Okay guys! That was the bell! Settle down! Samurai-Sensei here! I’m glad to see you guys made it to class instead of waiting in line for some over-hyped, over-priced, uninspiring cell phone. [Seriously, it’s just the same phone with 4G Speed and slightly longer. Take it from an insider, ITS THE SAME DANG THING…] Ahem. Continuing on with our school theme, we’re going to take a look at a show based in middle school. “I, My, Me! Strawberry Eggs” is a unique show in my collection…for better and worse. It’s been collecting dust and other debris on my shelf for quite some time now, and after watching it once through for the review, I am reminded why. But is it all bad? Could there be some juicy strawberries in this plague filled crop? Open your textbooks and let’s find out class!
Warnings and Objectionable Content – Well, I don’t quite know how to rank this one, truth be told. There are a few romantic aspects to the story, and our main female lead does somewhat question her sexuality, and there are more than enough panty shots in this one, so I would put this one at no younger than 14.
Series Availability – This series is out of print, so there’s no finding it in brick and mortar stores. If you want a physical copy of this one, you’re gonna have to hit Dat Bay. Online Streaming…well…good luck…
Story Premise – “I My Me! Strawberry Eggs!” is a 13 episode OVA that ran from July 4 to September 26, 2001. The story follows our main lead Hibiki Amawa, a university graduate specializing in athletics. His dream is to become a school gym teacher [Kyoshi in Japanese…] so as to inspire the youth of the next generation. The trouble is, the only school in the area, a Private Junior High School, has a very…shall we say…negative view on those of the male gender, treating them as lowly, second-class, horny-dogs; incapable of feeling love and lacking the intelligence, passion and drive to teach. Hoping to change the principles mind, Hibiki, with the help of his mysterious landlady, pulls a Mrs. Doubtfire and disguises himself as a woman [keeping the same name] and gets hired on as a gym teacher. As the series progresses, Hibiki deals with the ups and downs of the hormonal youth in his class including our main female lead. Honestly…I just don’t know what to say about this particular story. The story is simple in nature, but there were times when I was extremely frustrated with how it was laid out and the abject and unfounded hatred towards the males in this series. I mean, it’s one thing to take a female-only approach to a show; after all, the manga/anime series “Maria Watches Over Us” takes a notable non-male approach, as does the lovely “Aria” series. But still and all, neither of these series demonize males the way this show does. I admit, it is a unique concept for an anime, combining many different topics all in a junior high school setting. And I do admit, I really enjoyed the moments later in the series when the girls finally began treating the boys as equals. I found that be to be extremely satisfying. However, I grew frustrated with a few elements of the story; with the rampant fanservice not making things any better. I mean, if you’re going to tell a story like this, and if you expect me to take it seriously, then cut the fan-service. Punctuating a particularly touching scene with a shot of the main female leads panties does not add to story credibility. The whole Forbidden Love “Please Teacher”-esque angle between Fuko and Hibiki [Female Form…] also kind of gave me a few moments of pause. I mean, I’m sure there are some out there that might enjoy it, but I just found that it was just a little too much for me, considering all the OTHER things going on in this story. I also have a problem with the existence of this school in general. What parent in their right mind would send their child to a school where their son is being treated in such a rotten manner? I mean, there aren’t ANY other middle schools in the area? The parents don’t care at ALL that their sons are being insulted and unfairly treated by the all-female staff and, to a point, the female student body?! Also, the ending is about as up in the air and heavy-handed as you can get. It works on some levels, but on the whole, I found it lacking, especially with regards to our male lead. [17/25]
Characters – Our male and female lead Hibiki Amawa is a very interesting character. He has a strong desire to become a gym teacher to inspire and grow with the youth of the next generation. [Sounds like Gai Sensei from “Naruto”…] In a way, he’s not that much unlike his students with his unbridled youth, and thus he can relate to them much easier than anyone in the school administration. The problem that I have with his character is that there’s no back story to him. While he does explain his desires to become a gym teacher, and what he wants to accomplish as a teacher in this particular school, and while it is an admiral set of goals, we don’t know the real drive behind it. Did something happen to him in his youth that makes him have this burning desire to coach a gym class and to go so far as to dress in drag and risk public ridicule if discovered? I just don’t get it. Perhaps if the series were longer it would’ve explained more, but based on the material given, Hibiki is a good character, just not a completely well-rounded one. Fuko Kuzuha, our [100% Female] main lead is about as annoying a character as you can get. She’s clearly the creators attempt to bring a moe vibe into the series, but she lays it on thicker than a peanut butter and concrete sandwich and it gets frustrating–FAST. Lets see; Klutz – Check. Airhead – Check. Absurdly High Voice – Check. Dead/Absentee Parental Guardians Yet Freakishly Positive Outlook on Life – Check. No Athletic Prowess – Double Check. Fan-service Provider – Triple Freaking Check. [Seriously, the animators always seem to want to flip-up her skirt some kind of way to show her underpants…] Seriously, if she were missing from this series, I promise you, it would up the scores tremendously. She also finds a way to steal the spotlight from some of the genuinely good characters and sub-stories. It’s like the writers sat down and said “Hmm…okay, we have a nice love story going between these two characters and its’ been about 5 minutes…how can we bring Fuko into it?” Ugh. I got real sick of Fuko real fast. Fujio Himejima acts as our Tsundere in this series, and I can honestly say, from the jump, I wanted to wring her animated little neck. Her attitude was beyond unpleasant, and had it continued, I would’ve given this series an even lower score. But, once she softened up a bit after meeting and summarily falling in love with semi-lone wolf/Tsundere Akira Fukae, she became bearable. Which is more than I can say about the female lead. One pair of characters that I wanted to touch on before we leave are the characters of salaryman Mori Koji and retiree Kochi Tofukuji. Seriously, these guys are the EPITOME of what the women in this town think of all men. They pretty much exist in this story to make the viewer thank the heavens above that there are laws against child predators. [17.5/25]
