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Suzu Doesn't Want Yuu Hurt (Part 2)
Source: TV
Layers: 4
No sketches available
Cel Number: A1, B1?, C1, D1
Oversize, 10.5W x 10H

Key Cel
No Background

Added 8/29/2018
Updated 11/3/2018
Episode 33 - Lost Love [I Love Yuu]

Animation Director: Michio Satou

In Part 1 of this feature, I gave an in-depth look at the scenes containing this cel, as well as several events leading up to them.

Click here for Part 1.

Part 2 will begin with a look at Marmalade Boy's titular character, followed by more on Suzu's voice and her voice actor. At the conclusion, I will offer a few thoughts.

Yuu Matsuura, Conveniently Clueless

Before saying any more about Suzu, I'd like to point out something about Yuu. Frankly, he is a complete moron when it comes to women's feelings. He's the cool, good looking guy that all the girls seem to fall for, yet many times he seems completely clueless about them. He dismisses Suzu's advances because he sees her as a child; his method of dealing with her is to condescend and patronize. To a spoiled little princess like her, this is just adding fuel to the fire. Yuu should have sat her down and told her the score, for whatever good it may have done.

He doesn't fare much better with Miki, either. He seems to have a hard time taking her concerns and insecurities seriously. For Miki on the other hand, every girl that bats her eyes at Yuu is a serious threat to their relationship. She is particularly worried that he will fall for Suzu, because she is so pretty. I think it's so funny how Suzu is played up as a beauty-it's not that she's ugly as such, I just don't see that she stands out that much visually from the other girls in the cast. Not as a general rule anyway.

Beyond that, Suzu-tara kissed Yuu on the lips in front of not only his own girlfriend, but also his ex-rival Ginta and Ginta's new potential love interest, Arimi. Arimi herself being Yuu's ex-quasi-girlfriend.

Sigh, isn't shoujo fun?

I don't claim any expertise on these matters, but common sense suggests that if Yuu doesn't want Suzu to become a problem it would be unwise to just leave things as-is. What does he do? Keeps right on tutoring her. He continues to write her desire off as immature. To him, her kiss is like that of a little sister. This strikes me as very shortsighted.

Yuu tries not to acknowledge Suzu's advances as best he can. It does not matter to him in the slightest how serious she thinks she is, and this is his biggest mistake in his dealings with her.

Maybe his insensitivity to Suzu is because she's younger. Seniority is traditionally a very big deal in Japan. Arimi is his age, and if I remember correctly he treated her interest in him with a great deal more delicacy. Of course, it could just be that he just doesn't like Suzu, I'm not really sure.

She may be immature; however, she is definitely not stupid. Neither is she content to be pushed aside like this. Rather than simply trying to pretend Miki is not there, Suzu becomes almost openly hostile to her. This hostility comes to a head in Episode 43, with Yuu sort of letting things roll almost the entire time.

I doubt this will surprise you, but I'm not one of Yuu's biggest fans. He is almost always unaware of the emotional chaos around him. Often he only really begins to grasp that trouble is afoot when it smacks him in the face. Sometimes, even that isn't enough. Sadly, Miki is the one who seems to bear the brunt of many of the emotional challenges that come along to regularly threaten their future together.

Soshite Suzu-chan wa... (And As for Suzu...)

In spite of her deep-seeded early hostility, Suzu isn't entirely unlikeable after all. She has some funny moments, some cleverly rendered expressions, and of course, a super-cute, delightfully entertaining voice.

You may be wondering why I went over so much of the sound. Really, the sound-particularly the dialogue-is as much a part of these sequences as the video, and for her place in the cast Suzu gets a surprisingly large chunk of it here.

Cost Effective Animation....

While it's true that it was cheaper to animate Scene 1 in a relatively simple fashion, the simplified animation also has the effect of highlighting Suzu's voice.

Consider the following--

-There is very little animation throughout this scene, and some of it is even reused. Most of the action is made up of pans and large still shots of the characters, where only parts of their faces move.
-More complete animation is largely reused from flashbacks.
-Yuu is supposedly talking her through the lesson the whole time, but her "editorial" speaking mostly cancels his voice out. He actually says very little through the whole thing.
-Suzu is at best only sort of part of the main cast. Yuu however, is BOTH series co-lead and the "Marmalade Boy" to which the title refers. Yet, the vast majority of the dialogue in this sequence belongs to her, and she is talking to herself. While it's clear that Yuu is tutoring her in English here, they could've have made it Math if language was the driving factor in limiting his dialog.

