Marmalade Boy

October 23, 2011

This has got to be the second oldest anime that I have seen finished every since my anime craze started nearly a decade ago. Yes, it seems at that point I decided to ‘vary’ my anime portfolio and decide to watch something retro instead of always watching new and current animes. And thus, the 1994 production of Marmalade Boy was chosen. If you are the kind of person who likes watching love polygon dramas, then this old anime should suit your taste. For the record, Ranma 1/2 is the first oldest anime that I have watched finished though it was a very, very long time ago. Speaking of which, in terms of love polygon, Marmalade Boy and Ranma 1/2 are very quite similar to each other. The main difference is that Marmalade Boy has no martial arts and fighting sequence like the latter. Yeah, so at the most you’ll ever get to see is a dramatic slap across the face.

Being a very old anime, it is hard to find lots of detailed information around the web. I have stumbled across a handful of fansites dedicated solely to the series on Google but it is either they are already outdated (no possibility of anymore updates) or the site is just no more. I’m sure at that time the internet is just at its infant stage to the public around the world so therefore you’ll have a hard time if you want to find additional information and other stuff due to the lack of it all. Having said that, you must have guessed that means my blog will be very minimal like a ‘skeleton’. Yeah, after spending nearly a year watching a total of 76 episodes of this shoujo romance genre, my memories are somewhat fuzzy for those early episodes. Bummer. Heck, even if it did last a dozen episodes I will still have memory problems. Hence this blog is just what I can remember so far. Barely.

The main premise begins something like this. Miki Koishikawa is your normal average girl living a normal life. All that comes to a crashing halt when her parents decide to divorce. That’s not the weird part as she’ll soon find out. She meets a fine cool and handsome guy her age, Yuu Matsura and you have got to be a crazy girl or homo if you don’t start falling for this guy or at least have some sort of high school girl fantasies. Now here comes to odd part. Yuu’s parents are also getting divorced and will subsequently marry Miki’s parents. In short, they are swapping spouses! The idea of this even happening makes you want to go “what the hell?!”. Furthermore, it’s not like the original spouses hated each other. It’s just that they never found the spark of love that they see in the other spouse, thus the reason for swapping. Miki is vehemently against the swapping because they will be like strangers living in the same house (according to Japanese laws, a divorced spouse may not marry until 6 months later. It’s like a cooling off period). To add to the mayhem, everyone will be living in a big house together and the adults are so happy-go-lucky that you wonder if they’re being responsible or just airheads. What will her friends and schoolmates think? Yeah, it’s going to be tough keeping it a secret. What’s more, a handsome guy like Yuu living with her, I’m sure the critical public has something to say about it. Perhaps in those times, people aren’t so open minded. It gets even more complicated when Miki starts having feelings for him and is so in a dilemma. Yeah, it all started when Yuu nonchalantly kissed her while she was sleeping in the school infirmary. Oh dear, oh my. Why is this happening to me? Not only living in the same house, but the same class at Toryo High School as well. Boy, this secret is going to be sure hard to keep.

If you are wondering how the name of this anime came about, no, it’s not that Yuu sells peanut butter, jam and marmalade jars. It is in an early episode that Miki pointed out, he looks sweet, handsome and cool on the outside but yet has that ‘bitter’ taste. That’s why she nicknamed him by the marmalade fruit instead of those sweet strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Which is true, because you don’t really know what Yuu is thinking. With his deadpan face, on one hand sometimes he acts like he doesn’t care due to his nature of being less open about his feelings as compared to Miki. And when the girl really needs a shoulder to cry on, he’s gladly there to provide it. So how can 2 contrasting characters end up together? Well like they say, opposite attracts. We’re in for a roller coaster ride.

I can divide the entire series into 3 main arcs/seasons. Though in each arc and season it is more or less the same recipe. As mentioned being a love polygon series, there will be lots of other characters with crushes that will come into the fray. It’s not that confusing if you draw a picture diagram of who loves who. Okay, if you’re not familiar with love polygons, your diagram is going to get real messy. Well, love isn’t that easy and straightforward as they say. The first arc is mainly about Miki and Yuu trying to find their feelings for each other with the other characters who like them as their main obstacles. The second arc has Miki and Yuu as a couple but they face challenges in new characters that have feelings for them. Lastly the third arc which I feel is most likely a filler arc (because I can’t find any info on this nor could I see it in the brief synopsis of the manga chapters’ summary) in which our main couple faces the crucial long distance relationship test. And yeah, more characters to come in between them. So will their love be strong enough to stand the test of time and rivalries? I’m sure you’ll know the answer because it’s quite predictable thanks to certain obvious spoilers in the series.

