A Sister is All You Need Shows the Pressure of Celebrity Marriages in Japan


Image source: 『妹さえいればいい。』アニメ公式(今日は下着派)T on Twitter

There’s a lot of pomp, circumstance, and news around a celebrity marriage. But, what if a celebrity is marring someone who isn’t famous? How does the media treat this news? A Sister is All You Need gives us a small look into how Japanese media approaches these types of Celebrity marriages.

After the successful release of a new novel, the characters of A Sister is All You Need hold a small celebratory party. When the party is finished our hero Itsuki Hashima and his male friend and colleague Haruto Fuwa talk about marriage. And Itsuki has a surprising answer. He doesn’t want to get married until he’s a little more successful.

Image source: 『妹さえいればいい。』アニメ公式(今日は下着派)T on Twitter

But, what exactly is successful in the eyes of Itsuki? Is it being a best-selling author, having an anime series of his works produced, being recognized by his peers, or something completely different? It’s a thought-provoking question, but made all the more complex when you take two other factors into consideration. The first is the topic of Itsuki and Haruto’s conversation about marriage: fellow author Nayuta Kani and what Itsuki thinks of her. The second is how Japanese mass media perceives celebrity marriages.

With Itsuki and Nayuta, it’s been stated very early in the series Nayuta has romantic inclinations for Itsuki. However, Itsuki doesn’t reciprocate those feelings. It’s not that he’s callous towards her or treats her poorly—they are friends after all—it’s that he doesn’t see her as someone he can date. Yet, it’s clear the two have a mutual respect for each other. It’s a very brother-sister type of relationship, except the two are colleagues.

This changes in the latest episode, though. As it turns out Itsuki does, in fact, have some feelings for Nayuta. He even states he’d like to marry her as soon as possible if he could. This makes us ask, “Why haven’t you acted on your feeling? Or at the very least initiated a dating relationship?” The answer is actually kind of stunning. It revolves around the mass media and the perception of celebrity marriages. What Itsuki essentially says is, because Nayuta is a famous author, if she were to marry someone like him news outlets would treat him as “colleague.” He would go unnamed and be a footnote. While this can be Itsuki’s ego at work, there is some validity to his argument, as Japanese media outlets will often treat a non-famous fiancé in celebrity marriages as a footnote.

While largely ignoring a non-famous partner in a celebrity marriage is understandable, there’s also a tinge classism sprinkled into the reporting. What you’ll often see in this type of reporting in Japan is, “This celebrity married a ‘commoner’” if the celebrity in question is marrying someone of insignificance. There’s a certain logic to this, however, as the idea is to protect the identity of the fiancé.

However, in trying to protect the identity of a non-famous fiancé some Japanese news outlets insinuate none of “the rabble” should mix with the rich and famous. But, it becomes worse when that status can be upgraded if the fiancé in question has some standing or is in the same industry.

Image source: 『妹さえいればいい。』アニメ公式(今日は下着派)T on Twitter

This is where Itsuki is. He’s not a “commoner,” he’s just some colleague of unimportance. Yet, where he wants to be is on a slightly higher level. Essentially how Itsuki wants himself to be presented in a news article is, “Famous author, Nayuta Kani, has married fellow author Itsuki Hashima.” In order for that to happen, though, Itsuki himself needs to be a news worthy and “successful” person.

In other words, he needs to keep working hard and capturing the hearts and minds of his readers and producing entertainment other media industries deem as adaptation worthy. Only then will Itsuki feel the news media will treat his relationship with Nayuta with evenhandedness.

A Sister’s All You Need is currently streaming on Crunchyroll (sub) and FUNimation(dub).


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