In fact, Yuu is also supposed to be tutoring her in Math. With English being chosen as the subject for this scene, his dialogue can rather easily be glossed over and silenced without any obvious problem. Large chunks of what he said would not only be irrelevant to the intended audience, it might not even be understood. While the Japanese education system places a high value on English instruction, a relative lack of real-world experience in the language by most Japanese means it is often difficult for them to use properly in practice. This is actually referenced later in this series. Arguably this may have been more of a problem in the early-mid 90's when Marmalade Boy was made.

I'm of the opinion English was chosen for the purpose of limiting the presence of his voice without obvious consequence to the story. It would be more natural this way, since the at-home audience might not have the most firm grasp of what he was saying anyway.

...Meets Effective Voice Acting

All factors above considered, here is the takeaway-

Suzu's voice is allowed to carry the show almost entirely by itself for over a minute-with only some dramatic music, a few well placed sound effects, and minimal participation from Yuu-sensei. In fact, the entirety of Scene 1 seems to have been designed around this very intention.

In other words, the entire animation staff and sound production crew-whether intentional or not-placed the dramatic quality of Scene 1 largely on a single person-the young, relatively inexperienced seiyuu giving Suzu her voice.

The talking-to-oneself gambit can be highly effective, but you need top-shelf voice talent to make it work. When the animation itself becomes limited in the process, sound and voice become even more important in presenting the scene effectively.

I would say it worked very well here. Suzu comes across as angry, devious, and just a bit loopy. She seems to have misunderstood a number of things, and conveniently in favor of her own agenda.

My favorite reaction is near the end of Scene 2, where she fires off that "Hmph!" sound, then proceeds to whine to herself about Yuu's refusal to believe her. I can't even fully make out her phonics in the original Japanese, but all the immature frustration of a spoiled little princess not getting her way comes through loud and clear.

It bodes well for the future success of a performer if they can somehow relate a character's feelings through even part of a language barrier-it is an impressive ability.

With very little lip-synching to either obstruct or deemphasize the vocal mechanics in Scene 1, this cel is part of two scenes that together are perfect for demonstrating the ability of Suzu's seiyuu.

In the second scene, she is acting for the character. In the first, she is also laying out Suzu's thought processes in-depth for the viewer, with very little outside assistance. Those thought processes continue to be effectively demonstrated with both vocals and animation whenever Suzu is shown over the course of the next several episodes. Really throughout the series. Gradually her appearances become less regular, but she is never completely taken off the show.

I've gotten so deep into the mechanics of the character vocals I haven't really said much about Suzu's voice actor, have I?

Echoes of the Future

There's a scene in Episode 42-we'll call it the "New Year's Episode". Everyone meets at the local shrine for traditional festivities, before splitting up. Suzu tries to go with Yuu of course, but he promptly grabs Miki and they head off on their own. Exasperated, Suzu calls after Miwa-oniichan. He; however, is busy chasing after Meiko's kimono-I have to admire his determination, he's been at it awhile by this point.

Seemingly from out of nowhere, Arimi on her own volition kindly invites Suzu to come along with her and Ginta. Suzu looks at them both-while Ginta remains silent, it is strongly hinted that *he* is not comfortable with the idea at all, and the animation suggests that Suzu can sense this as well. After a moment she refuses, insisting she would be a bother. Relieved, Ginta grabs Arimi and makes a hasty getaway. He really doesn't even try to hide his feelings. I can even imagine him chewing Arimi out about it later.

What does this have to do with anything? I found it really strange that Arimi was the one out of all of the regular characters who suddenly offers Suzu the hand of friendship. Somehow it seems to have been a hint of the future beyond Marmalade Boy. I see strange coincidences in animation all the time, as well as events in one series that seem to be in some way "echoed" in later series. There really isn't much explanation for this, either.

If nothing else, it shows how Arimi changed for the better once she stopped persuing Yuu. I would have expected that the Arimi that just couldn't stand to be without him would have torn little Suzu to shreds.

Sorry for going off on a tangent like that. Where was I? Oh yeah, I remember.

Suzu's Seiyuu

It is perhaps a bit ironic that of all the characters in Marmalade Boy, Suzu just happens to be the only celebrity. Her seiyuu, on the other hand, was not well-known in anime at the time. She would not remain so however. By the end of the 1990's, she would join the ranks of Japan's best known-and most popular-voice actors.

Suzu Sakuma from Marmalade Boy is one of the earliest roles of singer and voice actor, Sakura Tange.

Among Tange-san's many credits are Yuki in Nintama Rantarou, Hitomi from Tonde Būrin, MIDI from Voogie's Angel, Princess Beryline in The Violinist of Hamelin, and Muse from Tenshi Ni Narumon (English Title: I'm Gonna Be an Angel!) . While she retired from voice acting in favor of a singing career in the early 2000's, she returned to the field around 2011.

