Archive for the Strawberry Panic Category


Yuri Anime: Strawberry Panic, Volume 4 (English)

November 19th, 2008

Way back, I read a book whose entire plot revolved around the fact that the two main characters did not communicate with each other in any meaningful way. Take that same story and transport it to Astrea Hill and you’ve basically got the plot of Volume 4 of Strawberry Panic.

In this volume, Nagisa finally learns the whole story about Shizuma’s past. But instead of the truth freeing her, she decides that she can’t live up to the perfection of Shizuma’s lost partner. The truth, instead of bringing them together, drives an enormous wedge between them.

In the wake of the flashbacks and intense emotional loss, the only character other than Shizuma and Nagisa who gets a piece of the action is Miyuki – who has to face the loss of not one, but *two* objects of affection. Everyone else in the story is relegated to background noise while we watch the tension build between the main pair.

Nonetheless, this volume is plenty Yuriful. We learn that even if Shizuma didn’t *love* Kaori, her feelings at least included physical attraction. (I’m never going to stop thinking that making love outside is not, perhaps, the best choice for the terminally ill.) There’s Shizuma’s hurtful – but brutally truthful – kiss with Miyuki. And, of course, we get to enjoy the bathtub playtime of our resident EPLs, Kaname and Momomi.

But most of all, this volume is filled with fraughtness and tension as we wade through the high emotion and drama that makes up Shizuma’s backstory. We then watch Nagisa put herself, Shizuma, Tamao, Miyuki and her fan club through hell as she wallows knee-deep in some good, old-fashioned self-pity.

*This* is the volume that all the fans who consider this series to be a beautiful romance are thinking of. It has all the classic memes of a million gothic romances, but as the storm howls around Shizuma and Nagisa at the summer house, I prefer to think this series is the direct descendant of that fateful scene from Cream Lemon Escalation at Naomi’s summer house – at which Rie learns the even more shocking truth about her beloved Naomi. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 5

Overall – 8

Once again, my sincere thanks to that collective of Okazu superheroes, Media Blasters, for this volume and for being a fabulous bunch of people. And once again, I didn’t notice anything especially annoying with their adaptation, other than the continuing lack of “onee-sama” as an honorific. ^_^ It’s nice to be able to put a MB DVD in the player and know that neither the translation nor subtitles will subtract from the experience. Keep up the good work!

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Yuri Anime: Strawberry Panic, Volume 3 (English)

August 25th, 2008

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. ^_^

Ratings:

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. ;-)

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Yuri Light Novel: Strawberry Panic, Volume 2

July 25th, 2008

Strawberry Panic Light Novel, Volume 2 is the touching story of girls in love at three girls private schools on Astraea Hill.

At Miator, the star, the Etoile of all three schools, Hanazono Shizuma has found herself completely out of control in her attraction to new student Aoi Nagisa. Nagisa is thrown into the competition for this year’s Etoile with Shizuma and, as a result, bears up under a alot of scrutiny and some bullying. Her attraction to Shizuma is so strong that neither bullying, nor knowledge of Shizuma’s past playgirl ways is enough to deter her – but upon learning that Shizuma truly loved her former Etoile partner, she finds her confidence wavering and her resolve starting to crack.

At Spica, the reticent and lone-wolf Ohtori Amane had found herself equally as head over heels about a transfer student, this time the angelic Kotohana Hikari. That Spica’s representative in the Etoile battle is a mere transfer student is so outrageous an idea, former student and famous violinist Kusanagi Makoto comes running back to Spica to sabotage her school’s best chance at winning. In the meantime, Hikari and Amane realize that their love is way deeper than anything they were prepared to deal with – especially Amane, who never cared for expressions of love between women.

And, at LuLim, the graceful Madonna of the school, Chikaru, pulls strings behind the scenes, and spoils her own harem rotten as she prepares them for a life of cosplay and intrigue.

…Dammit. I was trying to maintain a tone of affected sincerity, but blew it.

Oh well. lol

The book is filled with kisses- who can forget those touching moments when Shizuma gives Nagisa a hickey, or Yaya has her way with Hikari in the pool, or Chikaru gently kisses Kizuna’s butt. Not you – because I will keep reminding you of those things. You will never be allowed to forget them. Every time you tell me that this is a serious love story I will look at you and say – absolutely, especially when Chikaru dressed Kizuna up as a playboy bunny and kissed her butt. LOL

OTOH, Hikari and Amane’s love isn’t maddening. Yes, Hikari cries in every scene (see my review of this volume in Japanese for my suggestion about that) and yes, Amane doth protest too much, but they win hands down for best – well, least irritating – couple.

