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Customer Review

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FOUR GIRLS WHO WILL WIN YOUR HEART, July 4, 2006
This review is from: Strawberry Marshmallow - Cute Is as Cute Does (Vol. 1) (DVD)
How interesting could the lives of four cute grade school girls be and why would anyone make an anime about them? WHO CARES!? Strawberry Marshmallow is one of the funniest anime I have ever seen and radiates a warmth and innocence that an American production couldn't even come close to.

As the show begins we see a young girl named Nobue who says she's a 16-year old high school student, but when she pulls out a cigarette, we learn the truth, that she's actually 20 years old and it becomes readily apparent that she's a chain smoking borderline alcoholic, but I use those terms in the most positive way. She's not very equipped to handle the adult world. Nobue even has to constantly ask her younger sister Chika for money, which she uses as a lever to castigate her in a weird role reversal. Chika's next door neighbor, Miu, is an annoying, but energetic and hilarious ball of kineticism who instead of using the front door, leaps over from her roof to Chika's and through her window (where she occasionally falls flat on her face). Speaking of, when she says something that Nobue doesn't like, the next scene generally shows Miu lying facedown after Nobue takes her out! Matsuri is the girl's other friend, and is a shy demure intelligence who constantly has a deer-in-headlights look of fear on her face when someone addresses her. The group is rounded out by a new transfer student who happens to be a foreigner named Ana Coppola. Her parents are English but she's lived in Japan so long that she fears that she is losing her cultural identity. She even thinks in Japanese now. In an effort to stem this absorption she plans to act like she can't speak Japanese and act like an ignorant gai-jin. Of course, her plans go awry when Chika, Miu, and Matsuri overhear her talking to herself in perfectly fluent Japanese! Their secret will bind Ana to their circle, even if they all make fun of her strange last name.

I loved everything about this first volume of Strawberry Marshmallow. First of all, it is hilarious. The director handled the show in such a way that the humor is always controlled without moving too fast and getting too wacky, such as in a show like Kodocha. Marshmallow is much more quieter than that and achieves much of its punchlines in stillness and reaction shots. But don't get me wrong, there's plenty of slapstick, such as when the girls are hitting each other over the head with Osaka fans to keep each other awake to make Nobue an ashtray for her birthday. The character designs are cute, simple, and beautiful and the animation makes them flow well. The Japanese voice acting is strong. The problem you can run into with shows like this is the ever-present danger of annoying little girl voice actresses. Thankfully, there is no problem with that here as all the girl's voices sound natural and pleasant to the ear. You can tell lots of effort went into designing the look and feel of these girls. The dvd also features a short 5-minute Episode #0 in which the girls and Nobue are on a spaceship trying to land on Earth with cigarette supplies running low! I feel as though this will become one of my favorite all-time anime and is an instant classic!

I would also recommend Azumanga Daioh, Bottle Fairy, Nanaka 6/17, and Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2007, 9:56:52 PM PDT
VanessaF says:
Gai-jin for those of you (who hate reading reviews with terminology that you aren't sure of) like me, means outsider, or alien (metaphorically speaking).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2007, 1:05:56 AM PDT
Neil Ford says:
Or, to clarify even further, it means "foreigner".
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