Originally Posted by ThePatches
Drawn in by one of the ubiquitous "I Kissed a Girl" AMVs, I came to Strawberry Panic! wondering why all those girls were making out with each other. I can't say that I left the series entirely sure of the characters' motivations, but I can say that I've come to love the silly, racy, melodramatic, and heartbreaking world of yuri anime. Despite its passing fair looks, occasionally vapid storytelling, and frustrating characters, I found much here to like, but little to love. And it's all Hikari's fault. This paragraph is internally inconsistent. You talk about how you've been drawn into the loveable world of Yuri and then you say that there is little to love in the anime.
Strawberry Panic! tells the interwoven story of two transfer students to the rarefied atmosphere of Astrea, a collection of three Catholic all-girls schools, with mixed results this sentence is too long to follow everything. Try to either shorten it or break it up into two sentences. While the absurd amount of lesbian relationships on campus gets a brief lampshading from the series' protagonist, Nagisa, the cloistered feel of Astrea Hill and the purposeful omission of anything that could conclusively tie the story to a specific time quickly draw the viewer into the rarefied this is a great word but no need to use it twice world of the three schools.
Nagisa's story centers around her bizarre and tumultuous relationship with the upperclasswoman Shizuma, which reads more like a coy romance novel than a steamy bodice-ripper. While this first narrative suffers a little from Nagisa's amorphous characterization, Shizuma turns out to be interesting enough to support the drama all by herself. If you can get behind either of these two girls, their slow dance toward each other will take you for some emotional--if predictable--turns before the series' end. Nagisa's uncertainty coupled with Tamao's creepy infatuation (and steadfast friendship) with Nagisa provide plenty of twists and turns from the younger girl; throw in Shizuma's "tragic past" and the will-they-won't-they tension carries much of the series.
Sadly, the show also tells Hikari's story. Having transferred into St. Spica in the previous year, the blond waif sings in the choir team with her roommate and best buddy, Yaya, and a younger girl Tsubomi. For some unfathomable reason comma these two girls dote on the largely oblivious and meek Hikari who falls instead, cut this comma for St. Spica's "Prince" Amane. Like Nagisa's story's more adventurous younger sister I don't like this phrase for a number of reasons. The double apostrophe in "Nagisa's story's" is awkward turtle, and I don't even know what you're talking about when you mention "adventurous younger sister." Is this a simile, or is there some younger sister in the other arc that you haven't mentioned until now? You might want to just cut the thing. Alternatively, give it it's own simple sentence so you can clarify it, the juicier events centering around Hikari include school political intrigue, attempted rape, unrequited love, a tennis match, and amnesia; no need for a semi-colon here. Just make it a period all these twists and turns should have made Hikari's drama more compelling--except that her presence ruins it all. Skittish and cowardly, she allows all of this interesting plot to happen to her until the show's very end. As Hikari refuses to really seize her own destiny until the final moment, her ultimate resolution feels more like an intrusion on Nagisa's unresolved drama than the emotional culmination of a standalone love story. great sentence, except "As" isn't good because it implies that Hikari is doing something at the same time as other stuff rather than causing stuff to happen. I thought you were going somewhere like, "As Hikari refuses to seize her own destiny, Nagisa is learning to tap-dance." To eliminate this ambiguity I'd recommend "Because." Wow, I just spent a lot of words on one transition. Anyways, great sentence!
