After discussing couples Miki & Yuu and Ginta & Arimi, it’s time to move on to the last central couple in the series: Meiko and Namura. Or maybe not. I’ll actually be talking about Meiko and Satoshi, the losing rival for her affections, alongside Meiko and Namura. Of all the couples in the series, Meiko and Satoshi probably register with me the most, because Marmalade Boy is the only series I’ve encountered where I preferred a pairing that doesn’t end up together over one that definitively does. I know I’m not the only fan to root for Satoshi over Namura for Meiko’s affections, but I think my reasons are different than most. While some people root for Meiko to end up with Satoshi because they dislike Namura’s character or the fact that he’s her teacher, I prefer Meiko and Satoshi simply for their own interactions. Satoshi is nice, cool and he is my favorite male character in the entire series, so it’s easy to root for him simply because he’s so likable. This also makes it easier to pity the fact that he ends up alone. But I think the Meiko-Satoshi pairing has enough of its own merits to root for them beyond the likability of Satoshi’s character.
When Namura moves to Hiroshima after the school finds out he and Meiko have been dating, I felt sorry that Meiko lost the person she loved. Namura was more than a boyfriend for her; he was an escape from her unhappy home life. When Satoshi enters the series, he uses his playboy charms to try and convince Meiko to go out with him, spouting cheesy lines like ‘I want to see your smile.’ But as the series progresses, it becomes obvious how sincere Satoshi’s feelings for Meiko are, and she begins to take him more seriously and slowly moves past Namura. During this time, Satoshi compliments Meiko on her writing, and encourages her to write more than just reviews for the school newspaper. Meiko grows more confident in her writing and eventually wins an award for a manuscript Satoshi had entered in a contest without her knowledge. The couple’s dynamic is fun as well. She’s one of the few people to bring out the shy, sincere side of his typically charming demeanor, and he knows how to make her laugh even though she’s typically so reserved. He’s also one of the few people to make her angry, especially when he’s acting childish, but she forgives him because of how thoughtful he can be towards her. As the series went along, it became obvious how much Satoshi brought Meiko out of her shell and helped her become a better person, which is the main reason I wanted to see them together. But as soon as it seemed as though Meiko was falling for him, Namura came back into the picture, and into Meiko’s heart.
When Meiko travels to Hiroshima to see Namura, she tells him that she won’t be happy without him. But I just couldn’t figure out why. Even if Namura had been her shoulder to cry on, he hadn’t done half as much for her as Satoshi. If anything, I saw Namura as the father figure Meiko was missing in her life, and I just couldn’t see them together as an example of ‘true love.’ This is especially true because Namura comes across as controlling, when he decides they can’t be together and he’s doing it for her sake because he’d ‘ruin her future’ because she was still so young, which really just sounds like he’s making poorly-backed up excuses. Even when they get back together, he asks her if she’ll follow him anywhere, as if their relationship revolves around him. The author of Marmalade Boy, Wataru Yoshizumi, must have realized that many members of the audience were unconvinced about Meiko and Namura, because she included a scene where Satoshi explains why Meiko and Namura should be together. But, just like with Miki and Yuu, this was told instead of shown, and I’m still firmly unconvinced that Namura even deserved Meiko. If there’s one thing I respect about this pairing, it’s that I commend Wataru Yoshizumi for having the courage to depict a student-teacher relationship, without the raunchiness you’d expect to find in such a pairing. But I’d still prefer if she’d given Meiko and Satoshi a happy ending instead.