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Manga / Marmalade Boy

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The immensely complicated love story between two step siblings.

Miki Koishikawa's parents pull her aside one day after school to announce to her that they're getting a divorce. It seems that they met another couple on their recent trip to Hawaii, and hit it off so well that both couples want to divorce each other, swap partners, and remarry. Even more incredibly, the four want to all live together in one household... and the other couple have a boy Miki's age, the handsome Yuu.

Miki is dead set against the plan, but Yuu says that he's okay with it which makes her even more upset. The following day, Yuu enrolls at Miki's school. Miki has an accident in PE class and faints, and as she lays in the infirmary pretending to be unconscious, Yuu comes to check on her... and abruptly kisses her. Romantic Comedy-Drama ensues from then on, as Miki is confused over her feelings and Yuu doesn't exactly help with his behavior, while other suitors of them try to break off their bonds, and for worse they have to deal with both their budding "love" as well as handling their parents' eccentric behaviors.


Marmalade Boy (ママレード·ボーイ Mamarēdo Bōi) is a shōjo manga by Wataru Yoshizumi. It was published by Shueisha in the magazine Ribon from May 1992 to October 1995 and collected in eight tankōbon volumes. The series was adapted by Toei Animation as a 76-episode anime television series which aired on TV Asahi in 1994 to 1995. This was followed by a theatrical anime prequel movie in 1995, showcasing Yuu's reaction to the divorce and the first time he saw Miki. The series was also adapted as a 30-episode live-action television series that was broadcast in Taiwan in 2002.

Now has a Sequel Series titled Marmalade Boy Little that follows Miki's and Yuu's half sister and brother.

Individual tropes should go to their Character Sheet.


Provides examples of:

