Light Novel: Strawberry Panic 1July 18, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Posted in Light Novels, Reviews | 11 Comments
Tags: guilty pleasure
I got Strawberry Panic a couple of weeks ago and I finally finished it recently. I was just taking my time to read it.
First…I’ll get to the story also, but before I explode I need to shout what has been on my mind since I first picked this book up at the store.
I love you Seven Seas!!! Make me your novel slave!
So…that’s out of the way now. Maybe I should move toward an actual review.
I think “girl-crushes gone wild” is how Seven Seas chose to market the Strawberry Panic manga. It pretty much fits the light novels perfectly too. They’re written by Sakurako Kimino who seems to specialize in bishojo stories for men, despite being a woman. But I’ll get more into the author later.
Yes, Strawberry Panic is yuri for those of you who haven’t even heard of it (if you were an anime fan on the internet in 2006, you probably should have heard of it by now). If the girls hugging on the front cover wasn’t a hint for “hey, this is yuri”…then I don’t know what is. Maybe if they were kissing it would even more obvious.
So all the people who get freaked out by yuri should just turn away now. Though I don’t see why anyone should be. I’m a teenage girl as straight as a ruler and I enjoy my yuri, but meh. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to review an entertaining novel.
Since this is my first review, let me just explain two things. My rating system is just the rating I chose off-the-top of my head when I entered the novel into My Manga List. It is by no means an accurate rating for the story.
Also, my review of the story also includes characters and all that. Basically, anything in the written text.
This novel really brings to mind the definition of light novel I found on wikipedia a long time ago which has since been lost forever due to massive editing wars constantly taking place on wikipedia. I can’t remember it word for word but basically: “a short novel using simpler language and words meant purely for entertainment.”
Oh how I remember laughing and thinking, “regular books aren’t meant for entertainment then?” So, I think it’s very obvious why this little “definition” was edited out. But Strawberry Panic is just the sort of series that, oh so perfectly, fits in with my blog’s motto: If it’s entertaining, it’s good.
With that in mind, Strawberry Panic is good. At least for..what it is. If you get my meaning.
I’m not sure if it works the same in the anime (I never finished it because I got bored, so I’m guessing the answer is no), but for a nice easy read to just pass the time, Strawberry Panic is perfect.
Somehow, while reading, I just couldn’t help but smile every so often, which is pretty rare for me when I read.
Sometimes it was the ridiculous cliches, sometimes it made me laugh with legitimate jokes. Then, every so often, I let out an “aw” for those rare serious moments. The ones that managed to get away from the complete ridiculousness for just a second and go for just a little believable sincerity.
The novel also moves quickly which leaves little time for my mind to wander (excluding the sudden and intrusive descriptions of the campus). If I have one complaint about Full Metal Panic, my favorite series of light novels, it would be that my mind tends to wander.
But Stawberry Panic only has three novels to fit in three competitions and develop a very large cast. And then all those girly relationships as well. With all of that to develop, Sakurako Kimino is going to utilize every page. Even if it means stuffing in really awkward explanations right before they become relevant.
So what makes it so entertaining? Well, let’s see what the novel has to say about itself:
The yuri novel you’ve been waiting for!
Atraea Hill—a lush setting where three all-girl schools converge. Welcome to the oldest and most powerful among them, St. Miator Girls’ Academy, where gentle breezes scatter cherry blossoms to the ground and forbidden romance is always in full bloom.
New transfer student Aoi Nagisa is stunned when she meets Shizuma, the school’s top student, whose beauty takes her breath away. Find out what happens when Shizuma unexpectedly reciprocates Nagisa’s feelings.
Aww…that does such an awful job describing the book. It doesn’t include any of the things I like about the series. Shame on you Seven Seas. All you guys did was include a bunch of romantic yuri cliches. Poo.
Actually it includes everything I love, because it’s all the cliches that makes this so enjoyable for me. I like fun cliches, everyone should have learned that from Haruka. And the romance too. That’s one of the most entertaining parts because it can quickly switch between pure fluff romance, drama, and…well, girls making out behind some bookcases at the library.
Sheesh, Seven Seas. You have girls making out (or about to make out) in dark libraries and you choose to market it based on the “take my breath away” romance? I demand you take another look at the average reader of a yuri novel like Strawberry Panic.
But don’t look at me. I’m a strange variable that doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes of a yuri fan. Except you know, the fact that I’m an anime fan. And that’s it.
The dialogue is pretty basic, but it’s a light novel, so I can easily let that slide. It’s meant to be an easy read. It’s not any sort of translation issue, I asked someone and they said that the Strawberry Panic novels are just…like that. It was meant to be read easily and quickly…like in a train for example (I read mine in a car).
It’s for fun after all.
And the characters…well they’re all just as cliche as the rest of the story. Every single character I can connect to some other famous yuri (or at least harem) girl.
Of course, cliches are always a bunch of fun for me (I have no idea why), so I wouldn’t really recommend this for everyone. It really does fall under “guilty pleasure” really. It’s not trashy or anything, but it’s not something that you feel you should be enjoying. But if you go into it expecting it to just be simple, it’s quite fun to read. At least that’s what I found.
The Author, the Artist, and the Original Work
Sakurako Kimino did come up with Stawberry Panic all on her own, but the light novels aren’t the original work.
Strawberry Panic has an anime, manga, and now these light novels. All of them have been brought over to America. None of them are the original work.
