Hello! If the subject line didn't give it away, this thread is for my comments while reading the manga of Ichigo Mashimaro, a.k.a. Strawberry Marshmallow, much as Dire Sloth was reading Yotsuba&! a few months ago. (Hopefully, I run out of volumes before I run out of interest/time/whatever, though. ;) )
For those who are unaware, Ichigo Mashimaro is a comedy slice-of-life manga about a teenage girl and her preteen sister and friends. It has been adapted into an anime, but I don't have that; if somebody wants to liveblog watching that, hey... I'll read it, as long as there are no embedded videos in the thread. The rating is Teen 13+, but from what I'm hearing, that's American teen, not Japanese teen.
The translation I'll be using is by Emi Onishi, with English adaptation by Nathan Johnson.
So let's begin, shall we?
The front cover depicts Chika and Miu sitting side-by-side on a large strawberry. The strawberry is lying on its side. Miu has her arms around Chika's neck and is smiling at the reader. Chika has her right arm bent upward, and is holding Miu's forearm. She, too, is looking at the camera, but not smiling. Chika's legs are twisted inward, with her legs pointing away. Miu's left ankle (that is, her left, now the reader's left) is, shall we say, well positioned.
The back cover depicts Nobue carrying a basket of strawberries. Here was see that it's not that the strawberry was huge, it's Chika and Miu that are tiny! Nobue has Chika picked up by the collar, as Chika flails. Miu is sitting on the edge of the basket, looking over her shoulder at the reader as Matsuri, proportioned at the same scale as Nobue, looks at her. John the ferret sits on Matsuri's head looking at... I'm not sure which tiny girl she's looking at, actually.
Before any actual episodes begin, we get kind of an introduction to the four girls we'll be seeing throughout the volume. (By the way, this intro section is shaded with a greater level of detail than the rest of the manga.) Nobue mentions the "beautiful day in the neighborhood". Interesting choice of translation, as the original copyright date is the year of Fred Rogers's death. But anyway. She narrates that she'll introduce us to the others, and says she's Nobue Ito, an average 16-year-old high school freshman. She puts out a cigarette, and discovers that she's out, and almost broke at 143 yen. (Which is worse than $1.43 (USD), I understand.)
After gaining permission to enter her sister's room, she introduces us to her. Chika, 12 years old, 6th grade. Specializes in being totally generic. Nobue puts a finger in front of Chika's forehead to discourage standing up. While she's doing that, she nicks Chika's wallet.
She steps over the gap between roofs to the bedroom window of their neighbor, Miu. She slides the window open and gets Miu's attention with a "Yo." Miu is 12, as well, and has some different thought patterns. For one thing, she had been spending the last half hour trying to figure out what to wear to go next door. Nobue figures the top she's holding is very cute, and tries to borrow money by saying she's getting married next month. Miu goes straight from denying a loan to asking her to compare the cuteness of a different top. Nobue is visibly silent at this.
On to Matsuri's. Matsuri is 11 and in the 5th grade. She cries frequently, and is doing so in the first panel with her in it. Turns out her dad ate the pudding she was trying to save. Well, Nobue decides to take her 143 yen and buy her a pudding, and hope she can bum a cigarette off of someone. At least, I assume that's what's going on.
Volume page! The ellipse with the volume identification in it also calls the work a "cartoon". Way to stick it to the purists! ;) The four girls are standing around, not doing anything in particular. Matsuri is holding John; I guess that's something.
Table of Contents
The contents are laid out in a table of dotted-line squares, 12 squares in 3 rows. The first square has Matsuri running after John. The second square is dark. Thankfully, the page number is white; unfortunately, the episode number ("episode.2") is in black, and thus barely visible. However, the title is bordered with white, so that's good. Squares 3 and 6 have Miu in them, holding her pigtails. Episodes 1 and 4's titles are in them. Square 4 is pretty close to black, so it's good that the word "CONTENTS" is white. Square 5: episode 3. Squares 7 and 10 have Chika standing with her back to the reader and her hands behind her back. Her head is turned to the side, and she's smiling and looking at the reader. They also have the titles of episodes 6 and 8 in them. Squares 8, 9, and 11 have the titles of 9, 7, and 10, respectively. Nobue is squatting in profile in the final square, a lit cigarette dangling from her fingers. She's looking kind of boredly at the reader. Episode 5's title is in there, too. So yeah, it's a mess in terms of functionality.
Next time: We do an actual episode!