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WO's Honorable Mention: Strawberry Marshmallow

Miu & Chika

While I'm gathering my thoughts today, and getting my brain psyched up for some serious reviewing, I thought I would give out a nice honorable mention to both an anime and a manga that has entertained me on numerous levels.

Now, I know I've dogged the hell out of manga in the Gentleman's Alliance Cross post I made, but come on, I was having a bad day. You try reading through a manga that takes four passes a page, and listen to "It's not a hard read at all." talk.

So, putting that aside, I thought I would just give a brief run-down of what this series is about.

It's comedy slice of life, and while it isn't a 4-panel comic, it certainly has the look and feel of something very similar to one. It's a brisk read, and there are few parts that will bog down for very long before a great big chuckle escapes your face.

The plot is pretty much non-existent, as it focuses on the lives of five girls, Miu, Chika, Anna, Masturi, and Nobue. When they aren't briefly depicted in school or outside, they are up in Chika's room gathered around her table -- drawing, laughing, arguing, or being typical kids.

The anime does a great job of translating the humor of the manga, even if there are serious liberties taken with much of the content. And while the manga chapters are not really in any particular chronology per se, the anime goes to the point of jumbling them up a little and, those that have read the manga will see things that happen later on, happening right away, and vice versa.

My favorite character is Nobue, and not just because she's the closest to a legal age, and listens to all the same music I do. I just like her extreme apathy, and carefree attitude. She has a stern older sister mentality around the other girls, and yet has a real weakness for cute girls, and gushes randomly, especially over Anna, and Matsuri.

Miu is best compared to the character of Dennis the Menace. She is loud, violent, and a hyperactive ticking time-bomb. She lives next door to Chika and Nobue, and crosses roofs to climb in through Chika's bedroom window, any time she feel likes it. Much of the laughter and hysterics that I get from reading the manga, are usually derived from her unexpected antics; whether it be dressing up like a ninja and doing something stupid, or roundhouse kicking Nobue in the ribs for no reason at all.

Anna & Matsuri
 Anna the British child that has lived in Japan for so long she's forgotten how to speak English, which is a great laugh as well, as she struggles to re-assert her English manners and speech, despite constantly falling back into her new familiar Japanese habits.

Matsuri is the cry-baby girl, that is so kind hearted and incapable of misdeed, that you find yourself wanting a plushie of her character so you can squeeze it till your arms fall off. Which if I had one, I would so do.

Chika is the more the straight man character in the series. Not only is she the opposite spectrum of the humor, she is the only seeming voice of reason and logic, aside from brief moments of clarity from her older sister Nobue. Chika isn't without her charms, and while she does her best to ignore her sister's indifference, and Miu's shenanigans, she inexplicably laughs at the jokes, despite herself.

From a casual look at both the anime and the manga, I would say that they could seem a little boring, and without much strength at all, but unless you are just after mighty explosions and graphic innuendo, which I'm sure most of you are gunning for, then this is not going to be your thing.

What it is, is a laid back casual read, and some interestingly funny everyday moments. If I had to recommend one over the other, I would say to probably read the manga, since it does cover much more character development. Both are good, but the manga on this one is a must.

I think the look of the characters is good, they have a real deliberate design to them, and the anime doesn't seem to muck that up like a lot of shows, where they try to improve upon the look of the mangaka artist.

There are a few times when the manga drags a little but not that much. All in all I'd say its crap factor is the lowest I've seen in a long time. Compared to other shows that just have a huge following because they wanna get it on with the characters, or because they think Lucky Star -- also another slice of life comedy -- is so awesome because they can totally relate to Konata, or one of the twins. Yeah, your ability to relate just went right out the window the minute you fondled yourself during the credit opening, and peeked to the left and right, and let out a sigh.

Tisk! Tisk!

It's doubtful that the average reader will have much in common with the characters, since we are talking about children here; and those of us that have any sort of fond memories of our youth will, no doubt look on it with a certain sense of disgust and embarrassment.

Anna & Miu
 Now, I'm not gonna say that the characters of Strawberry Marshmallow don't each have their own distinctive charm, and even a little bit of forced sex appeal, brought about by the fact that Barasui used to draw lolicon doujinshi pages. And for those of you that have to ask what that is, then get off this blog, you are not ready to be an Otaku!

Anyway, the series -- both manga and anime -- cover a lot of everyday moments brought into the realm of laughter by the extra-ordinary personalities of the characters. From watching as Nobue tries to sucker Chika into giving her money for cigarettes, to the group homework study sessions that end in Miu getting punched to the floor face down for being a brat.

So there you have it, a little look at one of my favorites. So go out there and get your strawberry on! I mean it! Or I'll will rip the cover off of this DVD copy I have of the Incredible Hulk TV Series from the 80s, and cram it up your nose until you read this stuff!

Go on, get out of here! I don't want to see you back until you've at least figured out which character started out with long hair in the manga and then cut it off.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get some ice cream, because that last image I posted is making my sweet tooth act up.