So here is the brief summary of the characters in the first round of love polygon besides Miki and Yuu:-
• Ginta Suou: Miki’s best guy friend. What the heck does that mean? It means he too has a secret crush on Miki after all these years since junior high school. Ironically Miki had a crush on her then and wrote it in a note but saw him and his buddies making fun of it. Actually fact he had to due to peer pressure. No amount of repentance is going to pull him out of this one. Not even shaving his head. What?! That’s it? I guess it must be a big thing back then if one is to shave his head. So yeah, Miki’s feelings for him passed but he kept his feelings inside of him. Till Yuu came along. So poor Miki is always having this eternal dilemma to choose which guy. Can’t have both cake and eat it, Miki?
• Arimi Suzuki: Yuu’s former classmate in his previous school. Yup, she likes him and they once dated for 3 months as a ‘trial period’ but didn’t work out. Woah. Dating as a trial period? It’s like testing the goods before accepting it, eh? Even though they remained friends (at least in Yuu’s eyes), but she is one persistent lady as she doesn’t give up easily on Yuu. Miki, better keep an eye out on her. You’ll never know if Yuu will one day fall completely into her charms. Then again, maybe not considering the kind of guy he is.
• Meiko Akizuki: Miki’s best friend who hails from a wealthy family. Though she is pretty and the most mature of the lot, she comes from an unhappy family because her parents are always quarrelling among themselves over their own unfaithfulness. It can be traumatic for a girl like her. Probably that’s why other than hanging with her friends, she ‘escapes’ into another world via writing. Yes, she’s a writer-wannabe. Meiko is having a secret relationship with her homeroom teacher, Namura. And you know what they say about teacher-student relationship that involves the kind of love that applies to lovers.
• Satoshi Miwa: Another good looking guy and a third year senior of Toryo High. Also the student council president, he only seems to have eyes for Meiko though he is sought by many other girls. His constant pestering really annoys Meiko. Though he is cool and suave in his words, those aren’t enough to win Meiko’s heart. That doesn’t mean he is going to give up on her and so the annoyance continues… Meiko, you have got to be one patient girl, each time telling off that playboy not to follow but he’s just too stubborn.
Tsutomu Rokutanda: Ginta’s loudmouth cousin who has a big open crush on Arimi. Among the guys, he is definitely a loser. Because he is so annoying when he tries to tell off Ginta or Yuu about laying their hands off his gal. Of course Arimi doesn’t have the slightest interest in this jerk and each time she chides him, he goes from one angry dude into one who is reduced to tears over her rejection. When will it get to his head that she is not interested? Maybe that’s why he is so thick-headed and each time he challenges Ginta and/or Yuu to a duel over something (usually over Arimi or to impress her), he always loses. Spell that with a capital ‘L’.
• Shinichi Namura: Yuu, Miki, Ginta and Meiko’s homeroom teacher whom everyone in their class affectionately calls Na-chan. He is in a secret relationship with Meiko and doesn’t mind waiting for her to graduate before making their relationship legal. He is a nice guy but sometimes too nice that it hurts.
• Ryouko Momoi: The other teaching staff at Toryo High. She and Namura were close friends. Yeah, you could say she has a crush on him even though she was dating another guy, Kijima, who turns out to be best friends of the duo. That feeling developed further when Kijima moved to America but unfortunately Namura didn’t reciprocate her love like he did for Meiko. Maybe he’s too dense to notice it.

There are some of the important events that happened (read: that I remember):-
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother: The reason why Yuu and Satoshi are always close to each other (not because they are homo, mind you. But sometimes Miki can’t help think they are) is because Yuu always believed that his real dad is Satoshi’s father, who is no other than Yoshimitsu Satoshi, a great architect. That is the reason why Yuu took an interest in architecture. However when Yuu gets a chance to meet Yoshimitsu in person and reveal that he is his son, Yoshimitsu firmly denies fathering him though he suspects that his mom may have had an affair with a long-time boyfriend.
I saw Arimi kissing Yuu at school: I guess Arimi was desperate enough to win back Yuu’s heart that she ran all the way to his school and kissed him right in front of everyone. Thankfully Miki wasn’t there to witness this shocking event. But you know how fast news travels.
Pretend Love: In order to get their desired pairing (because you can’t wait for kingdom come or something to happen. So what better way than to make it happen yourself), Arimi and Ginta forge a temporary alliance by pretending to be a couple. Yuu particularly isn’t moved but their target is of course the more emotional Miki. Doing so might just cause Miki to be jealous and lead to a breakup. However this plan isn’t foolproof since it comes with other annoyance. Read: Rokutanda. That guy is sure annoying wherever he goes. It’s like Arimi only belongs to him and only him. And they’re not even a couple. The fake alliance didn’t work out after all and most likely they may even have developed feelings for each other.
Scandalous: When Namura and Meiko’s relationship is found out, that guy has no choice but to force a breakup with her even if she is willing to go with him all the way. Namura’s intention is to protect Meiko so he resigns as a teacher and returns to his hometown of Hiroshima to take over his family business. Poor Meiko has to go through a lot of emotional pain and even at one point trying to elope together with him. But sadly, he left her in tears because he thinks this will be the best for her. Yeah, love hurts. With Namura out of the picture, Ryouko takes over his class.

