Yuri Anime: Strawberry Panic, Volume 2 (English)

June 16th, 2008

I’m sitting on my beloved sofa, watching Strawberry Panic, Volume 2 and two things occur to me. One, it feels like this a very, very old series, one that I haven’t watched in a million years, and two, every time the story tries to be serious – or heaven forfend, menacing – it’s a total laugh riot.

Then a third thing occurred to me as I watched it, which needs a bit of a lead-in.

Sometime in the past few months, I was in discussion with the president of another manga company and we got on the topic of companies and their flexibility re: acknowledging mistakes and fan sentiment. The other President confidently told me that “fans don’t like it when you change things mid-series” to which I replied quickly that, speaking as a fan, if you did it wrong the first time, then yes, yes we do like it. It means you listened to what we had to say and responded. For instance, Right Stuf is making a very good effort to not only listen to fans’ concerns about the Yamayurikai members titles, but to be responsive and let people know that they have been heard. They clearly had a subtitle track all ready to go, but are creating a second one. They didn’t have to do that. We could have watched the first track, bitched that the anime companies *still* don’t get us, and moved on.

Which brings me to Strawberry Panic. When I reviewed Volume 1, I expressed some major misgivings about both the quality control and the translation of the series. I forwarded my review to Media Blasters. (As I have said many times, I think the folks at MB are wonderful. I’m not *trying* to be a nag. I’m trying to help…but I kind of wondered if they appreciated it or not. You know, like, “thanks for constantly pointing out our inadequacies Erica, you dumb so-and-so!” ^_^) I also wondered if the reason that MB’s work was sometimes so sloppy was because no one really ever cared about them. Like the kid in class whose parents don’t really care if he’s got clean clothes or not. Well *I* care about MB’s work, especially when it applies to my beloved Yuri, so I feel like I’m making sure MB combs their hair and puts on clean underwear before they send out a DVD. lol

All of this a roundabout way to say that Strawberry Panic Volume 2 is the BEST work I’ve ever seen from Media Blasters. The translation is nearly seamless, there are no typos and best of all, they listened to my complaints and are no longer translating “oneesama” as “Big Sister.” NOW it sounds okay. “Shizuma-oneesama” “Chiyo-chan” “Hikari-san” etc, etc.

Thank you to everyone at Media Blasters for listening. And thank you for sending me this disk for review! Now…can I ask you for *one* more thing? LOL Can we also have the opening and ending themes in romaji too? It can be at the same time as in English, or alternated, one English, one Japanese. Either way is fine. Thanks. ^_^

Now, on to the series. This volume basically covers three main issues, with some side stories thrown in. One – Hikari and Amane like each other. Two, Shizuma and Nagisa realize that they have actual feelings for one another. And third – and most important – Kaname and Momomi are barking mad.

This third point was really the best part of the anime. Kaname’s plan to thwart Amane from pursuing the Etoile title (which she has repeatedly said that she doesn’t want) is nothing short of brilliant – she’ll force Hikari to love her instead, so she doesn’t think about Amane. Which might actually work, if she wasn’t such a ham-handed creep. Well, you know what they say – if subtlety and charm takes too long, just rape her. That’ll work.

What’s worse, Kaname is totally tedious about it. There she is, holding Hikari down and instead of actually doing anything, she’s going on and on about how, after Hikari has her as a lover she’ll never look at Amane again. Yes, she continues, she an amazing lover. Yup, really and truly. No one’s better… Have I mentioned how good she is? She did – like five times. Without so much as even vaguely attempting to do anything. Kaname, Kaname, you’re a crappy rapist.

Also amusing was the episode that blatantly ripped off Marimite’s “Rainy Blue,” cleverly titled “Hydrangea.” If you take the ane/imouto argument tension out of Rainy Blue, and turn the focus on the lost umbrella, so that it no longer represents the loss of everything important in Yumi’s life, but instead is merely a lost umbrella, that sort of is what “Hydrangea” was about. With alot of “shared umbrella of love” fantasies thrown in. (The wife says, “For all you umbrella fetishists out htere – this is the episode you’ve been waiting for!”) My favorite moment is where Shizuma thinks that her umbrella is too big for two people, because she and Nagisa don’t have to huddle underneath it.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 6
Yuri – 7
Service- 7
Umbrellas – 10

Technically, this volume was a pleasure to watch. A good translation can’t make a bad series better, but it can keep a mediocre series mediocre. Content-wise, this series is still a bowl of derivative anime crack; a cheap shot that makes for a few moments of fun.

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17 Responses

  1. Salvador says:

    *sigh*

    If the anime industry wasn’t such in a rut, we could have gotten a nice English dub thus giving my experience of Strawberry Panic a renewed, double experience. It’s like watching Kannazuki no Miko in the English dub after watching the Japanese; it gives such an interesting experience.

    Ugh, now I have to live with this! I still plan on buying it for AMV purposes though.

  2. LOL It’s Rihanna all over. xD

    Um… For the record, this one’s an improvement in contrast to their past localization work. Approved. :)

  3. salvador – unlikely. Media Blasters rarely does dubs.

    Personally, I’d just as soon not have a dub track. They aren’t really any value-add to me. The voices never sound or feel right.

  4. Eric P. says:

    Some purists may not prefer the nonexistence of dub tracks, which I can understand, but there are still anime fans who really can’t read and watch at the same time, which said purists need to understand.

