Every now and then, a show seems just right from the very start. It's rare, but these things do happen in anime. I can't claim to have seen all of Marmalade Boy--getting through several of the opening episodes, I'm just getting started, since there are 76 episodes to the TV series, as well as a movie. However, there are series that pull you in far enough that you can't wait to watch the next tape. For me, Macross was one, and Orange Road was another. I am very certain Marmalade Boy will be one of these, as well. Although it's not available in the States yet, it's getting a larger following, and this show deserves the trip across the Pacific.
What is Marmalade Boy, exactly? Well, it's a romantic comedy...but it's got plenty of drama, and a little bit of goofiness, and lots of fun any way you look at it. The title itself isn't much to draw you in, but rest assured it has little to do with what is going on. As the show starts, Miki is a rather ordinary high school junior who is just beginning to sort through her feelings about Ginta. They had a relationship a while back, and though certain events conspired to bring it down, they are becoming good friends again. Lightning strikes, however, when her parents come back from their vacation with some...hmm...disturbing news. (I won't spoil what exactly happens, since what happens is hysterically funny, IMHO.) With this news comes a new boy into town, Yuu, and Miki's not sure what to make of him. He is attractive, smart, fun, but also arrogant and oh-so-difficult to truly understand. Why is she so uncertain of who she really loves? Add a few wrinkles in the mix, some ex-girlfriends, a dash of melodrama, and away we go!!
If you've ever watched Orange Road, you've got a clear picture of the road down which Marmalade Boy is to travel. It's plenty of fun--and the first episode had me howling--but there's also a real understanding of what it is to be a teenager in love for the first time. In comparison to Orange Road, though (and I say this as a big KOR fan), Marmalade Boy gets off the ground running and doesn't let up for air. KOR meandered through some episodes, and I'm sure that eventually this show will too, but Marmalade Boy knows how to start off right. I've liked several shows I've watched recently--enough to give them A ratings--but this is one of the few that just cries out to be watched. You can't help yourself! On any sort of down side, the animation is typical of TV series in the early 90s. It's certainly not bad, but it isn't spectacular. That isn't distracting, though...as I said recently when I reviewed Arcadia Of My Youth, a great story and smart characters can make up for just acceptable animation.
Bottom line? From watching the first few hours of this show, it's solidly entertaining. I would write more, but I need to track down a fansubber to get the rest of this one. I have the great feeling it will be worth the effort.
Marmalade Boy -- mild language (primarily in the fansub more than the original Japanese) -- A+