The original work is a collection of 30 short stories published in Dengeki G’s Magazine. They were never collected in a bound volume, so good luck finding them I guess. Why it was decided to write a whole new adaptation to publish as a novel instead of just collecting the short stories…I’ll never know.
Now about Sakurako Kimino. She’s probably known to many as the creator of Sister Princess, a series that I’ve never really cared to check out…because it’s too obviously designed to fulfill fanboy fantasies. So much so that even I won’t touch it.
But what did interest me was one small tidbit in the back of the book:
In this series, she writes a pure, traditional yuri story freely drawn from her own experiences in an all-girls school.
“Uh…what?” was my initial reaction before I started to literally roll around laughing.
I believe her. It’s “drawn” from her experiences, but it’s definitely…improved quite a bit. But this just goes to prove that what you hear about girls schools is true. I heard all sorts of stuff like that from a friend (or acquaintance really) who went to an all-girls boarding school for a few months. Lots of fun rumors.
Though I will put emphasis on rumors. She wasn’t there too long so she didn’t get to confirm much.
But do you hear that yaoi fangirls? Apparently that sort of thing can happen if it’s all one gender of hormonal teenagers in the same school. I’d get your reverse trap disguises ready…and make sure you enroll in an all-boys school without a sister school full of girls.
Oh, but now I’m just too off-topic. Let’s move on.
I really liked the art in the novel, though since the emphasis is more on reading than pretty art in a novel, it was pretty rare. But I enjoyed it nonetheless.
It’s all done by Takuminamuch who draws the manga series as well. So, I am officially going to check out the manga now. Because the art is pretty and cute.
I couldn’t find any information on the illustrator at all really. I’m not sure if they did the short stories illustrations. I think they did some of them. But I like the art better than the first artist’s. It’s so pretty and cute. Especially the color drawings. And the chibi drawings!
And now I’m determined to check out the manga as well. More pretty/cute art.
The Seven Seas Love-Rant~!
Just to quickly remind you on where I stand with Seven Seas in case you forgot after reading all my un-serious review stuff.
Seven Seas! I fucking love you!!!
And you know…I want to be their novel slave. It’s officially a copyright term. if I say you use it…! Meh, I don’t care. I can’t do anything anyway.
First of all, I have to say, I’ve never picked anything up from Seven Seas before. But after judging by what they have picked up, especially for novels (Kanokon, Zero no Tsukaima, and of course Strawberry Panic), I’m pretty sure they know what the more otaku-ish anime fan wants.
Because some of the ones most serious about their hobbies are the ones obsessed with fanservice you know.
So what Seven Seas delivers is a light novel that’s…well…a light novel.
I only picked up an original light novel from Japan once in a used book store. It was small and had color pages at the beginning. It wasn’t a special edition or anything (that’s what you have to get to get color images with manga), it was just…a novel. Unless it’s a collection of short stories, the story is originally released in bounded form. So the color pictures are…in color.
And…and! Seven Seas actually published the volume in the same way. With color images.
Amazing…they actually published all the content that was available in a nice, appealing way so that the fans will want to buy it! No way!
It’s a fascinating concept. TokyoPop doesn’t get it.
And for the record: Seven Seas with three two-page color images costs eight dollars. The latest Karin (Chibi Vampire) entirely in black and white costs nine dollars.
Now for the part that made me giggle with over-excitement once I saw it and picked it up.
It’s so small (10.5cm x 15cm). It’s so easy to carry around! I love it!
This is mostly something that maybe only I can appreciate, because up until now I was able to carry around everything. I started out with a messenger bag that I used as a purse when I was fifteen and my purses have gotten progressively smaller every time I’ve decided to change until I’ve ended up with this:
It’s not very big and it’s useful for pretty much anything…except my massive shopping sprees. But it’s been pretty disappointing because until now I was always able to carry around a manga or a notebook so that whenever I’m forced to wait somewhere, I can just pull out something to do.
But no more. Nothing like that fits in my purse any more. I had to sacrifice extra space for the sake of convenience…and a super bargain (My purse cost me seven dollars! And I could back a delivery truck over this thing ten times and it would just get a little dirty).
However, there’s just enough space…
For my book! See all that crap in there…there’s a ton more that you can’t see. However, my book just fits in perfectly inside. It doesn’t even need to get shoved in there. I take it out and it still looks fine.
It is awesomely compact and I love it.
Now…I won’t pick on TokyoPop here as much, because they don’t have to make them all compact. I doubt anyone buys anything just because it’s smaller…you know, except maybe a cell phone or a laptop.
And Seven Seas even calls the novels, Light Novels…getting across the point that, yeah, it’s not a full length novel. It’s just a little bit different. Of course, they call it a “close sibling to manga” and that’s a little odd (but I get it, they’re trying to sell stuff).
Seven Seas also kept in the honorifics (and I love my honorifics), which is pretty necessary with all the oneesama-ing going around in this book. The one thing that I felt might have been a little bit much was keeping the Japanese name order. Even people in Japan change their name order when talking to someone who speaks English. It wasn’t really the necessary. I don’t see why Aoi Nagisa sounds so much better than Nagisa Aoi. But I don’t really care. I understand it either way.
Basically, to wrap this up, Seven Seas is my favorite publisher for light novels right now (not like they had much competition from TokyoPop). I’ll have to check out others to be sure, but right now…I love them~!
(Oh and next I’ll be reviewing another light novel from Seven Seas, Ballad of a Shinigami).
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