June 19, 2012
Here comes the bride: weddings I wanted to see
When you think of June, one of the first things that comes to mind is a wedding. June is the beginning of wedding season in the west, and thinking about how many people are getting married during this time of year has made me think about marriage in Japanese culture. Marriage is an important custom in Japan: 87 percent of men and 90 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 34 wish to be married someday, according to the National Institute of Population. Despite the importance of marriage in Japanese society, it’s interesting to note that weddings rarely show up in manga. This makes sense because most manga revolve around high-school-aged characters who are far too young to get married. Still, there are plenty of manga that feature couples I feel deserved to have a proper wedding ceremony, so I thought I’d highlight series where I wish (as well as many other fans, I’m sure) I could have seen these characters officially say their ‘I dos.’ And please note that since I’m discussing marriage that there are definitely spoilers, so read with caution.
Near the end of Sand Chronicles, things seem pretty hopeless for Ann Minase and Daigo Kitamura. When Ann sinks further into a depression years after her mother’s suicide, she breaks things off with Daigo out of fear of bringing him down with her. After dating her friend Fuji and briefly getting engaged to another man, Ann’s life begins to be consumed by monotony. She becomes more depressed until she finally almost kills herself. However, Ann’s brush with death makes her realize that she wants to live, and upon learning that it was Daigo who saved her life, the two are reunited. Volume eight’s epilogue shows Ann and Daigo living on the beach, happily married and chasing after their baby. But after seeing Ann and Daigo struggle so much, it would have been nice to have seen the wedding ceremony as well. At least the series’ author, Hinako Ashihara, drew a picture of what their wedding probably looked like.
- After Kira Aso falls for bad-boy Rei Kashino, the two are threatened to be separated by everything from love rivals to brutal violence. In Mars‘ fifteenth volume, Kira and Rei decide to get married. Rei tells Kira that he always wants to protect her, so despite the fact that they’re still in high-school they register their marriage license. However, the two don’t have any sort of wedding ceremony – their friends throw them a casual party and give Kira a present of lace, which she places on her head as a veil. But Rei doesn’t show up because he was stabbed by Masao, a sociopath who has been obsessed with him. Fortunately, Rei lives, and a year later we see his father pestering him because he wants grandkids. Although I was happy that Kira and Rei were able to stay together, I wish I could have seen them get married in a traditional ceremony – but in a way, a no-frills wedding suits this couple perfectly.
- In Boys Over Flowers a.k.a Hana Yori Dango, Tsukasa Domyoji, son of one of the richest families in Japan, falls for spunky lower-class Tsukushi Makino after she stands up to his bullying. At first Tsukushi dislikes Tsukasa, but over the course of the series But Tsukasa’s mother constantly tries to keep them apart: first by arranging a marriage for Tsukasa, then by threatening to have Tsukushi’s friends fired. But eventually Tsukasa’s mother gives in, and Tsukushi and Tsukasa are free to be together without any interference. However, this doesn’t last long: in volume 35, Tsukasa decides to take over his family business and go to New York for four years after his father collapses. He proposes to Tsukushi, who promises him at his high-school prom that if he returns a good man that she’ll make him happy. In Boys Over Flowers: Jewelry Box, which takes place one year after the end of the series, Tsukushi and Tsukasa get officially engaged. Even though these characters are so young, I couldn’t help but want them to get married because I love Tsukushi and Tsukasa as a couple so much. And I know I’m not alone: in one poll by Oricon surveying what completed manga series fans would like to see continued, Hana Yori Dango ranked number two, and one fan said that they would like to see “the start of a family.” Luckily, the j-drama resolved this issue: in the Hana Yori Dango: Final film, Tsukushi and Tsukasa finally tie the knot in a beautiful ceremony, giving me the wedding I had always wanted to see.
So are there any weddings you wish you could have seen in your favorite manga? Or are you content with seeing a couple’s romantic journey being left open-ended? And is the age of a couple an important factor in your desire to see them get married, or does it not matter to you?