If the Strawberry Panic anime had begin with what is now Volume 3, I think that I just might, maybe, have liked it a lot more than I originally did.
It’s true that if the series began at the beginning of Volume 3, we wouldn’t have been treated to 11 episodes of *absolutely nothing* in which Nagisa is ever so cute as she remains confused and out-of-place, and we probably wouldn’t have seen Hikari cry a couple of times. Certainly we wouldn’t have been treated to Amane riding up on her horse, saying practically nothing, then riding away. And of course, we would have missed all those almost-kisses that so delighted us through the first half of the series, as Shizuma teased Nagisa.
Episode 12 picks up with as significant an episode as we’re likely to find in this series, as Tamao symbolically ties a ribbon onto Nagisa’s arm “for protection.” Like Chekov’s gun on the wall, you just know that this has to play a part and so it does when, after Shizuma and Nagisa have admitted feeling lonely when the other isn’t around, they “fall” into the pool and kiss while the ribbon symbolically unties and floats free. Afterward, in Shizuma’s room, Shizuma begins to have her way with Nagisa, but a memory of Kaori brings her up short, allowing Nagisa to escape back to her own room.
Meanwhile, Kaname and Momomi step up their “seduce Hikari to break her up with Amane, and make Amane depressed so she won’t run for Etoile” campaign. This is the source of the infamous and utterly hilarious “Global Warming” scene, which is no less fabulously stupid than the first time I watched it. The entire series peaks at that moment, I think. Everything afterward is simply denouement. LOL (If you can stop laughing long enough to listen to the rest of Kaname’s monologue, it carries on, no less amusing than the beginning.)
From this point on, the entire series takes a turn. Amane and Hikari go on a romantic date, only to have Hikari return home to find Yaya crazed with desire, the result of which is that she is the object of a sexual attack for the second time in one day. Rough day for Hikari. This is followed by an episode in which Hikari and Yaya make up. Good thing for Yaya that Hikari is another Himeko.
And then suddenly, it’s time for the school festival and the play, a time-honored subject of pretty much every anime ever. And yet, these final episodes of the volume are probably the best in the entire series. They have a good plot – actual grasp of and use of character and a pretty good climax, if you ignore the utter absurdity of our resident EPL duo’s “plot” to take Amane down. Since absurdity is practically the raison d’etre of this series, by now we’d better be sucking this series down with handfuls of salt – preferably adorning the rim of colorful glasses holding margaritas. :)
And just in case we don’t yet really get that this is a Yuri series, with Yuri, we are treated to several bath scenes involving nekkid Kaname and Momomi doing Yuri things.
Last note – I was warned by the folks at Media Blasters (who I once again have to thank for this review copy) that this volume was full of typos but, if there were any, I missed them. In fact, the quality of the DVD was so consistent and decent, that I just barely remembered to even mention it – which for this kind of thing is the highest praise. In a nutshell, the technical aspects of this DVD were so good that I never noticed them. ^_^
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 7 (towards the end, 8)
Yuri – 9
Service – 7
Overall – 9
I’m going to pretend that I used the above French terms in honor of the “Nagisa studies French” episode, but in reality, it was just coincidence. ;-)