Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yuri Mania 26: Strawberry Panic Intro


Gokigenyou minna-san! This week I finally gotten around to finishing what I started years ago in 2006. I finally watched Strawberry Panic from start to finish! I did like the show when I first watched it when it came out, but due to losing track of it and lost of interest due to the slowness of the show, I stopped for a while. I've recently acquired more patience, especially after watching Maria-sama ga Miteru several times, so I thought I'll finally get around to watching and talking about Strawberry Panic. However... it is 26 episodes and I like to be wordy, so I'll have two Yuri Mania back to back focusing on Strawberry Panic. ^^;



First disc and an Alteil promo... Anyone played Alteil?

 The first post will be introductions, brief summaries and my general review of the whole show. It will be generally spoiler-free. While the second post will focus on important plot points, the ending and perhaps discussion with people who has seen it. I've got tons of things to write about so I'll start with a general summary of what Strawberry Panic is all about.

The show opens to a newly transferred student to an all-girls school located in Astraea Hill. She is Nagisa Aoi, a very energetic and cheerful, fourth year (1st year high school) student. Typically, she is already late and in a rush to find her way to her new dormitory. Her parents had moved overseas recently, so she needed to stay at a school with a dorm. Since her aunt used to go to one of the schools on this hill, she was accepted right away.

Once she got close to the premises, she sees 3 different school uniforms. She ran happily captivated by the colourful uniforms, not seeing where she was going. Down the hill she went through bushes and ended up at the lake. There, she will encounter her fated destiny.

Arriving at a lone tree on a grass field, she encounters a beautiful older girl. The older girl's gaze quickly mesmerized Nagisa to a frozen state and ended up fainting from that encounter.

She woke up at the school's infirmary and greeted by a smiling girl who stared at her with glee. She is Nagisa's roommate, Tamao Suzumi. If you know your Cardcaptor Sakura, she is very much like Tomoyo Daidouji sans the video camera, but equipped with a more hands-on approach of her cute, new roomie.

Unlike her first girl-to-girl encounter, Nagisa was more wary about her new roommate's touchy, feely approach, but quickly accepted her as she is her only guide to her new surroundings.

 
St. Le Rim or St. Lulim? AnimeWorks translate it as Le Rim, but others translate it as Lulim.

Tamao explains that this hill are shared between 3 different all-girls school, which is why there are different uniforms. Tamao and Nagisa goes to Saint Miator, which has an all black uniform.

 

Once Nagisa is familiarized with her dormitory's rules (due to the fact that she missed curfew and had to recite the dorm's rules as punishment), it was time for dinner. Here she is to be introduced to the Étoile, the most popular, beautiful student who represents all three schools.

Transfer students are quite rare in any of these three schools, so Nagisa attracted a lot of stares from all over the cafeteria. Definitely a good setup for a major embarrassment for the new student, right? Right. So Nagisa mistaken the real Étoile, Shizuma Hanazono, with some kind of perverted seductress.

Can't blame her... Shizuma the Étoile likes to seduce little girls... Ok this is starting to sound wrong, but yes Shizuma flirts a lot with the younger (and sometimes even the same age) students.

Thankfully the Student President Council, Miyuki Rokujo who is also Shizuma's best friend, stops Shizuma from kissing Nagisa in the cafeteria with all of the students in the dorm staring... So ends Nagisa's first day at the Strawberry Hall dormitory and begins her famous brush with the Étoile that spans throughout the entire school... for about half a day. They like to leave her alone in her privacy ^^;

Quite a first episode. It attracted me to the series in the first place and still did when I watched it again, but like the show, I shall slow down and introduce a little bit about cast.

Aside from the school, most of the story occurs in the Strawberry Hall dormitory, as seen above. The triangular shaped building (looks like a strawberry, right?) houses the students from all three schools. It also creates friendship between the three schools as Nagisa does when she traverse the Strawberry Halls.

Most of these pictures for the characters are from the opening video.


From Saint Miator
As I`ve mentioned before, Shizuma is the  Étoile of all three schools, but she tends to run and hide from her responsibilities. That is, until Nagisa shows up and convinces her not to neglect her duties for the sake of the younger students. Shizuma had a tragic past and because of this she's become cold and tends to play around with girls, but with Nagisa around, her heart can't help but warm up to the excitable and cheerful Nagisa.

 Miyuki Rokujo, the student council president, is very strict despite her friendly demeanour. She has been friends and roommates with Shizuma for at least 6 years. She is secretly a crybaby, but she keeps up the strict appearance to hide that secret side of hers. She always gets in trouble whenever Shizuma runs away from her responsibilities. Though she always act strict towards Shizuma, she really cares for her.

