Marmalade Boy is coming! (dub video clip enclosed!)

This is an honest to god news report, kids. Click the title to read the whole thing.

You know, it’s awfully interesting that, after a production cycle that seems to have taken about three years, we’re finally getting Marmalade Boy. See, about seven or eight years ago, Marmalade Boy was one of the shows to watch; it was a huge favorite in the fan community (back when people swapped blank tapes and two-way postage to get fansubs), to the point where almost everyone who was into the stuff had seen it, or at least knew about it. It was a big standout in those heady mid-90s days; for a lot of fans, the series was the first serious taste of shoujo anime that involved neither magical costume changes nor book-assisted interdimensional travel. Sure, Marmalade Boy was a bit hackneyed and silly, and its characters tended to dress like eight-year-olds, but its complex, tangled web of wistful teenage protagonists went over well– it’s stuff like Marmalade Boy that drew so many female fans out of the woodwork.

The re-emergence of Marmalade Boy is especially interesting for me personally. When I first saw the series in 1996, my girlfriend and I had just started dating. Now, eight years later, we’re about to get married. Despite my social evolution, I’m finding that Marmalade Boy has aged surprisingly gracefully. Granted, you can see age creeping into the animation, which has a definite mid-90s cast to it, and it’s kind of funny to see an anime series about high schoolers that hit before the advent of mobile phones, largely because it’s convincing proof of just how extensively mobile phones have changed society.

Marmalade BoyMarmalade Boy

Still, the characters and situations are surprisingly fun– and funny. This is largely due to the extremely weird framing device that original author Wataru Yoshizumi provides. Two adult Japanese couples meet and fall in love while on vacation, and decide to switch spouses(!). To keep their mutual friendship strong and retain some stability for each couple’s child(!!), the four all move into a single house together(!!!).

This news doesn’t sit well with Miki Koishikawa, the only daughter of one of the couples. She’s a high schooler at the age where any weird parental behavior seems baffling and horrifyingly embarrasing, and her folks’ abrupt decision to participate in formal wife-swapping is pretty high on the weirdness scale. Still, she’s reluctant to raise too much of a stink, because she values her parents’ happiness– and because she’s completely distracted by Yuu, the handsome teenaged son of the other couple. (As a bonus, Yuu has just the right amount of resentment and aloofness simmering under the surface) Of course, this still leaves Miki in a huge quandry, as she’s left to deal with the intriguing Yuu whilst trying to keep her weird family life a secret from her classmates– especially from Ginta, her fiery-tempered, protective best friend. Completing the love triangle, Ginta is a guy, and there’s an awkward unspoken desire for a relationship between him and Miki.

Marmalade BoyMarmalade Boy

Later, we’ll meet Yuu’s demurely aggressive would-be girlfriend, Miki’s supportive best friend Meiko (and her forbidden lover!), an amusingly unflappable admirer of Meiko, Ginta’s blustery cousin, a a handsome but territorial American exchange student, and even later the show’s setting will switch to New York, where we’ll meet yet another entire set of potential rivals and love interests. To name a few. In other words, Marmalade Boy is a classic teen soap opera, executed with a surpising amount of sweetness and style. Sure, it frequently descends into the kind of madness and illogic that can only exist in a confused teenage girl’s brain, but that’s all part of the fun.

Now to the part that existing Marmalade Boy fans have been waiting for: the dub. Is it awful, or excellent? It’s neither. It’s stuck in the middle of the road, really. Michelle Ruff is frequently excellent as Miki; other times, she sounds a bit stiff. Michael Lindsay is agreeable and charismatic as Yuu. Kate Davis sounds promising as Meiko, but as Ginta, Sean Roberts sounds sarcastic and forced. But why listen to me when you can watch this swell clip? (AVI Divx 5 format, 5.4 megs).

Marmalade BoyMarmalade Boy

The only interesting point left about this little preview disc is that the opening is not the original first TV series; it’s a later OP sequence, one featuring a certain famous statue and lots of small spoilers and appearances by characters who don’t show up for the first 40 or so episodes. According to TOKYOPOP, this preview disc is certainly not representative of the final product, so we can probably assume that we’ll be getting the correct OP sequence. Overall, Marmalade Boy is an amusing little shoujo staple– it’s good to see it getting the kind of treatment it deserves. The first box set comes out on April 27, 2004.

From a distant planet land

Just when you thought it was safe to not read Anime Jump, Dave Merrill rushes in, bearing his latest column. The subject? Ultraman. Yes, Ultraman. Here he comes from the sky.

I’ll be trying to choke out reviews of Galaxy Angel, Abenobashi, and Comic Party later today. So please pray that I remember the Heimlich maneuver!

New reviews and a new writer

I told you I’d turn in a slightly early review of Kiddy Grade, but you didn’t believe me! Why didn’t you believe me?!

Along with that, there’s a fairly big bit of news, at least as far as this site is concerned. We’re bringing some additional writers on board to handle the enormous amount of material being released nowadays, and the first one out of the gate is one Jason Carter– some of you already know him as “jmc” on our forums. Jason’s inaugural review is of Slayers Return. Enjoy!