Yuri Manga: Strawberry Panic, Volume 1

June 12th, 2006

I admit it. I’ve been stalling.

Strawberry Panic, Volume 1 is yet another Maria-sama ga Miteru derivative, only this time, (unlike, say, Himitsu no Anjerisu,) there’s an edge of FanBoy-ness that has set my teeth on edge. Hence my stalling.

Let’s start with the single redeeming value of the Strawberry Panic manga – it’s better than the anime, which is very little more than a series of stolen memes from other, significantly better, Yuri series. (At minimal count, folks on the Yuricon Mailing List have identified concepts ripped from Marimite, Utena, Himitsu no Kaidan and Hatsukoi Shimai. We have no doubt that there are many others we haven’t caught.) The memes from Marimite are handled particularly odiously, IMHO. But I digress.

The manga is more generally a tyical girl’s Catholic school hothouse setting. It can claim as much Cream Lemon as Marimite as an antecedent.

Our heroine, Aoi Nagisa, is a typical cute loli-ish Dengeki heroine with the “cute” habit of referring to herself in third person. (I know it’s perfectly normal in Japanese. It still irks me.) On her first day at the unecessarily complicated Astoria school, she meets playgirl Hanazono Shizuma, whose name basically screams “I’m a lesbian!”. Shizuma is, amazingly, the star of not only the school she and Nagisa attend, St. Miator, but also the titulary head of the neighboring Lulim and Spica schools, as well. (Transliterations taken from the manga itself. Don’t whine if you don’t like them.)

I’d like to say that nothing happens, but in fact, quite alot does – mostly small seductions and harmless swooning over upperclassman. The relationships are complex enough that I really don’t feel like explicating. But the over-arching plot is that the annual competition for Etoile – the schools’ “star” (figuratively and literally) is about to be held. Shizuma wants to compete with newly arrived, and therefor horribly uninformed and completely unsuitable, Nagisa. LuLim is holding off this year, leaving only the athletic star of Spica, Ootori Amane and her chosen partner, Konohana Hikari – ironcially the only completely harmless and sweet love story amongst the lot.

In other words, we have a sort of Heaven vs Hell battle going on. (Look at the names again…) Miator’s uniform is black – Spica’s is white. Seriously, it’s about as subtle as a pair of lesbian elephants.

I can’t really put my finger on what bugs me about this series, except that the “almost kisses” make me nuts. And Nagisa is vile and whiny, yet everyone hasn’t stabbed her to death yet. That’s probably what annoys me most. (Go Amane and Hikari!)

In any case, Strawberry Panic will undoubtedly appeal to the same group of people who think Kannazuki no Miko was good. For those Yuri fans who *can* tell the difference between good Yuri and bad, this series will remain, like KnM, a fun train wreck of a story. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 6
Characters – 5
Story – 5
Yuri – 8
Service  – 7

Overall – 5

It’s not *awful*. It’s just not *good.*

Send to Kindle

22 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, aside from your relentless KnM bashing (it had good parts, really!), I have to agree: Strawberry Panic is trashy. The only bit I found interesting was how Shizuma isn’t depicted as the usual super-awesome-perfect older role model, but as someone with serious issues who happened to be very good at getting many, many girls to put out. Or maybe I was reading too much into it.

    Still, it *was* nice to not have to deal with the inevitable “other girls are jealous of affection being lavished on the newbie” arc. Everyone seemed to just be “oh, that’s just Shizuma, macking on the new cute girl. We’ll have to wait a few weeks to take our turn now.”

  2. The funny thing is, I have never once bashed KnM. I simply insist it made no sense and that the people who insist it is “good” (as in made sense, had well-developed characters, was well-written, etc) are morons.

    And yet…no one seems to be able to follow the above thought. Just because I think the people who think KnM was *good* are morons, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the anime.

    KnM was fun, I enjoyed it from beginning to end and am watching the licensed anime now. Look for reviews in the future.

    GOOD Yuri is not just a kiss or a grope. GOOD requires plot, character development and story resolution.

  3. Anonymous says:

    .>

    . . . I like the anime. It’s crap, and it’s trashy, and yes, there are near kisses and plots which are lifted right out of other shows, but . . . it makes me giggle. The Evil!lesbians, for instance, are a hoot. (Bees? Water?!) Amane’s horsey antics? And anime!Yaya has totally awesome chikane!angst going on, and chikane!angst was one of the few good things about KnM. And while Nagisa is still odious, she is FAR more tolerable in the anime simply because she *never* refers to herself in the third person.

    And the blue parasol ripoff? HILARIOUS. I actually enjoyed that episode without the shame I feel when watching the rest of the series. Strawberry Panic is a cheesy, trashy parody of every Yuri concept, ever. Sometimes, in that respect, it’s actually quite good.

