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Literature / Strawberry Panic!

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...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 girls-only schools on Astraea Hill. The three schools share a common set of "strawberry-shaped" dorms, as well as a reputation for "lesbian romances". On her first day, Nagisa stumbles into Shizuma, a mysterious figure known as the "Etoilé", and finds herself uncontrollably drawn to her. In turn, her new roommate, Tamao, becomes close best friends with Nagisa.

Strawberry Panic! finds its origin in a series of short stories written by Sakurako Kimino (who previously wrote Sister Princess, and would later go on to co-create the Love Live! franchise) with illustrations by Chitose Maki, which were serialized in the seinen magazine Dengeki G's from 2003 to 2005. The short stories would later be reworked into a series of Light Novels, which were published under the Dengeki Bunko label from March to December 2006 for three volumes, with illustrations by Namuchi Takumi.

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 seinen cute-loving fanbase and treating its melodrama, clichés, characterization, and male-free Love 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 is understanding the series developed from a rather unusual process, and all of the couples are based on reader polls done in the magazine in which the light novels were 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 stories also have a manga adaptation illustrated by Namuchi Takumi, which also ran in Dengeki G's from 2005 to 2007, and an anime adaptation that aired from April to September 2006. The anime in particular has proven to be a very divisive 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.

Strawberry Panic! provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The student councils and Etoilé(s) which link them together have de-facto leadership; faculty adults are seen on very few occasions.
  • Almost Kiss: Shizuma gets a kiss interrupted almost every other episode near the beginning of the series.
  • Anime Catholicism: The three schools are Catholic girls' schools. Strawberry Hill's overseer is a nun. Students have regular holy water duty (in manga). The apex of Astraea Hill is a huge, old cathedral taken care of by a monastic order. Yet there is more lesbian than you can shake a stick at and all three school's populations worship a yearly-elected girl-girl pair known as the Etoilé.
  • Arranged Marriage: Miyuki. It's hinted this was a major hindrance to her expressing her love for her best friend Shizuma.
  • Attempted Rape: Hikari is targeted thrice, twice by Kaname (premeditated), once by Yaya (heat of moment).
    • 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. Finding this out via Shizuma and Miyaki is partially to blame for Nagisa's depression following the revelation.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: We do not remember a Chiyo×Nagisa×Tamao threesome, like in the begining of the second opening.
  • 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.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Much of the interaction between Tsubomi and Yaya hints at this.
  • Beta Couple: Amane and Hikari fit this very well.
  • Bifauxnen:note 
    • Amane and Kaname (light and dark versions, respectively).
    • The light novel and manga also gives us Kusanagi Makoto.
  • Bifauxnen and Lad-ette: Amane and Kaname again.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Three primarily, between Shizuma and Nagisa in Episode 12 and Episode 26, and between Amane and Hikari in Episode 25.
  • Bishoujo Series: An Improbably Female Cast of all types; plus it's the trope's poster child too.
  • Boarding School: The focus is on Strawberry Hall, a giant shared dorm for all three schools on Astraea Hill.
  • Broken Bird: Shizuma. Tamao was this to a lesser extent before Nagisa arrived.
  • Cannot Spit It Out
    • Tamao (for Nagisa), Shizuma (for Nagisa), Yaya (for Hikari) (primary examples)
    • Nagisa (for Shizuma), subdued example. She gets better.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: And they happen to be lesbians.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Being a Yuri Genre series that takes place at three all-girls academies, nearly every character shows attraction to another girl at some point.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tamao reading a book with 'Prosper Mérimée' on the cover, who wrote the Carmen novella that ended up being the play selected in episode fifteen.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: This trope is powerful enough to make Yaya/Tsubomi one of the most popular ships in this category, despite the near-lack of evidence for it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Kagome is not involved in any of the intrigue going on, instead preferring to stare at nearby butterflies, pick flowers, or take sudden naps with her teddy bear, Percival.
  • The Chosen One: Amane, at least according to Kaname.
  • The Chooser of the One: Shizuma, surprisingly, and to a lesser extent Hikari.
  • 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 "favorite" girls in alluring, lolita-style costumes.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Chiyo.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Amane. Even Invoked by Chikaru after she loses her memory, telling Hikari that she can "melt" her back to normal.
  • 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.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas
  • Elaborate University High: Three different ones on the same campus. It's the trope picture as well.
  • Ethereal Choir: Spica's choir often fills this role.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Nagisa, Hikari, and Kizuna in the visual novel; each one has nine potential girls they can end up with: Chiyo, Tsubomi, Kagome, Tamao, Yaya, Remon, Shizuma, Amane, and Chikaru.
  • Evil Counterpart: Momomi and Kaname, to Hikari and Amane respectively. Enhanced due to the period of difficulty for both couples near the end of the series.
  • Expy: Miyuki Rokujo, in both appearance and personality, is remarkably similar to Marimite's Yoko Mizuno.
    • From Love Live!, Rin and Hanayo also resemble Kizuna and Remon, respectively. Same author, too.
  • Fanservice: Exists, but surprisingly not as much as one would expect from something in this demographic.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Shizuma, after the death of Kaori.
