This is an exceptionally long entry and contains many spoilers for the first novel/anime arc/manga volume, so if you have not yet read/watched/seen the first part of the anime Maria-sama ga Miteru, you may not want to read this entry.
This entry *assumes* that you are familar with what occcured in the first Marimite story and that you want to know “what you missed.” Consider yourself warned. ^_^
Recently, I have been spending my free time reading the first Marimite novel in Japanese, because I’m not fond of getting information second-hand, so I decided to go to the source and see what I missed. ^_^ It took me approximately a month to get through the thing. My main goal was to see how *much,* if anything, was removed or changed for the anime or manga.
My short opinion is – we didn’t miss *that* much.
I can *totally* understand how fans of the novels would find the anime rushed and lacking…that’s the nature of the beast. In the visual media the assumption is that you can show the audience something and not have to describe it. As I write this, I have finally figured out the fallacy to this argument:
The problem is, in a visual media, you can show us the school buildings, the statue, etc, etc, but you can’t call our attention to anything without making it an issue. So, if you want us to *notice* something, you have to use a camera angle, or focus, or something to MAKE us see it and even then, we might not notice it, really, because we’re busy looking at something else.
In a book, to draw our attention to something, you simply have to mention it. If a thing is never mentioned, we don’t know about it. Anytime you point out the gingko nuts, they are recalled to our mind. By the 15th time we’ve mentioned the gingko nuts, I can guess that they have a part to play here… ^_^
But more than anything, when you have established a particular pattern of description, thought, behaviors, etc, for characters, it does get annoying to have them portrayed out of context to a certain extent, by removing some of those factors.
As I enjoy books first, and all other types of media a distant second, I can really sympathize with fans of the novels, who would naturally feel that the anime was tepid in comparison. However, I am fortunate enough to enjoy the added layers each time I encounter the story, because I saw the anime first, then read the manga, then listened to the CD Drama and only read the novel last.
So, what was lost in the transition to anime and manga? Primarily description. Of the school, its buildings, the actions and reactions of the people. And thoughts. Less so in the manga than the anime, of course. Almost all of the thoughts that are cut out of the anime are left in the manga. Almost all. (Some scenes were moved around for the anime too, which peeved fans enormously.)
Last, but in this case, not at all least, what you lose from the anime is the *degree* to which everything happens. The emotions run much higher – the tension in each seen is greater and the reactions by the other, non-Yamayurikai, students is MUCH greater than we saw in the anime.
For instance, using the anime as the rule, we can see that Yumi is “normal girl” and we learn she admires Sachiko from afar. In the novel we learn that Yumi is really NOT normal – that she sees herself as unreasonably unexceptional, that she has significantly lower self-esteem than the anime makes clear…and that her admiration for Sachiko is really, REALLY, **REALLY** a lot. Not just a little – she’s a HHUUUUUUGGGE fan of Sachiko’s. Think stuttering, incoherent, fangirl.
More importantly, the thing we never see in the anime (or really in the manga) is just how alienated Sachiko’s attentions make Yumi feel.
Because Yumi isn’t Sachiko’s only fan in the student body.
And the other girls cannot, for the life of them, figure out how Yumi got so lucky. So, not surprisingly, they become jealous and resentful. They talk behind her back, they whisper about her as she walks the halls, they come to her classroom looking for her and point at her.
When Yumi sits in the music room and Sachiko finds her and plays a duet on the piano with her…Yumi has been there for *hours,* waiting for every last person at the school, including all the club members, to leave, so she doesn’t have to be the subject of more stares and whispers and maybe not-so-friendly questions. (Which explains why Yumi breaks down in tears when her friends are so persistent with their questions; and why Yumi wishes Sachiko had left her alone to admire her from afar, rather than drawing her into the limelight.)
One last note on this…when Yumi comes to dance practice for the first time and Sei pushes her forward and no one moves to dance with her- what is cut out there is that all the girls hear her name and freak out at her, because *she’s* the girl that the rumors were talking about. All the girls in the dance club have been practicing for months for this performance – they’ve never gotten to dance with Rosa Gigantea, but this newcomer does. ….And then, to make it worse, she’s paired up with Rose Foetida en bouton. Not surprisingly, the dance club members stare at her the entire time – and not in a nice way.
On the yuri side of things, we really don’t lose much, IMHO. When Sachiko slams into Yumi as she leaves the meeting room in the Rose Mansion, Yumi notices Sachiko’s body under the uniform…and immediately comments to herself that Sachiko’s chest is larger than her own.
Later, when Eriko asks Yumi is she likes the low neckline on Sachiko’s Cinderella costume, Sachiko comments that if Yumi likes it, then it’s fine, which makes Yumi really happy, until *she* has to try on the dress. (Yumi actually thinks, sure, we’re both girls, but I can appreciate a nice decolletage too, can’t I? OK, she doesn’t *quite* say it that way, but that’s the idea.) When Yumi realizes that Foetida is about to strip her down, she puts on the dress under her own power and is immediately dismayed by the gap between her body and the neckline. Sachiko snidely (and with great, if understated, relish) comments that Yumi thinks a little differently now that she has to wear it herself, huh? (All of this is actually captured in a small, one-shot manga story that comes with the Marimite “premium” fanbook, called “Before the Play.”)
Lastly, because the roles for the parts were not fixed until the day of the play, the costumers had to leave Yumi’s costume roomy enough for Sachiko to wear it if she had to. So Yumi has basically the same problem – too much space in the chest. Sachiko lends her a “gorgeous silk” bra and the costumers stuff it, so Yumi can wear the dress. (We get Sachiko’s exact bra size, btw…I have NO idea why.) There is a very funny moment while Yumi experiences mortification of several kinds as she contemplates wearing Sachiko’s bra.
Oh, and one last bra comment – at the veeerrrry end of the story, as Yumi watches the dancing from the grassy knoll, she thinks to herself that once she visit the Rose Mansion and returns the bra, all of this will be over. That was definitely *not* in the anime. ^_^
The final scene of the book is pretty much as you saw in the anime/manga…with one exception. I have to share this with you, because it was so wonderful.
Yumi has accepted Sachiko’s rosary at last and they stand in front of Maria-sama, listening to the music coming from the area of the bonfire. (We’ve had a variety of songs and instruments already for the entire scene, including a brass band and a medley of songs from “Oklahoma.”) The music switches into “Maria-sama no Kokoro,” the ubiquitous theme of the entire story. Sachiko listens to it and notes that it is in 8/6 time…a waltz! She takes Yumi’s hands and they dance together, watched only by Maria-sama and the moon…all very romantic. But…!
The song is being played on an accordion, harmonica and pianica (a reed instrument you blow into that has piano keys – Shimako plays one in the second season.) I had to laugh, because there probably aren’t three less sexy, less romantic instruments on the planet. ^_^
But seriously–waltzing to accordion, harmonica and pianica. How womantic.
And there you have it. My thoughts on the differences in the novel and the anime. I hope to read the second novel soon, so I can compare that, and the second anime arc, Kibara Kakumei: Yellow Rose Revolution.