I My Me Strawberry Eggs
Amawa Hibiki is an aspiring gym teacher with a couple of problems. He has to pay the rent, or his psycho landlord will eat his dog. However, the junior high school next door has a rather odd policy - they refuse to hire men. That won't stop Hibiki, though, as he dons a dress, stiletto, and a special voice box to become the dazzling Miss Amawa Hibiki, female gym teacher. He sets out to prove that a man can perform with all the love and passion of a woman in the world of education.
I really want to love I My Me Strawberry Eggs. I really do. It has a great main character, an interesting "Miss Tootsie" premise, and some of the episodes are endearing. Unfortunately, it breaks the basic rule of having an effective schoolyard drama - it fails to have a remotely interesting student cast to speak of.
I My Me isn't bad, though. From the gorgeous opening song, "Dearest", to the relatively decent animation, aurally and visually, this is everything we should expect from a Pioneer title. The girls are cute, and this being a female-run school, there are plenty more of girls than guys. It's ironic, though, that with all this estrogen around, the prettiest, most energetic, and personable girl in the entire series is actually a guy. Amawa Hibiki is a wonderful character with a lot of heart and cojones the size of the fake melons on his chest, even IF he has to hide them under pantyhose ... maybe that's where the title comes from. Likable, kind-hearted, and funny, you can imagine that Amawa-sensei would have just as valid a career in drama as well as athletics, for all the acting that's required of him. Extra credit goes to the Japanese voice actors for Hibiki, who do a splendid job.
Unfortunately, his students are dreadfully boring. Fuuko-chan (the main girl) is klutzy, lacks confidence, easily take advantage of, shows off her panties to the camera every three seconds, and otherwise harbors a billion cliches from decades of main characters in dramas like this. You just know she's supposed to learn confidence and self-pride from Amawa-sensei, because that is the way this formula works. Don't let the crossdressing fool you, either: the whole student-teacher romance cliche happens here, too. Ugh! Worse, Fuuko-chan seems to encourage being taken advantage of, and that sort of character just galls me. Now that wouldn't be bad enough by itself, except that she is the only remotely interesting character in the student body. Everyone else is a slapdash rundown of the "high school cast" cliche borrowed from other school dramas and Brat Pack movies. After a while, I had this queasy feeling of watching a teacher as cool as Great Teacher Onizuka shepherding students as boring as the To Heart cast. Granted, at least this series doesn't attempt the "dating sim" cliche like some publications said it would. Yes, the art is very bishoujo, but this is NOT a harem anime, and that, at least, is some small consolation.
Unfortunately (and I keep using this adverb, to my consternation), the cast at the boarding house, Gochisou - yes, yet another Japanese pun left completely unexplained by the translators. The crazy, pistol-wielding landlord - okay, landlady - is a riot, but there's not enough of that character at all. Whereas there is far too much screen time devoted to the stupid stock "old guy pervert" and "salaryman pervert" archetypes that still aren't funny the billionth time around. Granted, the one-off "blinding flash" gag was cool, but by the third time ... you see where I'm getting at. The cliches are everywhere, like birds in a Hitchcock flick waiting patiently to bushwhack the unwary.
Even worse are the administrators at the downright creepy junior high school, which is run more like a quasi-religious feminist cult than an actual real-life school. The vice principal is yet more proof that All Anime Vice Principals are Pure Unadulterated Evil, while the school principal just gives me a case of the queasies. I can't help but feel that the creators behind this whole idea aren't hiding their misogynism well behind that veneer of "gender equality" they're trying to play this off as.
The most original thing about this series just might be the music, which is very folksy, and one of the few open indications that this series is actually based somewhere in Kansai. Listen to those accents in the Japanese track, folks - this really is Hicksville Town, Hicksville Prefecture. Another interesting thing to note is just how important language is in determining the social and gender-related roles in this series - "I My Me" can be construed to be a veiled reference to Amawa's own fumbling between the masculine and feminine forms of the word "I" - ore and atashi. The administrators speak in a very stilted and archaic form of speech, whereas the students speak everyday variants of Kansai dialect.
Much of the language humor, though, is hard enough to translate into English. Unfortunately (again!), both the subtitlers and the dub scriptwriter deserve a thorough slapping for failing to translate the series. The dub, while vocally competent, contains plenty of distracting ventures into "casual Japanese", like retaining kyoshi and baa-chan in dialogue, as if they can't be translated into equivalent English concepts like "teacher" and "Granny". The subtitles do this, too, and it's really, really annoying. After all, we hire English VAs to speak in English, not repeat the Japanese with an English vocal affect! Come on, people! If I want to pay to listen to fanboy Japanese, I'll go to a convention!
All in all, I My Me Strawberry Eggs is (are?) not a bad series. Unfortunately, it's not a good one, either, and it's exactly this sort of missed opportunity that makes series like GTO and Azumanga Daioh look that much better in comparison. Sure, you can go ahead and pick up the DVDs for this -- there are some great moments to be had here, especially with the cool lead character. I just happen to think that Amawa Hibiki really deserved a better show ... and better screenwriters in both Japanese AND English.
The only thing that grates on me more than a missed opportunity is outright dreck. I My Me never falls to that level, but it never truly rises above the standard cliches of the genre. If you can forgive the cliches and concentrate on the comedy and the main character, add one star. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Almost the first thing you see of Fuuko-chan is her underwear. There is a constant current of sex-themed humor that occasionally elicits a laugh or two, but really doesn't do too much for the series except raise its audience rating. Some threats of violence involving the Gochisou boys getting caught peeping on the girls, all played as slapstick - the administrators at the school are vastly creepier. Teenagers and above.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source; DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (13/13)
I My Me Strawberry Eggs © 2001 Pioneer / YOM / TNK / IMM! Committee
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