The first arc ends when Yuu and Miki confess their feelings and become a couple with the former finally opening up his heart and mind to her. To top it up, this time they share a ‘legitimate’ and intimate sunset kiss at the riverside. How lovely. Of course now the tough part is to keep the flame alive and a secret from their parents. Seems like a tough job? Well, don’t worry. Their parents are so happy in their own world, they won’t even smell a thing even if it’s right under their noses. I’m not saying that they don’t care about their children, but it’s like they are the kids themselves at times. Most of the times. As we know, love is never an easy ride as there are a few more characters that will come into play:-

• Kei Tsuchiya: A school dropout and piano prodigy (because he is sick of playing piano day in and day out). Makes his appearance as Miki’s co-worker when she first started working at an ice cream parlour called Bobson’s so that she could save up for a trip with Yuu. He takes a liking for her and even goes far enough to take Miki’s school medallion and made up a lie that Yuu had dumped her, causing enough tension between the couple. Though Miki has chided Kei for his immaturity, he tries to win her heart back via extraordinary piano skills at some club. He even wrote a song for her! Is music enough to steal her heart away?
• Suzu Sakuma: The petite and pretty school girl who also works as a model. Fell in love with Yuu at first sight (even if it was just a picture) when Yuu’s mom brought him to audition for a modelling shoot. Oh yeah, she is Satoshi’s younger cousin. It’s a small world after all. In order to get closer to Yuu (because she thinks Miki is too ‘plain’ to be a girlfriend for a hot guy like Yuu. Perasan betul), she has Satoshi to arrange Yuu to become her English teacher, though we know it’s not his lessons that she’s really interested in. To further drive a wedge between Yuu and Miki, she also wishes to conspire with Kei so that it will work out both their ways but Kei isn’t a team player.
Anju Kitahara: Yuu’s soft-spoken childhood friend. She was born with a weak heart and spends most of her time in hospital, a time when she also met Yuu and gradually fell in love with him. However when she realizes that he already has Miki, she tries to accept being second fiddle. She even ‘borrowed’ Yuu on a date for one day just to let out her true feelings and say goodbye. Bad luck strikes when her heart condition worsens and is hanging on for dear life. Yuu is in a dilemma to be by her side or Miki’s but he chose the former. Though she recovered (albeit she remains a weak person), Anju was kind enough to let him go be with Miki. And all this happened right on Christmas. The best Christmas gift ever?

