...completely derivative yet oddly enjoyable [series], which is best known in yuri circles for stealing characters, symbols and whole scenes from well-known yuri anime and manga series, putting them all into a blender and emerging with the anime version of a Long Island Iced Tea.
Nagisa Aoi is a New Transfer Student at St. Miator high, one of three Elaborate University High all-girls schools on Astraea Hill. The three schools share a common set of "strawberry-shaped dorms" as well as a reputation for "interschool romances". On her first day, Nagisa stumbles into a mysterious figure known as the "Etoile" and finds herself uncontrollably drawn to her. Her new roommate, in turn, promptly develops a crush on Nagisa.Strawberry Panic! finds its origin a series of illustrated short stories by Sakurako Kimino and like most series with its setting, it deliberately evokes a shoujo-like artstyle and pacing, (though being released near the MariMite anime certainly invites a specific comparison).A major departure is the series knowing its seinencute-loving (although both novel and manga ran in Shōnen magazines) fanbase and treating its melodrama, clichés, characterization, and male-freeLove Dodecahedrons with absolute straightforwardness to the point of a stealth parody. This fact can sometimes turn people off, but after realizing that the series is fundamentally poking fun at the genre (while still delivering an enjoyably sappy love story in its own right) it can be quite enjoyable.One thing to keep in mind when watching SP! is that the series developed from a rather unusual process, and all of the matchups are based on reader polls done in the magazine in which the manga was originally published. This makes some of the more ridiculous pairings more understandable, since the writers had to try and find a way to make the pairings that the readers wanted. Considering what they had to work with, the series is truly a tribute to its fans, but its level of fanservice is quite a few shades lighter than most similar series.The anime in particular has proven to be a very Love It or Hate It series, with many detesting it for its stereotype characters, simple plot and ridiculous scenarios, while many love it for its genuine "Pure Love Story" style (in an academic sense, a sort of Neo-Dolce Stil Novo), great amount of character development, and moments of true drama.Not to be confused with Full Metal Panic!! For Sakurako Kimino's other work, see Sister Princess.
Attempted Rape: Hikari by Kaname, twice. Yaya even does it once too. Oh, poor Hikari always being taken advantage of by everyone.
In the light novel, Yaya gets a lot further with Hikari, who somehow managed not to understand what was going on even while naked and being fondled, and holds no grudge against Yaya for it. Yaya chooses to stop herself before going any further.
Awful Truth: The death of Shizuma's lover, Kaori, is why she is constantly changing girlfriends and is unable to make deep connections. She was once lively and energetic, but after Kaori died due to her illness, she went into a state of depression.
Bait-and-Switch Credits: We do not remember a Chiyo×Nagisa×Tamao threesome, like in the begining of the second opening.
Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Averted oh-so-hard. Numerous female/female pairings show open affection for each other, kiss, and have (off-screen) sex.
Beach Episode: Though interestingly, not a filler episode, as they usually are; instead, a pretty important moment in the series' story arc, where Nagisa first starts to realize what the pounding in her heart around Shizuma might mean.
Cool Big Sis: Chikaru seems to be as much therapist to the younger girls (especially Nagisa and Hikari) as any of her (many) other duties.
Cosplay Otaku Girl: Chikaru runs the costume club and enjoys putting her "favourite" girls in alluring, lolita-style costumes.
Depending on the Writer: One of the most prominent examples is Kaname; her light novel and manga incarnation is a completely different character than her anime version. She does not attempt to rape Hikari and makes it very clear that Amane is the one she is in love with; she's still a Large Ham but more in a theatrical sense. She also looks completely different — her anime incarnation is an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, while her light novel and manga incarnation is a Dark-Skinned Blond.
Evil Counterpart: Momomi and Kaname, to Hikari and Amane respectively. Kinda enhanced by the fact that both couples "break up" during more or less the same amount of time, at the same time, get back together in the same episode, and both couples end up together too.
Expy: Miyuki Rokujo, in both appearance and personality, is remarkably similar to Marimite's Yoko Mizuno.
Love Dodecahedron: Most of them center on the Miator students and eventually lead back to Nagisa and/or Shizuma, but unrequited crushes abound. Shizuma herself is the universally idolized Onee-sama of Astraea.
The library is used as a place for couples to have romantic trysts.
Shizuma and Kaori, who is terminally ill once make love outdoors, in the evening.
Two words: stable sex
Meido: Anime episode 5. It's a custom at Miator to help your seniors clean up their room and wear a maid dress doing it. Of course, thanks to a useful plot turn, everyone ends up as maids as punishment.
Meet Cute: Nagisa and Shizuma in the forest. Nagisa asks her for directions, and Shizuma leans in to kiss a captivated Nagisa... who faints.
Oblivious to Love: Nagisa has no clue about Tamao's feelings and doesn't notice Chiyo's blatant fangirling. She also takes a good long while to realize why Shizuma mesmerizes her so much. Hikari seems to not notice Yaya's increasingly obvious hints of affection.
Renaissance Woman: Chikaru is the head of Lulim's student council, which means she is great in any school subject. She leads the costume club and makes the costumes herself, is a highly talented actress, can cook really well and can help on any problem you might ever have. All this and more come with her being always friendly, cheerful and nice as well as being a real beauty, even for this series' standards. There is a reason why she is so popular in-universe as well as the Ensemble Dark Horse of the story.
Replacement Goldfish: For a while, it seemed that Shizuma was using Nagisa as just a Replacement Goldfish for Kaori. At least, Rokujo seemed to think so. Then things got complicated.
Sailor Fuku: Lulim's students wear them. The students of Miator wear uniforms seemingly based on Elegant Gothic Lolita dresses, while Spica has a futuristic vibe (but not much).
The Seven Mysteries: Figures heavily in one episode, with Nagisa and Tamao deciding to investigate the first mystery, "The Girl in the Hallway" despite the latter's fear of ghosts.
Shout-Out: Allegedly, the main character was named "Nagisa" as a reference to the Iczer series.
The end credits of the anime's final episode also have a shout out to Tokyo Mew Mew. In the picture, all of the girls are dressed in pink/purple/blue/green/yellow/etc. dresses, and are wearing animal ears and tails. The picture's name? 'Tea Party Club.'
Amane too, of all people. She doesn't want to enter the Etoile competition because she's frequently embarrassed by all the attention she receives, and would much rather be alone with her horses. It's saying something when Hikari is the one that ultimately brings her out of her shell.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Arguably, the second ED. Just as the series is taking a turn for the dramatic the original ED is replaced by a very happy go lucky song filled with Les Yay overtones in which the singers are two dimensional paper dolls in several colourful settings. At one point the contrast is nothing short of appalling, after Nagisa breaks down crying in a very emotional moment the episode comes to an end with her sobbing and then Extreme Sugariness follows. However, this is only the ending credits track, the opposite happens to the opening theme, turning from a quite light-hearted but still Les Yay soft rock song to a serious, emotional piece (complete with new title animation).
Spell My Name with an S: In some subs, they spell it Le Rim. On the banner in the series it is spelled Le Lim. In the translation of the light novels and manga, it's spelled "Lulim." And in yet other subs, it's spelled "Lilim"...
Squee: In the English translation of the Strawberry Panic! manga, Shizuma's fangirls react to her this way.
Stalker with a Crush: Tamao's pursuit of Nagisa leads her into downright creepy territory at times, including scaring Nagisa so Tamao can record her screams. Chiyo-chan can get rather strange about Nagisa at times too.
Stealth Parody: Although it could well be that the makers are actually being serious - heaven forbid!