    I for one appreciate both languages, and I’m fine with watching Media Blasters titles like this subbed only (as well as the upcoming Maria-Sama release). The subtitles don’t really distract the viewer from anything, but it’s still hard for others to get into. ‘Paprika’ was the one and only sub-only anime film that my mom would sit through and watch; while she still followed it a little, she really can’t get into more anime film titles like this, so it was a one-time deal.

    Again, some purists may think that dubs don’t sound right, but I’ve listened to some that were real exceptional. To name just one example, ‘Welcome to the NHK’ has a well-produced dub track that sounds so alive in English.

  5. this issue of whether some people like dubs is sort of moot when the anime distributor isn’t in the habit of adding dub tracks. lol MB simply doesn’t add them very often, if at all. (I can’t think of a series off the top of my head that has one, although I assume they may have done a few.)

  6. Filo says:

    Tweeny Witches, Midori Days, Genshiken

  7. DezoPenguin says:

    I, too, find that Strawberry Panic is at its funniest when it pretends that it’s getting all serious and drama-y (of course, the question is–do they intend it that way, or is it just good luck). I still have trouble believing that some people can’t spot this is a parody; I swear just watching TRSI/Nozomi’s MariMite trailer there were about three moments when I went, “Hey! StoPani did that bit!”

    Tweeny Witches springs to mind as a current MB title with a dub.

  8. That would explain why I haven’t seen anything with an MB dub.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It really is hilarious when SP tries to be serious and I end up laughing my head off. The scene when Amane-senpai breaks her leg…I think I laughed about that for the rest of the week.
    I don’t understand why SP doesn’t even make an effort to pretend they weren’t copying Marimite. Just change the colour of the umbrella or something!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Umbrellas: 10

    ROFL

    Personally, I don’t understand what the fetish is with those bloody umbrellas; if I stand under one when it’s pouring, I *still* get wet somehow.

  11. DezoPenguin says:

    Having now actually watched the volume, I’d have to say one of the best bits was actually during Kamane’s rape attempt, when Hikari screams, and we get cuts to everyone else in the forest responding one by one:

    Nagisa: “Hikari-chan!”
    Yaya: “Hikari-chan!”
    Tamao: “Hikari-chan!”
    Amane’s horse: *whinneys*

    I did notice one mistake in the translation during Episode 9 that was unintentionally hilarious. When Tamao uses the English word “Sister”–referring to the nun who’s the dorm mistress–it gets subtitled as “oneesama.” :)

  12. tsuyo_puyo says:

    i think everything strawberry panic should have a Yuri rating of 10, every character in that series is potentially lezbotastical

  13. doug says:

    I agree with the last comment. I’ve seen the whole series, and I don’t see how SP could be any more Yuri. If anything, it gets more so (and more explicit) as the series goes on. Not complaining, mind you.

    As for copying Marimite, yeah, I think so too. But this issue comes up a lot in anime – think Noir and Madlax, for example. And it doesn’t bother me at all. If I enjoyed the first one, I’m not put out by the fact that the second one is similar. After all, there are enough differences to make both of them enjoyable.

    And not just Marimite – when I watched the ending of SP, I immediately thought of the ending of a classic US live action movie from the 1960s. I’d be more specific, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. At least it’s a real ending, unlike so many anime that leave everything hanging.

  14. doug – not sure what you’re getting at with the Noir and Madlax comparison. If you mean one was similar to the other – they are both part of a trilogy by the same director (along with El Cazador) that was meant to explore the same “girls on the run” them differently.

    SP’s ending is well known to many – in fact, when it ran originally, we had a “stolen meme of the week: thread on the Yuricon Mailing List, in which I predicted that particular ending, because it was obvious.

    Obviously SP is Yuri. I don’t recall every saying it isn’t. I have said that it’s a hosdgepodge of memes, characters, story ideas and situations stolen form a number of other series. It makes it laughable, but no less Yuri. (If anything, I’d say that it’s practically the epitome of Yuri, because there’s all this sexual tension that is in no way
    “lesbian.” They just love each other, you know.

  15. doug says:

    I think what tsuyo was commenting on, and I know I was, was your Yuri rating of 7 for this volume.

    And sorry about the ending – I’m not on the Yuricon mailing list, so I didn’t know it had been discussed. Although it’s also possible that other readers of this blog might not want to know the ending ahead of time, obvious or not.

    As for Noir/Madlax, what I was trying to say was that I got tired of hearing people say that they loved Noir but hated Madlax (or wouldn’t watch it) because it was a rip-off of Noir. I loved Noir too, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t like Madlax as well. Ditto Marimite and SP.

  16. doug – The Yuri is at 7 for several reasons. One, it is mostly aborted attempts at kisses and salacious behavior. Very little actual love-love, or functional displays of affection. Secondly, it is meant to be titillating, rather than a genuine expression of women in love. There are other intangibles that go into every rating, as well. My “gut instinct” about a thing, if you will.

    You may like Noir and Madlax/Marimite and Sp indiscrimiantely, but everyone is entitled to their opinions. Madlax is not a rip-off of Noir, it is a second series in a conscious deciion to explore a specific theme in a variety of settings. But if a person prefers angsty film noir and medieval occult to war stories, there’s nothing you can say to convince them of that. :-)

    I do not like SP as much as I like Marimite. IMHO, comparing them is like comparing freshly picked apples and a scratch and sniff apple-scented sticker. Your opinion, as you noted, is different. :-)

  17. doug says:

    I didn’t express myself clearly. When I said I liked the two others “as well,” I meant “as well” in the sense of “also.” I didn’t mean that I liked them the same. I do prefer Marimite to SP.

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