My name is Rhoda Baxter and I’m obsessed with the kids TV show Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.
I started watching the show because my daughter (then around eight) did. At first, I was merely amused by the villains in it, but the more I watched it, the more I became enthralled by the dynamic between the two leads.
Let me give you some background. The cartoon is in French and is dubbed into English. Series one is on Netflix in the UK.
Our heroine is Marinette Dupain-Cheng. A bright, creative girl whose parents run a bakery. She’s a kind soul and is generally acknowledged to be a Good Friend. [Let’s take a second to appreciate a Chinese-French biracial heroine who is happily in touch with both cultures. My own kids are biracial and they notice this sort of thing!]
Our hero is Adrien Agreste, famous model, rich kid and teenage heart throb. Adrien’s father (Gabriel Agreste) is stern and distant. Since the death of Adrien’s mother, Mr Agreste is ridiculously overprotective of his son. So much so that Adrien is rarely able to go out and be with friends like a normal kid. Despite his privileged upbringing, Adrien is really nice. Both of them are around fifteen years old.
Marinette has a pair of magical earrings called her ‘miraculous’, which transform her into Ladybug, a superhero with an unbreakable yo-yo (no really). While in real life Marinette is a slightly klutzy, starry-eyed dreamer, as Ladybug, she is strong and coordinated and her sharp mind helps her come up with creative ways to defeat the villain. Similarly, Adrien has a ring which transforms him in a Cat Noir, who has cat-like powers and an extending stick for a weapon. They both know, for the sake of their own safety and the safety of the people they love, they have to keep their true identity a secret … even from each other.
The villains are created each episode by the evil Hawkmoth, who wants to get hold of Ladybug and Cat Noir’s miraculouses. He finds a disillusioned soul and sends an Akuma (a black butterfly full of evil) to ‘evilize’ them. So the villains are nearly always friends or neighbours of the heroes. This is part of the reason why the villains are so interesting.
All this is background. The thing that keeps pulling back to watch this show again and again is… the love square (love quadrangle?). Ready? Marinette is totally in love with Adrien, but when she sees him, she turns into an incoherent wreck, so she’s never told him how she feels. Adrien thinks Marinette is a good friend, but doesn’t see her as anything more than that because … as Cat Noir he is in love with Ladybug! Cat Noir is not shy and tells Ladybug how he feels. He flirts cheekily with her in his goofball way and she turns him down every time because … her heart belongs to Adrien.
Oh! The tension! The angst! I love it. There are so many times when they come within a cat’s whisker of realising who they are… but don’t. Part of the lore is that they each have a special power (Cataclysm – the power to destroy – for Cat Noir and Miraculous Ladybug – the power to create/ return everything to normal – for Ladybug), but once they’ve used their special power, they have a limited time before they transform back into their normal selves. So one or the other of them will rush off and transform back to their normal selves and things are left unsaid.
In one scene, Ladybug is trying to protect Adrien. He has just transformed back from being Cat Noir and is hiding, so that no one realises they’re the same person. They are standing on either side of the door, Adrien talking to Ladybug and Marinette talking to Adrien. The need and the sadness is palpable.
Since it’s a kids show, the stories are often about friendship, loyalty and everyday bravery. But for us romance fans there’s plenty of longing glances and almost kisses (if you can think of an excuse for an almost kiss scene, they’ve used it). The romantic tension between them is exquisite! The teasing and camaraderie between Ladybug and Cat Noir is wonderful and, of course, the whole of Paris wants to know if there’s something going on between them.
I especially love the fact that while Marinette is attracted to Adiran for regular ‘he’s so dreamy’ reasons, Cat Noir is attracted to Ladybug because of her competence. He’s always happy to acknowledge that she’s the smart one. It’s part of why he loves her.
There is an episode where they actually kiss (I may have cheered), but neither of them remembers it afterwards (Gah!)
As I mentioned, there’s only one series on UK Netflix, so I’ve been trying to find them rest on YouTube (not entirely successfully). I’m even wondering if I should learn French, so that I don’t need to wait until the dubbed versions come up. The later series have brought in other characters and other potential love interests. I’m not sure I approve of this (furious side eyes at Luca and Kagami – how dare they get in the way of true love?!), but I’ll keep watching because I need them to get together, either as superheroes or as regular people. I don’t care. I just need it to happen!
In the meantime, if I write a book with parallel plotlines and a love quadrangle in it, you’ll know where it came from.
Images courtesy of Zagtoon, Inc.
How to Write Romantic Comedy by Jane Lovering and Rhoda Baxter
Do you want to write Romantic Comedy, but struggle with the comedy element of it? Are you stumped by how inject more humour into your novel? Do you want to know how story structure is just like telling a joke? Do you want to learn these things whilst being lightly entertained and given a giggle or two?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Award winning authors Jane Lovering and Rhoda Baxter have over twenty books between them (where they make a great defensive wall) and extensive experience of cramming laughter into literature. They will show you how to put comedy into your romances, and make you laugh while they do so.
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