And some of the important highlights in this part that happened (which I remembered so far):-
A couple for real?: It seems the pretend love of Ginta and Arimi has turned those feelings into genuine ones as they start seeing each other. I mean, it’s useless to pursue Miki and Yuu so might as well give up on them and start a new chapter in love, right? Only trouble is that irritating Rokutanda popping just about anywhere, interrupting their date. But after all that pestering and challenging which Rokutanda still always loses, he eventually gives up Arimi and hands it over to Ginta for real. At least he’s not dumb and knows when to give up a losing battle. However all isn’t lost because Rokutanda will eventually go steady with a girl he met at a shrine during New Year’s Day, Yayoi Takase. Though their relationship isn’t given as much screen time as the rest.
Onstage kiss: During Toryo High’s cultural festival, Yuu was draft in to replace the lead singer in Satoshi’s band. The performance was great but even shocker was the fact that Suzu came up on stage and kissed Yuu right in front of everybody!
The first quarrel: Things between Yuu and Miki hit all-point low when Yuu misunderstood seeing Kei’s hug on Miki (his fears even confirmed when Suzu even told him he saw Kei hugging Miki in the streets when the real case is that the latter collapsed due to exhaustion). The strain in their relationship has Yuu going on the much planned trip alone. But quarrelling couples like them always make up in the end, right?
The piano man: Kei moves in for the final kill to steal Miki’s heart with his performance. However Miki isn’t swayed by his immaturity and slaps some sense into him. In the end, Kei admits defeat but promises to be back and win her heart. The meeting with Miki and its aftermath prove fruitful because Kei has quit his part time job at Bobson’s and has returned to continue his piano studies.
The ski trip: As another desperate attempt to break up Yuu and Miki after the failed Halloween party conspiracy, while the gang are holidaying at a ski resort, Suzu puts Miki’s life in danger by telling her to go to some place dangerous. It was at this point when Suzu realizes that Yuu will never be hers when he goes all out to look for Miki in the snow. From then on, Suzu regrets and repents her action as she gives up on Yuu.
Satoshi-Meiko? For real?: While nursing a broken heart, Satoshi steps in to support Meiko emotionally and even helps her publish her writing work which has her win some great awards. Though Meiko remained relatively stubborn at first, as time passes by, it seems that Satoshi’s work has paid off as she starts to lean more on him and let go Namura. And when she kissed him outside her house, it’s a sign that shouts “Hell yeah! Victory is mine!”.
My boyfriend’s back: After a long absence, Namura makes a return. This threatens to ruin Satoshi-Meiko relationship. And it turned out so when Meiko spotted him and wants to get back with him. Very badly. However Namura continues to maintain his cold distance by even lying to her that he is going out with Ryouko. Well, it must be Ryouko’s dream finally come true but why isn’t she happy? The fact that Meiko is going to hate her for the rest of her life, Ryouko isn’t going to have any goodnight’s sleep.
Take a trip down south to Hiroshima: In order to settle things with Namura, Meiko takes a trip to Hiroshima with Miki tagging along. Also coming along on this trip but on a different boat are Satoshi and Ryouko. Meiko is still adamant that she loves him and wants to be with him 24/7. Namura is still adamant that it’s over between them, pushing her away each time she comes closer, each time thinking it’s for the sake of her future. So after with lots of emotional drama and all, we have a fist fight between Namura and Satoshi (okay, maybe Satoshi was the one who is punching and Namura taking all the blows like a punching bag). Perhaps Satoshi was so angry and engrossed in hitting Namura, he didn’t see Meiko coming and accidentally punched her face!!! OUCH! That has got to hurt. With Ryouko clearing up the misunderstanding on her stand and feelings in the end Namura and Meiko are reunited as lovers once more as they embrace under the night sky at the beach. They agree to marry each other but that is only when Meiko turns the legal age of 17 (whereby she doesn’t need her parents’ approval) and graduated from school. So now the tough part is to convince her parents who see him no up. And for Satoshi and Ryouko, I guess it’s end of the road for them. And with the new school term, Satoshi’s graduation means you won’t see this guy around any longer (till the final few episodes, that is).

With Anju, Kei and Suzu temporarily out of the love picture for the time being and the love relationship between Meiko and Namura solved, the final arc is the American arc whereby Yuu decides to take this opportunity as recommended by Suzu’s dad to study abroad in New York in a prestigious school as a step forward in his dream to become an architect. Their relationship is put to test due to the distance and you know, the world of the internet is still pretty much at dial-up. Too young to even know what that is? Yeah, you can’t go on webcam at your convenience. As usual, the new foreign characters that will come into play:-

Michael Grant: Before Yuu’s transfer, the energetic and lively Michael is the exchange student who will be living with them. He speaks good Japanese due to his interest in the otaku world (but he is not a typical otaku like we know today). Plus, Miki and Yuu’s parents take a liking for him. I guess handsome foreigners at that time are what many girls are after, it is no exception that Michael gets chased everywhere by the Toryo girls. His only confide is Miki and this means that he has a crush on her. Other than that, he replaces Yuu as Suzu’s teacher but this isn’t anything important.
Brian Grant: Michael’s older brother who is studying in the same college as Yuu. He has a crush on college mate Jinny but she doesn’t reciprocate his love. More of the brawns over brains type, he gets real jealous each time Jinny gets real close to Yuu.
Jinny Golding: Literally she fell in love with Yuu at first sight and tries every attempt to seduce him in her goal to make him her boyfriend. However Yuu remains loyal to Miki, much to Jinny’s dismay (yeah, he even warns her about talking bad about Miki or else he’ll hate her for good). But be careful of this kind of attractive but impulsive and scheming woman…
• William “Bill” Matheson: Supposedly gay. Well, that is what everyone around him believes. You can say this soft-spoken guy is Yuu’s roommate-cum-best friend in the Big Apple, giving him his utmost support at times when needed. His nice personality makes everyone else gets along with him.
Doris O’Connor: Felt more like the voice of reasoning for Jinny. Felt like a side character who is always tagging along with the rest of the gang. Felt like a backup support for the rest of gang. Erm, how does she fit in again in this love polygon?