And I’m *still* annoyed that Makoto didn’t shut up long enough to kiss Chikaru. Makoto is so much more annoying in English, because now I have no excuse to not understand her tortured sentences.

Speaking of which, boo to Seven Seas for not crediting both translators on this book. (In fact, boo to them for not crediting every single person who works on every single book. There are a few books I from them have which only credit translator, adaptor and editor, as if it didn’t take tons of retouching and lettering, layout and production editing to make a book. Bad, bad. People who work on a book – *especially* people like the retouch and lettering people, who have hellish jobs – deserve to be credited.) There was a changeover in translators midway – which was very apparent in at least one thing. At the beginning of the book, Chikaru looks out the window as a white pigeon flew by. Okay, true, doves and pigeons are 1) the same family and 2) the same word in Japanese, but usually to be more symbolic and all, they are referred to in such moments as “doves,” because pigeons are basically considered to be rats with wings by those of us who have ever actually looked at one. LOL

Anyway, the translation smooths out and later on, they are indeed referred to as doves…which makes me wonder why the proofreader didn’t catch that and fix it. It takes a village to make a book, let me tell you. :-)

And in the end, all the lead contenders for Etoile are disqualified and/or pull out, leaving Makoto and Kagome which is still a breathtakingly bad combination.

I remembered this volume as being less servicey, more sincere and slightly more romantic than the first book of the series, and the English edition managed to capture that perfectly. It’s also still wild over-the-top melodrama that makes me think it would make the most awesome live action story ever. Even better than “Passions.” Actually – kind of like a Yuri version of “Passions.”

Ratings:

Art – 6 (one point off for so often illustrating things we don’t want to see and not illustrating the ones we do)
Characters – 7
Story – 7
Yuri – 8
Service – 5

Reproduction – 7
Translation – starts out a little roughly at 6, but moves up to 8

Overall – 7

Little Princess Sara‘s English title is A Little Princess, fyi.

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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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Yuri Manga: Strawberry Panic, Volume 2 (English)

May 13th, 2008

Have you visited translator Anastasia Moreno’s fabulously wonderful blog, Manga Gunkan yet? Go. It’s not often you’re going to get such a unique mix of fun tidbits about translating, manga, military adventures and cute dachsund pictures – all written up in both Japanese and English, for your reading pleasure. Check it every day.

And speaking of Ana’s mad translation skills, today we’re talking about Strawberry Panic, Volume 2, translated skillfully by mad Ana. (For a summation of both my frustration with the SP fandom and the plot, please check my review of the Japanese edition from December 2006.)

Today, I’m just talking about the reproduction into English. I’ll never get tired of telling you that Seven Seas does a very, very good job. Ana’s translation captures the soap opera-like, over the top-ness, and the adaptation, by Lorelei Laird, allows the dialogue to speak for itself. Considering how absurdly melodramatic everything is, I think it would make a pretty great J-drama. In fact, I’m already giggling at the idea. (And, OMG, since Marimite spawned a parody porn movie, why hasn’t anyone made a SP parody porn? It’s just *begging* for one. ^_^ And with that thought, there goes the last shred of soul I had….)

The technical reproduction seems very clean, with some moire in the backgrounds that, to be honest, I had to go looking for, because it never seems like a problem to me. Some sound effects have been translated and replaced, others have had a English equivalent placed nearby and in at least one case, it was left untranslated. As I always say, it’s not an issue for me. But, surely you can figure out that the crowd is saying “Waaahhh” at the apearrance of the newly crowned Hikari and Amane.

I only have one complaint. It’s not totally Sevens Seas’ fault, but I object strongly. On the back, someone at the now-defunct Newtype, apparently decided that he was clever by describing this series as “Girl-Crushes Gone Wild!” which is not only insulting, but inaccurate. The characters – repteadedly – express feelings of love and devotion towards one another. These are not crushes. (Duh) The implication that this is a manga equivalent to straight girls with no pride who do lesbian-looking things for straight guys to get off on is actually pretty correct, but I found it annoying anyway.

On the last page of the story, as Nagisa and Shizuma kiss, there is a puzzling allusion to a third volume of the manga. Let me assure that there is no third volume to the manga in Japanese. The puzzling allusion to the third volume is there in the Japanese edition too. It never happened for a number of reasons.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 6
Characters – 6, +1 for Kaname
Yuri – 9
Service – 6

Overall – 7

You may notice that my scores are different this time than when I read it originally. That happens. ^_^

And, my deepest, sincerest (and somewhat belated) thanks to Daniel P. for being the sponsor of today’s review!

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