Arranged marriages aren't nearly as common as they once were in either the East or West - but they are still practiced from time to time. Since it's still a small part of Japanese culture, it also shows up occasionally in anime.
Sometimes, the whole storyline of an anime is built on the concept. Love & Lies is set in a futuristic world where everyone is assigned an ideal partner based on a scientific algorithm. At other times, the arranged marriage is simply a small part in a larger story. Few people would say Black Butler is about arranged marriage, but it does play an important role.
The messaging about arranged marriages also varies significantly. In Sword Art Online, Asuna's betrothed is an abusive, manipulative monster, and her happy ending only comes when her boyfriend rescues her from him. Meanwhile, the prospective couple in Ai Yori Aoshi still wants to be together even when the arrangement is called off.
These stories offer a unique take on the romance genre, so if you're looking for something other than the usual set-up, you might want to try one of these fascinating shows.
As the heir to the wealthy and powerful Phantomhive family, 12-year-old Ciel is already engaged to his cousin Elizabeth. Though they're nowhere near actually getting married, Elizabeth is aggressively affectionate with her betrothed, and in the manga, she's also quite protective of him. Meanwhile, Ciel has little interest in pursuing anything romantic and seems to be more troublesome than anything else.
Eventually, it becomes clear that he does have some kind of feelings for her, even if they aren't quite so powerfully stated.
Ranma Saotome is the heir to a renowned martial arts dojo, and his father wants him to marry one of Soun Tendo's daughters in order to ensure the Tendo dojo's future. This potential union is complicated by the fact that Ramna was cursed to transform into a girl whenever he's splashed with cold water - and by the fact that Ranma and his fiance Akane don't exactly get along.
Will the two of them ever be able to form a genuine relationship?
After conquering almost the entire world, the Sun King Livius decides that he'd like to get married - specifically, he wants to marry a princess from the Rain Dukedom. He wants this because, in his own kingdom, rain is an impossibility, but all citizens of the Rain Dukedom can create rain with their voices. Nike Remercier is chosen at random and packed off to the Sun Kingdom.
Thanks to local gossip, she goes expecting to marry a cruel tyrant - but ends up finding something entirely different.
After ordinary human Michishio Nagasumi nearly drowns, his life is unexpectedly saved by a mermaid named Seto Sun. Seto turns out to be a member of the Mermaid Yakuza, and according to their tradition, any human who sees a mermaid must be put to death - unless the mermaid either takes their place or marries them. To avoid these catastrophic consequences, the two of them are engaged.
Thus begins Nagasumi's strange and magical new life with his new mermaid bride.