself, sensei

Well first I'll need to discuss the thing Love & Lies reminds me of most - another weird disaster of a romantic dramedy that absolutely nobody remembers: A Town Where You Live

I am not familiar with this show, but they seem to share the "pretentious yet innocuous title" thing.

The original manga is by the inimitable Seo Kouji, meaning it's garbage. But the interesting thing about A Town Where You Live's anime is that it was directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi, the main creative force behind Casshern Sins. And his direction takes a flavorless romance story and manages to make it a claustrophobic horrorshow through uncanny direction and absolutely unfitting music cues

This is supposed to be a comedic moment but it plays like somebody about to get murdered.

And it's the first thing that came to mind watching Love & Lies because this show has the same bizarre self-seriousness that saps any and all levity out of its gags.

Doesn't it also blaze through like 90 chapters of manga in 12 episodes or something, because that's a problem Love and Lies could actually stand to have.

Yeah, Love & Lies could definitely stand to move faster than a snail on morphine.

It's especially odd because the first three episodes DO move quickly, and they fully indulge the ludicrous melodrama of the premise. Teens are forcibly engaged to a partner by the government at age 16. Our whitebread lead confesses to his childhood crush (who likes him back) minutes before getting his engagement notice. His new betrothed is sort of an odd duck who was sheltered from the outside world due to illness, so she promptly befriends her new fiancee's crush and wants the two of them to make out in front of her. AND THEN Whitebread-kun's best male friend starts being shitty to both women in his life so we find out that HE has a crush on Whitebread-kun too after he kisses him while he's sleeping.

Combine that with all the spit-string swapping and it was extremely promising trash. Then the morphine snailing began.

It's really weird how quickly the show runs out of any ideas to work with. After setting up the initial premise, it goes to eight straight episodes of treading water while the soundtrack does everything in its power to imbue the meaningless dialogue with any gravitas.

Yeah that soundtrack is hilariously overactive. They're talking about like missing the opportunity to spend lunch together or something while they organize test papers for the next class and THE ORCHESTRA DOTH SWELL...

I think somebody forgot to tell Masaru Yokoyama he wasn't still working on Scum's Wish.

I'm just like what happened to the insane love quadrangle we had going on, now these people barely talk and maybe one new emotion gets explored per episode. And yeah, the show's "grocery store brand Scum's Wish" aesthetic is truly shameless. I mean it's not like that was a big anime hit by any remote stretch of the imagination. And they're really not aimed at the same demographic. Scum's Wish is pretty firmly for older teen girls, while Love and Lies plays more to a male-leaning but gender-neutral-ish preteen crowd. I think.

Plus, y'know, Scum's Wish actually did stuff with its characters, including the queer ones. Meanwhile, ten episodes in, we haven't even heard how Nisaka feels about being gay in a world where he's literally prescribed to marry a woman.

Nonsense, the progression in this series is excellent.

Observe, Yukari in episode 1:

Yukari in episode 8:

SUCH PROGRESS! I think fully half of my screencaps from this show contain the words "love" or "lies".

like, we get it, WE GET IT, w e g e t i t

Oh right, that guy incites the one almost interesting (and terrible) moment in the show, where he implies if Skim Milk-kun doesn't bang his fiancée, he'll get arrested.

Oh yeah, that was fucking bizarre, but I was grateful for the brief moment of weirdness after so many weeks of shallow longing and narrative paste. The Government is Watching You Bone.

Even then nothing comes of it, and the government isn't REALLY watching anyone bone, but come on, Love and Lies, give us SOMEthing after all that build-up. It feels like the first three episodes gave us all the setup for a great joke, then just stopped for an extraordinarily dull audition monologue by a freshman drama student instead of ever delivering the punchline.

It really is the worst of both worlds. The presentation is too dour for the series to be funny - intentionally or otherwise - but the underpinning writing is total poop that nobody can take seriously. Just look at the list of reasons why the cast is in love with Mr. Milquetoast:
- He gave me an eraser once
- The government told me to, then he dryhumped me in a hotel
- I'm gay and he'll do I guess

Strangely enough, the premise is so dumb and shlocky that this level of shallowness would be fine, maybe even wildly entertaining, if the show had a better handle on its own tone. It's not like the cast of Scum's Wish (it cannot be overstated how much L&L is biting that series directly) fell for each other based on deep romantic reasons. They absolutely didn't. But the screwed-up-ness was what made it feel like real behavior for 16-year olds (and a couple arrested development adults). They acted out in wildly inappropriate ways for their wildly irrational feelings.

Love and Lies on the other hand:

Ririna, have you read any other love stories ever? You were bedridden, you've had time.

Yeah, I'm fine with shallow or questionable motivations sparking a relationship. But L&L expects me to think these characters' love is world-ending and their situation is tragic beyond words.

Calm down, you're 16 and horny.

Y'ALL SPLIT AN ERASER ONCE IN GRADE SCHOOL. And they both held on to that crummy eraser for five years. This is not relatable young love.

Even that would be fine if they built on the shallow attraction. Yet every member of this cast has the interpersonal chemistry of dish soap.

It's almost the polar opposite of Scum's Wish now that I think about it. That show had its characters doing truly insane things to one another based on extremely familiar and relatable feelings. Love and Lies gives everyone weird overblown fairytale emotions and then has them do nothing about those grandiose feelings for some reason?

Which makes the most likable character the most cartoonish one.

So it's a GOOD THING THE SHOW HAS SIDELINED HER FOR THE LAST FOUR+ EPISODES THEN!

And now that she's finally back, she's lost whatever levity she had so that we can really dig into this starcrossed lovers story.

I should stress here that I'm totally the audience for this show too. I do NOT have high standards for romcom schlock. I watched all of Fuuka. I own every volume of Nisekoi. I have Mysterious Girlfriend X on top of my anime shelf. And yet this thing is the most interminable thing I'm watching this season.

Wait, Mysterious Girlfriend X? And you balked at spitswap.gif up there?

IT'S DIFFERENT OKAY

IS IT THOUGH???

But yeah, I'm in the same camp. I love me a tawdry sleazefest. Love and Lies is just a...yawny teasefest.

i'm sorry, look i came up with that on the spot, l&l doesn't deserve any better

Hey, why should we try harder than the show anyway?

Ambitious dumbness is an artform. It's transcendent. Lazy dumbness is the worst, and L&L is just so much lazier than I was expecting. Don't do what I did. Don't waste your time. Not since Eromanga-sensei have I felt like I was actively getting stupider watching a show, and at least Eromanga-sensei was entertaining in its badness.

My tip: just go watch Sankarea or Yosuga no Sora instead. All of the shame but none of the boredom.

Her romance is beyond saving, but at least I can offer Ririna one piece of advice, after we see her sniff and almost lick this condom wrapper :(.


My advice for everyone in the show is to get better taste in guys. Just because somebody turned the color beige into a person doesn't mean you need to fall in love with them. Especially you Nisaka, you're too pretty for it.

Sorry Nisaka, this show's as meaningless as they come.


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