  • Against the Setting Sun: The scene that gives up Miki and Yuu's first mutual kiss, though it cases them to both catch a cold in the next episode.
  • All There in the Manual: The manga reveals some of the birthdates and/or astrological signs of many of the main characters, showing us that Namura was born in early 1968 which makes him more than 8 years older than Meiko. Meanwhile, Satoshi was born sometime in November or December of 1975, Yuu, Tsutomu, Arimi and Meiko were all born throughout 1976 in that particular order, and Miki and Ginta were both born in 1977. This made Ginta the youngest of the main characters until Kei (1978), and Suzu's (1980) introductions.
  • Amicable Exes: Miki's and Yuu's parents after their divorces and remarriages. Arimi and Yuu walk a really thin line here— while Yuu didn't keep in touch with Arimi after he switched to Miki's school, he's pretty chill about seeing her again and doesn't really argue about maybe hanging out again. However, Arimi wants to get back together with him, which causes some strain.
  • Ascended Extra: Kijima, Yuu's boss at the Junk Jungle. Started out as a one-panel character stuck in there just to let Miki know that Yuu quit his job so she wouldn't be home alone during their parents' honeymoons, became an all-wise mentorly type who had a history with Ryouko and Nachan.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The fashionable and popular Arimi is the Beauty, the booksmart and calm Meiko is the Brains, and the sporty and emotional Miki is the Brawns.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Kijima, as mentioned. His wife Rei becomes Miki's Big Sister Mentor as well.
  • Big Fancy House: Yuu and Miki's new house. And Meiko's, which is so big that Miki is all starstruck when she goes spend the night there. Also, Miwa and Suzu's houses: justified as their dads are very well-known architects and quite well-off, so they likely built their own homes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: They do that a number of times. Quite unusual for a shojo manga.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Yuu finds out that he and Miki are half-siblings and breaks up with her, but they eventually decide to get married anyway, with the caveat that they will never have children. Then Yuu finds out he was wrong about who his father was again and they're Not Blood Siblings after all.
    • Squared in the last episode when each new set of happily-married parents announces they're pregnant, adding half-siblings to the completely un-blood-related Miki and Yuu; worthy of note that these future half-siblings are not at all blood related to each other. And you thought polygamists had it bad.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Yuu is mostly a cool and collected guy, but sometimes he's prone to quite the bouts of depression. When this happens, Miki attempts to comfort and understand his reasons so she can help him out. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it does't.
  • The Cameo: The manga has a very brief mention and image of Hagiwara Mio from Handsome Girlfriend, another manga series by Yoshizumi.
    • And in the anime, they even got her voice actress from the 1 episode OVA to reprise her role
  • Class Trip: The one to Hokkaido, where Arimi and Ginta start their Operation: Jealousy.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: If you go after either Yuu or Miki, it's highly likely you'll team up with someone else... and you guys will eventually fall in love between yourselves. Just ask Arimi and Ginta!
  • Clingy Jealous Girl - Crazy Jealous Guy: Lots. There's Miki and Yuu around eachother, Suzu, Jinny, Arimi around Yuu. Kei, Ginta, and Michael around Miki. Satoshi around Meiko, etc.
    • This is taken Up to Eleven in Miki’s case a few times. When she believes that Satoshi is having a secret relationship with Yuu and when she starts to believe that even Michael is a better match for Yuu than she is.
  • Cool Big Sis: Doris from the American arc. She's not really happy about it, since it works against her in the romance field: men, and specially her crush, only see her as a friend and not as a prospect girlfriend. She has to pretty much spell her interest to Brian after Jinny and Bill get hitched.
  • Cool Down Hug: Miki to Yuu as he turns to leave, angry at her avoiding him.
    • She does this again while he takes comfort in her embrace, thoroughly shaken up by the dead-end search for his real father.
  • Crossdresser: Just once, but it's memorable: Yuu has to crossdress for a TV commercial with idol Suzu Sakuma and he hates it. No one outside of Yuu and Suzu's social circle knows Yuu is "the tall girl"; Ginta even openly comments on how attractive "she" is in front of Yuu.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: As demonstrated by Yuu and Miki's huge circle of friends by series' end. It comes with the bonus that sooner or later said defeated romantic rivals end up meeting their perfect matches.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Subverted: Miki was pretending she was unconscious when this happened, hoping Yuu wouldn't tease her for a recent and embarrassing accident. It didn't work, obviously.
