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Manga / Strawberry Shake Sweet

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Teen Idol Tachibana Julia is not thrilled when told she has to look after a newbie... at least, until she gets a look at said newbie, Ran Asakawa. She changes her mind really fast, and so starts the story about their love and whatever wacky things happen to them and their friends.

Written by Hayashiya Shizuru, Strawberry Shake Sweet started off as a story in Yuri Shimai and eventually moved Yuri Hime, running from 2003 to 2008. The story is chock full of many absolutely hysterical moments and a bunch of quirky characters as well. Definitely a recommended read for anyone who enjoys the yuri genre and comedy.

Was originally called just Strawberry Shake, but got the Sweet added for legal reasons when it changed publishers.

Contains examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: Saeki gets one from Julia while trying to stop Julia from stealing a kiss from Ran.
  • Affectionate Nick Name: Ranran.
  • Alliterative Title
  • Attempted Rape: Played for laughs with Kaoru's fumbling attempt to seduce/force herself onto Saeki.
  • Author Appeal: Clothes. Hayashiya Shizuru plainly enjoyed playing dress up the characters: even Saeki sports a different hairstyle practically every episode, and in Zlay-san's case, it verges on Costume Porn. Sera, the photographer, is the only character who keeps more or less the same looks throughout her appearances, which kind of makes her stand out from the rest of the cast.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: when Julia takes on Ran's mum in chapter 17.
  • Behind the Black: Done often by Ryou and occasionally by Ran. Always lampshaded for laughs.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Saeki hates her job, but she sticks with it. Have to wonder why...
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Of sorts, between Rena and Sera. Also, between Kaoru and Saeki: Kaoru provides the 'sexual', while Saeki does the 'belligerent' part.
  • Beta Couple: Rena/Sera.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: If you dare to stand between Julia and her love interest, you better bring a lot of spare bones.
  • Bifauxnen: When Ryou is in her performance attire, it can be really hard to tell she's a girl.
  • Bland-Name Product: Sera's photo camera.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Ryou likes to draw Julia (and others) into these. Julia occasionally lampshades it.
  • Brainless Beauty: Ran really isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. Not that this makes her any less adorable...
  • Bridal Carry: when her sempai falls and sprains her ankle, Ran dutifully comes to the rescue... [1]
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Julia just wants to loosen up a bit; she's totally not trying to get Ran drunk. Same thing with Kaoru: she only wants to share a friendly glass with Saeki...
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ran is half-Japanese, half-American.
  • Butch Lesbian:Ran, of all people, seems to turn into one when she's had a little too much to drink.
  • The Casanova: Ryou has supposedly bedded thousands of girls, but she is prone to exaggeration...
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Julia's structural failure to convey her feelings to Ran makes up for most of the comedy (and drama) of the series.
  • Cast Full of Gay: To Saeki's chagrin.
  • Chatty Hairdresser: Kaoru.
  • Closet Key: Ran is this to Julia, who didn't even know what it was like to feel attracted to another person (let alone another girl).
  • Concert Kiss: Subverted. Ran and Julia kiss for the first time on stage at the Zlay concert, but there is nothing romantic about it as it's just part of the performance; their real "first kiss" comes a few pages later, while they're watching the concert from the backstage, and it's obscured by a Kissing Discretion Shot . Arguably counts as an Exploited Trope too, as it's heavily implied that Ryou had set everything up in order to bring it about.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Ryou likes to complain about being constantly besieged by hordes of raving fangirls.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Reki to Ryou.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Reki of ZLAY. Julia and Ran also end up dressed like this when Zlay drag them into their concert.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Saeki seems to attract a fair share of unwanted female attention. She's also very popular among the manga's female fandom.
  • Evil Matriarch: Ohtori Shizuka who also happens to be Ran's mother.
  • Face Palm: Saeki does this a lot in response to Julia's antics.
  • Fanservice: Avoided with extreme prejudice, even in Julia's homoerotic fantasies.
  • First Kiss: Finally happens in chapter 14. Like most of the love tropes in this manga, it's played with and partially subverted: initially set up (by Ryou) to be a Big Damn Kiss, Ran and Julia manage to take it into Awkward territory with their shyness and misunderstandings. On top of it all, the readers hardly get to catch a glimpse of it.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At first, Ran's tendency to establish physical contact with Julia may seem like an innocent Running Gag at Julia's expense. In hindsight, it reads as an early sign that Julia's attraction wasn't so one-sided after all.
    • Less subtle: Ran remembering the conversation between Julia and her supposed male love interest. The guy, implied to be a sexy hunk, only appears in Ran's memory as a vague, rough sketch. Later, when she tries to think of ways to "support them in their relationship", her brain just freezes and she ends up with a headache. It's almost as if Ran's subconscious is trying to tell her something...
  • Gaydar: Ryou has one that is so sensitive that apparently she can tell when a "comrade" is born.
