Koisenu Futari or The Two People Who Can’t Fall in Love is the first Japanese show to feature not one, but two explicitly asexual-aromantic protagonists.
This NHK Network drama, which finished airing in the March of 2022 has become a landmark in aro-ace representation.
The story follows the changing lives of supermarket employees Sakuku and Satoru.
Satoru is a stock clerk in the Fruits & Vegetables section and Sakuko comes from the Sales Planning Department.
When Satoru overhears Sakiko’s boss suggesting that there is no one who can’t fall in love, he says, “I believe they exist, people who don’t fall in love.”
Later, at the office, Sakuko’s workmate gets jealous of her interaction with Satoru.
Sakuko appears entirely clueless, which prompts him to confess that he doesn’t want to be her brother or junior anymore. “You already know my feelings, right?” he asks.
Discovering the Aro-Ace Spectrum
When Sakuko doesn’t seem to get it, he packs up and leaves.
Growing tired of being sexually and romantically oblivious, losing friends, and being chastised by the people in her workspace, Sakiko types “can’t fall in love, don’t understand, weird” on the internet and runs into a blog called AroDiary from Haneiro Cabbage.
She discovers “aro-ace”, the colloquial term for aromatic and asexual, and goes further down the rabbit hole of the internet.
She starts reading the daily updates of AroDiary, taken aback by how similar her and Haneiro Cabbage’s experiences are.
On her second encounter with Satoru, she finds out that he is the author of AroDiary.
They go to his ancestral house where Sakuko tells him that her friendships never last, and that even though Satoru’s blog “saved” her, she can’t help feeling lonely.
Negotiating with Loneliness
“To not fall in love means maybe the same as being lonely forever. Everything will be fine if I live with my parents, but I can’t live up to their expectations. And not being understood feels heavy.”
The thought of loneliness also makes her feel selfish. Here, Satoru replies, “Whatever’s one sexuality, to want to be with someone and not to be lonely is not something selfish.”
They eventually decide to live together in his house.
It would help make Sakiko feel less lonely while keeping Satoru’s neighbours from annoying him with photos of their niece and matchmaking agency brochures.
“I’m tired of living alone too,” Satoru reveals later.
Thus, begins the story of Sakuko and Satoru as they navigate the world of sex normativity.
Compulsory Sexuality refers to the assumption that everyone is sexual, coined by Elizabeth F.
Emens and Kristine Gupta. Other asexual scholars have used other terms to express the same idea.
Erica Chu has named it “compulsory eroticism”, Ela Przybylo calls it the “sexusociety”, and Cerankowski and Milks call it the “sex-normative culture”.
Koisenu Futari addresses this notion of compulsory sexuality in various ways.
As the main characters try building a family without any sexual or romantic encounters, they face resistance from Sakuko’s mother, who can’t seem to understand what aromantic means and asks them to start dating each other.
“Why at times like this, why can’t it be acknowledged that people like us exist?” – Satoro
Defining the family
They also have to fight assumptions from their co-workers and friends.
When they reveal that they’re family, the assumption is always that they’re a married couple.
Here, family means romance, sex and marriage. Koisenu Futari challenges these inherent expectations that society imposes.
Eventually, the two characters would come to an understanding of how such a family can be defined as
a place where one can come home