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[R1 DVD box art.]
AKA: Ichigo Mashimaro, 䕂܂
Genre: Slice of life, comedy.
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Geneon out of print.
Content Rating: 13 (Portrayal of smoking and drinking, very minor mature themes.)
Related Series: Ichigo Mashimaro OAV, Ichigo Mashimaro Encore (OAV)
Also Recommended: Azumanga Daioh, Peanuts (non-anime)
Notes: Based on the manga by Barasui, available in North America through Tokyopop.
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Strawberry Marshmallow

Synopsis

Everyday life is many things for Nobue Ito, her younger sister Chika and Chika's friends. School, work, homework, games and fun. And shenanigans, let's not forget that.


Review

Is there a doctor in the house? I think I just died of cuteness overload.

Ok, ok. I kid. Now, I'm not saying Strawberry Marshmallow isn't a cute show, but sometimes I get the feeling the show is being misrepresented as more MOEish than it really is.

Admittedly, I have a hard time believing that this group of girls are supposedly 11-12 years old as much as any of you, but.....

New kids on the.... uh, what IS that anyway?

...no, I'm not buying it either. They look nine at most, and Nobue on the right there is supposed to be 20. You may take as much time as you need to get used to that idea before moving on with the review.

But that's beside the point anyway. What I'm trying to say is that, at the core, this show is perfectly suitable for anyone, regardless of age or gender. Again, one could almost be forgiven for the kneejerk reaction to the opening of this show, featuring the most rosy-cheeked children I've ever seen. But the show is far from just mindless fluff.

Like most slice-of-life shows, Strawberry Marshmallow doesn't really have a main story to its name. Everything is day to day, and each episode does touch upon a variety of situations that the characters find themselves in, whether that be school, work, smoking, playing or just fooling around. In that, the show is actually quite clever, building believable situations that carry through the character traits of everyone, and how they influence each other.

Strawberry Marshmallow's strongest suit nevertheless remains the characters and their idiosyncrasies. Whether that is Miu's exuberant (and mostly hilarious) personality and weird sense of humor, or Ana's insistence on not letting her mad Japanese skills and preferences getting in the way of being considered a true British citizen. And with Chika rounding off the sensible and studious parts and Matsuri playing the part of the somewhat reserved and naive traits in children, you know you're up for a heck of a lot of fun.

It's hard to pick any flaws or negative issues in this show without ending up feeling like a complete heel, but this needs to be said anyway: While I did say that there's nothing really wrong happening in this show in light of the appearance and antics of the main characters, there is still the situation regarding the older sister, Nobue, who occasionally (at the beginning of the show) seems to be a little bit... erm, "out of it"... whenever any of the girls are made to wear costumes. The most prominent being when Matsura is made to wear cat ears and a tail, and adapts a "nya" pattern to her speech. It doesn't really do anything for me, but Nobue's reaction to this might come off as wrong to some people. I dunno... maybe I'm overreacting, but I felt I should mention it all the same.

Even so, I'm asking you, as an audience, to look past that and just take the show in at your leisure. It's no epic, true, but few shows really portray the same kind of fun attitude and joyful cheer as this one. The easiest comparison would probably be Azumanga Daioh with everyone being at Chiyo-chan's age, or -- and I might be hanged and quartered for the affront of this one, but -- Charles M. Schulz' Peanuts. Yes, I'm entirely serious.

Buy it, watch it, love it. It's cute, yes, but it's also fun and clever. Even for one such as me, who's generally not well versed in Japanese jokes, mannerisms and habits, this show was a laugh and a half... and then some.

Short, but fun. Look forward to the OAVs.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The aforementioned issue aside, I can't really think about anything to say here. Well, Nobue smokes and drinks a lot, so I guess that counts for the ratings on the DVDs.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Strawberry Marshmallow © 2005 Ichigo Mashimaro Partners/TBS
 
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