Strawberry Panic! suffers heavily from being only passing fair second time you've used this phrase, and I didn't even really like it the first time. Adding a touch of much needed believability, Nagisa, Tamao, Hikari and Yaya all look clearly younger than Shizuma, Miyuki, Chikane and Amane and obviously older than Chiyo, Tsubomi, and Kagome the names, oh god, THE NAMES. Just say "the kouhai's" or "the second years" or something; you can't expect the reader to keep track of all those characters in their head. Amane's design emphasizes her "Prince" status, tall and strong, she looks equally at home in the feminine St. Spica jacket or skirt and astride her white horse in full hero mode run-on. Shizuma, on the other hand, left much to be desired. While the silver hair, gold eyes, and full figure communicate "beauty" adequately, I had trouble reading her bizarre magnetism from her character design. Given that she enthralls Nagisa on sight in their first encounter, the fact that I couldn't see a glimmer of what the younger girl saw made it hard for me to buy into their plot line at the beginning. The series also lacks significant detail. The rich environments and charming school uniforms should provide ample opportunity for beautiful stills at least, but everything seems to have a "soft" feel about it that doesn't say "ephemeral" as much as "cheap". I don't like your use of "soft" here. Either elaborate or choose a more intuitive word
Aside from the one cut "the" since it implies you've talked about this moment before gratuitous moment of English (yeah, it's a correct sentence) cut this, the voice acting is competent and emotive. Nakahara Mai manages the chipper Nagisa ably, but her usual partner Shimizu Ai delivers the better performance as Tamao, owing mostly to her rich complexity offering more opportunities for subtlety. Yaya and Hikari's voice actors rise to the awkward challenge of pretending to be high school choir singers, each one delivering a solo song in a convincingly amateur manner without offending the ears.
The highlights of Strawberry Panic!'s aural component come from the music, however. The series sports two emotionally epic OPs (my favorite being the first opener, "Shoujo Miero Tsukamaete") paired with two playful ending themes sung by Tamao and Nagisa's seiyuus. While there is some dissonance between the EDs and the dramatic content of the series in the second half, I found that the closing songs added a needed air of levity--the situations are somewhat ridiculous and the series seems to know it. During the episodes, classical themes abound, with piano music punctuating the more important emotional moments, and not without reason. Shizuma and Nagisa share more than one moment at a piano and so the mournful piano strains reflect back into the text of the story itself.
While unimaginative and underdeveloped, the cast's verve and humor carry the show. Supporting the skittish Hikari and princely Amane, the student cast of St. Spica reads like it has been plucked from any standard boarding-school teen novella. Momo and Kaname provide buckets of intrigue and racy fan-service while the St. Spica Student Council President, [name], you really don't need a name here. Student Council President is fine plots to win the upcoming Etoile election for her school. Their scheming combines with the more delicate machinations and desires of the sexy and outgoing Yaya and her tsundere sidekick, Tsubomi, to round out the complex love polygon that dominates Hikari's storyline. In St. Miatre, Shizuma smolders with pent up sexual energy and exudes a kind of imperious grace that hides the vulnerabilities that surface in the second half of the series. Likewise, the cheery and gung-ho Nagisa perfectly balances optimism and mischief, complimenting her interaction with the mercurial Shizuma and wily Tamao. The most delightful character in the show, Nagisa's blue-haired best friend swings wildly from supportive companion to chillingly possessive guardian, all while maintaining the same demeanor. Instead of hampering her believability, the moments where she airs out her creepy obsession with the new transfer student give Tamao an air of emotional honesty seems to be lacking easy fix here is just add "that" before seems, but actually changing the phrase to "seemingly lacking" seems like a better fit in the rest of the main cast.
Despite their tangential relationship to the main plot lines, the cast from St. Le Rim contains the series' dark horse, Chikane comma who acts like a big sister to all of the younger students with whom she interacts. Cute, insightful, and fun, Chikane provides answers, shoulders to cry on, and costumes (costumes!) on demand but never upstages the important on-screen action. The remaining girls fill their important comic relief and plot-related roles without trying the viewers patience. The fact that all of these characters seem to have little history or life outside of school actually plays to the show's benefit; focusing on the events within the school almost exclusively heightens the slightly fantastic air that pervades the series and goes a long way toward setting Astrea Hill as another world. In this context, the casual treatment of lesbian relationships starts to seem less preposterous as the show moves forward.
While not a masterpiece, Strawberry Panic! provides a good deal of humor, drama, and delectable girl-on-girl fan service. As a first foray into the world of shoujo-ai, this show gives the viewer a pretty good overview of themes available in the genre and uses its fairly breathless pacing to keep things interesting. The experienced fan will likely find that this series feels a little shorter than other series in the genre you used "the genre" in the previous sentence. Change it to "yuri."because the story covers a fair amount of ground instead of lingering on each small interpersonal incident. Sure, it could have looked better, and Hikari's reticence dragged down the otherwise competent storytelling, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching these girls' hearts break over and over. If you can get past the anime's absurdity, I predict you will also find a diverting little romp in a world of lesbian high school romance.