The one in Nagisa's arms is Chiyo Tsukidate, a quiet girl who likes to fantasize, especially about her onee-sama, Nagisa. Chiyo seems to have the fate of having Nagisa helping her a lot and because of that Chiyo has fallen for Nagisa.

From Saint Spica
One of Nagisa's first friends and possibly the closest to her situation is Hikari Konohana. A very shy and quiet girl who joined the choir in order to sing for her loved one. She is the same grade as Nagisa

Hikari's best friend, Yaya Nanto, is also her roommate. And secret admirer... Even though Yaya secretly loves Hikari she encourages her to go after the one that she loves. Yaya knows she's hurting herself but she can't help but wanting Hikari to be happy as well, even if it's not with her.

Tsubomi Okuwaka (on the right) is often seen with her Saint Miator counterpart Chiyo. One would consider her a tsundere, especially the way she acts towards Hikari and Yaya. She joins her two sempai, whom she admire, in the choir club.

Amane Okuwaka is Hikari's love interest. Perhaps the feeling is mutual once Amane finally meets Hikari. She is a very popular student at St. Spica because of her boyish or even prince-like looks. She is a year older than Hikari.

The student council president, Tomori Shiori, is very pushy. Especially concerning wanting to see Amane as the next Étoile before she graduates.

Momomi Kiyashiki and Kaname Kenjo are also part of the student council. They are quite the schemers from the get go. They will do almost anything to get themselves the coveted Étoile position. They are also roommates and a very ecchi couple!

From Saint Le Rim
The student council president, Chikaru Minamoto is also the president for the Henshin Club (or as it was translated as the "Cosplay Club"). A very free-spirited girl from a very free-spirited school. Although Chikaru is responsible president, she does not take anything seriously. Which why it was easy for a lot of younger students to come to her when there is trouble. In fact, she becomes a very popular shoulder to cry on later in the show. Unlike Saint Spica and Saint Miator, Chikaru and Saint Le Rim doesn't like to be competitive with the other schools.

The rest of the recurring characters from Saint Le Rim (from left to right): Kizuna Hyuga, Kagome Byakudan (and Percival, her bear), Chikaru, and Remon Natsume. These four tend to stick together wherever they go and they all belong to the Henshin Club (along with the other clubs that Chikaru made up).

Kizuna and Remon are almost inseparable and tend to follow their leader Chikaru. Kizuna is more outgoing and excitable and Remon tends to follow suit.

Kagome is the most quiet one and will always be seen with her teddy bear Percival whom she always talks to. Kizuna manages to figure out the situation by interpreting Kagome's conversation with Percival. Although Kagome looks childish, she is quite intelligent and surprisingly fast on the take.

My Impression
Now that you know the cast, let's get down to business... I was excited to watch this show when it first came out, but the slow process of introducing the characters really took a brunt on me. Even though I really wanted to watch it as it came out, something took over my time back then. Mainly World of Warcraft... I filled the gap with the manga that Seven Seas Entertainment was releasing, but they never finished it. Now that WoW is gone from my life and I have the whole series in my hand, I regretted for not finishing it the first time. It's a great show despite the slow introductions. By the beginning of the second disc, I was hooked again! Ok, the ecchi couple's introduction into the mix really helped.

Nagisa, the hapless victim of yuri groping and seduction, quickly became my favourite right away. She's the main reason I kept watching. Her chemistry with Tamao worked so well that I really though I was watching Cardcaptor Sakura again. Nagisa being entranced by Shizuma seemed silly but it was the first main difference between this and MariMite. When the focus changed to Hikari is perhaps the reason I stopped watching the first time. She wasn't as exciting to watch as Nagisa was.

The animation looked quite good and I realized that it was Mad House who also did Cardcaptor Sakura as well! Well there were some background characters that didn't look quite right, but the art looked so good that I thought I'm seeing Satoshi Urushihara's art coming to life!

Can't help but compare it a little to MariMite...

There were still some slow episodes later on, but there were quite a lot of memorable episodes. One of them was the first time I saw ecchi conversations and scenes that would be nowhere near in any of MariMite's scenes. Then the next episode came with a very cute and innocent episode involving umbrellas. It was like watching two different shows, but in a good way! There were so many things happening that a lot of these episodes were blending (especially since I watched them all in a row). Another favourite was the cultural festival play episode that literally had a "twist" ending. Strawberry Panic really took my expectations and toyed with them. I was surprised right to the very end! I wouldn't look for any messages though, I was in it just for the fun and I had a lot of fun watching the show, even laughing out loud at times.