Animation – The animation of “Strawberry Eggs” is nice on the eyes. It’s bright and colorful with nice details on character designs. If I were to dock for anything with regards to animation is the fact that the color on the uniforms look like utter crap. The overall design is passable, but the color, a pale, washed out green, just does not look right, and for an anime that is based primarily in school where the uniforms are the primary outfits our characters are wearing, one would’ve hoped that they had picked a better color or a more interesting design. Also, the fan service. I mean, really, how many times do we have to see our characters in brief-style gym shorts? How many times do we have to see Fuko’s panties in a upskirt shot? [6.25/12.5]
Music – Plain and simple, the music is uninspired. The opening theme, “Dearest” sung by Hitomi Nozaki, is about as bland as bland can be. I thought the “ToHeart” opening was white-bread boring; This one is just dull. The only somewhat redeeming trait this opening has is the creative use of scenes from the episode we’re about to watch playing over it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, and it impressed me. The ending song “White Station” by Acefile is equally uninspiring. Once again, I’m not impressed. It sounds just like any other bubbly J-Pop song. The song is played over our female lead, Fuko, wearing different clothes in still shots to go with the different seasons ending with her smiling at the camera in uniform. Talk about a lack of effort, and milking a moe cow for all it’s worth! Come on guys! Give me SOMETHING! Put forth SOME effort! The incidental music is pretty much just a remix of the opening theme song. Remixed crap is still crap. [1/12.5]
Performances and Production – “I, My, Me! Strawberry Eggs” was created by Studio Pioneer and directed by Yuji Yamaguchi in Japan. Here in the US, the series was licensed by the now defunct Geneon Entertainment with the dubbing handled by New Generation Pictures. Taking the helm of this project as ADR Director, co-stript writer, and assuming the role of our male lead character Hibiki Amawa is Crispin Freeman. [::waits politely for the squealing of about a million fangirls to die down::] Okay class! Settle down! Geeze…I suppose he needs no introduction, we should all be familiar with his work–Holland in “Eureka Seven”, Tsume in “Wolf’s Rain”, Itsuki from “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”. He’s one of the biggest names in the anime voice acting world. Frequent readers will already know my opinion on actors wanting to take too many positions in an anime, but in this case, I have to give mad props to Director Freeman. He does a great job both in front of the mic as the energetic yet caring Hibiki Amawa [male, of course…] and behind the mic as he guided his group of actors into their roles. Sally Dana as the female version of Hibiki Amawa is perfection, no two ways about it. Her voice is BEAUTIFUL to listen to, and I do not say that lightly at all. It’s a crying shame that she hasn’t been in more projects as she could EASILY be one of the best English female voice actresses in anime. Carrie Savage as our female lead Fuko Kuzuha is well done…she does sometimes cross the line between being cutely sweet and “Oh, please, someone, kill me now, this is too much” sweet, but on the whole, she does a great job. Jennifer Sekiguchi as our female Tsundere Fujio Himejima is really well done…she plays the perfect tsun-tsun. Ted Sroka as the male Tsundere Akira Fukae is also nicely played. It’s not easy to play a male Tsundere without sounding like a pompous jerk, but he does it quite well. Other characters, such as Taliesin Jaffe as salaryman turn peeping tom Mori Koji, William Fredrick Knight as his partner in [what has GOT to be considered a…] crime Kochi Tofukuji, Noelle DePaula as the stern principal of Seito Sannomiya Private School Chieko Sannomiya, Erica Shaffer as the conniving man-hating vice principal Reiko Mukogawa, and J.E. Jaress as the helpful yet money-hungry Lulu “Baa-Chan” Sanjo are all expertly performed roles. Coupled these actors with a faithful yet well done script and you have a very well acted and written show. If I had to take points for anything in this section, it would be the inconsistent honorific use; Chan/Kun/San is used somewhat inconsistently throughout the series and I kinda found the use of the Japanese terms and words scattered about was a little distracting. While it is nice that they thought to use the terms, at times, it just doesn’t sound conversational. Other than that, it was a very well done dub. I have to give extra points for the English Dub creators even going so far as to recreate some of the extras on the DVD, including the “Please Don’t Sit To Closely to the TV Screen” warnings at the leader of the episodes and several “Class Introduction” skits where Amawa-Sensei [Female…] introduces the class one by one. It was, by far, the highlight of the entire review. [24/25]
Story Breakdown – 17/25
Characters – 17.5/25
Animation – 6.25/12.5
Music – 1/12.5
Performance and Production – 24/25
Final Score – 65.75/100 = 65.75% – (F)
So where does that leave us? Well, honestly, “I, My, Me! Strawberry Eggs” Left quite a few points on the field, so to speak. The story suffered greatly, the characters were either trying too hard, not hard enough, or being jammed down our throats with shameless moe conviction, the animation was passable but not spectacular and the music was abysmal. The only shining star in this series was the fact that the dub work was very well done with a cast of actors that do the job and do it well while staying true to the feeling of the original. Credit has to be given to Director Freeman and crew for trying to salvage all the copper they could out of this broken A/C unit.
And so, we’ve come to the end my friends of our trek through “Strawberry Eggs”. Coming up next on our Back to School reviews, Otaku Andrain will pickup with a Middle School anime and two high school series reviews, leaving me to close out with a College Based series review…and there’s only one show in my collection that fits that particular bill; a show that celebrates otaku culture and friendship and proving once and for all that pretty boys can be manic gamers. Yep. That one. Stick around, won’t you, for my College Level review of…