Now here are the important occurrences I remember so far:
Telephone, Long Distance Love Affair: Yuu gives Miki a dialler so that she could call him when she wants to talk to him. Due to the different time zone, they often miss each other.
Forced Kiss: When Michael misheard over the phone from his brother that Yuu is going out with another girl (Jinny), Michael gets upset and wants Miki to forget about that jerk and be his girlfriend instead. I guess he got so desperate that he had to go force a kiss on her. Bad move, buddy.
New York, New York: In a surprise trip to see Yuu and ascertain those rumours, Miki along with Meiko takes a trip to New York. I don’t know, can they book air tickets and fly off so fast? Yeah, now it’s Meiko’s turn to return the favour to her best friend.
Americans speak… Japanese?!: Yeah, this is an odd situation. We know Miki’s English isn’t that good but yet for the sake of convenience, every American that she spoke to spoke Japanese. It’s not that Miki hasn’t said real English words though with her ‘Engrish’ accent. Yeah, even the whole college Yuu attended spoke in Japanese. First I wanted to say that the dialogues are directly ‘dubbed’ for viewers’ convenience but I always bear in mind that the Japanese counterpart’s English aren’t so good…
Misunderstood: Miki arrives at Yuu’s dorm but the first person she sees coming out from his room is Jinny (Yuu and the guys are away to study so they won’t get distracted by girls like the last time…). Jinny lies and says she’s in bed with Yuu and their relationship has gone beyond than just kissing and holding hands. (Jinny’s reason for being in Yuu’s room was to search for notes for her due assignment). Now, if a naive girl who comes all the way from Japan hears this, do you think she’d believe it? Well in Miki’s case, she did. Poor heart of hers. After all the roller coaster ride in her love life, she thought she had seen it all and been through the worse. Poor Miki so inconsolable. Not even Meiko can do anything. When Yuu finds out about it, they actually rush back! And Miki is leaving on a flight back to Japan. Good news is that Yuu finally managed to see her. Bad news is that she wants to break up. SAY WHAT?! WTF?! She knows that even if the misunderstanding is cleared up, she couldn’t handle the toll of the long distance relationship. And if that is what she wants, Yuu has to respect it. As for Jinny, after getting a good reprimanding from Doris and a slap from Bill, she repents her actions and went to apologize to Yuu. Nice guy Yuu forgives and doesn’t blame her.
Anju’s back: What a coincidence that she’s in town. This means with Yuu popping up and learning about his break up, she once again enters into a dilemma that she might fall in love with him. She must be doing a good job trying to hold back those feelings.
How can you mend a broken heart?: Miki is definitely devastated back in Japan. All their friends are shocked to learn that the once inseparable pair is now separated. Miki currently takes up a part time job in K’s, a novelty decoration store. Kei is also back and he is more mature now. With Yuu’s absence, Kei and Michael duke it out over Miki’s attention and love though she remains indecisive. It could’ve been a threesome if Ginta was in the fray but he moved on… Michael was too pushy and aggressive in his attempts to steal Miki’s heart though his intentions were good and pure because he wants her to smile again and take away the pain by moving on. However cool and mature Kei tells Miki to stay as herself and if she wants to cry, by all means cry and let it all out. Do things at her pace. This resulted in Miki choosing Kei over Michael. So devastated Michael starts sulking but he can’t hold a grudge or else Miki will really hate him. Those magic words are enough. And yes, Miki starts dating Kei and with his piano skills, Miki starts to feel more relaxed.
Old flame reignited?: However Ginta still couldn’t accept Miki’s break up with Yuu. I mean, you lost out to that guy over her and now that she’s dating someone else, don’t you feel like you’ve been slapped in the face? Yeah, he can’t accept Kei as her new boyfriend. Ginta is so obsessed about this that he neglected his date with Arimi. It is only when Arimi threatened to cut ties with him for good, he felt that there are more important things than to poke his nose into some other couple’s business. So good news and a happy ending with Ginta and Arimi back together again (of course with the help of Miki, Rokutanda and Yayoi. That guy did something useful for once).
American’s love solved: Initially Bill and Anju agreed to see each other but it was so minimal that it didn’t feel like they’re a couple anyhow. Then it is revealed that Bill all the while had feelings for Jinny but was too afraid to say it. So the rumour of him being gay and becoming Brian’s friend was just to get close to her. And when Bill finally truly confesses his love for Jinny, the duo started dating. Brian is left sulking that he is once again at the losing end but I guess he didn’t lose out after all because Doris indicates that she always had eyes for him. And thus, the duo became a couple.
Proclamation of love: Kei was in America for a brief moment for one of his piano recital. He meets Yuu and first the first salvo that he will make Miki his. Yuu doesn’t object because if this is what Miki wants, so be it.
Ryouko-Akira?: Just a side love story which I think doesn’t have much impact on the overall story, Ryouko and a worker of K’s, Akira start dating each other. Do you need more elaboration?
Together again: Yuu returns home for the holidays (because Satoshi pestered him to come home). He joins everyone in a camping trip. There’s this odd silence and awkward atmosphere between Miki and Yuu. That night when Kei (somehow seemingly more desperate than usually) wants Miki to kiss him in order to take their relationship to new heights. However he saw tears streaming down her eyes. This could only mean 1 thing. That’s right. No matter how bad she’s had it, Yuu is all that she can think about. Kei realizes he is dumped but accepts it like a man. And yes, Miki and Yuu return to become the pair that everybody loves them to be.
We could be related: Things are not going to end smoothly yet. It all started when Yuu found a bunch of photos of their parents together during their college days. Then he began to realize that he and Miki are blood related! Wait a minute, he jumped to that conclusion without ascertaining further? It is so unlike him. Though he only confided in Satoshi, he couldn’t tell Miki except the fact that they should break up! WHAT?! AGAIN?! But they’ve just gotten back together! It is already hard on Miki that she couldn’t hear the reason because Yuu refuses to say. Now she’s going through another emotional ride. He thinks it is better this way rather to have the family destroyed if this stuff is leaked out. Say what again? With that, Yuu returns to America quickly with an excuse that he needs to further improve his English. What did I say about Americans speaking Japanese?
Spotting a new look?: Yeah, Miki got herself a new refreshing short haircut as a sign to move on. Can she?
Back to America again: Miki makes another trip to see Yuu in America. Even if he has nothing to say to her, she has. That is her feelings for him. With that, is she prepared to face the truth? And when Yuu spilled the beans on being related, Miki enters into a shock. Yeah, and she thought nothing else could surprise her. Never see this coming, eh? Now it’s Miki’s turn to be the troublesome one. This news of being brother-sister is so much disturbing her, that she wandered into the dangerous Harlem streets and nearly got mugged! It takes a couple of street kids to save her. It also took the same pair of kids to make her realize that it doesn’t matter if you’re blood related as long as you love each other (the kids are siblings by the way). Wow. Somebody younger than her just taught her a lesson in life. So when Yuu and his American pals finally found her, they promise that they will forever be with each other. Hope this one will stay true. It will because we’re reaching the end…
Truth is stranger than fiction: Surprisingly, Yuu and Miki’s parents along with Satoshi and Meiko visit them in America. This time Yuu gathers the gang to tell about the news that has been bugging him since. He thinks that the marriage swapping thingy is to cover this fact as they return back to the original couples that they were. He even tells them that nothing, and NOTHING will separate him from Miki anymore. However their parents laugh it off like as though he was telling the funniest joke of their lives. They clear up the misunderstanding by saying that the earlier baby that they had wasn’t Yuu but one who died stillborn. See, it was that simple, right? They never told them because it would be easier and never thought he would find out. And this means that Yuu and Miki cane return to being a happy couple without the stigma of becoming lovers though related. And yeah, their parents knew about their date all along and just pretended not to notice. So they’re not that dumb after all…
Happily married ever after: Well, it isn’t Miki and Yuu’s. Yet. It is Namura and Meiko’s actually. Perhaps a scene to bring in all the characters of the series to celebrate their legal union. Hey, Suzu seems to indicate some feelings for Kei but that guy isn’t interested.
Montage of kisses: This is the final scene of the series as we see major kissing scenes from those who locked lips. Main and supporting characters. Hey, every guy who has a crush on Miki kissed her. Yuu, Ginta, Kei and Michael. Yeah, she got kisses from all the guys whether it’s by her own admission or forced. I could have said the same about Yuu too but Anju didn’t really land him one. And the last big never-seen-before kissing scene of Yuu and Miki in a wedding dress. All’s well, ends well.