  4. neo_hrtgdv says:

    Well actually I agree in part with anonymous; sometimes its fun just to notice ripoffs from other anime, the hydrangea chapter, the lost parasol, among others, are quire fun to watch and think “I’ve seen that before!”; and talking about the good part of the series is that they put many good concepts in a little cute package for the public, sadly you can’t do that and have a very good theme that doesn’t feel “artificial” in some way, I agree it isn’t the top notch Yuri anime, but there aren’t many Yuri themed anime as well (at least, not as many as some would like), Manga or novels? well that is really another story, though many can’t or don’t want to read the mangas and novels.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Though I dont agree with comparing Maria-sama to SP! ( c’mon thats like cookies to pickled pig feet!…not that theres anything wrong with pig feet.)

    I like SP because its not subtle. Sometimes in Yuri it just gets irritating how much beating around the bush they do, loving eachother quietly not thinking the other loves them- so they wait till the last moment for just a peck on the cheek. ( This might be more realistic, but it gets so boring after its re-used. >_0 )

    Though….I have to admit, the only reason im still going on the manga is the Naughty parts between Yaya and Hikari. ( Loser Fangirl) The Amane/Hikari suffers from the beating around the bush thing.

  6. Loserfangirl yay says:

    The funny thing is, I have never once bashed KnM. I simply insist it made no sense and that the people who insist it is “good” (as in made sense, had well-developed characters, was well-written, etc) are morons.

    Yeah, and that is your problem. People call you on this because, at the one hand, you claim not to take yourself too seriously.
    Yet at the other hand you do, since according to you, disagreeing with you = moron.
    That is like an art critic saying everyone is retarded for liking modern art, just because said art critic doesn’t like the style.


    GOOD Yuri is not just a kiss or a grope. GOOD requires plot, character development and story resolution.

    And exactly that is why KnM is liked. It has plot, it has character development, and also story resolution.
    It also has about 30% things that need to be cut out, that I grant you, the entire mecha were a typical Kaishaku idea. Did I mention I don’t like Kaishaku? I am sure I didn’t. I do not. I was so glad the anime was different from the manga. Their Alice manga is unreadable to me.

    But then…the cutting-out-stuff is hardly a fault of KnM alone. Same goes for a series like Noir, which probably needs to get rid of about 40% of the whole anime, at least.

    Sure, it wasn’t the best plot in the world, but neither was, say, the Noir plot(oh yay, stupid organisation of evil…creating legendairy assassins for…nevermind let’s listen to the music *Salva nos*). And the Hayate Cross Blade plot is nonexistant.

    Story resolution? KnM had that. A lot more than so-called story animes like Evangelion or Lain did. Sure, they could have shown more, but a resultion it was, and yes, it made perfect sense, after thinking for two minutes. Utena, on the other hand, had characters turning into cars. Which also required thinking for two minutes, and made sense then.

    And finally, character development. That it had, exceptionally much of it in fact. Mostly for Chikane and Himeko, who the anime was about. There is a major development for Himeko, who gains more and more confidence into herself over the series, even after a terrible blow. Also there is very very noticable development for Chikane, especially until her revelation that she is supposed to kill the one she loves, and her decision to avoid that at all costs, regardless if it alienates her from everyone she once was close to.
    There is hardly “few” development from the aloof, yet secretly shy girl who decides to sacrifice herself in the worst way possible.
    Oh and don’t give me the “this anime is condoning rape, yay” thing. So does Gravitation, in a way. Kannaduki, on the other hand, portrays that act as despicable. It is the worst thing Chikane can do to Himeko, that is why she does it, she wants to enable a character that cannot hurt a fly to kill. Himeko does not like Chikane because of that act, but despite it, the series made a very big point of that(unlike the MANGA does, or other Kaishaku manga do. The manga never even deals with this).
    Sin and Forgiveness. Same as Kenshin is forgiven for having been a mass murderer.
    Had they not explained this in the last episode, then yes, I would agree with you. But they did.

    There was suitable development for the important side character as well. Suitable, since they are side characters. It has also the only male character in anime who is able to let go.

    So, I disagree with you on it, because I watch the anime for Himeko and Chikane, and am able to blend the mechas out(who are stupid). And thus I love the anime. To bits. Utena did not even remotely have that effect on me.
    Yet that makes me a moron according to you, because I disagree with you. That’s pretty pretentious, no? ;)

    By the way: I am not enjoying the Strawberry Panic manga at all, and still adore the Kannaduki no Miko anime(not manga). Strawberry Panic is trashy. Period.

    I really like your blog – except when you go into one of your angry fits about people who dare to have the audacity of different opinions. You do good work, but that doesn’t make your opinion automatically more good and smart than that of others.

    Really, you have points, I am not saying you don’t, but not all fans of KnM are neccessarily stupid just because they like Chikane and Himeko as a couple.

