Marmalade Boy Collection 4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: C
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 99.99
  • Running time: 500
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Marmalade Boy

Marmalade Boy Collection 4

By Chris Beveridge     June 20, 2005
Release Date: April 26, 2005


Marmalade Boy Collection 4
© TOKYOPOP


What They Say
Has Yuu forgotten Miki in a New York minute? His life is full of new people, studying and activities – is romance with an American girl in the works? Back in Japan, Miki is left with Michael and Kei to fight for her affection. A girl can only take so much! But when Miki tries to visit NY Yuu, things go from bad to worse. Will the distance drive Yuu and Miki apart? Rumors, suspicions and rival s make this final volume too delicious to miss!

Plus, contains a special bonus movie - the prelude to Marmalade Boy! Yuu remembers the day when his parents decided to swap partners. Troubled, he went for a walk, only to fall in love with an unsuspecting girl at first sight! Who could it have been...?

Contains the final 20 episodes on 3 DVDs!

The Review!
The rollercoaster ride of Yuu and Miki's relationship has several more ups and downs to go through as the series barrels through to its conclusion.

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. With this particular collection, disc three had a problem in the second episode where there were a number of dropouts in the space of about 2 minutes. These occurred during dialogue sections no less and were quite noticeable, but at least didn't affect the subtitling so you knew what was being said. Regardless, it's very noticeable and hard to imagine it got past a round of proofing.

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. This holds true for the first two discs in this collection but the third disc introduces some actual digital artifact issues during a few scenes. When Yuu pulls Miki around while in the closet, his hair gets very artifact ridden and then there's scattered ones across the rest of the episode at different times.

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 on honorifics and a song tralsation. The pocket also contains the newly designed pencil board that was made exclusively for this set, a great image of Kei and Michael 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 subtitles

Extras:
The extras drop significantly with this set in that only the first disc has any and it's barely a couple of minutes of basic dub outtakes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final collection, the series goes through the motions of dealing with a wide variety of relationships but still keeping the focus on Miki and Yuu's wild ride. With their relationship stretched to the limits with him in New York and she still in Japan, it increases the stresses for her considerably while for him he's simply unaware of what she's going through. Yuu's not without problems of his own though and the coincidences continue to pile up.

On Yuu's side of things, the cast there goes through a number of changes as the relationships are all over the place. Jinny continues to have the hots for Yuu and she pushes her luck quite a bit when the group heads off to the beach house Brian's family owns so they can get some serious studying done and have a bit of fun at the same time. The group dynamic is fun enough as it is but it's added by the fact that Anju is in the picture as she's been coming to New York from Boston for her music lessons and ran into Bill and Yuu at one point. Yuu still has no romantic feelings for her but she's still holding out hope herself. With her demure nature she thankfully doesn't run into any real issues with Jinny but Jinny still sees her as someone familiar with Yuu and can visualize her as a threat, which causes her to eventually take some risks.

All of this scheming of course plays against the others. Brian's furious over her attentions for Yuu since he's so blindly in love with her. We see that Bill has some serious feelings for Jinny but transfers them over to Anju since she's someone that he can actually get to talk with and have some basic understanding with, though it is cute that each of them realizes what the other really wants and end up becoming more friends than anything else. The one I felt the worst for was Doris as she's so in love with Brian but hides it so well and wants so little. Her quiet pining for him and the way she holds herself is well done, never mind the fact that of all the women in the New York side of things she's the best looking. But Jinny gets the last laugh overall when Miki arrives to see Yuu and she plays a joke of sorts on her, or so she says, and informs her that she and Yuu are lovers now and she just got done bedding him.

This sets one of the final true big fights in motion as the already weakened Miki can't deal with the rollercoaster ride anymore and even when Yuu tries to fix things and clear the air she doesn't want to hear it. She can't deal with the long distance relationship anymore and all the challenges associated with it and says that if he can't come back with her right now, it's all over. This shocks just about anyone who knows them but it opens the gates for Michael and Kei to make their move and they stake their claims rather quickly and forcefully, even making sure Yuu knows exactly what their intentions are. Everything starts to spiral in its own way and the dissolution of the primary relationship starts to affect the others, especially Ginta and Arimi which was the most troubling to watch.

Even though this is the final big challenge between the two, there's still more that happens as the show gets back to its original storyline and away from the anime created characters and plots by going back to the parents relationships and how it all really affects the kids. This sort of feels like it's crammed and tacked on at the end but if it had played out without the overly involved US arc, it wouldn't feel that way – not that I'd get rid of that arc, it added a lot more life to the show I think. Yuu's reactions to his discovery of the truth is amusing and over the top but very much in character for him as he tries to take it all on himself in order to keep her from knowing what the reality is. It's a brief arc all told but other than some initial disbelief and how Yuu handles it, it's a lot of fun, particularly since I find the parents to be such highly amusing characters.

In addition to the end of the series, we also get the short "movie" for the series which is basically a prequel episode to the show where the time before Miki and Yuu first meet done from Yuu's perspective. We see his parents give him the news and some of the details about the other family and the plans for dinner. While he's out thinking about all of this, he comes across Miki and can't help but watch her as she plays a bit of tennis by herself and is then accosted by a group of kids playing with water guns. She joins into the fun with them before going off to meet Meiko and during all of this Yuu can't help but follow and watch. He eventually figures out who she is by what's said to her and it only reinforces these feelings inside of him. He's not in love at this point, but it's easy to see how she managed to capture him without her not even trying – she was simply herself and that's what he saw first and resonated with.

In Summary:
The final collection to the show is filled with just as much angst and drama as the first three but it all feels so familiar because we've gotten to know this cast as well as we have. All their foibles, their charms and their personalities really make this such a fun show to watch since they all wear their emotions on their sleeves. With the focus on Yuu and Miki, it could have been easy to sideline other relationships to much smaller roles but they all get a good deal of time and you want to see those pairings really firmed out in their futures at the end here, especially those you find to be your favorite ones. Marmalade Boy is something that had me in stitches and loving it with the manga and the anime only took it up even high with the material that was new to it. This is one of those series that reaffirms my love of anime and provides me with a smile, as well as being one of the few series that I can marathon an entire collection in one day. Great stuff to those that can get the enjoyment out of it!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Dub Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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