Yuri Anime: Strawberry Panic

September 28th, 2006

Here are my final thoughts on Strawberry Panic as I expressed them on Zyl’s most excellent blog Hontou ni so omou?:

Considering the fact that this story is really no more than a collage of recognizable scenes, stereotypes and conventions taken openly from other series, I have to say, I thought it turned out pretty good.

There’s no denying that Strawberry Panic wasn’t brilliant, but considering that it was meant to be trashy, it pulled out a few moments of dignity and elegance out of the trash heap.

As stolen memes go, using the (admittedly obvious) one from The Graduate for the final episode made a satisfactory semi-resolution.

Yes Miyuki and Tamao are still doomed to lives of loneliness and alcoholism, but as clones of Youko and Tomoyo that was their fate from the very beginning. In other news, the Shizuma x Nagisa, Amane x Hikari, Kaname x Momomi and in a surpising late entry Yaya x Tsubomi pairs all live *happily ever after!* or some reasonable facsimile thereof, until bad fanfic writers kill one of the pair off in a heavy-handed attempt to create crisis and re-pair the other with someone else.

But I digress.

No, SP is not a diamond in the rough, but let us call it an attractive riverstone, washed suprisingly clean and shiny by the many, many, MANY tons of water that has flowed downstream from clearer and cleaner sources. ^_^

Considering that I began watching this anime with something akin to loathing, I might have to retract the “not brilliant” comment. It must be some kind of decent/funny/entertaining for me to have 180’ed so thoroughly. I’m not sure if it’s a case of the story becoming real and richer despite itself – as parodies are wont to do, just ask any fanfic writer – or the writers managed to find something unique to play with within the framework of the openly stolen memes. I’m inclined towards the former, as I’ve read many a story that started as a 2-dimensional parody/ripoff that suddenly morphed, without the author being really cognizant of the moment of change, into a decent-ish story.

There’s a great scene in Dorothy L. Sayers Strong Poison where mystery author Harriet Vane is bemoaning that very thing to a only-partially sympathetic Lord Peter Wimsey. He, quite rightly, insists that if a writer is going to write anything worth reading then, when the moment comes, s/he must shed the potboiler facade and *write* – conscience be damned. I’d like to think that that was happened here.

What began as thin, barely 2-dimensional trash developed a personality, while never losing that sense of “what can we steal this week?” So, let’s call Strawberry Panic the clever, fun-to-be-around street whore of a Yuri series that it is. ;-)

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21 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    “street whore of a Yuri series”

    That reminds me so much of http://www.leasticoulddo.com/index2.php?date=20030704

    Now I can’t stop imagining Shizuma on a corner somewhere, holding a sign reading “Will grope shy submissive girls for a buck.”

  2. Futaba-chan says:

    No numbers? I’d imagine that the LFB score would be, um, rather high….

  3. Anonymous says:

    I certainly enjoyed this series quite a lot – I mean, I couldn’t make it through a single episode without bursting in laughter! Shizuma’s “I love you!” in the last episode had me literally Rolling On The Floor Laughing. But, well, I guess that’s a commendable achievment in and on itself, even if most of the comedy was wholly unintentional (I refuse to believe that Kaname’s utterly glorious, outstandingly magnificent “You are the chosen one!” wasn’t meant to be funny).

  4. Zyl says:

    Polished riverstone and not diamond in the rough – a perfect analogy.

    Thanks for the plug, Erica! :)

  5. neo_hrtgdv says:

    Smash me with the LFB mace but.. I actually liked Strawberry Panic ending a bit more than the Simoun one, I mean, honestly when one is tired and sleepy SP ending is easier to get in the brain than the Simoun one, but it is not because of that that I liked this ending better, I liked a lot how the characters at this point have more than they began with, Tamao was wonderful (as always) Shizuma earned my respect and admiration, Nagisa finally decided for something and this ending was very remarkable to me, I also liked how this one is an ending: there’s no maybe, no loopholes (no more than we expected) everything was handed to us as it is, one doesn’t need to think a lot to get the ending and enjoy it. I am not saying I didn’t like the Simoun ending, I loved it, but I personally enjoyed SP ending more, and yes I am saying I really really liked this ending ^-^.

  6. That is exactly what I have been saying since the beginning – Sp is going to be more popular *because* it’s easier, simpler and more geared towards Lowest Common Denominator.

    I prefered Simoun *because* it was more difficult, the story was more complex, the characters richer, the memes mor original, one had to actually pay attention, and think while watching it. But I know that the vast majority of fans prefer the pat and easy to understand.

    This is exactly why I define SP as fun, but not “good” while Simoun was, IMHO, “good” Yuri.

  7. neo_hrtgdv says:

    I too think that Simoun, as a whole, was way batter than SP. the relationships and how they developed were much better than in SP, yes, I am just saying that the in the final chapter, and only at the very end SP beated Simoun for once (to me at least) the very last part with Nagisa and Tamao really weights because its not a “lived happily ever after” we know that our main character still has to return to her room, and see Tamao, and go about her school life. While I liked Simoun ending as it explained a lot and also had many resolutions Neviriru and Aeru were… well you know.

    So yes, Simoun was better, but IMHO SP had a better ending, but I think it all depends on what you want from an ending, a smile and the feeling it all was so awesome (my personal choice) or the “open ending” we get for many anime (and is good too, but I’ve seen too many of those to get too exited about them -_-‘)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Simoun was Yuri? I must have missed that.

    But serious the Simoun ending was just lame the whole show was full of tension and drama and the ending was just boring nothing to me.

    At least with SP it was nothing from beginning to end.

