03 Oct 2006

Strawberry Panic! – waiting for the final episode!


Strawberry Panic! fansub releases from Doremi Fansubs.

There are some themes running through the animes I most enjoy watching, but I’m not going to get into that now. Suffice it to say that Strawberry Panic! is a shōjo anime (i.e. designed for young girls) with a strong yuri content – more explicitly lesbian than most shows commonly categorized as yuri.

This may be about the most unoriginal anime I’ve seen. It does absolutely nothing that hasn’t already been done – and done better – by Marimite (Maria-sama ga miteru, the “classic” girls school shōjo anime, and the staple of shōjo and yuri fans alike). Nothing in Strawberry Panic! is especially moving – with the exception of the story of Kaori, which was somewhat predictable and calculated, but well done. And even that was better handled in Marimite.

But having said that, it has been a fun ride. Marimite’s melodrama could be hard to take at times, and there are some characters in Marimite’s cast who go well beyond credibly flawed into being truly annoying. Central character Fukuzawa Yumi’s lack of assertiveness and overwhelming angst is important to the story, but sometimes bordering on sickening. Strawberry Panic!’s girls are generally better-balanced, while still being varied; conniving or trusting, predatory or gentle. Lead Aoi Nagisa is clearly a copy of Yumi, but has flashes of strength when it matters.

I’ll have no trouble watching Strawberry Panic! again. Marimite, however, as much better as it is – there were episodes that I knew I’d have trouble with even before seeing them the first time. With such strong affections and sympathies that the show engenders, you know you’re going to be heartbroken when it’s time for the upperclassmen to graduate, and for partnerships to break up – which is stretched painfully over the course of half a season, not resolved in a single episode. I will watch Marimite again – it’s a wonderful series – but it won’t be any time soon.

Many of the relationships in Strawberry Panic! are quite explicitly sexual. Although Marimite is very romantic, there’s only one openly gay character (Sei), and her (tragic) relationship is in the past. Strawberry Panic! recreates Sei as Shizuma, complete with tragedy, but adds two more explicitly lesbian relationships, one touching and romantic, the other being a pair of stereotypical Evil Psychotic Lesbians (but who redeem themselves somewhat late in the series). Plus the hints of the old married couple (high schoolers who’ve been rooming together forever) across the hall, who have occasional huge fights, [spoiler /Mild spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] Nagisa’s roommate Suzumi Tamao’s interest in Nagisa (clear to the viewer, but not completely understood by Nagisa, at least up to episode 25)[/spoiler] and [spoiler /Moderate spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] Yaya’s unwanted advances that threaten to destroy her friendship with Hikari[/spoiler].

Too much to be believable, in fact. But at the same time, it’s refreshing to see the akogare / admiration common in shōjo to be resolved into love [spoiler /Spoiler – names/ /Hide spoiler/] (in at least the cases of Shizuma / Kaori and Amane / Hikari – and I’d claim, also EPL Kaname)[/spoiler] rather than left ambiguous. It makes for good romance.

So after 25 episodes, there are two outstanding questions: [spoiler /Spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] who will win the Étoile election? and have Shizuma and Nagisa finally given up on each other? The answer to the second has to be yes, disappointing though that is, and to the first – I have absolutely no idea[/spoiler]. An entire generation of Japanese teenage girls was no doubt unable to sleep until these questions were answered.

Or not…

But I do want to see that final episode, and refreshing the BitTorrent list at doremi-fansubs isn’t yielding anything.

I’m hoping to drop this series from my current obsessions within the next couple of days. Though I think I’ll rewatch it soon.

Added later: There’s one aspect of this show that I think is truly horrible. The ending theme is not animated. It’s two female singers performing a really cheesy duet. Actually, two, one for the first 13 episodes, the other for 14-25 (so far), but they’re equally cheesy. The performance is mock-yuri fan service. So fake it is painful to watch. I mean, seriously, I can’t watch it all the way through, it is so bad.

I discovered today at animenewsnetwork.com that the performers are Nagisa’s and Tamao’s voice actresses. Now I feel positively sickened that these two would do something so awful and so pandering to otaku. And… they’re even Mai and Mikoto in Mai HiME! Ewww, they need to stick to voice acting, or fire their agents.

Current obsessions: (anime) Strawberry Panic!
Reading: The Narrows (Michael Connelly)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 at 10:16 pm and is filed under Anime. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Strawberry Panic! – waiting for the final episode!”

  1. […] I’m rewatching Strawberry Panic!. On second viewing, I see that there’s foreshadowing. Not subtle (which would be unexpected for this series), but moving nonetheless. Foreshadowing – ending spoiler ▼ Suzumi Tamao’s poem about hopeless devotion to an unreachable rainbow is clearly predicting her unrequited love for Aoi Nagisa. […]

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