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Manga / Strawberry Marshmallow

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Chika, Miu, Ana, Nobue & Matsuri

Depicting the everyday life of four pre-adolescent girls and their older sister figure, Strawberry Marshmallow (Ichigo Mashimaro in the original Japanese) doesn't have excessive drama, or supernatural events, or giant robots. Just the antics of four girls, two 12 year olds, two 11 year olds, acting somewhat cuter and more childlike than perhaps is entirely realistic.

Originally a shonen manga series by Barasui which began serialization in Dengeki Daioh in 2002, it was later adapted to a video game and an 12-episode anime series in 2005. An OAV adaptation was released in early 2007 and another one, entitled Encore in early 2009.

This show provides examples of:

  • All Just a Dream: The first episode of Encore, after Miu gets knocked out while attempting to do a backflip.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Averted. Ana Coppola is notably a Japanophile who knows more about Japanese culture than her native friends. Plus she forgot how to speak English despite being from England.
  • Art Evolution: Very noticeable if one reads the series from the first few issues.
  • Asleep in Class: At one point Ana falls asleep, and when the teacher goes to wake her, Matsuri protests that they should let her sleep. In another classroom, Jerkass boke Cloudcuckoolander Miu falls asleep, and the teacher asks Chika not to wake her. Given how she acts in class, this is more the teacher knowing she can't change Miu's behavior, and rather than pointlessly waking her and having to deal with it during class, taking advantage of her falling asleep to teach properly.
  • Beach Bury: Done to Miu (buried in the sand standing up so only the head is sticking out, just like Sayid in White Sun of the Desert, just have a look), after she exposed Nobue's really nice boobs to the public by stealing her bikini. After calling them "no-chest sisters", they play Smashing Watermelons, with Miu's head replacing the melon, although they stop before hitting her head.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 10, "Beach Challenge".
  • Bland-Name Product: Nobue's Mild Even cigarettes. And the M(a)ild Dazs. And Chika's DoWoMu cellphone.
  • Blank White Eyes: Episode 5.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Matsuri, which leads to some very dangerous situations in the public bath.
  • Blush Sticker: The girls have them often.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Every scene involving Miu doing something stupid and Chika commenting on it.
    • Taken up to eleven in chapter 61 with many repeated cuts of Miu giving a dumb excuse for her mistakes and Chika giving a different comment each time.
      Miu: "I'm worried about the future of Japan."
      Chika: "How does that make you late?!"
  • Boob-Based Gag: In "Miu's News", Miu shoves stuffed toys under Chika's shirt while she's sleeping.
    Miu: It's you! With bazooka boobs!
  • Broke Episode: An ongoing theme is Nobue's lack of funds.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ana is a pure-blooded British girl (specifically from Cornwall) who lived in Japan for long enough to be considered a native Japanese. Ironically, she is the worst in English out of the four girls.
  • Butt-Monkey: Whenever the younger-younger girls' rarely-seen male classmate Sasazuka does appear, he's usually being told by the teacher to stand in the hall.
    • Miu seems to think that Ana and Matsuri are this. Everyone else knows Miu is.
  • Christmas Episode: The finale of the anime. Nobue pretends to be Santa Claus in order to preserve Matsuri's innocence.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Likely non-romantic, although with Miu all bets are off.
  • Conversation Cut: Hiroki Matsui, cosmetics salesman, is punched in the eye, breaking his glasses and causing them to hang under his nose by one ear, thanks to Nobue becoming convinced that he's a pedophile. A few panels later, he's in front of the company president, resigning. For whatever reason, he has not removed his glasses.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Happens to Ana whenever she shows that she can actually speak very good Japanese (and next to no English).
  • Drop-In Character: Miu, even in the middle of the night.
  • Faux Paw: In episode 51, Matsuri and Miu each don kitty ears. Matsuri does the Faux Paw maneuver (just batting, no licking), to Nobue's delight. Miu behaves more like a cat that's lashing out. Nobue doesn't think so highly of this.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Miu.
    • To a point. Occasionally Averted in some parts of the anime and manga where the girls still invite her to places and include her in their general daily life despite what a pain she is. Nobue outright states in the manga "You and Chika are our best friends too." and goes to effort to console Miu when she has her breakdown. Chika is arguably Miu's toughest critic and she still gets the most visibly and tearfully upset if Miu is seriously hurt. It's more that she's just a loopy sister to these girls instead of being someone they resent on any level.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Nobue and Miu are pretending that Miu's dead. One of Nobue's "proofs" is that Miu, despite "having been" very ticklish, doesn't react to the most severe tickling. Except that she does, of course.
  • The Generic Guy: Chika.
  • Goldfish Scooping Game: Miu happens to be very good at this.
  • Headbutt Thermometer: Nobue to Chika and Miu in episode 19, "Sick Jokes".
  • Hot Springs Episode: Episode 17, "Into Hot Water".
  • I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: Nobue's first interaction with the character Ana is to examine her, note things about her that make her cute, and then suddenly grab her proclaiming, "She's MINE!!" In her defense, she was really drunk when this happened.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Miu is mostly jerkass material, but she really does think the world of Chika and Nobue and want them to like her back. Has her blink-and-you-miss-it moments of genuine consideration for Matsuri and Ana as well.
