Light Novel: Strawberry Panic, the Complete Novel Collection (English)

July 13th, 2011

Strawberry Panic, the Complete Novel Collection, tells the story of Aoi Nagisa, a cheerful, otherwise unexceptional girl who is swept up in high drama at an elite Girl’s Academy when the Academy star inexplicably falls in love with her.

Nagisa is a transfer student and so, as with so many series, a catalyst for change at the old, established St. Miator school. Without meaning to do so, Nagisa brings about chaotic change not only in Miator, but also in sister schools St. Spica and St. Lu Lim. The winds of change in Spica are also heralded by the appearance of a transfer student, Konohana Hikari whho, like Nagisa, finds herself swept up in the drama of a top star of the school. These two transfer students are foils for one another in this popular Yuri series.

Nagisa and Hikari’s adventures in love are, perhaps, the Yuri-est of all things. Here in the rarefied, “peach-scented” halls of Astraea, is a great deal of love between girls, but there is only one lesbian. There are protestations of desire, there are vows to be together forever, there’s petting and kissing and possibly even sex, but there is very little thought of the world outside these halls or how any of this could ever survive graduation. Here in this fantasy world, all the tropes and conventions of Yuri congregate to become the ultimate in parody literature.

In the end, Nagisa gets her Shizuma and Hikari and Amane make the most perfect couple that Astraea has ever seen as Etoile. God’s in his heaven, all’s right with this fantasy, peach-colored world of private girls’ schools and Yuri love. Fu~ fu~ fu~, the wind blows as the cherry blossoms swirl around our lovers.

And so, at last, we come to the end.

This journey began more than 7 and a half years ago, with the news that an anime was being made of a series of short stories about girls in “Yuri couplings.” I read those stories and found nothing but deep loathing for them in my heart. The art was moe, the situations were trite, and the characters lacked character.

The anime and I started off on a bad foot, but over time I grew to enjoy it. The manga and I have never been on speaking terms, but the Light Novels convinced me that there was something more here than just a parody. The Light Novels *were* more than just the kind of parody which the anime carried off – the novels were an incredibly intelligent parody written to be slightly dumb. And so, I began to find myself un-loathing the anime more and liking the novels. As my shackles of preconceptions fell, unbound by the sheer ridiculousness of the novels – and helped by Kaname’s global warming speech in the anime –  I found things to enjoy in the series. Including, but not limited to, the helicopters. Mostly though, it was the overblown, hyper-cute, yet, ridiculously over-formal moego language that appealed to me.

This time, as I read the novels I was able to just enjoy the overcomplicated saga of Nagisa and Hikari as they overcome absurd challenges so that the girls get their girls.


Overall – 9, which is pretty amazing when you think of how far it had to rise to get here.

One last time, I want to thank Seven Seas for making it possible for me to be part of the process.

This review was brought to you by Act 3, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, by Shakespeare.

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4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    …so who’s the one lesbian?

  2. @Anonymous – read the book, they state it plainly in the text. ^_^

  3. Cryssoberyl says:

    The novels certainly are the best of the many versions of StoPani. I just started rereading it through this omnibus, and although it’s not new to me, I still cracked up at the same passage.

    “Sometimes Shizuma would fall in love – a mysterious feeling that only appeared when she was with her damsels, during the little games she would play with them. That thick, sweet, gentle, peach-like aroma that only floated in the air between two girls; an emotion that went beyond simple affection or impatience and made them wish they could touch each other’s soft white skin forever.”

    That one had me rolling the first time I read it…

  4. I bought this same collection. I read the first Novel and into the second, but I started getting turned off by some of stunts Spica pulled.

    The Anime did a lot of things differently, and it was quite interesting. But I felt the closing story-line really did not that lame Amnesia storyline.

    “Moe” seems to mean different things in different contexts. When I think of Moe I think of like Cossette in that Les Miserables anime. The visual style of Strawberry Panic doesn’t instill in my the emotions that the Moe style is supposed to. I’m of course not into the Moe Genre at all, I’m not into sexualizeing a character while at the time making them seem Pre Pubescent.

    I have a certain fascination with the Girl Prince archetype, and Amane I think is one of the best.

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