  9. vee says:

    Huh. Well, I guess I fall into that set of people representing the lowest common denominator :). I adore Marimite, but I definitely have a place in my heart for Strawberry Panic as well :).

    Yes, there are blatant rip-offs from Marimite–not to mention countless other sources–but I really didn’t mind it. I admit to being uninformed enough on most pop-culture references for the vast majority of it to have sailed over my head :). It was definitely farcical at times, but no episode failed to make me smile at least once, and the last half of the series definitely got me all angsty and ready to be *very* unhappy if Shizuma and Nagisa didn’t have a happy ending … *together*! :)

    I could’ve done without the Amane/Hikari romance; I don’t think the episodes did enough to get me invested in either character–and, I must admit Hikari’s voice annoyed me. I was definitely feeling for Yaya, though. Also, I would probably have been happier if they’d managed to leave a few more scenes featuring Chiyo or Kagome on the cutting room floor. My *god* their voices made me cringe! And, there were lots of WTFs. For one, does the Saintly Chorus know any song other than the one they rehearsed over and over and *over* again? If they sang more than one, it was so similar to the others that I missed it!

    But on the whole, I know I read/watch/indulge in anything for the sole purpose of escapism, and part of that includes a preference for unambiguously happy endings :), so for this purpose, Strawberry Panic fit my bill quite nicely :).

  10. bubbleum says:

    Here are a few words from a Proud member of the “Lowest Common Denominator”.
    So, “collage of recognizable scenes, stereotypes and conventions” – this goes too for almost every romantic book/film/anime, because, let’s face it, the romance genre nowadays is quite depleted. After so many old classics, it’s not only normal, but it’s understandable. And exactly that’s why SP is so great – it uses the same ol’ cliches and stereotypes in a brilliant way(except the amnesia, nothing to say on that). Even though all the same ol’ sh*t, Strawberry Panic still manages to pull out a magnificent show with complex chars and heartbreaking melodrama. Of course, it wasn’t a real masterpiece nor it meant to be trashy…and after the moments of “dignity and elegance” calling it a trash? Doesn’t make sense to me… at all.
    “Yes Miyuki and Tamao are still doomed to lives of loneliness and alcoholism” – was that meant to be funny? Hmm, “clones of Youko and Tomoyo” – not much of a Yuri fan(though SP changed that with ease), so don’t know who these two are…Mind enlighten me? Assuming they are from manga/novel which I haven’t stumbled across…yet. Oh, and about “street whore of a Yuri series” – I suppose I have no sense of humour…
    Anonymous: “At least with SP it was nothing from beginning to end” – and “begining to end” was the whole first ep? Or maybe you managed to pull through the second? Not going to ask for third… Here’s an idea – try stopping the hentai for a while, it’s hard watching two things at the same time.
    Have to admit, the analogy “polished riverstone” wasn’t bad, but it left me feeling that the SO many tons of water drifted you with the current as well…

  11. Anonymous says:

    hmm,poeple..why ur comments is so different from comments on http://www.veoh.com/channelVideos.html?c=strawberrypan
    -and then anime is anime..u need to enjoy it not to watch jst for bad comments!!!

    and if all anime be like Simoun or Kannazuki no Miko….(i did enjoy them..BUT)
    i ll die from dipression…they all die where!!!!

    strawberry panic is cute and with happy endin..
    -and then
    if u like to think and analyse so much- watch a LAIN ..its not a juri anime,but..u ll need lots of time to understand it..IF U LL UNDERSTAND IT..=)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Simoun is a gem, and going with the ending the fits both the heart and the arc of the story, instead of either the “blow up all our enemies” climax that the Minister of Defense would have wanted or the “rewrite history so that we win this time” climax that Her Eminence would have wanted … the word for that is courage.

    Not the crystalline purity of a diamond … a more organic gem … perhaps jade.

    SP is entertaining, sweet, light romantic comedy … girl finds girl, girl loses girl, girl finds girl again, times 2, plus the St. Lulim’s girls for a break from the melodrama.

    And no, not a tremendous amount of depth … but what starts out as very two-dimensional does pick up some actual character development amongst the cliches.

    So, yes, quite like a plain stone that has been polished in a river bed, and when you pick it up and look closer has unexpected character.

  13. You know, i loved this show, i was pissed when i found out that it was only 26 episodes long, and now i want to read the manga, but there is nowhere to read it!!! so, im just going to have to torrent it *sigh* and also, i noticed, my name is Erik Friedman, stop being the female version of me please XD

  14. Erik – I am older than you, so you are the male and cheap version of me. Please do not download this series – it is legitimately licensed by Media Blasters. If you want to watch it buy it, rent it or borrow it (from a library or friend.) Anything else is stealing.

  15. leonpheonix says:

    Ok all you Strawberry Panic fans. There is a petition for a new series out there just go to http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/strawberry-panic-season-2/sign.html

    Please help the cause.

  16. @leonphoenix What a fabulous example of fan delusion! Who are you petitioning? Do you genuinely believe that Mediaworks will know about or care about it?

    Are you also raising money to fund the project? If you’re not, then why would anyone respond? And how many of the signatories actually bought it legitimately when it came out, as compared with all those that just stole it and now are demanding more?

    Good luck with your petition.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well you know to each their own.Some prefer twisted,comlecated plots with a lot of hidden meaning and subtle psychological messages,others easy,straightforward,light-hearted material that doesn’t need any mental efforts.
    Personally I enjoyed SP very much.I watched it right after I finished my exams and it did wonders on my mood,I even stopped feeling like a brain-dead vegetable which is always a plus^^
    As for the clishes…well…nowadays it’s hard to find any anime where there aren’t any.Usually they all have at least one.Besides they didn’t make SP any less cute or entertaining:)

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