Voice Actor Sakura (Tange)

Tange-san is best known by far for her vocal portrayal of one of the most widely recognized anime leads of the 90's. Namely, Sakura Kinomoto in the immensely popular mahou no shoujo series CardCaptor Sakura. Often the title is shortened to simply "CCS".

Much more recently she has reclaimed her signature role, lending Kinomoto her voice in CardCaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc.

The fact that a really popular seiyuu shares her given name with her most recognized role is one of the strangest coincidences I have ever seen in voice acting.

As the character represented on this nearly forgotten cel, Suzu came along at a time when Tange-san was just beginning to build a career as a seiyuu. Many different roles and character types would come her way in the years between Suzu and Sakura [Kinomoto].

Coming back to Suzu, the voice is right on the money for the character. Cute and sweet one moment, stormy and unpleasant the next. Keenly intelligent, but often very childish-even occasionally a bit goofy. Tange-san read this character right down the line. A brilliant performance, in my opinion. So adept is she at effects and expressions, Suzu's vocalizations are many times the best part of the character.

My Take on CardCaptor Sakura

In saying this I'm not trying to tell anyone else what to watch, but CCS is just not the show for me.

Incidently, I haven't singled out CCS for this opinion, either. There are of course other series that wouldn't suit me, regardless of whether any particular voice actor was involved.

Beyond Kinomoto, Very Briefly

I want to talk about a couple characters I mentioned earlier.

First, Yuki from Nintama Rantarou. Tange-san took over that role from Mariko Kouda. At the time, Kouda-san was voicing Miki Koishikawa in Marmalade Boy. Suzu's seiyuu took over a lead role from Miki's seiyuu! Tange-san would keep the role until her retirement, when Kouda-san was brought back for the part.

While I'm not overly familiar with the series, Nintama Rantarou started in 1993 and is still running today, reaching it's 25th Anniversary this past April. Kouda-san has been Yuki's voice ever since stepping back into the role.

Tange-san played MIDI in Voogie's Angel to marvelous effect. One of the key elements of her effectiveness was the vulnerability she gave MIDI. Sweet and cute is fine, but vulnerability, now that is an element that can really make a good performance a great one. In my opinion vulnerability is a quality that can be extremely difficult to convey credibly.

A Loose End

I picked Voogie's Angel as a quick example to help tie up a loose end I left myself. Remember what I said about Arimi specifically offering her friendship to Suzu in Episode 42 of Marmalade Boy, and how that was an echo of the future? Arimi was voiced by Aya Hisakawa, who would voice not only Kero-chan in CardCaptor Sakura, but also the title character in Voogie's Angel. I previously mentioned the role that Tange-san played in each of these series. In both cases, her character and Hisakawa-san's character were either close friends from the start, or became close rather quickly.

It would be almost three years between Marmalade Boy and Voogie's Angel, and almost four between the former and CardCaptor Sakura.

While they were never particularly close friends, just the fact that Arimi even tried to be a friend to Suzu is enough for me to see those later events as strangely congruent.

These kinds of odd occurrences could probably be traced around all over animation. I think that some unusual parallels are worth describing, however.

Final Thoughts

My experiences with native-language anime go back a number of years, but not as far back as some. Of course, Marmalade Boy forms a large part of that early experience-in more ways than one. I am a bit disappointed in a way that the mean and nasty side of Suzu is shown almost exclusively here. She eventually mellows out a bit, and can be a rather sweet little girl when she wants to-even a skosh silly at times.

I did NOT form an opinion on CardCaptor Sakura without at least watching some of it. There are moments from this series among my earliest recollections in un-dubbed Japanese animation.

In any case, I'd like to think I can appreciate a highly-skilled voice actor regardless of which of his or her roles I prefer. It can be difficult to trace the history of a voice actor back this far, which also factored into the extended vocal analysis above and in Part 1.

I watched this cel remain available for sale long enough that I wondered if it might disappear into oblivion. True it is not in the best shape, but I certainly don't think it should have been written off. I love Suzu's expression, although I'm glad I have the setup showing her eyes at initial position. For some reason, she looks rather goofy with her eyes focused more to the top of the shot.

Perhaps I don't give it the best of care, but hopefully its fate with me is better than being left to ruin on a store shelf deep in the recesses of an old shopping mall-like complex in Tokyo. If nothing else, perhaps I have managed to show that one just never knows what stories-or whose stories-the forgotten pieces of animation have to tell.

Anyway, thank you for staying with me for such a long time.

NOTE: About the Graphics Below

These screencaps represent two different production shots. The one on the left is the same one from Part 1, while the one on the right shows the initial angle for the head turn animation near the end of Scene 2. Note that two layers of my setup, Suzu's body and her hand holding the click pencil have been incorporated into the frame.

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