CONTROVERSIAL QUOTE

Why do I love Marimite? Let me count the ways:

First, a bit of background. When I was in elementary school and junior high I devoured books such as Little Women, Betsy-Tacey, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables between such standard fare as Lord of the Rings and the Dragonlance Chronicles. I’ve been fond of light romantic literature since before I could fap, and that has shaped my tastes to this day.

Something unique about books like Little Women is that nothing really happens in them. Characters grow older, relationships progress, but the story begins and ends at arbitrary points in time. There’s no significant plot arc or sense of rising and falling action – just a gentle, pleasant rolling sensation.

Marimite is the first anime I’ve seen that is in any way similar to this. One of the most important factors I should mention in this regard is age: the characters in Marimite are portrayed as relatively mature, while in your average Sunday morning shoujo you get a set of bratty little twits whose insipid, drawn-out romances are unpalatable (not that there aren’t other reasons to watch those shows).

I realize that this lack of movement is one of the reasons why the show is disliked, and I can understand that; it’s a matter of narrative preference. I appreciate a well-paced, nuanced, and progressive plot as much as anyone, but given a choice between a makeshift story that is strung out over hundreds of episodes when it could have been told concisely in 13 or 26 and the format of Marimite, I’ll take the second.

After watching the first episode of Marimite one of my first thoughts was “if there are any guys in this show it will be ruined.” The only other shoujo anime I’ve seen with relatively mature characters was Utena, which I couldn’t force myself to watch past the 12th episode. I can’t blame this on the male presence exclusively, but they did fag up a show that might otherwise have been really good. In Romantic era British and American literature testosterone had rules, even if it was as chauvenistic as ever; take away those rules and you lose the innocence (or pretext of innocence) that makes the stories entertaining.

A satisfactory solution to this for me would be to restrain and/or codify the male presence in shoujo anime, and this is no doubt done in some instances. I should note that I’m not a huge fan of the genre and don’t intend to become one (unless Marimite is proven to be the rule rather than the exception), but from what I’ve seen men are usually lousily portrayed in shoujo (exceptions: Kare Kano, Fruits Basket, Kodocha). The natural solution to this problem, the problem of lost innocence, is to remove the men altogether, and this is what Marimite does.

Before I forget, another note regarding Sunday morning, junior-high-age protagonist shoujo: it’s innocent, but frivolously so. Nobody looks for profound emotion in a magical girl show.

I know Japanese animation isn’t the first art form to turn to in search of profound emotion in general. It’s good at science fiction and explosions and spaghetti Western parodies, and moments of tranquil beauty tend to be few and far between. But I’ll take it where I can get it, and Marimite puts out. For me.

Again, why Marimite? Why yuri or shoujo-ai in general? Because it’s pure, it’s innocent. It’s a quality that is exceedingly rare in fictional relationships where a Y chromosome is involved. I’m not a huge fan of lesbian porn unless at least one of the girls has a penis, but when it comes to romance, and moments of pure emotion where physical contact is explicitly but gracefully omitted, give me shoujo-ai any day.