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.
Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 6
Yuri – 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.