Marmalade Boy Collection 1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 99.99
  • Running time: 475
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Marmalade Boy

Marmalade Boy Collection 1

By Chris Beveridge     May 02, 2004
Release Date: April 27, 2004

Marmalade Boy Collection 1

What They Say
Miki Koishikawa's world is turned upside down when her parents tell her they are divorcing, swapping partners and are all going to live together under one roof. It's hard enough being a teenager, but dealing with new parents, a cute step-brother and all her friends' problems is almost too much to take!

Based on Wataru Yoshizumi's bestselling manga, the Marmalade Boy anime series is one of the most popular shojo stories of all time ... and one of the most eagerly anticipateed US releases of recent years.

Our release of The Marmalade Boy Ultimate Collection will consist of ultra-collectible boxed sets (including special exclusive goodies!) containing 3 DVD's - the first set clocks in at a lavish 475 minutes!

The Review!
One of the classics from the early 90's has finally been released just around the same time as its tenth anniversary. After taking in this nineteen episode set, it's very easy to say that unfortunately they do not make much anime like this anymore.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. We had seen a promo version of the opening episode in English a few months back and had liked it, but for a show that's based like this one, we continue to prefer the original language. On our setup, the receiver interpreted the track as a pro-logic one but this was only noticeable during the opening and ending sequences that did throw material there, causing the songs to sound very full. The actual show itself is much more mono based with just about everything we could notice being center channel based. Dialogue however did sound good and clear and we had no issues with it during regular playback.

Originally airing back in 1994, Marmalade Boy comes across beautifully here. The shows elements are in fantastic condition and the look and feel of the show is captured and maintained in the transfer quite well. The show is fairly standard for what you get from shoujo material of the time with a mix of pastels in the backgrounds and soft areas here and there and then mixes of some bright vibrant colors, though not of the kind we get now in the digital age. The show is relatively free of cross coloration and aliasing; there's some very minor moments here and there but it's pretty insignificant. The most that I could really find fault with is that some of the pastel colored backgrounds looked a bit shifty on occasion, but that's in a lot of shows to begin with. Marmalade Boy looks fantastic on our setup and was a real pleasure to watch.

With three discs in the set, Tokyopop has taken the digipak format and made one of the best-made ones yet. Keeping it in the same style as their manga releases, the solid box has a mixture of photo's on the side panels of the various characters that are shots from the show itself. The spine is done up very simply with just the series name and the numbering on it. Since this isn't a set that would sell much to a casual consumer based on price alone, Tokyopop also forwent the standard summaries and other blurbs on the exterior box, leaving it very much a fans style box. The interior package, a standard foldout four panel digipak, is also done up in completely hard material, same as the box. This is something I hadn't seen before, and while it does give the whole package some weight, it also feels like you're really getting something good here. The first opening you get has the episode numbers and titles on one side while the rest of the exterior panels have pictures of the cast members done up in the scrapbook style. Opening it up once more, you get the full layout with full character shots of some of the cast and more photo's done in the scrapbook style. There's also a pocket that contains the insert that has some translation notes and an interview with one of the creative team. The pocket also contains the newly designed pencil board that was made exclusively for this set.

The only complaints I can see people making with the packaging is that there's some names paired together, often with question marks, that supposedly gives things away. If you just bought the set and haven't seen the show, none of it will really register and you'll forget about it once you start the show. If you've seen the show, then it's obvious to you. Other than that, there'll be the standard complaint about there being better artwork to use, but since none of it seems to be used anywhere in this set, it likely wasn't available for use since it doesn't show up in a gallery or anywhere else.

The main menu is fairly simply designed and is the same across all the discs in style with some postcard imagery in the background and a character next to the photo window where part of the opening sequence plays to an instrumental version of the song. It's a fairly brief menu that changes over in under a minute. Selections are all lined along the bottom and are easy to navigate and pretty intuitive. The font used in the extras section is a bit awkward to read at times but still works well within the scrapbook concept as did the menus in general. Access times are solid and the menus all worked without issue.

While not heavily loaded with extra content nor really expected with its age, there's some good extras to be found across the first two volumes of the set. The first volume has an extra audio track for the first two episodes that basically let a group of the English voice actors just go wild. While I don't mind these in general, I dislike it when you don't even get the people to introduce themselves or provide any sort of back story to their involvement with the show or something. Essentially, it just goes right into them talking and joking (and ragging in a fun way) on the show and the cultural stuff. This goes across the two episodes and has some rather good and amusing moments, but at the same time it could have been a lot better with some actual direction given to it. Also included on the first disc is a section on what the characters are saying, a version of the translation notes found in the booklet.

The second disc provides a couple of minutes worth of dub outtakes from the recording sessions and the original Japanese opening and ending sequences. No clean versions were available so I'm happy that they did provide this version since they inserted English credits into the actual show version.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Going into Marmalade Boy, I knew I was going to like it a lot. I had read the manga previously and enjoyed that thoroughly. I liked the concept, the way it played out and generally just about everything. Suffice to say that while there are changes to the anime, especially later on with an arc that wasn't in the manga, I'm enjoying this just as much, if not more so with the way it's all playing out.

The concept is simple but the lives the characters lead from it is anything but. We're introduced to the young high school girl Miki. She's got great parents and a good life going on. She's a bit popular but not the biggest thing in the school, well liked and does decently on her assignments. Her parents have just returned from a vacation in Hawaii and have dropped a huge bombshell on her however. It seems that during the trip the couple met another couple and fell madly in love. So much so that each couple is getting divorced and will end up remarrying the other person. The other couple has a son as well and he's all for what's going on as long as they're happy about it, so Miki is upset that she doesn't have an ally in this. Due to social and legal conventions however, the couples cannot remarry until six months have passed from the divorces. In order to make things easier for the two kids and so they can retain their surnames, they decide to buy a big house where all six of them can live together. After all, they want to provide as normal a parenting experience as possible.

