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Manga / A Couple of Cuckoos

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A Couple of Cuckoos (Japanese: カッコウの許嫁, Kakkō no Iinazuke, "Cuckoo's Fiancee") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Miki Yoshikawa, of Flunk Punk Rumble and Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches fame. It was originally published as a one-shot in September 2019, before beginning serialization in Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine in January 2020. It later gained an anime adaptation, which first aired as part of the Spring 2022 anime season.

Nagi Umino is a 17-year old second-year high school student who learns that he is not the biological child of the family that raised him. On the way to his first meeting with his biological family he meets Erika Amano, a popular internet celebrity who is trying to escape from an arranged marriage. Later, Nagi and Erika discover that their parents had accidentally switched the two after their births and were now aiming to put them in an arranged marriage in order to reattain parentage for their biological children, while still staying a family with their adopted ones. To facilitate this, they are made to live in a house owned by Erika's family.

The manga provides examples of:

  • Aloof Older Brother: Erika eventually reveals that she has a slightly older brother that she never gets to see anymore, and her series-wide goal is to find him again. She took up modelling in the hopes that he would see her and maybe want to get in contact with her again.
  • Arranged Marriage: Introduced at the beginning between the two main characters. Hiro later states that she too has an arranged marriage.
  • Bromantic Foil: Shion plays this role. He's shamelessly in love with Erika and firmly believes that he'll be able to set off a romcom-esque event with at least one of the girls surrounding Nagi, but reality shows that nobody cares about him that much. Note that Nagi does have male friends, but both of them are only recurring extras and serve as commentators for all of Nagi's romantic escapades.
  • Characterization Marches On: Nagi in the early chapters was treated as aloof and a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, but ultimately an impressive and cool character. Take a look at him in later chapters, and notice that his emotional clumsiness is now one of his defining traits.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: The concept is discussed with Erika, but played straight with Ai:
    • When Nagi suggests that he and Erika met before and made a marriage promise in the playground as children, Erika waves the notion off entirely. The reason he suggested this is because he saw a picture of Erika and her older brother, and seeing that the guy looked a lot like him, reasoned that he must have met Erika somewhere.
    • Ai, however, did promise to marry Nagi when they were children. She has held steadfast to that promise even after seven years, and has declared war on Sachi to take him back.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The fact that out of everyone Erika could have used as her fake boyfriend to get out of her arranged marriage just happened to be the boy she would be married to.
  • Excuse Plot: The fact that Nagi and Erika were switched at birth. Erika immediately takes to her birth family with zero fuss and is pretty much on the same wavelength as Sachi after only a few chapters, while Nagi learning about his birth family barely has an effect on him and neither he nor his parents seem to have any interest in getting to know each other better.
  • Gag Censor: Whenever Nagi is naked, a picture of Sobasshi (an anthropomorphic yakisoba bread that just so happens to be thick and oblong) covers his manhood. Erika's breasts and lower parts are also covered by Sobasshis in the scene when Nagi thinks she has entered a hot tub naked (though she is wearing a strapless swimsuit) to make the audience also think she's naked.
  • Harem Genre: A remarkably straightforward version of one, with only the 'switched at birth' gimmick. Its almost a Genre Throwback to the mid-00s, when similar Harem shows were common.
  • Not Blood Siblings:
    • Despite the fact that Nagi and Sachi have been raised as siblings for most of their lives, finding out they aren't blood related has led them to begin thinking about each other more romantically. However, flashbacks have shown that people think they've been attracted to each other on some level even before the news broke out. After the fake wedding, Ai admits that they never acted like siblings even as children, and Nagi tries to rationalize his feelings for Sachi and vice versa as a more complicated childhood friend romance. Hell, short of Sachi's actual parents, everyone from Erika to Hiro to Nagi's biological father is perfectly okay seeing Sachi as a legitimate romantic option for Nagi.
    • Erika hints that she feels the same way about her adoptive brother Sousuke, since she doesn't shame Sachi for purposefully kissing Nagi because of a "secret".
  • Operation: Jealousy:
    • Sachi once agrees to a date with Matsuda, a boy in her grade, but only for the sole purpose of making Nagi jealous and worried over her.
    • Nagi uses his being confessed to by Ai in order to make Hiro jealous that he's been getting a lot of female attention lately. Subverted when Hiro gets annoyed instead of outwardly jealous, as he says all of this in the middle of her preparations for the annual summer festival and she's in no mood for love talk if he's not going to at least lend a hand.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: Sachi eventually starts living in Erika and Nagi's house, only coming back to the Uminos whenever something happens to the two teens or she feels frustrated. Hiro also stays at the house for a time when she runs away from home, forcing Nagi to be moved to the storage room to sleep while Hiro got his room during her stay.
  • Pun-Based Title: The leads are cuckoos in two metaphorical senses: they have both been placed in another family's "nest" at birth, and both are mild Cloud Cuckoolanders.
  • Shipper on Deck: Erika's father, weirdly enough, is willing to get Nagi and Sachi together despite the fact that he currently has the boy engaged to Erika. His reasons for supporting this are unknown. Erika's mother, on the other hand, is gung-ho about Erika and Nagi coupling, even kidnapping them for two weeks so they can have sex. However, she quickly proves to be against Nagi doing anything with her little girl and attempts to embarrass Erika to get them out of the mood.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Nagi gets an opportunity to simulate a wedding with Hiro so they can update her shrine's marriage catalogue photos. The simulation goes completely all out—everything, even wedding invitations were given to enhance the experience. Just as Nagi and Hiro are about to kiss, however, Sachi comes barreling in crying that Nagi shouldn't be taken away from her.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The net results for Hiro and Nagi eloping is...nothing. They don't really have a game plan for running away from home, and when Hiro has to confront her family on the matter, nothing Nagi says to her mother holds any weight. Erika is the one that fixes the problem, and even then she doesn't actually do much but get Hiro and her mother to actually talk about the arranged marriage offscreen. Hiro is still, by the way, engaged.
  • Switched at Birth: Kicks off the series. Apparently no one bothered to tell either parents the sex of the child before whisking them off to the prenatal ward.
  • Uptown Girl: With the exception of Sachi, all of Nagi's love interests are rich girls. Erika's the daughter of a hotel tycoon and a big wig television producer, Hiro's the heiress of a large shrine, and Ai's a popular and wealthy performer whose parents are working overseas. Meanwhile, Nagi was adopted into a lower-middle class family whose only claim to fame is a diner.
  • Warts and All: Erika and Hiro both come to this conclusion when they talk after a typhoon. They both acknowledge Nagi is clumsy, sometimes inefficient, fickle, and insecure, but both decide they love him anyway and openly declare a love rivalry on each other afterwards.
  • Weddings in Japan: Nagi and Hiro simulate a traditional Japanese one while he stays at her shrine. Due to Sachi, Erika, and Ai's intervention, he then has to simulate two more weddings (a Western-style one and a pop culture China inspired one) to round out the marriage photos.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 130, after 3 out-of-universe years teasing his existence, finally formally introduces Erika's beloved adoptive brother Sousuke.