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Marmalade Boy Dub Review
By Allen Divers
March 02, 2004
Anime has one true edge over domestic animation; even when creating a series with a specific genre in mind, a series can still entertain all audiences. It's this fact that often finds males of all ages picking up cute pink DVDs with titles such as Super GALS, Cardcaptor Sakura, Wedding Peach and even Sugar. These shoujo series do primarily target a female audience, but quite often the stories delve into far more than quick entertainment. Focusing primarily on romance with elements of cuteness, comedy and sometimes even action, shoujo titles are growing as a major part of the anime market.
After having been announced nearly two years ago, one of the most anticipated of the shoujo titles is finally making its way to the eager hands of North American fans. Anyone slightly familiar with the genre should easily recognize its title; Marmalade Boy. With plenty of hype already surrounding the title, TOKYOPOP has begun circulating Preview discs to many anime journalists.
Marmalade Boy is the epitome of a shoujo title. From the beginning, the conclusion of the series is well established, and the main relationship that the series follows is made quite clear. What keeps the fans enthralled is the journey to that conclusion. Starting with a bizarre premise that brings the main characters together, the show goes on to explore various aspects of relationships and throws every wrench it can find to keep those characters apart. What follows is a wonderful story full of comedy and drama that builds off of the romantic tones of its core. Based on the extremely popular shoujo series created by Wataru Yoshizumi, Marmalade Boy spanned a total of 76 episodes. Helping to set the standard for typical shoujo characteristics, the artwork is kept simple. Based on its 1994 vintage, the artwork and animation comes across a bit flat. Of course, the appeal of this series is not its artwork, but the wonderful story contained within. With only 2 episodes, this preview disc proves to be a perfect appetizer to whet the appetite for the series of box sets.
For the English soundtrack of Marmalade boy, TOKYOPOP turned to Studio E in California. While the studio name isn't all that familiar, many of the names behind the dub should be quite familiar to dub fans. With such a large series, the ADR script writing duties went to four individuals; Tony Oliver, David Walsh, Scott Page-Pagter and Fred Kennamer. The two names that stand out immediately are Tony Oliver and Fred Kennamer. Tony has written scripts for titles such as Argento Soma, Mahoromatic, Please! Teacher and Vandread. Fred Kennamer also contributed to Argento Soma and Vandread Second Stage. David Walsh and Scott Page-Pagter are relative new names to the world of ADR script writing. Not having seen any of their previous work, we'll just have to leave it up to the directors to keep the scripts consistent throughout the series. The preview disc features only the English soundtrack, so there was no Japanese track to compare the script against. Fans of the series will be pleased though that the original character names are intact. The English script seems very in place with the storyline of Marmalade Boy and hasn't shown any signs of any extra American colloquialisms or pop references.
Directing duties are split between two individuals, Olivia Venegas & Jennifer Wagner. Olivia Venegas has been a steady presence at TOKYOPOP having directed many of their recent series, such as GTO and Brigadoon. Jennifer Wagner is a relatively new name to ADR directing with her previous roles at TOKYOPOP as a production manager on a variety of manga and anime titles. It's no surprise there is more than one director with such a large series, as it would be quite a task for one person to handle alone. With these early episodes, direction seems to be focusing on a calm pace concentrating on developing the main cast of the show.
Based in California, the dub has attracted some familiar names to the various characters inhabiting Marmalade Boy. Michelle Ruff takes on the part of Miki, the lead female role of the series. Miki truly has it rough in these early episodes, thrown into a whole new way of life by the strange indulgences of her parents. Even in these early episodes, it's clear that the part of Miki needs a very dynamic actor to keep up with the emotional turbulence that is Miki's new life. Michelle flows with the role perfectly, keeping the part of Miki emotionally real. Playing the straight man to Michelle's interpretation of Miki is Michael Lindsay in the role of Yuu. Up to this point, Michael has played primarily supporting roles and episodic characters. Being placed in the role of the second main character of a 76 episode series is a major step up. These early episodes present Yuu as an easy going character, who seems to be quietly accepting his new living arrangements. Unlike Michelle, Michael's performing chops aren't really pushed to its limits with these early episodes. As the emotions and drama builds throughout the series, it'll be interesting to see if Michael can keep up with the emotional growth of the character.
One name that grabbed my attention in the cast list isn't featured in the two episode preview disc. Carrie Savage, who recently played Rakku in Haibane Renmei, shows up to complicate the romantic entanglements of the main cast as Arimi. Based on her previous performances in other series, she's sure to do a good job in this supporting cast role. Other names to look out for in the supporting cast are Kate Davis in the role of Meiko, Sean Roberts as Ginta and Jack Aubree as Na-chan.
Marmalade Boy is very much a dialogue driven show and as such, relies on the delivery of dialogue by the cast for most of the emotional impact of the series. Based on these early episodes, the cast seems well thought out. With the show firmly focused on Miki these first few episodes, it's left to Michelle to set the standard for the rest of the cast. Luckily, the rest of the cast seems up for the task. Overall, the cast of Marmalade Boy comes together well to compliment what has been established as one of the best shoujo series of all times.
Those looking for one of the best stories in anime will come running to this title. With a strong English soundtrack, fans will be able to enjoy the story and pay attention to the action on screen as well. Marmalade Boy is a must have for those who love the shoujo genre with a great story and strong characters. Having drawn flak for some of their previous releases, TOKYOPOP has put a lot of thought into this release. Aside from the steep entry price for the box set format, the show seems to have been handled with a great amount of care, especially when it comes to the English soundtrack. I'm looking forward to the full release, and hope the quality shown so far stays constant for the rest of the series.