I hope I've provide a somewhat informative guide to Strawberry Panic even though the anime is 4 years old. It's good to revisit older anime, especially ones that you've missed. I try to avoid any spoilers here, but in the second post that I'll do next week will be full of spoilers that a lot of you (I'm looking at you Yi and BlueBlueWave) would want to talk about. For now my only goal was to introduce this anime to those who hasn't discovered it or maybe too afraid to try it. I may have said it had a slow pace too many times, but it really does pay in the end because you'll laugh and cheer right to the very end, and maybe even cry.

And now I'll end it with the rarely seen live-action ending video. The only other anime I know with live-action end video were Initial D...



Okay, I lied... I'm gonna end it with a gallery of Yaya, who quietly became my second favourite character after Nagisa because of how cute and sexy (erokawa?) she is and I can't help but feel for her in her situation.

14 comments:

  1. I know it as Lulim, and this is my first time hearing it being called Le Rim.

    My favorite character is definitely Shizuma.

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  2. kudos to you rob, for always being a supporter and buying stuff.
    Almost makes me feel bad. Almost.

    These girls are exceedingly thin for the bust they have *imagines strained twig*...
    But well, I like the uniform designs. Very stylized, and the notion of three differently dressed groups sharing the same grounds is perfect drama material. Now if only there was active competition between the three, at least of the harry potter level... Add in the forbidden love between members of different factions... Bam, storyline.

    And I still can't get over the fact that you consciously left WoW.

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  3. I will need to catch this show.. ^^

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  4. I'm glad you finally watched Strawberry Panic. It's such a classic yuri anime.

    Yaya is easily my favorite character. I feel kind of bad for her though...

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  5. @Matteas: Aye, different translations. It was originally Le Rim, but later changed to Lulim from what I've heard. Lulim sounded better, but since I'm referring to the DVD, I'll use that to avoid some confusion.

    @radiantdreamer: One out of how many? XD

    @Ningyo/Tim: Ahaha, well by buying the DVD it forces me to watch it since I did spend it, but I do buy with the intention to watch, just doesn't happen all the time since I lack the time >_<

    They are indeed quite skinny. Sometimes I did notice that while I was watching. Damn... now I wanna see a yuri show based in the Harry Potter universe. Great ideas! I wonder if anyone's got it in the works? OH YEAH! It's called Stray Little Devil! Good read, I should post about that one day.

    Haha well it was pretty much my lack of hard disk space to download the latest patch that made me quit WoW XD The amount of anime and eroge on the computer outweigh my desire to play WoW!

    @phossil: Yah! it's great!

    @Yi: Glad I finally finished it. I know a lot of people have been asking me about it, lol. I really do wish someone would show for the sake of Yaya at the end. But I shall leave that discussion for next time.

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  6. Yuri mate! I'm glad you finished SP. :) I've seen it like 5x.

    I'd have to agree that the Carmen play was great, definitely one of the memorable episodes.

    I can't wait to read part 2 of your SP commentary. Cheers!

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  7. @Menen: Whoa! 5 times!? I'm not worthy m(_ _)m I'm not worthy m(_ _)m

    It's really nice about anime because they teach you different things. I didn't know what Carmen was about until this show, lol.

    Yes, we shall discuss more in the second part :)

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  8. My wife and I enjoyed Strawberry Panic, though we both agree it was slow to introduce the characters. It's definitely a classic yuri.

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  9. Intersting storyline with 3 different schools on the same hill and they're all girl schools too (thinks about ero games). Maybe this is something I would introduce to Tomoyo if the character Tamao is like her xD.

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  10. ah, I just found Starberry panics yuri to be too damn blatant!!
    One of the fun things about Marimite is the abundance of Yuri but it's never shown, merely hinted at!!

    It's the subtle hints which make it worthwhile, I think...
    After all these years I'm still not sure why I watch marimite almost religiously...

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  11. @Persocom: Ah wow, that's great for a husband and wife to enjoy this classic yuri anime! I know someone who doesn't like this kind of pace, especially ones in yuri anime ^^;

    @AS: Haha yah, it's a good setup for that isn't it? Oh ya, the resemblance is uncanny! I swear it was like a grown-up Tomoyo when I was watching... Even her name is similar!

    @gundamjehutykai: LoL you like that subtle hint of yuri, eh? I do like that too, but once in a while when it's in your face got a good impact too. I'm always tempted to watch MariMite again and again and again. Not sure why, but it's just fun!

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  12. Esto es bueno!
    lo encontre en Google !

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