    Kind regards,
    Another loserfangirl moron child thing(did I forget anything I am supposedly?)

  7. I have never said that people that do not agree with me are morons.

    Nor have I ever said that Himeko and Chikane are a bad couple.

    And the mecha isn’t a problem.

    When someone can tell me – using only the facts that were presented in the anime – who the Orochi’s kubi were, and why they were chosen; or why Himeko, who is clearly unsuited to attend a private and highly competitive school, was there; and why Chikane’s “eternity’ on the moon was not even remotely eternal, I’ll say it was a good story. :-)

    If I actually took myself – or any of this nonsense – seriously, I’d censor all comments that didn’t have praise and worship. Since I really don’t care, you’re all as free to disagree with me as you’d like. :-)

  8. And exactly that is why KnM is liked. It has plot, it has character development, and also story resolution.

    I’m sorry… were you watching the very same Kannazuki no Miko that I did? No, really…?

    Let me lay this out to you in black and white. (Oh the pun, for I scanlate the manga.)

    1) I will acquiesce. You do have more character development in KnM than Erica gives credit for in this blog. They are, in fact, angst-balls. Not to say that this is bad, simply that it is true. And well, like any good balls of angst, they eventually do, by the end of the series, get their ‘happy ending’ (which, for the record, really never did make sense, and I’ve yet to hear someone explain it to me in terms that do make complete sense), and with that comes some enlightment and understanding about life and how it works and blah.

    And yes, it’s cliche, but it did give a more appropriate insight in regards to rape, and rape victims, as well as the mindset that goes with that. At least in comparison to very many other modern day… stories, if you will. (Yes, I’ve experience with people of this type, no I won’t explain further. It’s not the subject up to debate.)

    2) Plot was… well, nearly non-existant. But the parts that did exist were highly character-driven.

    I’ll draw this out with 2 examples: one, the mecha. Yeah, hey they’re dumb. But without giant mecha running around, who’s Chikane gonna save Himeko from right? Anyway, the idea was there at least, so we have to give credit for that. Just the cheese-factor brings it down some.

    Two, star-crossed lovers forced to pit against each other. Wonderful premise, but admittedly overdone. Romeo and Juliet started it, and although the story is never *exactly* the same every time, it’s close enough to lose shock value.

    3) Story conclusion… I’m sorry, was there one? Chikane and Himeko meet on a street, who knows how many lifetimes later (I imagine it couldn’t be many – everything still looks about the same, after all) and they hug and know immediately who each other is somehow.

    Did the Chikane and Himeko of the anime continuum know each other that way? Why would they now? How could they now? Doesn’t that mean Orochi is back? But wasn’t Orochi destroyed? But how could the priestess be allowed to be reborn to join again if the Orochi wasn’t?

    And, in regards to Chikane’s ‘eternal imprisonment,’ as Erica said in so many words from her response, “eternal my ASS.”

    SO!

    Final results are –
    Character development scale: 8.7 (for a more reasonable and realistic portrayal of what people actually act like in real life when faced with certain situations, and at least some development of character from beginning to end [yes, Himeko does have to become a stronger person, and does]}

    Plot: 5.5 (for well, mecha [even if they’re dumb, they count], angstiness, and – of course – the train-wreck factor)

    Story Resolution: 2.0 (cause well… the girl gets the girl – so that’s about as good as we’re gonna get, here)

    You can’t really beat the odds there… :/

    Really, she may be pretentious, but the fact remains that there wasn’t a leg to stand on to start with in regards to Kannazuki. It was a train-wreck that made you want more. (More enough that I wanted to do the manga scanlation! Hah!) But yeah, you can’t say it’s more than what it is.

  9. Magwidgeon says:

    I think people who really love KnM are going to feel threatened by anyone calling them morons… I think the key here is to just love it, despite what anyone else has to say. Coz a lot of the time you can’t change someone’s mind :)

    Erica has the right to her opinion on her blog, whether we, the readers, like it or not :D (I usually like it, btw)

    My own personal opinion of KnM (because I matter too!): A lot of wasted potential, I guess. I found it pretty to look at, and I love angst (heehee), but ultimately, I felt the story disjointed. I thought there were some neat scenes to watch, but ultimately I was left feeling unfulfilled and frustrated, too.

    But then again, to a lesser extent, I felt the same way about Noir. I’m also one of the dopes who likes the Chloe character. I felt bad for her. I guess there’s no accounting for taste, huh?

    I just compare them to stuff like Stellvia and Last Exile and Haibane Renmei and ROD the TV…in my mind there’s a huge leap in quality.

    Hmmph. If only Battlestar Galactica had lesbians.

