Maria-sama ga Miteru: Thoughts on the first story arc

February 6th, 2004

Well, the first arc of Marimite is complete, in both anime and manga, so I thought I’d write a quicky note on this series (you had to expect occasional Marimite updates, since it is kind of *the* yuri anime right now.)

Japanese fans of the novel series (which is still running monthly in Shuiesha Cobalt and now that there’s an anime and manga to stimulate interest, probably will continue until the author gets utterly sick of all the characters and stops) are not exaclty thrilled with either the anime or the manga. As a fan of many novels that have been poorly to adequately treated in film and TV, I completely sympathize. (I may well be one of the only people on the planet who did not like the film adaptation of the Lord Of the Rings. Sure, it looked pretty, but the movies managed to miss the *point* of nearly each and every scene in the book.)

In the Marimite novels, there are many and various conversations which, for time and censorship issues, needed to be cut from manga, anime, or both. Of course, many of these speeches are the relationship-defining words between two soeur. The Yuri Kokoro web log actually listed scene by scene, “significant” speeches which were cut from the anime and manga arc of the first novel.

The manga suffers slightly less from this problem. On the whole manga is a freer art form than anything made for television, and the pacing of the manga is significantly slower and more dignified than the anime. What in the manga takes 7 chapters to cover, is handled in three episodes. So the anime, instead of being stately and graceful (which would be in keeping with the atmosphere of Lillian Academy) seem rushed and a little harried.

Then there’s the issue of detail. Because of the pace of the anime, details have been left out that affect the audience’s perception of the story. For instance – in the first arc, we learn that Sachiko is Kashiwagi’s cousin, they are engaged and, more importantly that Sachiko actually has feelings for him. So, then, why does she seems so angry with him?

Well, in the manga (and the novels) we learn that Kashiwagi is gay. So, look at the situation from Sachiko’s point of view – her father and grandfather don’t respect their wives (it’s well-known that they have mistresses). And because Kashiwagi is *really* not interested in Sachiko, she knows that she, too, will be in a loveless marriage of convenience. Yet, when we see Kashiwagi and Sachiko together, he pretends that he likes her, even going so far as to try and kiss her. Since she actually does like him (which, let’s face it, will turn to bitter contempt in time…indeed has already begun to do so) she, rightfully, thinks he’s a hypocrite.

Here’s what we don’t learn in the anime or manga – Kashiwagi recognizes that Sachiko has a genuine affection for Yumi, and he himself is interested in Yumi’s brother, Yuki. (Yuki doesn’t return the interest.) Kashiwagi actually suggests, at some point, that Sachiko become pregnant by Yuki, since he is unwilling to actually sleep with her himself. He implies that this way, they will have done their duty by the family and Sachiko can have Yumi’s baby, in a twisted way.

NOW you understand why she is so angry, yes?

So, in conclusion, we’re missing a *lot* of information from the novels in the anime and, to a slightly lesser extent, the manga. Nonetheless, the anime is very pretty, the manga is very lovely and I’m enjoying the heck out of watching these girls and their courting ritual. :-)

Check back for a quick overview of the second arc in a few weeks. This time it’s all about Rei and Yoshino, the only *real* couple among the Bara-tachi.

And don’t forget to join us on the Yuricon Mailing List to talk about Marimite to your heart’s content!

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