>DVD Review – Don’t panic with "Strawberry Panic"

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I must have a bad habit for watching yuri series. I chose “Strawberry Panic” this weekend thinking that it was “Strawberry Marshmallow”, an anime about young girls trying to survive on little cash to spare. Instead, I ended up renting a series about a girl and girl romance.

Just to let you know beforehand–I don’t intentionally focus on these yuri series. I’ve just happened to run into them in my search for romance anime.

Still, for a yuri series, “Strawberry Panic” certainly doesn’t get excessively awkward at all. This series tells a heartwarming tale of a Japanese girl who tries to fit in at a monastic high school in the woods.

Nagisa Aoi, a fourth-year transfer to Astraea Dormitory, had no idea that her school was so far away from Tokyo. And her first memories are not picture-perfect. She falls down a hillside into a meadow, where she meets the Etoile, the highest ranking student representative of the dormitory. And she is very attracted to Nagisa. In fact, when the Etoile stares at her, she can’t even move. And right when the Etoile kisses Nagisa, she blacks out.

She wakes up in the school nurse’s office and meets her new roommate, Tamao, who instantly takes a liking to her. In fact, Tamao even takes measurments of Nagisa for her new school uniform. Of course, Nagisa is pretty spooked by all this girl-on-girl action. Even worse, she gets locked out of the school gates on her first day, and is given a strict whipping by the headmaster.

Still, she meets plenty of friends at the dorm. However, her biggest fan right now is Shizuma, the Etoile. Shizuma has a bad habit of staring at Nagisa and trying to kiss her. Thankfully, Nagisa resists Shizuma’s creepy powers and manages to convince Etoile to attend the school meetings between the three schools of the dormitory, St. Spica’s academy, St. Le Rim’s academy and St. Miatre Girls academy. Still, Nagisa still wonders why Shizuma has stopped attending the meetings.

This series has a lot of spunk for a yuri series. The anime has plenty of hilarious embarassing moments, where Nagisa is hit on by Shizuma and Tamao. Nagisa has been resisting these approaches pretty well so far. I guess homosexual romance tends to be a little more rampant at all-girl academies. I’m glad that the series hasn’t been too seriously intimate so far. After all, I don’t think too many people would want to go into a relationship too quickly. And thankfully, this isn’t as dangerously pornographic as “Moonlight Mile”. At least not yet…

Also, Nagisa has a way of cheering up Shizuma as well. In episode six, Nagisa warms up to Shizuma as she helps her water the plants in the greenhouse. However, Shizuma obviously has a dark past, because she keeps staring out the window with a depressing demeanor.

So far, this series is a winner. It doesn’t bring anything new to the yuri genre, but it is a wonderful start to a romance anime. The pacing is steady and graceful–the homosexual romance hasn’t made me too uncomfortable at all, and the setting is realistic enough for a yuri series. I’m crossing my fingers, because this could be a candidate for best yuri series of the year.

Oh yeah, this has the best opening song I’ve heard in awhile. And it sounds awfully similar to the Angelic Layer first ending theme, although none of the Strawberry Panic song composers or singers worked on that Angelic Layer song.

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Filed under homosexual, romance, Strawberry Panic, yuri

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