By Rachel on December 6, 2006
Thereâ€™s a fine line between cute and annoying. Depending on your tolerance for annoying crap, that line might be thinner for one person than it is for someone else. Therefore, my thin line between cute and annoying is very thin indeed. Now, I DO love cute things, let me make that very clear. However, I donâ€™t like tired gags, annoying characters, and squealing, whining little girls who are presented as cute. That shite fâ€™n annoys the hell outta me. Strawberry Marshmallow was all these things and was excruciating. I had to force myself to watch all 13 drawn out, boring, and repetitive episodes.
The story is that there is no story. Strawberry Marshmallow was shot and written as a journal, a laâ€™ Azumanga Daioh, of three young Japanese school girls, one English exchange student living in Japan, and a borderline pedophilia older sister who â€œtakes careâ€ of the little girls. This series was purposely written and drawn to be uber-cute and kawaii. They went overboard with the same gags and the â€œcuteâ€ came across as tired and pushy.
Chika is a 12-year-old Japanese schoolgirl with a nicotine-addicted 20-year-old deadbeat sister (and a totally obnoxious next door neighbor/friend Miu). She tries her best at school but Miu undermines her efforts and continuously copies Chikaâ€™s homework. Chika and Miu have another annoying friend, Matsuri, who helps them in their quest to piss off viewing audiences that actually want substance in their anime viewing diet and not all fluff and sugar.
The three friends meet Ana, a British foreign exchange student whoâ€™s been in Japan so long sheâ€™s forgotten how to speak English. Ana is so ashamed of the fact that she no longer remembers her native tongue, that she vows to pretend to not understand Japanese even though sheâ€™s fluent in it. Ana lets slip to Matsuri that she really understands Japanese better than English and the two become good friends. Ana also gets chummy with Chika and Miu.
Nobue, Chikaâ€™s college aged sister gets all starry eyed when she meets Ana. At first I thought it was because Ana has blonde hair, white skin, and blue eyes, and that as a foreigner, sheâ€™s cuter (kitten cute) to Nobue than Japanese school girls. But a scene later in the anime, a really creepy scene actually, dispels the theory of Nobueâ€™s cute fixation.
The story is basically the girlsâ€™ day-to-day interactions with each other through the seasons. The animation is top notch and the colors are really bright and cheerful. The character designs are good as well and the cute outfits the girls wear are a treat to see. But thatâ€™s all the positive that I have to say about this series. After the visuals, thereâ€™s nothing that I can say thatâ€™s complimentary about Strawberry Marshmallow. The opening theme song was just as annoying as the series so I can honestly say that they scored this series beautifully.
The gag with Miu being an absolute snot and then being knocked face down to the ground for it got old the second time it happened and it happened at least three times per episode. Miuâ€™s antics got progressively more aggressive and hurtful and pissed me off with how anyone would ever tolerate, let alone befriend someone so destructive and mean. Iâ€™m guessing that since sheâ€™s a â€œcuteâ€ lilâ€™ girl her behavior was overlooked. I had to take a break from the series after her shenanigans resulted in Nobue losing her job. *sigh* I guess I just donâ€™t understand cute like I thought I did.
Matsuri was another annoying character that put me on edge. Her whining and cringing would put the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz to shame. I canâ€™t stand weak female characters and I know sheâ€™s just a small girl, but Iâ€™m not fond of those either and she was both.
Nobueâ€™s creepy attraction to Ana and sometimes Matsuri disturbed me. At first I thought that she liked cute things; i.e. puppy dogs, Hello Kitty, fluffy animal babies, etcetera. The shower scene changed that. I donâ€™t see much wrong with young kids bathing together. Hell, my mom would throw me, my sis, and whatever girl cousins were around in the tub together to save a dime. We were 9-11 and didnâ€™t much care about bathing together, but we never had anyone older than we were in the tub with us, least of all a 20 year old sibling.
When Ana asked that Nobue not look while she was washing and Nobue responded that she just wanted to make sure she got every place clean, I realized that she liked Ana with her clothes off. Yark! Nobueâ€™s a 20-year old-college student with no friends her own age who takes a decidedly keen interest in her sisters friends. She buys them food and takes them places, just like a big sister would, but with that creepy tone right on the fringe of normality to make her interest seem not so big sisterly.
Strawberry Marshmallow really wanted to be the junior high equivalent of Azumanga Daioh. You can tell that they tried their damnedest to be cute and funny and that was actually what damned this series, besides the creepy sister. Too much cute, too many gags and too little thought and depth were the formula for SM. I would like to think that all production companies think plots and character development through, but that was obviously not the case here. The character development here was shallow at best and sometimes would have been better off not being developed in the first place.
Strawberry Marshmallow is a shojo anime based-off a shojo manga and is probably aimed at younger audiences. Iâ€™m not too fond of shojo manga/anime, but if somethingâ€™s really good, it reaches across genre lines and slaps preconceptions outta yer head. Itâ€™s a pity this series was just a sharp blow to the head and nothing else.
outta a possible 4 Kasugai
Posted in Anime Reviews
I do love almost all aspects of Japanese culture and try to be involved with it as much as possible. I have no problem admitting that I incorporate a lot of Japanese trends and traditions into my life as I modify them and make them my own. Anime is a big part of that, along with all the sub-cultures, past and present.