It’s my great pleasure to offer you a review of the English translation of Strawberry Marshmallow, Volume 1 today by guest reviewer Sean Gaffney. And it only took me two solid weeks of nagging to get it!
For comparison’s sake, here is a link to my original review of the Japanese-language version of Ichigo Mashimaro, Volume 1.
In any case, take it away Sean!
The problem with the first volume of Ichigo Mashimaro is obvious right from the start; it kept its pilot episodes.
Basically, the artist had no idea this would be a continuing series, and the first three or four chapters have different designs (except for Chika) and different personalities (except for Chika). They’re almost proto-IM, and very odd indeed.
However, once the series proper gets started, you’ll know. You’ll know because there’s Miu. She was technically in the first few chapters, but not really. That was someone else with Miu’s name. True Miu…EVIL, INSANE Miu… arrives about the same time that Nobue stops being a bottle blonde and becomes the chain-smoking grump we know and love.
There are, technically, other characters. There’s Chika, who is the normal one. There’s Matsuri, who is the doormat by which all other anime doormats are measured. In a contest between Matsuri and Shinji, Matsuri would win hands down as being the most spineless.
But I honestly don’t gush over them at all. They add to the manga, but you don’t say ‘wow, was that Chika fun in that part!’. And why? Because Miu is insane, and Nobue’s reactions are wonderful. That’s why you read IM. Miu and Nobue. By the end of the volume, things are fully formed, and you realize how much of Miu’s life is devoted to making Nobue NOTICE HER, DAMMIT.
Yuri? Not anything explicit (not yet), and the design tends to make everyone look 5 rather than 12, but I think Miu has a crush on Nobue even this early, and one that grows larger as the manga wears on.
This is a funny, cute manga, and if you’d been avoiding it as it looked too loli, then grab a copy. Just be prepared for a slow, rocky start before you hit the paydirt.
Did I mention Miu? Cause, Miu.
Erica here: I say, amen to that, brother! And my thanks once again to Sean Gaffney, “guest reviewer of the gods.”
My own quick comments – in order to do get this review up, I had to reformat two older reviews and, as a result, I had a good chance to look at the new English-edition vs the Japanese edition side by side. For once, I actually like the translated edition cover better. The stark white background of the original is too unfluffy and uncute for this bastion of cuteness. The light red-an-white-plaid background on the Tokyopop edition hits just the right note of cute.
The translation wanders in and out of good to meh to excellent. It gets better as it goes on. Of course, no honorifics which, in this series, really fails, since the younger girls all call Nobue “Nobue-nee-san,” “Nobu-‘nee” just “‘nee-san”, or any number of other manipulations, depending on the character and the mood, something that is lost entirely. Matsuri-chan becomes, inexplicably, “Mats.” I will forever disapprove.
Art – this is totally personal, but for me – 5
Story – starts out weak, then gets going, as Sean said – 6
Characters – same as above – 7
Yuri – “Haruka-san, look at me!” – 2
Service – sigh…6
Overall – 6
When the ball gets rolling, it gets “wtf” funny. I still laugh out loud at it, which annoys me no end. ^_^