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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:

  • Accidental Kiss: Nagi has one with Sachi when a storm knocks the power out in their house and they bump into each other. He at first thinks it was Erika, but once the power comes back on, he realizes who it was, and asks her to forget about it.
  • 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: The plot kicks off when Nagi and Erika's parents decide to get them engaged because they were Switched at Birth and both families want to become one through their marriage. As the story goes on, it starts heading towards becoming a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • Balanced Harem: None of the girls have a significant lead over the others regarding Nagi.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the first chapter/episode, after Nagi defends Erika from her obnoxious fans, she jokingly tells him that she wishes he was the guy she's going to get engaged to. Soon enough, both Nagi and Erika find out their parents want them to get married. Neither is amused by this.
  • Betty and Veronica: Hiro and Erika play these roles respectively for Nagi. Hiro is the diligent model student who Nagi likes and Erika is the Tsundere rich girl who Nagi is engaged to because of his parents' choice.
  • Birthday Buddies: Nagi and Erika were both born on April 6th. They got Switched at Birth because they were born on the same day at the same hospital and the nurses mixed them up when they took them back to their parents.
  • Brick Joke: In the first chapter, when Nagi saves Erika from falling down the bridge, he ends up accidentally touching her chest. Exactly one year and 203 chapters later, when they visit the bridge again, he has to save her from falling down once more and this time ends up accidentally touching her butt. She then insists that coming to the bridge makes him "do pervy things."
  • 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.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: A downplayed case as the series clearly remains a Romantic Comedy throughout, but the early parts of the story (like the parts the anime adapts) had a slightly more Sitcom-ish feel, where the situations Nagi and co. ended up were often wacky and/or outlandish in themselves, for example the very first major scene of Erika dragging Nagi around as her fake boyfriend. Later on, the situations themselves tend to be more serious and/or mundane, and the humor instead mostly comes from quips and silly reaction faces.
  • 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.
  • Chocolate of Romance: The Valentine's Day chapter has Nagi receive one from all of his love interests; two handmade, two store bought, but one of which is ambiguous since it came from his at-the-time ex girlfriend. Poor Shion is only brought in the chapter to cry bloody foul at Nagi while he doesn't get any chocolate at all.
  • 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.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Sachi spends an entire arc studying to get into Nagi and Erika's high school in the vain attempt to confess to Nagi if she passes. Everyone is on board with her studies, and help her through subjects she wasn't quite absorbing. When she finally passes, she and her parents run into one other hurdle—that the school Nagi attends is a high spec, private school, and that the tuition they pay for Nagi will absolutely not be the same one they pay for Sachi since Nagi got in on a scholarship while Sachi didn't.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The girls frequently slap or hit Nagi, often out of embarrassment, and it's always Played for Laughs. If he did that to any of them, he'd probably be jailed, or at least expelled from school.
  • Excuse Plot: The fact that Nagi and Erika were Switched at Birth is only there to give their parents a reason for getting them into an Arranged Marriage. 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.
  • Fake Relationship: At the start of the series, Erika forces Nagi to pretend to be her boyfriend for a day because she wants an excuse to cancel her Arranged Marriage. It backfires when they find out their parents want them to get married.
  • False Start: Shion attempts a Love Confession to Erika while they're grocery shopping in episode 17. However, he ends up flubbing it and it turns into a thank you for taking him to the store instead. Hiro later offers to be a Shipper on Deck for him, which surprises him.
  • From Roommates to Romance: Invoked. After Nagi and Erika are set up in an Arranged Marriage by their parents, the two are forced to live in the same house to make them grow closer.
  • 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.
  • Going Commando: Erika reveals to Hiro that she forgot to bring extra underwear to the study camp, so when she takes Nagi out during a Kimodameshi, she freaks out at every little bit of wind blowing at her dress. Nagi however, thinks she's just scared.
  • Harem Genre: A remarkably straightforward version of one, with only the "switched at birth" gimmick setting it apart from other harem anime and manga. It's almost a Genre Throwback to the mid-00s, when similar harem shows were common.
