March 10, 2010

, ,   |  

Marmalade Boy Volume 6

Written by Wataru Yoshizumi
Illustated by Wataru Yoshizumi
Tokyopop

Can Miki and Yuu's love for each other survive a little jealousy? As misunderstandings and manipulations build up, will they be able to stay together or are their new suitors and matchmakers ready to jump in at the slightest hint of problems?

My interest in Marmalade Boy has been fading with every volume, and this one is no exception. We are so far removed from the original premise that only the playful use of Yuu-You is still in present. It's really disappointing for me to read at this point, because every turn of the page shows me that this manga has lost what made it interesting in the first place.

Gone are any references to the parental co-marriages. Gone is Yuu's seeming inability to be flustered by anything (he gets angry here and leaves for a few days, much to Miki's distress). Gone is Miki's overreaction to everything--when she's upset in this volume, it's genuine and makes sense. Ginta and Arimi have settled into their own relationship, so the conflict there is gone as well. With the exception of one passing reference, we've even lost the need to hide the relationship from Yuu and Miki's parents.

As a result, we're left with insecure high school students with no particular quirks going through tried and true plot points. New characters have secrets that get revealed in time to explain everything before the volume ends and Yuu and Miki aren't separated for long. It's starting to feel like a sitcom where the status quo must be reverted to before the next episode so that no one tuning in late misses anything.

I don't ask for original ideas in the stories I read, because, as I've explained before, most ideas have already been tried at least once. However, I do like to see a new spin on the idea or characters I want to read about, and unfortunately, by this point, Marmalade Boy is providing neither.

The point of this volume is to add tension to the relationship and put it to the test. Would Miki prefer a younger, more caring boy? Is Yuu really in love with Miki or can a friendship become something more? Given more time to work, that might have been a great way to go. Instead, it's ended rather suddenly with both characters never feeling like their lover was cheating on them. So why even mention it or have it happen, and why make it a volume-long idea?

For reasons I can't understand, Yuu and Miki feel stripped of their personalities here, as though getting into a steady relationship has rounded off their edges or watered them down. Perhaps that's Yoshizumi's point--a stable relationship changes you--but I'd like to think it makes a positive change, not a negative one.

If you like sitcom-style drama, then you'll want to read this because I think Yoshizumi hits the style perfectly. I prefer more out of my stories, personally, so I came away feeling like a good series had flattened out. I'm going to finish this one up, as there are only two more volumes, but I have to say, Marmalade Boy has left a sour taste in my mouth after this volume.