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 3
By Chris Beveridge
February 11, 2005
Release Date: January 25, 2005
Marmalade Boy Collection 3
What They Say
Yuu and Miki are together, but can they stay that way? Meiko's got love problems, Miki has a few persistent admirers, Ginta and Arimi are on an emotional rollercoaster, and Yuu's been given the chance of a lifetime. With old friends, new rivals, disastrous holidays and studying abroad, will Miki and Yuu fall apart? That's just a taste of all the delicious drama!The Review!
With another chunk of episodes, the romances of the characters here continue to have wild ups and downs before changing things entirely.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese.. On our setup, the receiver interpreted the track as a full digital stereo track 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. Occasionally there'd be a few areas where things sounded a bit muffled from some of the characters, particularly if they were offscreen, but it wasn't anything near a problematic level to me.Video:
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 are 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.Packaging:
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 this series, 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 photos done in the scrapbook style. There's also a pocket that contains the insert that has some translation notes and an interview with the music director. The pocket also contains the newly designed pencil board that was made exclusively for this set, a great image of Meiko and Namura together.Menu:
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. On the downside, the discs did not read our players language presets and went with English language as a default with sign and song subtitlesExtras:
The extras are a roughly the same as the second set this time around. The only on-disc extras that we get are a series of dub outtakes on the first volume, which of course vary by gag with some better than others. The second disc has a couple more pieces; there are some small bios for the main characters that give some of their basic information but also does a nice job of giving some information on their Japanese voice actor and their notable roles. This disc also contains episode commentaries by the English voice actors. Also included is the second opening and third closing sequence in clean format. The third disc provides an additional episode commentary for episode 53.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Now moving past the halfway mark of the series, the relationships in this series have continued to build up well and become even more complicated as more people come into play. Even as some of the older relationships change and their dynamic takes on a new meaning, new people enter the field and it seems like it's just a whirlwind of feelings and attraction between these teenagers. Thinking back to my own high school years, Marmalade Boy takes on less fantasy in some respects but at the same time it keeps the angst level up there where it's generally not seen in public.
And for the most part, the relationships and attractions are fairly believable, though frequency and amount of time they occur in is the only real fantasy aspect of it. For many, the attraction people have to Yuu is obvious and it's easy to see why Miki finds herself in fits of jealousy – though that speaks a lot towards the low level of trust that's within this still new and fragile relationship. This is wholly understandable just due to the way they have to keep their relationship quiet since they aren't able to do a lot of things that really make them feel a true couple and allows for many more moments of feeling unsure about things. For Miki, it's not surprising that as she gets more out into the world due to Yuu that more men are finding her attractive. Within the confines of her school life, so many had assumed that she and Ginta would be together with the way the two acted, even though she had confessed previously and he had turned her down, that wasn't hugely known and the two continued to be really good friends. But as she goes out more, gets a job and interacts with more people who don't know her history or her relationship with Yuu as that's secret, she becomes far more accessible.
The relationships in this volume cover all sorts of ground. Miki and Kei's relationship hit its high notes previously and though Kei still pines for Miki, she's managed to make him realize that he's been running from stuff for so long now that she'd never be interested in him even without Yuu in the picture since he hasn't really grown up at all. Watching how Kei deals with this, both in his attempts to still woo her as he writes her a special song or the way he makes it clear that he's still going to pursue her, he's an interesting character but she's got him dead to rights on things and until he realizes it, it's just not going to happen.
One arc that I did enjoy, though it seemed a bit short and forced, is the one where Anju comes into the picture as an old childhood friend of Yuu's whose now in the area for some medical check-ups due to a specialized illness she has but keeps secret from everyone other than her parents. Her arrival sets off instant flags for Miki since the two are so close and Yuu seems so much at ease and open with her, but Anju does her best to calm Miki down on it as she realizes what's going on. But at the same time, she does reveal to her that she does have feelings for Yuu, though maybe confused as happy childhood memories, and has no problem being second to Miki. It's moments like this where you really wish the series wasn't so entirely traditional and that it'd adopt some of what the parents did in being creative in their relationships. Then again, mainstream anime from the early 90's isn't exactly someplace where you'd find a real happy threesome.
One of the best relationships I love watching here is the one between Ginta and Arima. The two are just so god awful cute together that it doesn't hit sickening but is just entirely too sweet. Their relationship doesn't progress too much across these episodes but they're often together and getting closer. There's also some seeming resolution with the trouble with Ginta's cousin over it which was just classic to watch and very male all the way. But watching things with the two lovebirds is just the best, even though Arima asks the questions she shouldn't, such as if he's kissed Miki before and just how far that entire relationship went. These two characters are the ones that you want to follow beyond the end of the story just to see what really happens.
For this arc of episodes, there's one really big emotional set that gets dealt with at long last. Though the relationship between Satoshi and Meiko has been going along slowly and not without its bumps, his persistence is slowing paying off and she's doing more and more with him. To her surprise though, after he had read her story which seemed to cement the direction she wanted to go with her life, he had submitted it to a literary contest and she won the first prize in it. This finally opens a new set of potentials for her in her life but it all comes shattering around her when she finds a letter of congratulation about it from Namura. The return of his name to her life brings everything back and she finds that she must settle that question once and for all. This brings some of her friends into the picture at varying degrees and interests to try and make sure things work out best for how they think it should, but in the end it really is one of the best sections of the series since it's the most emotional.
One of the new things that's brought into the series from its manga origins starts with the sudden arrival of Michael Grant, an exchange student from St. Andrew's High School in New Jersey. He's on the exchange plan due to his high interest in all things Japanese, but particularly their kung-fu and other martial arts stuff, but he's really a Japanophile in general and absorbs everything. His arrival is shocking news to Miki because he's going to be bunking in Yuu's room and staying with the family, though they forgot to tell her about it. While this does feel like when a sitcom introduces a new baby or something similar, this works towards the next arc of the series in which Yuu decides to take an exchange course himself, as suggested by Suzu's father with his help, to the United States so that he can get the right kind of education he needs to enter the college level as a serious architect.
Michael's arrival sets that rolling in Yuu's mind but Michael himself is quite a piece of work. His design certainly sets him apart as you realize that nobody has had colored eyes until now and his version of blonde hair is much more striking. Combined with his western style habits, overt familiarity and lots of casual touching and he's definitely not who any of them expected. Miki has a hard time reading him and Yuu is unsure but feels safe in things. The ones who get really won over are their mothers and most of the girls at the school who fall in love with him. His arrival really does throw a few kinks into the works since he does seem interested in Miki but you can't tell if it's just a friendly interest and generally caring about her or whether it's something where he wants to be far more serious about it. As things changed with Yuu it becomes even less clear and Miki is so out of sorts due to the changes that it's not easy to tell just what could happen.In Summary:
This series is just so completely about relationships and the wild ups and downs of them that if you're not interested in that in any way this series will be quite difficult to deal with. For those that do enjoy that kind of thing, especially when it doesn't involve aliens or characters that don't say what they feel at any point, this show continues to be a godsend since it avoids most of the traps of the relationship series, usually because those try to be franchises instead of actually telling a story. With nineteen episodes here across three discs, this is just one of the best ways to view this series. Bi-monthly releases would have been sheer torture because Marmalade Boy demands to be marathoned. This is one of my favorites of recent years and is very highly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios,Dub Outtakes,Clean Opening/Closing,Episode Commentaries
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.