There’s two things you need to know up front about today’s post about Strawberry Panic: The Complete Novel Collection.
1) This not a review. I’ll explain why in a moment.
2) I worked as the Copy Editor on this book and so, if you find any typos, I declare them things that were found, but inexplicably not corrected. Kapeesh? ^_^
Okay, so, this isn’t a review because realistically, you either LOVED Strawberry Panic anime, manga and/or Light Novels and nothing I will ever say will sway you from your opinion or you didn’t love it and ditto. And, at least for the first two novels, I’ve already reviewed them in English.
It’s also not a synopsis because I did that already too, when discussing the original three volumes in Japanese.
Instead, I’m going to jot down some random thoughts about the series.
Thought 1 – I want to congratulate and thank Seven Seas for another excellent adaptation from Japanese into English. If at any point you think the books sound utterly ridiculous and no one speaks that way, you should thank the translators and editors for perfectly capturing the tone of voice from the Japanese.
The original novels were written in a tone of voice I don’t have a word for, so if you can think of one, let me know. The tone is faux-serious, overformal and precious, yet so facetious and corny that it’s hard to take any individual sentence seriously, much less whole conversations. Oh, wait! I have it – a new word to describe this! I will call it moego, the language of moe. ^_^
Well, these novels are written in full moego, let me tell you. As I read, I keep saying to myself – no one speaks that way. And really, no one does.
Thought 2 – The one genuine negative comment I have about this book is that it is both an omnibus, but made with thin paper. So it feels…impermanent, but clunky. The originals were all Light Novels, which are printed in a small size and made to be a quick read, so can get away with less than stellar paper, precisely because they are “Light” novels. This collection has too much bulk to be easily carriable and yet is made kinda crappily, so it won’t survive being carried around in a book bag or briefcase well.
Thought 3 – I feel bad for this book, because there are very few anime/manga reviewers who can really do it justice. The very intelligent reviewers out there will look at this thing like a piece of three-day old dead cod. They won’t “understand” it, (as few have “understood” A Certain Scientific Railgun.) The problem is that these novels are a franchise extender for a franchise few of them are likely to have seen, even fewer to have enjoyed and Light Novels as a whole puzzle them – as they expect, y’know, *stories* in a novel and not meaningless drivel wrapped in detailed discussions of school uniforms.
As I said on Twitter the other day, manga is generally not written for people to get into, the way a novel is. Manga are frequently written for people who already have a hook into that thing to try something like that thing. With Strawberry Panic!, if you’re not a Yuri fan, there’s darn little here to appeal. (Unless the reviewer is a *very* good reader and can hear the moego for the broad parody it is.) With few exceptions, the reviewers who are likely to “get” this omnibus are going to be unashamedly uncritical fans who love the series, but won’t get what’s actually going on in the novels. I desperately hope that a few people I know and respect will review this book for what it is, loving it for the lovable bits and laughing heartily at the hilarious bits sprinkled throughout.
I will, of course, do my best to do all that. I just hope that I’m not alone in this. I can almost see the look on Brigid Alverson‘s or David Welsh‘s face trying to read this wholly inexplicable thing….(Or Ed Sizemore or Kate Dacey or Melinda Beasi or just about any reviewer I respect, honestly…. Sean – it’s all on you, I think. Help me out here!)
Thought 4 – Drinking games. It’s a toss up who cries more – in Novel 1, I’d say go for Chiyo. In Novel 2, Hikari. In Novel 3, just drink every time Chikaru shows up and does nothing.
Thought 5 – Finally! This book is the first time my Commanding Officer, Ana M. and I have had a chance to work together on a book since Inukami! For that alone, I love this book with all my love.
In fact, I do love this book. It’s hilariously funny and, in a few cases, there’s a teeny bit of romantic something or other. Thank the gods my memory of the helicopters was not some fever dream, but actually part of the story. Phew. Dodged that bullet. ^_^ In fact, I believe that, overall, my synopsis of the novels from Japanese stand solid. When I’ve read this whole thing at once, I shall endeavor to once again synopsize and properly review, knowing that, if God is indeed in his heaven and all is indeed right with the world, that shall be the very last Strawberry Panic post I will ever write.
Until then, dear readers!