Manga Review – Strawberry Panic! (Vol. 1-2)

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Strawberry Panic! by Sakurako Kimino and art by Takuminamuchi is the flagship title from Seven Seas ‘Strawberry’ Line. This is another very famous yuri title much like Kannazuki, if asked to name a yuri title this is the other one most people go for and within reason, Strawberry Panic! optimizes the yuri school girl stereotype to the extreme, pushing the boundaries of everything that came before it.

Nagisa Aoi is a transfer student at St. Miator Girls’ Academy, one of the three prestigious all girl schools set upon Astraea Hill, the other two being St Spica and St. Lulim. Upon her first day Nagisa finds herself very lost and spies in the distance a very beautiful older girl named Shizuma Hanazono. Nagisa decides to ask her for directions to the dormitory. Hence forth Shizuma becomes infatuated with Nagisa taking every opportunity she can find to try and seduce the new transfer student. Of course Shizuma isn’t the only one with a crush on her, as Nagisa’s room mate Tamao has similar idea’s. Of course it isn’t only St. Miator thats rife with yuri pheromones, St. Spica has it’s own love triangle in the guise of Hikari, Amane and Yaya. Not to mention several others.

What joins the schools together is the yearly Étoilé (Literally meaning Star in French) contest where a couple is chosen from one of the schools as a representative for all three. The question is who will be this years Étoilé couple? and who will end up with who? This is pretty much what everyone believes (or wants to believe) happens in all girls boarding schools.

Personally I prefer the manga to the anime (ducks for cover) I think personally that it flows better and the character designs are more pleasing to the eye let alone I find it funnier than the anime series.

Story

The story is pretty cliché, an all girls school and what goes on. There isn’t really much thats of added interest really, I know more can be developed in later volumes (if anymore are published atm that is doubtful). But it’s very funny in parts and if you want a completely yuri manga then this will probably fit the bill. I just personally believe other manga do it better than Strawberry Panic! does. Also I would like to add the manga is different from the anime in quite a few ways so it is worth a read for an alternate retelling of the story.

Characters

There are a host of the usual stereotype characters, the beautiful popular girl, the ‘prince’, the beautiful shy girl, the jealous best friend, the cute but cheerful new girl and the cute underclassman. Strawberry Panic! always felt to me like lets see how many yuri elements we can throw together and push it, the only series that went a lot further with the same idea is ‘shoujo sect’ (but that went into H territory).

Art

Personally I really like the art of the manga, it’s the one reason I actually would buy anymore volumes of this. I like the moe style and for once Shizuma looks like a student as opposed to an older woman or school teacher, which I always found odd in the anime.

N.B. This is an ongoing series, but I don’t believe at present anymore volumes are on the cards to be published, so this series literally stops half way. The light novels that I will review later do continue the story.