Sometimes, the greatest obsessions in life come from children’s cartoons. All it takes for me to disconnect from the world is watching a show with little continuity and silly, nonsensical plot lines. This is what Miraculous Ladybug has become to me.
Miraculous Ladybug is a show about a clumsy but caring teenage girl named Marinette Dupain-Cheng, who is secretly Paris’s superhero, Ladybug. In her Ladybug form, Marinette can present a surer and more confident version of herself. Marinette has a massive crush on her classmate Adrien Agreste, a selfless and kind boy who grew up isolated from the world by his strict father. He also hides that he is Paris’s other superhero, Cat Noir. As Cat Noir, Adrien feels liberated from all the constraints in his life.
While they don’t know each other’s identities, Ladybug and Cat Noir protect Paris against the evil Hawkmoth, who uses his power of Akumatization, dark butterflies with dark and negative energy, to weaponize citizens in a vulnerable state. Possessed citizens bring destruction and help Hawkmoth capture Ladybug and Cat Noir’s miraculouses, magical jewelry that gives them their powers. These two miraculouses combined form the Ultimate Miraculous Absolute Power, the most formidable force in the universe that can grant anyone their wish.
It was revealed early in the show, to no one’s surprise, that Hawkmoth is Adrien’s father, Gabriel. Has that fact helped Hawkmoth succeed in the 100+ episodes and five seasons and counting? No, there have been plenty of close calls in episodes like Dark Owl and Troublemaker. There have also been hypothetical what-if episodes that show him succeeding, such as Cat Blanc and Ephemeral. But not once has it seemed plausible that he could realistically win, even when he watches Adrien like a hawk, even when he once suspected Adrien’s ring was the Cat miraculous. It has become somewhat of a joke how stupid he is as a villain. You end up rooting for him because, poor him, he has weaponized most of Paris (and has even Akumatized some people twice) and is only getting marginally closer to his goal.
Recent seasons have introduced new miraculouses and temporary holders (all of them being Marinette and Adrien’s friends and classmates because there are no more teenagers in Paris). Seeing Marinette and Adrien’s friends step into superhero roles is entertaining. Marinette’s best friend, Alya Césaire, was the first to do this and became Rena Rouge. Adrien’s best friend, Nino Lahiffe (also dating Alya), became Carapace. The school’s mean girl, and daughter of the mayor of Paris, Chloé Bourgeois, becomes Queen Bee, but she’s later expelled for betraying the team. More superheroes have come together to defeat Hawkmoth, who is now seeking more than just the two main miraculouses. In a shocking series of events, Hawkmoth acquires all the remaining miraculouses on the Strikeback episode but still has not gotten to the main prize.
The Main Ships
Miraculous Ladybug is perhaps most known for its complicated love square between Marinette/Ladybug and Adrien/Cat Noir and it is all because they don’t know each other’s identities. Let’s not get into the obvious fact that they do not look any different with or without their disguise and Marinette is the only girl in Paris with blue hair. Yet, their identities are entirely secret!
You have the alpha-alpha dynamic between Ladybug and Cat Noir (LadyNoir), who are first and foremost partners against Hawkmoth’s looming threat. But between all the world-saving, Cat Noir has openly expressed his romantic feelings for Ladybug, something she has dismissed repeatedly. Despite his flirtations, his efforts to conquer her heart and to convince her to reveal each other’s identities, Ladybug prioritizes the fight against Hawkmoth. Her constantly rejecting him is heartbreaking, but Cat Noir does not seem to understand or want to quit. After four seasons, I can’t say this is my favorite trope anymore.
Then you have their civilian forms, Marinette and Adrien (Adrienette), two very intelligent and popular but awkward teenagers. Marinette is madly in love with Adrien and spends every episode planning how to tell him (of course, all that gets derailed). Adrien is unaware of this even when she clumsily stumbles her words and blushes around him. There is evidence that Adrien may find her cute or have a slight crush on her, but he is still utterly clueless about her feelings. For good reasons, the fandom calls him Adrien, “she’s just a friend,” Agreste. Marinette’s obsession with Adrien can reach unhealthy extremes and she even has pictures of him in her room. This is my least favorite ship.
Then there is Adrien and Ladybug (Ladrien), probably the most boring. There is a lot of blushing and a lot of awkwardness. It is what we yearn for but none of the build-up or tension is there, so what is the point? This ship will not be heading anywhere because both see the idealized version of the other person; it is all make-believe and not reality.
Finally, Marinette and Cat Noir (Marichat), surprisingly the most popular, the one with the most fanfiction and buzz. This is my favorite ship of the four and one of my favorite ships in general. The saddest part is that it is all in the fandom’s heads. My obsession with this ship dates back to the hype surrounding the iconic balcony scene, where Marinette and Cat Noir are talking about being rejected by the person they like. You could say they are both horrible people for standing each other up and instead obsessing about someone who doesn’t care or feels the same way, which is each other. It gets very confusing, I know. But the great part of this ship is how open Marinette and Cat Noir are with each other. This is the only time they can be their authentic selves with each other, with no pressure of harboring feelings nor needing to impress each other. They have the typical banter and tension, with him flirting with her while she brushes him off. We like to delude ourselves into thinking their tension is romantic, a kind of enemies-to-lovers trope.
There are also other secondary ships like Luka and Marinette. Luka is a sweet guitar-playing boy that Marinette dates briefly. Surprisingly, I ship them more than Adrienette because Luka is truly swoon-worthy. On Adrien’s end, he also briefly dates Kagami, a girl who also has a strict parent and lifestyle. She learns to open up over time and has become a favorite character of mine.
The Long Awaited Reveal
If I had to pick a ship to get their reveal from, it would be Marichat. They have a lot of work to get their frenemies’ state into more than that. LadyNoir and Adrienette have the advantage of having one of them like the other person, so it does not require as much development. If I had to guess, the show is heading toward an Adrienette reveal, given Adrien may have a slight crush on Marinette. There have already been what-ifs as to what would happen if they revealed each other’s identities: spoiler, world destruction. Chat Blanc and Ephemeral episodes are just a few examples.
For now, Marinette has already revealed her identity to Alya in a very emotional and powerful scene. Luka, who turns into a superhero named Viperon, finds out Ladybug’s and Cat Noir’s identities. He is the only character to have such a privilege. Some have even speculated his nice guy persona might hide that he is actually a villain. Now that he knows this piece of information, it would be interesting to see if that becomes the case.
What’s to Come?
The show will likely continue following its circular pattern of starting each episode like no progress is being made toward a clear conclusion. It makes sense. The moment the reveal happens, the show loses its compelling set-up. For now, we will continue getting what-ifs, or moments that will be erased from memory because everything that happens during an Akumatization is wiped clean after Ladybug and Cat Noir use their main superpowers (the lucky charm and cataclysm respectively). Regardless, I will continue watching because I can pretend that the episode, I am watching will have long-term effects on the entire story. I can pretend every scene matters in the grand scheme of things. That is the pain of being obsessed with a children’s cartoon.