Early last year I reviewed the first volume of the My Happy Marriage light novel series and that first book became one of my favourite reads of 2022. Since then, the manga adaptation has started being released in the West and the anime is due to begin in the Summer season, so there’s plenty to enjoy if you’ve grown as attached to the franchise as I have. Now it’s time to return to the series with the second light novel and find out if it remains as enjoyable as its first outing.
As we reunite with our cast, we find protagonist Miyo settling into her life as Kiyoka’s fiancé quite comfortably, handling day-to-day chores and enjoying meals with Kiyoka and the household servant, Yurie. As peaceful as life is, Miyo is still haunted by memories of her family’s mistreatment of her. She still considers herself worthless and unfit to marry into a family like Kiyoka’s and is plagued by nightmares night after night where she’s tormented.
Kiyoka is well aware of Miyo’s nightmares and often stops by her room to hold her hand until she settles down, unbeknownst to Miyo herself. He’s at a loss for how to help her otherwise, especially as our heroine won’t open up to him about anything and instead puts on a smile and reassures him she’s fine. However, Miyo knows things can’t continue as they are and requests a tutor to help teach her proper noble etiquette. Kiyoka reluctantly agrees on the condition that he choose her teacher, which Miyo agrees to.
The tutor Kiyoka enlists is his sister Hazuki, who is delighted by the fact that Kiyoka is now engaged to such a lovely woman. She’s all too happy to be Miyo’s big sister and guide her in learning etiquette but also answer any questions she may have about Kiyoka. She’s a strict teacher but quickly becomes someone Miyo should be able to depend on. There’s just one problem: Miyo has no idea what being a family means nor what it takes to be a good wife and as those anxieties grow larger and larger, her health takes a turn for the worse while she continues pushing away everyone who cares for her.
While this volume revolves around Miyo’s mental health and well-being, it also begins to dig further into the supernatural side of the series that we only briefly explored in Volume 1. Miyo was previously thought to be without a Gift (the supernatural powers that run in certain noble families, like Kiyoka’s), but has now awoken to one. And it’s a power that her mother’s family desperately want to get their hands on, even going so far as to further drive a wedge in Miyo’s relationship with Kiyoka to convince her to start a new life with them.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Kiyoka’s focus is split between worrying about Miyo and a case at work involving a bunch of evil spirits that have been unleashed from a burial ground for Gift-users. Although they haven’t harmed anyone yet, it’s only a matter of time until they will, so Kiyoka’s team need to put them to rest while figuring out the culprit behind it all. So there just isn’t enough time for Kiyoka to give Miyo his full attention, even despite the fact his relationship with her is crumbling by the day.
What I like about this volume of My Happy Marriage is that it builds well on the storyline of Volume 1. Miyo’s got a lot she needs to work through because of the abuse she’s suffered, but more than that, she doesn’t understand how to share what’s burdening her. No matter how much Kiyoka and Hazuki promise that she can tell them anything, Miyo can’t bring herself to and even finds herself jealous of the close relationship the two siblings share. Miyo just doesn’t want to be a bother so keeps everything bottled up, not realising that watching her deteriorate is far more painful to her loved ones. But it never feels like this series is constantly filled with despair, nor that it’s depressing for the sake of it. The feelings of the cast are well articulated and it’s easy to understand Miyo’s thought process here, it’s realistic of someone who was brought up in her situation. Just like in Volume 1, I appreciate that her relationship with Kiyoka hasn’t instantly fixed everything and that instead there is a slow and steady path to working through her trauma.
I also appreciate the fact we’ve gotten to meet some new characters! Hazuki proves to be a cheerful addition that helps elevate some of the gloom surrounding this volume. Unlike Kiyoka she’s easygoing and happy to share whatever’s on her mind. Miyo describes her as childlike at times, which I think fits her well. Despite that, Hazuki has been through a failed marriage so she’s in the perfect position to help Miyo, having seen how a relationship can crumble so easily. she wants things to work out for Miyo and Kiyoka and is all too happy to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.
We’re also introduced to several characters related to Miyo’s family, but they’re a bit too much of a spoiler to discuss in detail. However, I can say that, just like Hazuki, they prove interesting and I look forward to seeing more of them as the series goes on.
My Happy Marriage Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has changed hands from Kiki Piatkowska to David Musto for the translation. The terminology and character voices are consistent with Volume 1, so there are no issues to speak of here which is reassuring when a series changes staff so early on.
Volume 3 of the series is already available in English, with #4 set to follow in June. As mentioned earlier the manga is available in English by Square Enix Books and the anime has been licensed by Netflix, although at the time of writing it’s unclear if that’s for a simulcast release or not.
Overall, My Happy Marriage Volume 2 successfully capitalises on what made Volume 1 so good and delivers a story that not only builds on that but shows us author Akumi Agitogi is no one-trick pony. There’s plenty of depth here even besides working through Miyo and Kiyoka’s relationship and readers will be eager to find out what happens next.