  • First Girl Wins: Nagisa chooses Shizuma, whom she saw as the only choice. Subverted, in the case of Amane and Hikari.
  • Foreign Language Title
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Kagome and her teddy bear Percival.
  • "The Graduate" Homage Shot: The ending of the anime, despite not actually involving a wedding.
  • Gratuitous English: Kaname's speech to Amane after their tennis match.
  • Gratuitous French
  • Harem Seeker: Chikaru mentions in the light novel that she wanted to make the girls of Lulim her harem.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Kaname in episode 25; low-key, but she did do something nice for no particular personal benefit.
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: Discussed After Shizuma holds up in Kaori's old room for at least a week or two, the greenhouse plants are neglected. A caring Nagisa is seen watering them when Shizuma finds her. Shizuma metaphorically talks about a specific pot of flowers that had wilted in reference to their relationship. While oblivious to the metaphor, Nagisa says the flower will bloom again. Until the Etoilé Election, Shizuma watches the particular plot of flowers. It's shown fully restored and blooming beautifully near the end.
  • Hufflepuff House: Lulim. In the anime, they also do not send participants for the Etoilé election.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Occurs at important points. Most notably when Tamao, who is in love with her, undoes Nagisa's ribbon and pushes her toward Shizuma after she confesses in front of the whole school during the Etoilé Election.
  • Joshikousei: The Lulim students.
  • Kimodameshi: During the Summer School episode.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: Amane, who even pulls off a horseback rescue at one point.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Amane in episode 24 and 25.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Recurring trope, involving Shizuma, Nagisa, and Kaori.
  • 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.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • 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.
    • Upon regaining her memory, Amane and Hikari consummate their relationship on a blanket-covered stable floor.
    • Likely occurred after Nagisa accepts Shizuma's love and runs away with her in the middle of the Etoilé Election. They are last seen passionately kissing on the ground.
  • 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 explains being lost, Shizuma picks up her dropped item, their hands touch, and Shizuma leans in, kissing her on the forehead, causing her to faint.
  • Moe Couplet: Nagisa and Tamao, though Nagisa and Shizuma become an Official Couple.
  • The Mourning After: Shizuma begins to spiral into this before she meets Nagisa, due to the death of Kaori.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Nagisa. Formerly Chiyo.
  • Not So Stoic: Shizuma, in general, but specially episode 18 and episode 23.
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Amane tries to help Nagisa up after she fell off the fence, Shizuma angrily orders her to back off and stick to Hikari. Amane even says it's not what it looks like.
  • Oblivious Admirer: Chiyo to Nagisa, although Chiyo might just be a closet Otaku Surrogate.
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Shizuma. We do occasionally see where she ends up afterward, though.
  • Onee-sama: Shizuma, overall. Nagisa, for the middle school students.
  • One-Gender School: All three of the schools where the story takes place are girls only.
  • One Head Taller: Amane and Hikari (possibly justified due to their age difference).
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: Done on photographs of the character mentioned directly below this trope, at least, until the flashback episode.
  • Posthumous Character: Shizuma's deceased lover, Kaori.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Two of them, Kaname and Momoni. While it's revealed Kaname has longstanding envy, hate, and love for Amane. Momoni, once separated from Kaname, becomes rather normal.
  • Really Gets Around: It's implied quite a bit that Shizuma jumped from one girl's bed to another, before meeting Nagisa, as a way to cope with the death of Kaori.
  • Red String of Fate: In the form of Tamao's ribbon.
  • Renaissance Man: A female example. 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 for Kaori. At least, Rokujo seemed to think so. Shizuma goes through a period of separation from Nagisa leading up to the Etoilé Election which distills her feelings into purer love, not replacement love.
  • 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).
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Chikaru wears them in the Beach Episode
  • Second Love: Nagisa is this for Shizuma.
  • 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. The most common mystery has a basis in fact, Miyuki used to cry in a corner of the hallway and was cared for by Shizuma.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot:
    • Of all the couples, Kaname and Momomi have the most implicit sex scenes.
    • After Shizuma and Kaori passionately kiss in the outdoors, they both fall back onto their blanket. The scene then cuts to Miyuki awake in her room with a (sad?) smile before cutting back to Shizuma and Kaori, this time asleep and naked.
    • After regaining her memories, Amane gives a comforting hug to Hikari, before their kiss with one another in which the scene cut to morning where both are on a blanket and naked, having consummated their relationship.
  • 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.'
  • Shower of Angst: As a result of rampant unrequited love and general Fanservice.
  • Shy Blue-Haired Girl:
    • Chiyo.
    • Amane too, of all people. She doesn't want to enter the Etoilé 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.
  • Shrinking Violet: Chiyo.
  • 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).
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: This is kind of the series finale, getting used in Does This Remind You of Anything? fashion
  • 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; indeed, some parts of the fanbase do take the story completely seriously and equally seriously support the various pairings, though that support may not always overlap with the Official Couples.
  • Yuri Genre: A cluster of three schools populated entirely by lesbians is the setting.

Alternative Title(s): Strawberry Panic