  10. neo_hrtgdv says:

    BACK to strawberry panic…
    I recently watched episode 12 and I honestly am kind of torn here, let me explain:
    On one side is the part of me that thinks that’s just too much fanservice and giving cookies of an anime, its all made to please the watchers and has what most people wants to see, lots of Yuri; “hawt” girl on girl action, lots of kisses and many insinuations and flirting; it has many holes in the story and we are left with little or no substance to believe what’s going on, so the “suspended disbelief” is kind of a must to enjoy it.

    Then the other side of me likes this anime because it shows and gives what no other Yuri anime has before: lots of Yuri stuff. We can read stories and read manga and find really awesome and well developed stories, we can imagine or in some cases even /live/ a good story, there are many ways to find a good story, and I’m sure one could find lots in this blog thanks to Erika and other people who posts or reviews here; but honestly I like SP because it gives us something we have never seen before in anime (or at least /I/ haven’t seen) just lots of Yuri action, sincerely I longed to see them kiss, flirt and do all the kind of stuff we dream every now and them; one can always find good stories, but I think we should enjoy simple things like those in Strawberry Panic.

    Our tastes might vary, but we all like Yuri; I understand that we might want different things for present and/or future Yuri; but I like Yuri because it has something for everyone! want good story and well developed chars? it has them, want lots of fanservice and hawt girl-girl action? it has it, want both? well it has it too, so there’s Yuri for everyone and I think that’s good…

    Just my humble opinion

  11. lurkery says:

    I found Strawberry Panic pretty boring but still as funny as a bad in-joke.

    Tamayo= Tomoyo
    Rokujo= Youko

  12. Anonymous says:

    well in my opinion knm and sp are both reasonably good Yuri anime series

  13. > well in my opinion knm and sp are both reasonably good Yuri anime series

    Yes. That was my point.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I don’t get it. Why is everyone saying SP! is such a bad anime? Personally I thought it was great. It’s funny and the characters all have their own history and personality (In the Anime). To me, the manga is kinda weird after seeing the anime, but still since there is no news of a second season, it’s better than nothing. Though I agree about the part that Nagisa keeps referrring to herself in third person, is kinda annoying, there is really nothing wrong about the whole series. If you don’t like it fine. But you don’t have to keep whining about it. Ruins it for everybody else that likes it.

  15. 1) Because the ENTIRE storyline and all the characters were stolen from other places.

    2) Because it’s my blog. I’ll whine about any series I feel like. You don’t like it, don’t read my blog.

    3) If you read my last review of the anime, you’ll find that I began to enjoy it, after the mid-season switch to bad parody written by smart people, as opposed to the bad parody written for stupid people it began as.

  16. Sorry- I’m not fluent in Japanese so could you please explain what the names have to do with anything? I’m interested and couldn’t find anything about it on the internet…

    Thank you! :)

  17. i’m sorry, i’m not fluent in japanese so i’m not certain what the significance of the names are. could you let me in on it? i tried looking it up on google and i couldn’t find anything. thank you :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    I happened to enjoy the anime, though the character development was terrible. Nagisa was somewhat more tolerable in the anime rather than in the manga. I got into it near the end of the anime, feeling sympathy for Yaya and Tamao, who lost out in the end.

    But I agree that it’s pretty trashy. I would’ve loved if the characters were more original and had a bit more background so a decent plot could develop.

  19. I just read this manga today and in truth, I am still uncertain about how I feel.

    I think the sudden thrust of the reader into the touching and groping threw me off and the politics with the whole “pageant” competition confused me.

    But for something so trashy, I’d read it :) Thanks for the review

  20. Sarah says:

    In one of your blogs, you proclaim Hanazono Shizuma’s name screams “I’m a lesbian!”

    I’ve been looking everywhere for a literal translation of the name and came to the conclusion it has something to do with flowers; other than that I came up rather short. Is there a literal translation at all or is it simply bits and pieces of other words that have similar subliminal meanings?

  21. Sarah – It’s not a literal translation thing. Shizuma’s family name “Flower Gardern” implies the “Secret Floer Garden” of illicit sexual fantasy. Amane’s name is redolent of a great bird of heaven.

  22. Anonymous says:

    this is kind of a belated comment since you blogged the entry more than two years ago (and you may not even read or care about it anymore) but while I do feel like something was missing in Strawberry Panic, I don’t quite agree with some of your reasons. I’ll only touch on the most important issue since I don’t want to get my feet too wet. The whole deal about how the storyline and characters were stolen from other titles in the genre… I really don’t see how that relates to whether a series is good or not. The execution of these ideas is the important issue, not where the ideas came from. The outside baggage you bring with you in viewing the anime/manga/visual novel is really your problem, though I do grant that for a dedicated Yuri reviewer like you it is probably a lot harder to segregate what you’ve been exposed to previously and what you’re reading/watching now. If you focused more on where the execution of characters and plot fails in SP I feel like your entry + rebuttals would have been that much more convincing.

Leave a Reply