    • And Nobue back to Miu. As the series goes on, their relationship gets more antagonistic and outright violent, with Nobue doing things to Miu that are pretty unacceptable for a 16-year-old to do a 12-year-old such as kicking her in the stomach and throwing her into hard furniture (one panel in a Christmas chapter even implies she was thrown from a second-story bedroom to the ground below, which should've caused major injury). All the same, you'll still find Nobue demonstrating some care for Miu here and there, and she drops the jerkass thing entirely on the times Miu gets seriously hurt by something or sick. The times she started running a major fever and knocked herself out doing a backflip, Nobue immediately went for medical help. She was so concerned for Miu that she even dragged a sicker Chika out of bed just to go to the hospital!
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted, there's quite a variety of clothes worn throughout the series.
  • Look Behind You: Subverted and played straight in one scene.
  • Magical Girl: Shinohara the angel, from Miu's dream sequence.
  • Manchild: Nobue, to an extent; on more than one occasion, she acts less mature than her 12 year old sister.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Nobue. Big time.
  • No Fourth Wall
  • No Smoking: Nobue is 16 in the manga, but is depicted as 20 in the anime, giving her an excuse to freely smoke and drink.
    • Though she first claims to be 20 while wearing what is clearly a high school uniform.
    • There is a chapter in the manga in which Nobue tries to stop smoking, with funny results. At the beginning she actually addresses the reader that 16 year old girl's aren't allowed to smoke in Japan.
  • Oblivious Younger Sibling: Subverted.
  • The Ojou: Ana.
  • Otaku Surrogate: Downplayed. The girls sometimes read manga and play video games but this is not treated as a major character trait.
  • Paper Fan of Doom: Used in Episode 1 to keep the girls awake when they're making the ashtray. Miu is the recipient of the most hits according to the score board.
    • Miu also uses one in "Proverbs".
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Nobue fawns over Ana's "typically British" blond hair & blue eyes, while Miu is jealous of Ana's breasts developing before hers.
    • And of course Ana's mother is blond too.
    • Light hair is fairly common in Britain (compared to the more southerly European nations), so arguably it is "typical" that Ana and her mum are fair-haired.
  • Playing Sick: In an episode of the manga of Strawberry Marshmallow, Chika really is sick, and is being cared for by her big sister. Miu pretends to be sick, as well, to gain attention. (Though by the end of the episode, Miu actually gets sick, probably due to prolonged exposure to an airborne illness, and is taken to the doctor.)
  • Poke the Poodle: Encore introduces the cutest, most pathetic attempts at a demon facilitating hell.
  • Potty Dance: Miu does it while lying on the bed because holding it in is temporarily preferable to entering the bathroom without a Varia Suit.
  • Puni Plush: Rather evident, but throttled to new heights in the Encore OVA.
  • Real-Place Background: The girls apparently live in the town of Hamamatsu in Japan's Shizuoka prefecture, and the author sometimes sneaks in local landmarks.
  • Rubber Face: Nobue does that to Miu, after she starts making fun of her for wearing a girly dress on a part-time job as waitress.
  • Running Gag: Miu lying face-down on the floor after skipping some off-screen violence.
    • This is played with one time in the manga where in the following panel Nobue says she hasn't hit her yet, and Miu says she thought she could skip that part if she lay down in advance. Cue Miu lying down again, this time with a bump on her head.
  • Sadist Teacher: The teacher in Ana's class is constantly punishing one particular student at any opportunity and for no reason.
    Ana is sleeping in class. The teacher walks over to her desk
    Teacher: "My my, what a magnificent nap we're having."
    Matsuri: "Shhhhh! Shhhhh! Please don't wake her up!"
    Teacher stares at Matsuri for a moment
    Teacher: "Wouldn't Sasazuka like to have a nap too?"
    Sasazuka: "Huh?"
    cut to teacher starting his lesson with Sasazuka absent
    • In the last episode of the the main amime, the Teacher tells Saszuka to go stand in the hall, to which he replies "I don't want to." Cuts to Teacher standing out in the hall.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Seinen
  • Shout-Out:
    • Matsuri's ferret is named John, and Ana's dog is called Frusciante, leading one to believe that Barasui is a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan.
    • Barasui references a lot of western music in various ways throughout - for example, Nobue is a big fan of Aphex Twin and µ-Ziq.
    • Ana has the cat Sakamoto from Nichijou on her pajama.
  • Standing in the Hall: Poor, poor Sasazuka.
    • Happens to Miu in "Miu's News".
    • And Ana and Matsuri's Teacher in "Present."
  • Straight Man: Chika.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Miu and Nobue's friend, when independently asked, think of Nobue like a boss.
  • Strawberry Shorthand
  • Surprise Santa Encounter
  • Synchronized Morning Routine: A flashback shows 6-year-old Miu popping over to the Ito house to leave her wet undies and bedsheets and comes in on 10-year-old Nobue and her 6-or-7-year-old sister Chika brushing their teeth. It is cute, but that's not surprising.
  • Talking with Signs: Manga chapter 24, "Speak No Evil".
  • Toilet Humour: Miu farts in the hot tub during "Into Hot Water". The other girls are not amused.
    • A bigger deal is made out of it in the anime. This is somewhat of a running gag seeing how she not only does this again in the 3rd OVA as well, but also in the video game depending on the scenario.
  • 12-Episode Anime
  • Voodoo Shark: A censorship example. Nobue claims to be twenty while wearing a high school uniform.
  • Weasel Mascot: John, a normal, if mischievous, ferret.
  • We Need a Distraction
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Miu retells Cinderella in one chapter of the manga, with Matsuri as Cinderella, Chika and Ana as the stepsisters, Nobue as the prince, and herself as the fairy godmother who marries the prince at the end.
  • Wiki Walk
  • William Telling: On a picture after the chapter, Miu wants to let Nobue shoot an apple off her head with an arrow and Chika tries to talk her out of this insanity.

Alternative Title(s): Ichigo Mashimaro