Back in 2006 and through on Demand I had learned about a shoujo series about a high school girl who falls in love with a boy… that also happens to be her brother by marriage. It sounds like such an unorthodox premise. It also sounds slightly taboo. Really, this just touches the surface of the story that is Marmalade Boy.
Marmalade Boy is, on the surface, your typical shoujo soap opera. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. After wards, there are countless trials to that relationship. It sounds fairly shallow. It’s a tired formula that still gets a lot of play all over the world.
Once we start getting a little deeper, there’s a lot more to this high school romance.
To start, there’s the relationship between Miki’s (the girl) and Yuu’s (the boy) parents. There is nothing ordinary about it. It almost appears to be a pseudo-poly relationship. They meet in Hawaii and fall in love with each others’ spouse. They collectively decide to divorce and eventually re-marry. To keep the family units together, all four parents move in together. They all still love and care about each other. The family unit looks similar to a polyfidelitous square and yet still manages to keep the monogamous societal norm.
Miki doesn’t adapt to this situation very well. She’s upset by her parents cheerful pronunciation that they are getting divorced. Most children get upset by this. Divorce can be incredibly hard on families. And while every bit of the divorce is 100% amicable, Miki doesn’t like the unorthodox nature of what’s happening.
However, through this unorthodox situation she meets her paramour, Yuu.
As the series progresses, Miki comes to accept her living situation and their relationships. Yuu and Miki do get together. Of course, it’s not without its trials. There is a stream other beaus vying for Miki and Yuu’s affections. Each challenge strengthens the bond between Yuu and Miki. In this sense it’s a pretty standard shoujo story.
Then there’s the nature of how Miki and Yuu meet. They are, by legalities, brother and sister. This is where there is another major taboo. She falls in love with her brother. However, it’s more OK as their I no blood relation between the two. They are related to each other by circumstance. They decide to keep the relationship a secret from their family making it continue to feel mysterious and taboo.
However, Marmalade Boy isn’t solely about Miki’s and Yuu’s relationship. While it’s the centerpiece, it’s certainly not the only thing that keeps the story going. They are just as touched by their friends relationships as well. Miki’s friend Meiko is in a long-term relationship with he teacher and coach. Miki’s best friend loved her but gives her up for her happiness. He maintains a constant friend to her after he moves on to date the girl who used to be vying for Yuu’s interest.
It’s through these challenges and friendships that the characters develop. This is much like most high school stories.
Also, the animation style is typical to that of the early nineties. It is all hand-drawn. If there’s one thing that is interesting with Japanese animation is that you can tell the decade it was created by the evolution in animation style.
Overall, I really enjoy the series Marmalade Boy. It’s almost like a guilty little pleasure to watch. However, the series has become hard to find in the US. The manga series was picked up by Tokyopop. They let the copyright on it lapse though. Then Tokyopop went bankrupt in the US. So, like all Tokyopop manga in the US, it is impossible to find any anymore. (In a later blog, I might have to go in to the Tokyopop bankruptcy). If you’re interested in shoujo, it’s certainly worth the watch/read.