While I did not find the Strawberry Panic Drama CD Lu Lim Hen: Oneesama to Maid Soudou to be the same kind of aural assault that occurred when I listened to the Mai Otome Drama CD, I did feel that another little piece of my soul has been sucked away by it…especially as the second time I listened to it, it bothered me less than the first. ^_^
As a quick flashback, let me remind you that the first Strawberry Panic Drama CD covered the great underwear mystery at St. Miator and the second CD in the series, the physical examinations at St. Spica.
This, the third Drama CD based on the Strawberry Panic franchise, focuses on the doings in Lu Lim Academy, the youngest, and strangest, of the three schools that make up Astoria.
The one defining characteristic of Lu Lim (other than bad French) is that the students are encouraged to not only take part in club activities, but go ahead and make as many new clubs as they want. This fact I gleaned from the Strawberry Panic light novel, which I’m reading in Japanese.
So, the CD begins as Kizuna starts a brand new club, one that doesn’t include Lu Lim Student Council President Minamoto Chikaru. The “Renai” (romantic love) Club is going to talk about all *sorts* of things related to love. Only, neither Kizuna, nor fellow club members Lemon or Kagome, or even Kagome’s stuffed teddy bear Percival, has anything to say on the subject. The three wonder what kind of person Chikaru-oneesama would fall in love with.
Chikaru comes in and starts the meeting of the usual “Henshin Club”, which if you’ve seen the series, you know is Chikaru playing dress up with her three dolls, erm girls. The Henshin Club is running a “Charity Maid” event, where people will bid on the services of a maid to help clean up around the school. They decide to design a maid costume for the event, but no one has any good ideas so…and I’m sure you saw this coming a mile away…Chikaru flips a switch in the wall, which turns the classroom into an elevator that drops into a huge sub-basement full of maid outfits.
Kagome is outfitted in classic Victorian style, Lemon gets the standard maid cafe treatment and Kizuna gets an ultra-sexy miniskirted, thigh-high-stockinged outfit which sends Chikaru into absolute paroxysms of ecstasy.
It was this scene that led me to my conclusion that “good” Yuri can be differentiated from “bad” by simply substituting a guy for the girl in question. Should we have been subjected to a male character in the throes of sexual excitement while looking at Kizuna at that moment, we would have been disgusted. As, indeed, I was.
And things only get *better* as Chikaru then decides they need to prowl the school’s secret spots to determine what outfit would suit the event best. So, for the next few tracks, we are subjected to a series of incredibly service-y Yuri-ish scenes to wank to.
In the Library, Nagisa and Chiyo are doing *something* and it sounds horribly intimate, but in fact they are just trying to reshelve a book that’s high up. (Honestly, this scene made me bang my head against my steering wheel, it was so cringe-makingly awful.)
In the Greenhouse, Shizuma toys with Miyuki’s affections, which ends with her sucking Miyuki’s finger a lot more than a simple cut could account for.
In the Church, Yaya is about to confess her feelings to Hikari (and seriously, how stupid does Hikari have to be to not have figured it out…?) when a noise interrupts them. Lemon and Kagome run away, trying to not get caught.
Having used all other places in the entire school where service could have taken place, we retire to peep a little in the bath. In the end, just about every single member of the cast except for Amane ends up in that bath. Shizuma, Chiyo and Tamao squabble over who gets Nagisa, ostensibly to scrub her back. (Oh and by the way, in case you missed in in the anime, because that was a little subtle, Kagome *also* has a crush on Nagisa.)
When one of the nuns discover the Henshin Club members all hanging around the bath in maid costumes, she demands to know what’s up. They say that they’re there for a bath, duh, and jump in. But she thinks they are up to something, and since they are in maid outfits, she assigns them all to clean the church as punishment. Chikaru thinks it’s a great way to play maid and they are all happy about it, which utterly confuses the Sister.
At the next meeting of the Renai Club, a new member enters – it’s Chikaru! Surprise! They ask her to tell them a story of love and she responds with this unhappy tale of a girl, just like themselves, a second year middle school student:
Girl C, we’ll call her, although Chikaru gives no names at all, is lost in the woods somewhere between schools when she runs into what looks like a boy and a horse! She got the horse part right, but in fact, it’s another girl – a girl that is, like herself, a second-year, and who wants desperately to be a horseback rider. Girl A. as we’ll refer to her, is apprenticing with the horse riding club. It’s her job to exercise the horses.
Girl C and Girl A end up meeting every day at the creek where they first met and, as time goes on, they start to wonder why they want to see each other SO much. It’s obvious that love is flourishing between them. They share hopes and dreams as they meet in the woods every day, despite their duties – Girl A with the horseback riding club and Girl C with the many, *many* clubs she’s in. Girl C dubs Girl A a “prince” for wanting to ride on a white charger.
One day, Girl C comes running to their meeting place, only to be met by the President of the Riding Club. The President tells Girl C to stop seeing Girl A. She has great plans for Girl A, and plans on making her a champion rider. But to do that, she needs to be able to focus on her riding, and not be distracted. Girl C makes the President swear to make Girl A a rider if she goes away, which the President does. So, in order to fulfill Girl A’s dream, Girl C leaves and finds a place to cry her broken heart out. When Girl A arrives at their place, she’s met not by Girl C, but by the President, who tells her that Girl C said she can’t come anymore. The President tells Girl A that she’s being promoted to rider. Girl A is thrilled, but begins to cry anyway, as she realizes that she really won’t have time to see Girl C anymore.
Chikaru ends the story, as all the club members sob happily at this tale of unfulfilled love. As Kizuna, Lemon and Kagome go back to their room, Kizuna wonders why Chikaru looked so sad as she told the story. (Erica looked sad, too, but not for the same reason. I was just concerned that all three of the girls – even Lemon, for whom I had some hope in the beginning of the CD – were so dense.)
Once back in their room, they wonder who they might fall in love with. Lemon admits that she wants to fall in love with Kizuna, but Kizuna is already asleep and misses the big confession. Kagome falls asleep wondering what kind of person Percival would fall in love with.
The messages from the cast track had one or two good moments, my favorite being when Amane’s seiyuu, Kaida Yuko, apologizes to Hikari’s seiyuu. ^_^ (If you missed why, read Chikaru’s story again. Get it this time.)
The bonus track is a little story of life at St. Miator, as Nagisa slams into one of the nuns and knocks her down. After being scolded for running in the halls, Nagisa offers to deliver the mail the sister was carrying. As she visits all the principals at St. Miator (Tamao, Chiyo, Shizuma and Miyuki) she barges into their rooms to deliver the mail, only to find them each writing a letter. What she doesn’t know is that, in each case, the letter is being written to *Nagisa’s* parents, each from the uniquely insane perspective of that character. When Nagisa returns to the nun, she is scolded for never writing her own parents. The Sister muses that her parents are probably worried that they never hear about Nagisa at school. Ha ha.
The final bit is an advertisement for the first of the three SP Drama CDs, with Shizuma commenting cooly that she’s interested not in Nagisa’s underwear, but on what’s inside.
Art – N/A
Story – 4
Characters – 6
Yuri – 8 but largely service and double entendre
Service – 10
Overall – 5
I took a moment to read the reviews over at Amazon JP for this Drama CD and I have to admit, the level of moe was high. *Very* high. I really was surprised at how many people thought this Drama CD was the best of the three, and how many people just thought it so incredibly wonderful in general. One comment even said that it was worth buying just for Chikaru’s story. Really? Okay, whatever.