I’ve always thought one of Marmalade Boy’s greatest strengths is that it develops several romantic relationships. I have strong opinions about each of the couples in Marmalade Boy, so I thought I’d write about them. So naturally, I’m starting off with the heart of the series, Miki and Yuu. When I think of the archetypical shojo couple, Miki and Yuu immediately come to mind. She’s an average, cheerful girl and he’s cool yet mysterious – just like most other shojo pairings. Within the context of the series, however, I generally like Miki and Yuu. I’ve always thought of Miki and Yuu as a very attractive couple, and I love seeing pictures of them. I’ve also found many of their interactions to be genuinely sweet. For instance, in one episode of the anime, when Miki shows off the uniform for her new part-time job, Yuu motions for her to sit on his lap, and the two happily sit there, smiling. And in a series that has literally a dozen love triangles, I genuinely felt as though Miki and Yuu ended up with the right person.
Most of my problems with the couple stems from the fact that I’m not convinced by the reasons Yuu gives for liking Miki. When Yuu tells Miki he likes her, he says that he admires how open and honest she is with her emotions, because he lacks that openness. However, one problem I immediately had with this reasoning is that it’s not like Miki is the only female in the series who shows her emotions in front of Yuu. For example, Arimi, one of Yuu’s many romantic suitors, yelled at him when he broke up with her and ran off crying – and she was always honest about how she felt towards him. Thus, I felt like Yuu’s reasoning could have easily been applied to Arimi, leaving me at a loss in deciding what was so ‘special’ about Miki to Yuu.
But more than Yuu’s questionable reasons for liking Miki, it’s the execution of his feelings for her that’s really lacking. I think the biggest problem is that Yuu’s reasoning for liking Miki is told instead of being shown. A good example of a romance that is “shown” is Boys Over Flowers, a.k.a, Hana Yori Dango, when Tsukasa starts developing feelings for the female lead Tsukushi. After she stands up to him, his attitude towards her noticeably changes, and when she shows sympathy towards him, he becomes kinder towards her. Thus, the gradual changing of his reactions to Tsukushi makes it clear why he loves her without it needing to be stated in words. But because Yuu’s interactions with Miki don’t seem to change much, even though I do believe he loves her, I’m not as convinced of the reasons why he loves her.
Being unconvinced as to why Yuu likes Miki impacted my opinion of the couple, especially because Miki can be so overbearing. She’s constantly jealous and paranoid, and thinks that every time Yuu is late he’s out cheating on her. Miki’s anxieties are an especially bad combination with the fact that Yuu rarely explains himself or lets her in on how he’s feeling, due to his introverted nature. And yet, this combination ultimately succeeds because it allows both characters to grow: Yuu learns how to open up to others, while Miki learns to stop being paranoid and trust Yuu. Thus, despite all of their problems, at the end of the day I think Miki and Yuu really do work.