I still prefer Strawberry Jam, though…
Wow. It seemed like a long ride. Yes, at some points I started to feel this love polygon thingy was getting draggy because it is more or less the same thing. Couple gets into pinch and see how couple gets out of pinch. Besides, the main issue here is love and the harem factor is non-existent. What harem?! After watching too many current animes or ones that are in this decade, some of the issues I feel are blown out of proportion and being made a very big deal out of it. For instance about Yuu and Miki’s parent swapping. Nowadays, unless you’re a celebrity, many wouldn’t even care about your private affairs. But the way they show it is like as though it is one big helluva problem. Especially the vice president of Toryo who seems to be against it. However due to the understanding principal, this issue became a non-issue. Then the case about the siblings becoming lovers. I know in many parts of the world, marrying your own sister is still forbidden. But the way I feel that it’s being portrayed here is that it’s although like the end of the world if they go through with it! There was an interesting find that I discovered on the internet recently when I finished watching this series. Initially the author wanted to end the stories with Yuu and Miki as really blood related. However I suppose the editor thought she would be crazy to do something like that since many fans were happy with Yuu x Miki pairing and that’s why the manga and the anime also ended up being them not blood related. You can’t disappoint your fans, right? Imagine all the complains that will be faxed in and the non-stop calls. Hey, Facebook and Twitter was unheard of then.