Miki is just stumped by all of this and tries to rail against it at times but she realizes just how much in love everyone is. She's also rather smitten by her new housemate, Yuu. Yuu's a very social and outgoing guy, popular and good at sports and generally just a nice person. There's some element to him that's being kept a mystery though and that feeling gets stronger as the show progresses, but for the most part he's just one of those people who fits in no matter where he goes. His relationship with Miki is one that takes on that of a taunting brother at times as he has fun simply messing with her head. But at the same time he does provide her with a sounding board and does try to get her to see how things are from their parents' point of view. Yuu is basically the kind of guy that most girls would want to take home to show off.

If all Miki had to deal with was Yuu and her growing affections for him that would be one thing, but these stories are never that simple. She also has a very close friend named Ginta to whom she confessed her feelings for a few years prior but he had shot her down, and rather cruelly at that at the time. At least that's how she saw it from her perspective. So when Yuu enters the picture, his previously safe girl is now suddenly taken in a strange situation (a situation where Yuu and Miki aren't telling anyone about their parents arrangements) so he's now all confused. He ends up getting in Yuu's face a lot and trying to get him going but Yuu ends up playing him more than anything else. Miki finds herself becoming more aware of and attached to Ginta because of his change, though they've been good friends since her confession failed. Things start to move into a standard triangle and Miki gets to have her friend Meiko as her confident.

But even then it would be far too simple! As events move forward, we find that Yuu has never really had a girlfriend before though plenty of girls have confessed to him. He apparently did take on, a girl named Arimi, not long prior to his change in schools due to his parents, but he had promised to date her for only three months, three months in which the girl thought she could convince him he was the one. But it ended without that happening, so he went on with his life and then ended up moving in with Miki. As it turns out, she finds out about Yuu at one of the inter school tennis matches that had Ginta and Yuu teamed up to taken down the competition. The competition includes Ginta's cousin who just hates to lose to him. And as it turns out, he goes to the same school Arimi does and Yuu used to and he was an enemy of Yuu because he loves Arimi and Arimi loves Yuu and? well, it keeps going round and round, but it plays out oh so beautifully when the groups get larger and people end up working "with the enemy" at times to foil others.

Between the various relationships of the kids and the parents, there's plenty of other bits that come into play as well, such as Meiko's own problems, that help expand the Marmalade Boy universe. Yuu's own boss at the store he works at part time has his own tale to tell of romance and that links into one of the teachers stories which links into Meiko's story which all comes back to teaching Yuu and Miki about love and life. There's a lot of material here that gets covered in these first nineteen episodes and it's just pure fun. The concept opens with one of disbelief, though that may be more dependent on your own outlook in life and view of what constitutes a family, and from there delves right into the fun world of teenage relationships and first loves. This all set against classic shoujo elements. There's a great score attached to the show, the character designs are great ? especially when they go into dot-eye mode or other wild takes ? and the pacing is just perfect for getting things moving and providing more hints. There's a great big storyline to tell here and this is one of those shows that is just ideal for marathoning.

The set isn't entirely problem free though and these are a bit more nitpicky issues than anything else at this point. The first thing that really struck me wrong with the set is the subtitle font used. It's a bit more free flowing than standard fonts like they wanted to give it a slight cursive flair if anything. Some of the characters work and others don't. The "L" character in particular looks very bad since half of it is shifted to the right a few pixels, so it looks like its broken. Other characters seemingly overlap in some places depending on the combinations and so forth. I would have much preferred a standard font for this set. While I'm very keen on varying fonts and colors to be used in sets, that's more towards things like sign translations and other notes.

The subtitle script itself turns out to be an issue at times as well. I believe it's fairly close to the Tomodachi scripts used for the fansub releases done many years ago, but there are things that just shouldn't be done for "professional" scripts. Too many phrases and words were kept in their original Japanese and not properly translated when there are many proper translations for it. Yorishiku is not something I need in Japanese; it's something that needs to be translated. Itte Kimasu? C'mon, while there are varying translations and meanings for it based on situation, it's a phrase used in so many shows and translated properly that it stands out poorly here. Phrases like these should not have been kept in the Japanese form. It's perfectly acceptable in fansubs, especially since they tend to put a translation in immediate parenthesis, but it is completely unacceptable in a $100 professionally released box set ? even if it is aimed at hardcore collectors. These phrases are standard dialogue phrases. Things like Tencho for store manager and what not are fine if given a translation on the spot, but Yorishiku? No.

In Summary:
Even with the problems I had with the subtitles, Marmalade Boy was almost ten hours worth of great anime. Watching this show, we were both laughing out loud many times during each episode, something that we're finding less and less with a lot of newer shows. Just about every element of the show itself was enjoyable, especially as new facets of the various relationships came to light and everyone reacts and deals with them. We ended up taking in all three volumes over the course of three days and just couldn't wait to get to the next one. In the end, the thing that sticks out the most in my mind is that they really don't make shows like this anymore or they're simply not getting licensed. Marmalade Boy is definitely one of the classics and it's a show with great replay value. I can't wait to get my hands on more. Very highly recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Image Galleries,Outtakes,Translator Notes,Exclusive U.S. Release Bonus Item,Special Digipak Packaging in a Collector's Box,Original Japanese Opening & Closing Themes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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