  • Education Mama: Both of Kei's parents. This drives him to stop playing the piano and run away from home.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Yuu and Miki's parents. After they swap partners, everyone lives together as one happy, extended family. Essentially, both sets of parents are a "One True Foursome". It's not quite Polyamory, but probly as close to it as the author could get way with.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Anju Kitahara used to have long hair as a pre-teen girl, but when we see her for the first time, she's already keeping it much shorter. Also, Meiko has straight hair, but she starts perming it after she starts going out with Namura
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted: Anju and Arimi were actually are first girls who knew Yuu from before he met Miki, yet Miki is presented first in the series and she ends up winning.
  • First Kiss: What Yuu took away from Miki in their Dude, She's Like, in a Coma! moment.
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: The point of the whole series.
  • Forceful Kiss: Ginta on Miki in episode 3, and later Michael on Miki too, in episode 58.
  • Happily Married: Subverted in the 13-years-later sequel Marmalade Boy Little (2013), the legendary couple Yuu and Miki have been together for over a decade and a half but have been too preoccupied with their work and siblings to get married, although they might as well be. This changes when Satoshi points it out and gives a mild lecture to Yuu about responsibility. Yuu proceeds to think seriously about it immediately and ends up proposing to Miki, who cries.
    • Jin and Chiyako, Youji and Rumi. Even before they swapped partners, the couples seemed to be fairly happy.
    • More than that: they're quite happy to, all four plus the respective children, live together in the same house, and spend their free time together. And they even refer to themselves collectively as the parents of Miki and Yuu.
      • Miki may be just a touch more Genre Savvy than she lets on; after she warms to the spouse-swapping, she is heard calling her parents' new spouses "Chiyako-mama" and "Youji-papa" in the subtitled version.
    • As unconventional as the Koishikawa/Matsuura marriages are, they seem to be the only one shown in-series to be happy. (The weddings of Namura and Meiko, and Yuu and Miki, in the series finale, notwithstanding.) Meiko's parents are shown to be unhappy and unfaithful (and for added drama, Mrs. Akizuki is a Lady Drunk), and Satoshi's father's chronic philandering seems to have put noticeable strain on his marriage (not to mention his relationship with his son).
  • Hikikomori: Yuu almost became one at age 12, spending a month locked in his room after finding out by accident that Youji might not be his biological dad..
  • Hopeless Suitor: Quite a few.
    • Rokutanda to Arimi. She has negative amounts of interest in him, just in general, but she's in love with Yuu, and later she's gotten together with his cousin.
    • Kei to Miki. Miki views him as a younger brother at best, and even when he sabotages her relationship in the hopes of her running to him instead, slapping him gets most of her anger out and she switches to scolding him like a parent would, about going back to school and practicing the piano.
    • In the manga, Satoshi Miwa to Meiko. Meiko has absolutely no romantic interest in anyone except Namura.
  • Hot-Blooded: Cousins Ginta and Rokutanda are the Slice of Life Shōjo version of this.
    • Also, the two Grant brothers. Michael is more of a Keet, tho.
  • Hot for Student Namura-sensei and Meiko are among the very rare cases where this situation is portrayed sympathetically.
  • Humiliating Wager: Tsutomu (and his teammate) loses a tennis match, and as punishment has to shave his head. In a subversion, he eventually feels like he looks better (and gets more attention from girls) with the new haircut.
  • Ill Girl: Anju, who has a weak heart and almost dies at one point.
  • Important Haircut: After their big misunderstanding over her love letter, Meiko jokely suggests that Miki invoke this right before it is revealed that Ginta cut his hair to apologize to Miki. After Yuu dumps her, so does Miki to try get over herself: her shoulder-length hair becomes a bob that same day.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Subverted. The older fanbase would often state the level of similarities between Bill and Brian's character design to Hiyama and Morikawa's own persona, but this is coincidental. Interesting to note though, this pair's relationship is by far the closest in resemblance to the seiyuus themselves.note 
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Invoked by Namura, when he leaves Meiko since he'll just stunt her life and by Yuu, when he dumps Miki believing they're half siblings. There's a major difference, though: the first straightforwardly says "this won't work so please move on and be happy", while the other Cannot Spit It Out.
  • Japanese School Club: Several, actually. Miki and Ginta are members of their school's tennis teams and so is Tsutomu, Meiko is in the literature club, Satoshi's friend Furutachi is in the broadcasting club, and Arimi is the star of her school's track team.
  • Jerk Jock: Brian, in his first appearance. But soon, Defeat Means Friendship and he becomes a Hot-Blooded Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arguably, the majority of the cast qualify for this (albeit with varying degrees of "jerk"). Notable exceptions include Jin, Rumi, Youji, Chiyako, Akira, Anju, Yayoi and Kijima (who omit the "jerk") and Meiko's parents, as well as Satoshi's dad (who omit the "heart of gold").
  • Just a Kid: Miki discards Michael because she sees him as a little brother at best. Michael does NOT approve. This is also how Kei feels Miki is starting to treat him, scolding him for being immature, nagging him to go back to school, and in the anime, slapping him when he goes too far.
    • Miki herself, due to her own personality and appearance, gets looked down upon by some of the other characters, particular ones that are older than her. In Yuu's case, it's one thing he loves about her.
  • Karma Houdini: Mr. Miwa, Satoshi's famous architect dad. Notorious for womanizing, he not only exhibits little shame about his chronic unfaithfulness, but has the gall to grouse about not being able to nail Yuu's mom.... while his own son is sitting in front of him. And the deal is borderline Played for Laughs in The Reveal moment itself, Face Fault and funny faces included.
  • The Minnesota Fats: Miki and several of her love rivals, specially Arimi and Suzu.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Hilariously done with Satoshi and Yuu. Satoshi spends some episodes pretending to have the hots for Yuu, to cover up their investigations about their possible common past and Satoshi's own feelings for Meiko; it works so well that Miki sees Satoshi as another rival for Yuu's affection, and at the same time Meiko seems to ship them a bit.
    • Bill, who spends most of the last third of the anime thought to be a Straight Gay, but ends the series dating Jinny. So yeah, he's somewhat of a Camp Straight instead..
  • New Old Flame:
    • Miki and Yuu's parents, for each other. Miki's dad dated Yuu's mom, broke up with her, married Miki's mom and they had Miki, then divorced her in friendly terms and got back together with his old girlfriend. Exactly the same case with Yuu's dad and Miki's mom. (Except for Chiyako's miscarriage.).
    • For some real recursion, some fanfics, set pre-series, actually start with Jin and Rumi, and Youji and Chiyako, as couples before the "original" couples formed.
  • New Transfer Student: Michael, Yuu in regards to the Americans.
  • Noodle People: Especially in the anime.
  • Only Six Faces: Several characters have pretty much the same features.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Yuu is pretty much a chill guy: during most of the series, the only emotions he displays are contempt, happiness, snark, and, sometimes, moderate anger. Because of this, during the penultimate episode of the anime when he's broken up with Miki and she, very calmly and with a very, very sad voice, tells him her love for him will never die, he explodes, yelling at her while crying. It's a very powerful moment, but of course, he does this because he thinks he's found out he and Miki are half-siblings.
    • Also, Satoshi - being the upperclassman of the group, he's usually the more mature guy of the cast, and when's he's not the Voice of Reason he's being the Plucky Comic Relief. But when Namura continues to complicate things for his crush Meiko, further distances himself from her, and gets Ryōko tied up into the drama, he snaps, goes all the way to Hiroshima and gives him the beating of his life.
  • Pair the Spares: Ginta and Arimi, Kei and Suzu.
    • The anime takes this to dizzying heights. In addition to the above, we have: Tsutomu and Yayoi, Ryouko and Akira, Brian and Doris, and Bill and Jinny. In addition, Michael and Anju are heavily hinted at. The only character who ends the series alone, amazingly, is Satoshi (although, to be honest, it's hard to imagine him having trouble attracting interest).
      • And Satoshi is married and has a daughter in the sequel manga, surprising just about no one.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Ginta and Arimi pretended to be dating to get Miki (Ginta's crush and best friend) and Yuu (Arimi's ex boyfriend) back, respectively. However, they ended up falling in love with each other and hooking up for real.
  • Say It with Hearts: Parodied. Miki's parents announce "We're getting a divorce! ♥" and she is absolutely pissed that they could say that with a heart mark.
  • Secret-Keeper: Yuu, for Meiko and Namura. He catches them kissing but keeps his trap shut even in regards to Miki..
  • Secret Relationship: Meiko and Namura until word gets out that they had been found an apartment together. Yuu and Miki's relationship is also forced to be this way due to not wanting to complicate things with their parents, not that they mind, as the series finale has shown.
  • Sentai: Brilliantly parodied in The Movie with the Gastamen, made up of five young boys pretending to be such, while labeling themselves by colors and Greek letters (Alpha, Beta, Zeta, Omega, and their leader, Gamma). Miki eventually gets in on the act by playing the role of the "Towel Monster".
  • Shipper on Deck: Suzu, in the manga. She didn't want Yuu for herself there, but wanted to hook him with Meiko. Possibly a Shout-Out to Yoshizumi's earlier shipping plans.
    • By the end of the anime, literally the entire supporting cast ships Yuu and Miki.
    • Also, Miki and Yuu ship Namura/Meiko. Though their deal is quite more complicated: Yuu found out first and wasn't impressed but still became their Secret-Keeper, but Miki found out only when their cover was blown to someone else and had an Heroic BSoD since it deeply shook Miki's faith in Meiko due to her not trusting Miki enough to tell her.
    • Tsutomu, once he stops being Arimi's Dogged Nice Guy, openly supports her and Ginta. In the anime, he goes as far as giving a What the Hell, Hero? speech to Miki when Gint and Arimi have a fall-out due to Ginta neglecting his girlfriend to support the very distraught Miki (to be fair, Miki does have pretty good reasons to be depressed, though Tsutomu doesn't know), so it's up to them and Yayoi to fix it.
  • Shōjo: Arguably, one of the defining examples of the romantic comedy variation of the demographic.
  • Short Film: The Movie is the length of a regular episode.
  • Shrines and Temples: The New Years episode.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: The series constantly proves that Yuu and Miki are unable to look at anyone but each other.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Yuu and Miki started like that. Suzu and Kei are once or twice hinted to possibly end up like this, and they end up dating each other in the sequel
  • Spoiler Opening: The very first shot is of Yuu and Miki kissing. Gosh, I wonder who she's gonna choose!? The scene later in the sequence of Miki standing between Yuu and Ginta, looking adorably confused, does not help.
    • Arguably worse were the Spoiler Eyecatches. Every triangle on the show showed up in at least one, complete with the resolution, and they almost always showed up long before the actual resolution took place.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Yuu to Miki, following her around before even meeting her in the anime, and in the manga constantly popping up where she is, especially while she is avoiding him due to hurt.
    • Kei's rather possessive of Miki, as she's one of his very few friends, and he does some serious work towards isolating her from Yuu. Anime only characters Michael and Jinny arguably qualify, as well as anime!Suzu. Satoshi is a more gentle version of this trope in regards to Meiko.
  • Stepford Smiler: Yuu. He's a pretty chill, apparently carefree guy, but deep down he's got issues. Picture a slightly older Akito Hayama that has a bit more emotion to him and has been brought up by a loving family (in fact, both even look quite a bit alike). Watch the movie, and compare Yuu's treatment of Miki throughout the first third of the series with the fact that, before he ever met her, he spent an entire day following her around town. This makes Marmalade Boy an instance of a Stalker with a Crush being the male protagonist.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Guy:
    • Yuu starts as this, hiding his feelings for Miki and his thoughts on the parental deal under his Deadpan Snarker facade. He acknowledges it as well when he confesses this to Miki, openly saying he liked how open she was on her disapprovement while he just couldn't spit it out.
    • Meiko has a touch of this, as well: she's very reserved and while Miki confides in her, she rarely confides back. Miki knows about the difficulties in her home life, but Meiko plays the Stepford Smiler if she gets too depressive about it. She cares a lot about Miki, gives her excellent advice, but she says once that she doesn't want the kind of friends that force her to spill her guts about everything. While Miki initially misunderstands this, she later clarifies that she admires Miki's openness and honesty, but she can't be the same way, and it's a bit of a shock to watch her breakdowns over Namura as a result, which forces Miki, for once, to be the shoulder Meiko cries on instead of the other way around.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In the anime, the resident Butt-Monkey Tsutomu meets Yayoi and ends up dating her.
  • Title Drop: In the second episode of the anime, Miki makes a joke comparing Yuu to marmalade, and thus calls him "marmalade boy". This joke is repeated in Game Boy game.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Ginta is this to Miki, just as Anju, and to a lesser extent, Arimi are to Yuu. Tsutomu fills this role towards Arimi, though if they were really friends at the time is rather dubious.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Subverted: Miki only thought her love was unrequited, because of the Love Letter Lunacy detailed above. Ginta actually loved her all along, but she got over him after the whole mess.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Miki and Yuu's parents are completely happy-go-lucky and usually act more like older siblings rather than actual parents. Not that Miki and Yuu aren't slightly immature themselves at times, but both sets of parents often tease or embarrass their kids, go out without letting the kids know ahead of time, and support some of the abnormalities that occur in the series without batting an eye (such as Meiko and Namura's relationship, Suzu kissing Yuu, or even their own children's relationship). Of course, their decision to remarry and move into a large house together is the main reason, directly or otherwise, why a lot of the events in the series happened.


Video Example(s):


Marmalade Boy

Episode 20

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