I know Miki is one amusing naive character but sometimes it annoys me that whenever something dramatic happens to threaten her relationship with Yuu, it’s like she actually believes it! Not just once but many times. It’s like telling us that she doesn’t have a strong faith in Yuu’s love for her. Perhaps it’s not my place to say about teenagers in love her age but after all that emotional ‘trauma’ that she’s been through, she should’ve been a stronger girl in the end especially when learning that Yuu may be her brother. Yuu is a cool guy all the way except for the part whereby he assumed he and Miki are related. Then he became real irritating trying to keep it a secret. We can see his pain. We are in pain too. To this point, it still bugs me why he thought so. I mean, look at it this way. Their parents can even be childhood friends for all we know. So when he saw that photo of them together, couldn’t he just have thought that hey, it may be just a get-together time? There was nothing in that photo that indicated something scandalous. Nothing, really. And besides, the swap also confuses me whose parent is whose. Assuming that the blood relation thingy still stands, does this mean Yuu and Miki are related by the same father and different mother or vice versa? Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

It’s a good thing that we see many of the main and side characters ending up with somebody. Even that loser Rokutanda has a girl to call his own. It may be too early to call anything for Kei and Suzu just yet. So looks like Satoshi and Anju are the ones that end up being singles, eh? Well at least Satoshi had his short fling with Meiko likewise Anju with her single day date with Yuu. It’s better than nothing. Maybe they can get together in the future? Once a love polygon has been solved, you are most likely never to hear anything major from that pair. It feels like they’ve been cast aside. No doubt, this series is all about Yuu and Miki. While many of the characters stay relatively the same throughout the series, there are some that have grown. Kei’s second return to the love triangle sees him more mature and not some childish kid who throws tantrums if he doesn’t get what he wants. Ryouko is able to throw away the love of her past and walk her own path. Satoshi knows when to give up and back out once the inevitable came to be. Of course the main one is Yuu and Miki whereby they learn to accept each other’s love. Like finally. Miki too doesn’t get that family swapping thing bother her anymore because at the end of the day, everyone still loves her and each other. That is what important and counts. Not what other people in society would think about your family, etc.

As mentioned earlier on about the love polygon spoilers, even those who don’t read the manga or have prior knowledge about the series would have known who ended up with each other. I mean, when you see the opening credits animation with Miki and Yuu kissing, that tells you a lot right? Another amusing thing is the head-shaking-dance-cum-posing of some of the characters during the scene. I don’t know it felt odd. Then when the opening animation changed during the American arc, this dance-pose thing was even funnier. And more dangerous. They (the guys) are doing it while driving the car!!! It’s amazing they didn’t fall off! Another big spoiler of the love polygon is the mid-intermission. For the first arc, we have 3 of the characters who are involved in the love polygon jumping over a toy robot. The winning pair will end up successfully jumping over it while the ‘loser’ trips. For the second arc, the 3 characters involved in the love polygon are in chibi form. It’s rather odd because their heads are bobbing left and right! With the ‘prized’ lover in the centre, those at the side wait anxiously or with patience to whom the robot will choose. The winning pair rejoices while the loser is vanquished. Finally for the third arc, it’s like a 3×3 square box. This time around, it doesn’t necessary end up with the actual pair. Unless it has Yuu-Miki or Bill-Jinny pairing (of course the loser will be disappointed as always), all 3 will have that bewildered look on their face (example, when it turns out Michael-Kei-Miki or Brian-Jinny-Yuu). Oddly I noticed that I have never seen a reaction from Doris in any of the combinations. That’s why I always felt that she was just ‘in’ to fill up the remaining boxes.

I couldn’t complain about the art, drawing and animation since it is from that era. However there are 2 major grumbles that I would like to voice out. Firstly, many of the characters look alike. If not for their different clothing, hairstyles and possible body size, I may not have been able to tell them apart. Plus, some characters look like other characters from other animes. For example, Arimi has that uncanny resemblance to Rei in Evangelion while Yuu and Miki look like the grownup version of Akito and Sana of Kodocha respectively. Yeah, animes of the period sure have that one kind look. On another note, this isn’t a complaint but I notice that the author’s art trademark has the characters having broad shoulders. So when they wear certain clothes, it is as though they look a little baggy on them. The second of my grumble is the backdrop and shading. This happens every time something dramatic happens like some revelation or the likes. What’s wrong with it? You see, whenever that moment happens, the backdrop and background scenery suddenly dramatic changes into something that is, how should I put it, out-of-this-world. Yeah, it’s like we’re entering the Twilight Zone! Forgive me if I sound like I know everything but that’s not the case. I feel that the producers want to put focus on the characters and to heighten the tension of that moment (thus taking away the distracting backdrops), but really, suddenly the ground turns black? Suddenly the sky is filled with dots? What the hell are those lines across the screen anyway? Why are we having a colourful background or mono colour one? What are those explosion of colours anyway? There are quite a number of ‘creative’ Twilight Zone backdrops here but if you really want to watch them all, just wait for this moment. You won’t be disappointed. The most ‘realistic’ one has got to be when Miki learns about being blood related to Yuu. The ground actually breaks like as though a 9.0 magnitude earthquake just swept through the land. Really! At this point I thought they were really pushing and overdoing it.

