Ahh, the life of an elementary school student. Though Chika, Matsuri, Miu and Ana should focus on schoolwork, they’d much rather have fun instead. Whether it’s outings with 20-year-old-chain-smoker Noboe, holding each other hostage or learning to speak English with Ana’s foreign-born skills, there’s never a dull moment in the life of the girls. Join this cute quartet as they do cute (and often devious) things in cute and quirky ways!
Ichigo Mashimaro (Strawberry Marshmallow) had all the traits of being a very benign production, yet I could only wonder how malignant it was for me in watching these twelve ‘iyashikei’ episodes of four fifth grade girls and one rebel of a teen-aged sister. I think it came with the first line of the theme song ... ‘don't think of us as cute,’ or words to that effect. There were moments I felt the girls weren't aiming so much for kawaii, but if they were trying for moe ... plane hits ground and bursts into flames ... or however that saying goes. Honestly, of the twelve episodes, I had to rewatch three. Something to do to dozing off while viewing. As characters go, there was little to complain about studious Chika, innocent Matsuri, and English lass Ana, but Strawberry Marshmallow played too much with Miu's naughty, semi-comedic character. Gifted with the sarcasm without the intelligence which makes it work. But the saucy comments Lime Anime (company used to develop the dubbed version) dropped during the break segments nudged the concept too close to the Lolita concept. A toxic mix of sweet and vulgar. This made making the characters act anything close to realistic difficult. I had trouble relating to Ana when she was introduced. An English girl with enough background in Japanese to communicate, but uncertain which language to use (the dubbed version slaughtered the refined English accent one would associate with one from the sceptered isle). Plus, the anime loosely paired the characters of long-suffering Chika with annoying neighbor Miu, and sweet Matsuri with sympathetic Ana. The final episodes dealt with how one should take Santa Claus; in defending Matsuri's faith in Santa, Miu could pinpoint when she renounced Santa, and Ana when she knew the wisdom of holding to the jolly elf. It was that touch of iyashikei that I missed throughout all the other episodes. But the counter-weight to the antics of the four elementary schoolers, Chika's older sister Nobue, was deadweight. A chain-smoker and beer-binger, it was hard to see the so-called ‘mature’ member of the cast inject anything positive into the plot. Plot, a thing that was so lacking in this series. The animation was, to be blunt, simplistic. What one would expect from anime produced in 2005. I would be interested in whatever technical improvements would be made for the 2007 and 2009 OVA presentations. The music was, to be truthful, that kawaii effect which the quartet of pre-adolescent girls would deny. Let cute be cute, but let us also realize loli can just be pointless.
-Story-In Slice-of -life animes, the plot is not as critical and is more dependent on comedy instead of leaving the audience on the edge of their seats. So it may seem that the plot is non-existant in Strawberry Marshmallow, but it doesnt need a big and grand plot to be good, it needs great humor, which Strawberry Marshmallow is not short on at all. There were some instances when I just cracked up laughing at the antics of all the girls. Most of the jokes were quite funny. Also the stories in each individual episode portrayed simple things which can be a welcome change to plot driven animes as opposed to humor and character driven animes like Strawberry Marshmallow is. -Animation-Not a whole to to piss and moan about in Strawberry Marshmallow's animation. I found it to be well drawn and had a flowing feeling to it. There were a couple of instances where the background seemed static, but that is mostly not noticable. The designs of the characters were well suited for the personalities of each individual characters, and I found them to be quite original. -Characters-There is not much to say about the characters except that they were amazing. With slice of life animes being more humor and character driven, they cannot get away with having a mediocre cast of characters, but Strawberry Marshmallow has a great cast of characters, even the few minor characters. Mui was annoying, but she was a neccasary type of annoying, which set up many of Strawberry Marshmallow's good jokes. Ana was an interesting character, being that she is English yet she has forgotten how to speak english. Chika is a normal girl who often plays the straight man to Mui's out of control attitude. Matsuri was a cute and kind character who made the show much more interesting with her presense and her character drove the story of my favorite episode, which was the last one. I liked Nobue's character. She's so cool that she doesnt mind hanging out with her little sister and her friends, and actually enjoys it. As much as I despise smoking, it was a something that fit Nobue's character more convincing. As for pretty much the only minor character was the little boy sitting behind Matsuri in class, who was always sent to the hall for stupid, and quite hilarious reasons, and it made me laugh every time.-Overall-This anime was great. The characters and humor drove the stories along nicely, and provided me with some good laughs. I would recomend this anime highly. This one is definatly worth your time to watch.
It wasn't a bad anime, but there really isn't much payoff here. I'll start by saying that I didn't hate or dislike this anime, but it doesn't really stand out. Its a slice of life with little to no story. Characters, well, there is one I like and 1 that is OK I guess. But that's 2/5 characters (I rarely remember names so I'll say I liked the older sister, and the ADHD one was OK). The other 3 kinda come across as 2 dimensional. The music isnt very memorable. The voices are OK(dub), dont really have any complaints there. Strawberry marshmallow make frequent use of prolonged silence, which when used correctly, can be comedy gold. That is not the case here. It ends up being somewhat boring with minor chuckles here and there. Animation was fine but again, didn't go out of its way to impress me. I'm right on the borderline in deciding whether or not liked the anime. But I did enjoy it, if that makes sense. Was going to give 5/10 but I decided to give it 6 because I thought that it was more good than it was bad. I'd save this anime to watch for when you run out of other anime to watch or you have little kids around to watch it.
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