  • Inconsistent Dub: In the original Japanese edition, Sachi always refers to Nagi as "onii" ("big brother"). In the early chapters of the English translation, she would call him by his actual name instead, probably because consistently calling your siblings by title sounds more unnatural in the Western world. When it becomes a plot point that the girls in Nagi's life call him by different monikers (Erika uses Nagi, Hiro uses Umino, and Sachi uses onii), she suddenly starts referring to him as "big bro" and nothing else instead.
  • Intimate Lotion Application: When Erika and Nagi are at the convenience store buying things for the upcoming beach trip, he tries to buy the spray sunscreen, but she advises him to buy the cream type so that he has the chance of applying it on Hino at the beach. He gets excited at the thought for a moment, but then worries he'd give her an uneven tan, so he ends up buying both, though he never ends up having the chance to use either.
  • Kimodameshi: Shion suggests this in episode 17, as an attempt to get closer to Erika. However, she immediately says she wants to go with Nagi, grabs his hand, and walks with him into the woods. She later reveals to him she wanted to go with him to get some underwear from a nearby convenience store, which he thought was preferable to Shion going with her instead.
  • Lost in Translation: When Nagi, Erika, Hiro and Sachi play kokkuri, Erika asks the spirit which part of a girl's body Nagi checks out first. The spirit starts spelling "o-", and then finishes the word as "omeme" which means "eyes". However, it's clear from Nagi's embarrassment and the girls' expressive glances that they all thought the spirit would spell "oppai" ("boobs") or "oshiri" ("butt"). In the English translation, the spirit's word is simply left as the Japanese word "omeme" instead of trying to preserve the joke of an innocent body part starting with the same letter as a naughtier body part, so here it's not clear to the readers why Nagi is so embarrassed about the spirit spelling a word starting with "o".
  • Market-Based Title: "Kakkou no Iinazuke" would more correctly be translated into "Cuckoo's Fiancee", but the change to A Couple of Cuckoos is justified because that's the English title translation given by the Japanese publisher — even before the series got an official English release, the Japanese volumes had "A Couple of Cuckoos" spelled in Latin letters under the Japanese title.
  • Meet Cute: Nagi and Erika first meet each other when the former stops the latter from jumping off a bridge, having mistaken her faked suicide attempt for a real one, and he accidentally gropes her breasts as a result.
  • Mistaken for Suicidal: At the start of the story, Nagi witnesses Erika apparently trying to jump from a bridge, causing him to panic and pull her back. Then Erika explains that she was only trying to fake a suicide attempt to weasel her way out of an Arranged Marriage.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Nebula Villa arc features the inn being visited by a world-class pop princess with 300 million Instagram followers who just so happens to be named Taylor Stuart. Stuart also has Swift's bangs and height, but otherwise has shorter hair and acts much more loud, disrespectful and diva-like than Swift is generally known for.
  • 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.
  • Pre-Meeting: In the first chapter/episode, Nagi runs into Erika when she tries faking a suicide attempt to get out of an Arranged Marriage. She then blackmails him into pretending to be her boyfriend so her parents won't force her to get married. Later on the same day, Nagi finds out he is the man Erika's parents want her to marry, much to the shock and dismay of both.
  • 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.
  • Production Throwback: In chapter 163, one of the outfits in Ai's costume room is a Suzaku High girl's uniform with a witch hat.
  • 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 Cloudcuckoolanders.
  • 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.
  • Sick Episode: Sachi gets sick right before the study camp in episode 17 and is unable to go. She gets bad enough that her mom takes her to the hospital. Once Nagi finds out from their mom, he immediately leaves the camp to visit her.
  • 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.
  • Switched at Birth: Nagi and Erika were both given to each other's biological families by mistake at the hospital on the day they were born. Apparently no one bothered to tell either parents the sex of the child before whisking them off to the prenatal ward.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Some of the more sexual and/or fanservicey elements from the manga are toned down or removed in the anime. For example, the anime has no panty shots, Erika's line in the scene in which she googles what romantic couples do together is changed from "it says we should have sex" to "it says we should do "it"", and when she has an Imagine Spot of Mr. Amano bringing a group of women into the bubble bath, the women are wearing swimsuits while they're naked in the manga.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Erika Blackmails Nagi

As Nagi walks away from Erika, she makes him pretend to be her boyfriend to escape from an arranged marriage by reminding him of the video of him accidentally grabbing her boobs when he thought she was trying to commit suicide, unaware that her parents arranged her to be engaged to Nagi.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / Blackmail

Media sources: