Imagine this: you’re a perfectly normal teenage girl. Your parents go on a cruise. They meet another couple–and fall in love! Divorce is hard enough under normal circumstances, but Miki Koishikawa thinks her parents have gone crazy–they want to keep living together, with their new spouses. Now she has four parents and a new stepbrother her own age: Yuu, a boy with a beautiful face and a prickly personality. Miki can’t figure Yuu out; he’s like marmalade: sweet and bitter at the same time. So why can’t she get him off her mind?
When I first looked at Marmalade Boy, I wasn’t sure I could get past the weirdness of the premise. I ended up loving it. Miki is an appealing, believable protagonist; her reactions to the story’s romantic hijinks are funny and true. And there’s romance aplenty; not only is Yuu sending Miki conflicted romantic signals, her childhood crush Ginta seems interested as well! Marmalade Boy is light-hearted but unexpectedly tender, as Miki struggles to reconcile her parents’ desires with her own. Wataru Yoshizumi’s art, though nothing unusual, is a good partner for writing that juggles humor and drama with ease. I’ve only read the first volume of the series so far (there are eight volumes total), and the action may heat up later, but so far Marmalade Boy is a refreshingly innocent romance that will appeal to a wide range of ages. I’d especially recommend it for grown-ups trying manga for the first time–Yoshizumi has included fun notes in the margins, explaining unfamiliar aspects of Japanese society that pertain to the story. See, it’s educational as well as fun!