I’m the oldest of three girls in my family, and my two younger sisters are twins, though you would never know it when you look at them. One, Isabella, is tan, brunette, short, and brown eyed, looking most like me. Her twin, Liliana, is pale, blonde, tall, and blue eyed, unlike anyone in the family. Despite our physical similarities, Bella and I could not disagree more. We fight constantly, throwing jabs at each other every chance we get (well, her more so, but I digress). With her getting older, I find myself struggling to make a connection with her before the developmental cut-off, the one that dictates whether we become friends now or as adults. So, when I began hearing the same voices from the same Netflix show coming from her phone every day, I decided to take a leap of faith. With limited questioning, I found my answer to be an unexpected one: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir.
To begin, I had no idea what this show was about. I overheard bits and pieces over the course of a few weeks, and expected some sort of children’s show in which every other episode featured the characters all joining in harmony and singing about sharing toys on the playground. I was too quick to judge, though. The show takes place in Paris, France. It’s actually a French show translated for American viewers. Also, I came to find out it was broadcast by none other than Disney Channel. So, I began watching my new French, Disney, animated show with no shame, and I don’t regret it.
The show features two superheroes, Ladybug and Cat Noir, and their roles as saviors of Paris against the evil Hawk Moth. In real life, Ladybug is known as Marinette Dupain-Cheng, a clumsy teen who aspires to be a fashion designer. Cat Noir is Adrien Agreste, famous model who joined Marinette’s class after convincing his father to take him out of home schooling. But, little does he know that his father is none other than Hawk Moth, and that’s just the beginning of all the insanity. You see, Ladybug and Cat Noir’s real identities must remain a secret to everyone but themselves. So, Marinette and Adrien have no idea that they’re working together every day as crime-fighting superheroes against Adrien’s own father (and his father’s assistant, which is later revealed). It gets even worse, because Marinette has feelings for Adrien, but Cat Noir has feelings for Ladybug, and neither of them know that they’ve been turning each other down… repeatedly. Cat Noir’s greatest competition is himself, and I have been absolutely writhing over it. It’s essentially a soap opera for children!
There is more to the story than meets the eye, though, which I only learned when I began to start analyzing the series for what it is between the lines. I am certain that if this show weren’t an animated one, it would have a much larger, more expansive fan base, simply because of how complex it is. Time passes in an obvious, constructive way that most children’s shows don’t. In fact, I’m going to henceforth refer to Miraculous as, simply, a show, no children included henceforth. Anyways, I loved the feeling of development both chronologically and in character. There was no “same age for the entire show” nonsense, no static main characters, and certainly no flawlessness. The amount of times I cringed at mistakes driven by integral character flaws is innumerous, but to create anything else would have been an act of irresponsibility.
Hawk Moth, as well as all of the superheroes in the series (and yes, there are many more as the story unfolds), possesses a sentient “Miraculous” that give them their specific powers and abilities. His is the Butterfly Miraculous named Nooroo, who inhabits a butterfly brooch that gives its wearer powers. With that being said, Hawk Moth has the ability to take a butterfly and “evilize” it. With it, he sends it out into the world to target someone with overwhelming negative emotions due to some sort of shortcoming, whether it be sadness or anger or heartbreak. He targets the weak and kicks them when they’re down. It’s quite malicious, to be honest. It was what startled me the most when I watched this show. This is a legitimate villain depicted as a cartoon, and perhaps that softens the blow just enough. In his real life, Gabriel Agreste is a cold artist who shuts his only son out emotionally for most of the series, yet keeps him on close watch by his bodyguard and aforementioned assistant, Nathalie.
The reason he performs these evil acts behind his family’s back? To obtain Cat Noir and Ladybug’s miraculouses, which are a ring and a pair of earrings, respectively. When used together, they grant one wish, and he intends to bring back his late wife, Emilie, who he keeps in his secret layer within a tube of some sort surrounded by a garden. That part freaked me out just a tad initially. This man, so desperate to bring his lost family back together, has shut out everything he has left in the pursuit of some jewelry, one of which is worn by his own son! I’m exasperated. Truly, honestly, fantastically exasperated.
Now, I don’t intend on recalling the entire series; no one has the time for that. I will say, though, that I absolutely adore most of the characters in this series, including the ones on the periphery, and laughed out loud at some of the concepts of this fictitious world. No part of me is ashamed to say I was absolutely hooked on this show. I still enjoy it to this day. The storyline is something complex enough to intrigue the mind, yet simple enough to follow. It provides twists and turns and ups and downs. My theory is that had this been a live action show on the CW, everyone would be watching it, so long as they had a keen eye for deeper values than what the surface provides.
What I loved the most, though, was sharing it with my sister. I realized many things during this process. I realized that my sister watched this show for a reason, and whether it be because she relates to Adrien in the cusp of her teen years, or because she’s as eager for romance between him and Marinette as I am, all I know is that she watched this show for a reason. It was I who underestimated her decision at first, and only upon further, true examination did I realize how wrong I was. Call me a child for it, I don’t particularly care at this point in my life, but I genuinely found this show to be captivating and entertaining. We shared a similarity I didn’t even know existed until I decided to pursue the possibility. She’d magically begin to watch the same shows I watched all the time, yet I never understood what she was struggling to convey until I unknowingly returned the favor one fateful afternoon.
In all, I learned more about my sister in two weeks than I have in the past, I don’t even know, two years? The amount of time thinking she was too abrasive to go near was because my attempts of establishing a connection were targeting all the wrong things. I had to show her that I was willing to look into her world as it is, rather than try and morph it into one with mine. Recently, it’s come to my attention that knowing someone for who they are is far different, and much more important, than knowing them for who you believe them to be. I wanted to display the former rather than the latter, and that I did. I delved into the world of my thirteen-year-old sister and found exactly that. Now, we get along better than I could have ever asked. Sure, we aren’t best friends, but we’re getting there. We talk about the show, and then expand into her life at school and boys and advice on said boys and scenarios. I’ve even been made designated guardian/watcher for when her and her boyfriend go on “dates.” I get to sit behind two thirteen-year-olds at the movie theatre, and it’s amazing being on the same page as her.
So, what does this enthusiastic review boil down to? Why have you just read an article on a show you have probably never heard of, and will probably never watch, despite my greatest efforts to convince you otherwise? Why is the story of a stranger and her sister relevant at all? Well, my friend, I serve as a gentle reminder: get to know the people around you for who they are. Take the time and energy to explore what they like and dislike, who they are and who they are not. We spend so much of our time in a disconnect with each other, but the solution lies within the simple gesture of saying that you care enough about someone that you want to get to know all of who they are. It is and always will be about the effort you put into your relationships that counts the most, regardless of outcome. Whole generations can reconnect in this way. I’ve come to learn that nothing is ever set in stone, as even stone can be eroded away in time. All it takes is curiosity, compassion, and a French-speaking girl in a ladybug costume.