This is one of the few long running series that doesn’t change its opening theme. In fact, it only has one! Entitled Egao Ni Aitai by Rie Hamada, it is your typical dramatic anime pop befitting this kind of genre. There are three ending themes throughout the series. The first one is Suteki Na Serenade by Miho Fujiwara. Sounds like a slow pop with a little hint of Bossonova in it. Of all the themes, I like the very manly second ending theme, which is Kareha Iro No Crescendo by Yasuhiro Mizushima. The third ending piece is another calm and slow pop by Yoko Ichikawa entitled Yoake No Etude. Though there are a variety of insert songs and background music, I need to mention the one very ‘annoying’ insert song of the series: Moment. Each time something dramatic happens, you bet that they’re going to play this song! Nearly in every episode! Even if it took a slight break during the second arc, it was in a different format (instrumental version, that is) before making a full comeback in the final arc albeit not as frequent as it used to. Each time they play this song (usually when the episode is about to end), I would be going “Oh no! Not this song again!”. Then I’ll be singing along starting as always with “Kaze ni midarete~”, jump to the chorus of “Yume ja nai, yume ja nai no, aah, mou~”, and then “Wakaranai, wakaranai no, aah, mou”, followed by “Hanasanai, hanasanaide, ahh, mou” before finishing off with “Kokorogoto dakishime, te-i-te”. Can we stop playing that song already? Oh no! Here it comes again! Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad song but it’s just that it’s played too often. There are other insert songs too (the slow and very sad Saigo No Yakusoku wasn’t too bad either) but they aren’t that memorable probably it wasn’t as catchy as this one. Or rather it wasn’t played as often. Now, there is one thing that really surprised me about this Moment song. It is sung by Ali Project!!!!! I can’t believe it! Yes, after hearing their naughty gothic style songs in Kaibutsu Oujo, Linebarrels of Iron and even Rozen Maiden, it would never have crossed my mind that they are the same group that sang this song! Mind blowing! I could never ever recognize their voice. Not even until now! Was this how they were like in those early days before ending up with their trademark signature style? Absolutely unbelievable. Then another odd insert song that uses the opening theme (though it’s a slower version). The singer was going like “Churu churu churu~” or “Lalala lalala lalala~” throughout the entire song! What a nice way of replacing the lyrics, huh? As for the other background music, some of the orchestra pieces sound so dramatic that it makes you think you’re watching a Jaws movie. Of course there are slow and soothing pieces too.

There was a movie released during the middle of the series’ run. However I didn’t watch it. But I wouldn’t call it so far as a movie because as found out, it is less than 30 minutes! Anyway the movie is supposed to serve as the prequel to the TV anime series and plays as a flashback after Yuu’s kiss on Miki at the infirmary. It’s something about how Yuu fell in love at first sight with a girl and followed her around all day long like a stalker (oops sorry, made that up) till he realizes that she (Miki) is the daughter that his parents are swapping and marrying. Yeah, he too was against that idea but decide to play it cool. There is a live adaptation of the series but it is a production from Taiwan. Just like how they adapted Hana Yori Dango to Meteor Garden, eh? Then I found out that there was a game too but unlike many other dating simulation games whereby the player is fit into the shoes of the guy, this one has you in the shoes of Miki as you try to win the heart of either Yuu, Ginta or Kei.

It was a different and refreshing ride getting to see the kind of anime from this era. And now we have all kinds of drama romance and even animes that deal with incest. They’ve come a long way. Love nowadays isn’t as easy, simple and pure back in those days. Feelings of the heart aren’t the only factor to take into account. Has the trend of the world shifted in such a way that love too has become something very complex? Not that many would understand the true meaning of it anyway. Yeah, maybe sometimes love is like marmalade after all. Looks nice at first but after having a taste of it and if it doesn’t suit you, it does taste bitter. At least now I know what to expect when I am faced with a similar situation of different types of love. From past loves to new loves and loves of others. But when it comes to a harem, that’s a different love and story altogether…