While using some of the most cliched romantic comedy tropes, More than a married couple, but not lovers has proven to be a potentially refreshing take on the love triangle and arranged marriage tropes through its solid pacing so far. However, some vivid emotions in episode 4 threaten to complicate the pace and slow down the progress of the love triangle.
With only four episodes to date, More than a married couple has established that the main characters, Jiro and Akari, are not only developing feelings for each other already, but have also shown care for each other through thoughtful dialogue and even an early kiss. Because both Jiro and Akari have their own crushes, their love doesn’t have the most room to blossom. In the midst of the love triangle and couple training exercise, Jiro and Akari must start being honest with themselves and each other to avoid stalling their relationship’s progress and frustrating the series’ pacing.
Akari faces yet another disappointment with her crush on Tenjin
Fans who have been excited by Akari’s recognition of her feelings for Jiro in the past few episodes will also be frustrated by Akari’s apparent regression in episode 4. The episode begins with the latest gossip about Tenjin and Shiori’s relationship. According to the rumours, the couple is not planning to change partners. When Akari hears the news, she seems barely bothered, but after an encounter with Tenjin in the training room, her true disappointment becomes apparent. Tenjin confirms that as long as Shiori agrees, he plans to keep her as his partner. Akari is so discouraged that she fakes a cold to skip class.
While Akari struggles with her confidence in episode 3, episode 4 proves even more frustrating for her as she continues to unravel her crush on Tenjin and growing feelings for Jiro. Akari clearly still likes Tenjin; the anxiety and heartache she experiences makes it clear. But the gym locker scene does more than demonstrate her continued crush on Tenjin. It also confirms her changing feelings when she expresses surprise at the relief she feels that her heart still skips for him. This scene subtly communicates the inner back and forth of Akari’s feelings.
Jiro shows that he cares for Akari
Akari isn’t the only one struggling with her feelings in episode 4. At the beginning of the episode, loyal best friend Kamo notices Jiro staring at a group of girls and assumes he’s staring at Shiori. However, as the camera pans, the scene suggests that Jiro is contemplatively looking at Akari, Shiori, or even both girls. Jiro seems distraught and troubled throughout the episode, which is made even worse by the rumor about Tenjin and Shiori. As Jiro confronts Shiori about the rumor much like Akari did with Tenjin, he is met with a more hopeful response. Jiro should express more excitement if he truly likes Shiori and her alone, but his gloomy spirit continues to plague him as he weighs the subtle conflicting feelings in his heart.
Noticing Akari’s absence from class and hearing that she has a cold, he comes home to check on her. Noticing her upset, Jiro acknowledges her frustration with Tenjin, while also hinting at the source of his gloom. According to Kamo’s eyewitness account, Akari and Tenjin kiss in the exercise equipment closet. While Jiro tries to express that he is happy for her, he is clearly troubled. He tries to calm himself down, but viewers can see the disappointment behind Jiro’s words.
He is jealous of the assumption that Akari kissed Tenjin because he has started to care for her. When Akari reveals that it is a misunderstanding and that they have never kissed, Jiro holds her close to comfort her. Akari later reveals that Jiro gave her the first and only kiss she’s ever had, not only scaring Jiro, but also making him realize how happy it makes him. A clip from Jiro’s game reflects the state of his emotions, as his character returns to his love interest who represents Akari.
While the last two episodes have certainly shown that both Jiro and Akari care for each other more than they expected at the beginning of the series, the simulated married couple will likely face miscommunications before they fully realize their feelings for themselves. Fortunately, both characters seem to have more depth in their approach to their cliche situation than most romantic comedy protagonists, so fans can hope that the show’s pace will remain steady rather than slowing down due to frustratingly contrived misunderstandings.