  • Generic Cuteness: with Only Six Faces to go around, there isn't a big difference between supposedly average-looking characters like Kaoru and Saeki and the more beautiful ones like Julia, Ran or Ryou. Ran's "exotic charm" is something of an Informed Attribute.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Subverted when Julia goes berserk at Ran's mother:
    Saeki: Julia, wait...! Restrain yourself! You have to restrain yourself...
    Saeki: at least you don't leave any marks...
    Julia: Right.
  • The Glomp: Julia does her best to keep herself from pouncing upon Ran, but sometimes Ran's cuteness is simply impossible to resist. Kaoru, on the other hand, is a happy glomper.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Kaoru in the New Year's special; at least in the English scanlated version.
    Kaoru: Get naked for me, por favor!
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Ran is pretty tall for a Japanese teenager (176 cm) and, although the manga doesn't have a school setting, some of her shyness seems to stem from being self-conscious about this. Julia once calls her a "tall idiot".
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Ran, practically Once per Episode... until she realizes her own feelings and is afraid of even coming close to Julia.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: invoked and averted. Saeki asks Kaoru if her relationship with her young girlfriend is like this: Kaoru quite cheerfully shoots it down.
    Kaoru: No, it's because she's a girl. I like girls!
  • Ignored Enamored Underling: Megumu to Saeki; it's not clear to what extent Saeki is aware of it.
  • Important Haircut: Julia has short hair in the very last episode. Mainly, this indicates that some time has passed, but in that time Ran has disappeared, and also Julia has changed somewhat.
  • In Vino Veritas: One glass is enough to transform the shy, insecure and -up to that point- mostly straight Ran into this
  • Incompatible Orientation: Try as she may, Kaoru isn't getting anywhere with Saeki...
  • Intertwined Fingers: Julia and Ran doing it in chapter 15 symbolizes the next stage of their relationship.
  • The Jailbait Wait: Kaoru is careful to point out that she has no intention of "crossing the line" with Haruna as long as the girl is under the legal age of consent. Teasing her to no end is a different matter, and apparently covering each others' bodies with kiss-marks is allowed, causing an exasperated Saeki to ask what line is going to be left to cross at this rate...
  • Large Ham: Ryou of ZLAY is absolutely fabulous.
  • Lost in Translation: According to Word of God, much of the humor is based on puns or references to Japanese popular culture and media. Western readers who only know the manga from Scanlation are probably missing out on a lot...
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Kaoru and Ryou
  • Love at First Sight: Julia changes her mind about being Ran's senpai really quickly after seeing her once.
  • Love Redeems: Julia starts off with a mean, abrasive personality; falling in love with Ran brings out the nicer aspects of her character.
  • Maid and Maiden: Saeki is a kind of mentor/surrogate mother to orphaned Julia. She also plays the part of a strict chaperone for most of the manga.
  • Mrs Imagination: Julia. Holy schlamoly.
  • My Yuri Sense Is Tingling: Ryou can pick up yuri vibes from half a city away.
  • Nosebleed: Julia as a result of Ran doing something Julia perceives as cute. Lampshaded on these two pages.
  • New Season, New Name: from Strawberry Shake to Strawberry Shake Sweet, at the same time Yuri Shimai was rebooted into Yuri Hime.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Julia gets to kiss Ran as part of a stage performance at the Zlay concert, but she complains that it's "like taking a helicopter straight to the peak of mount Everest".
    • (Note that it's actually pretty hard to reach the peak of mount Everest with a helicopter: at nearly 9000m altitude, the air is too thin to provide much lift to the rotor blades)
  • Not What It Looks Like: Several, though one in particular was during New Years when Saeki, pissed off at Kaoru's flirtations, ties her up and threatens to throw her out with the trash. Cue Julia and Ran walking in at that very moment and add the fact that both know Kaoru has a thing for Saeki...
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Ran manages to miss some really obvious looks and passes from Julia:
      Ran: I'll rub your shoulders for you later.
      Julia: You could rub a lot more than just my shoulders [...]
    • Sera Mutsuki.
  • Office Romance: All over the place. Literally everybody has a crush on someone they work, or have worked, with.
  • Old Maid: Saeki and Kaoru are both around 27 and single. When discussing her friend's relationship with Haruna, Saeki heavily implies that Kaoru ought to stop fooling around with girls and get herself a husband.
  • One Head Taller:
    • Ran and Julia.
    • Ryou and Reki.
  • Only Sane Man: The way Saeki sees herself.
  • Out of Focus: Megumu quickly falls into this after her debut in chapter four.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Saeki. She's constantly blocking Julia's advances towards Ran, but it's just part of her job; and she's right to think that a scandal could damage the two girls' reputations. Also, at first she's under the assumption that Julia is just going through a phase and it doesn't even cross her mind that Ran could reciprocate her feelings. In the end, she's more than happy to quit playing chaperone for them.
  • Red String of Fate: A variant of it, in the cover of the first album [2]
  • Retcon:
    • Julia very nearly pounces upon Ran in the first chapter of the manga; in subsequent chapters we can see her making passes at Ran, and Saeki rebuking her for being too bold. Then, in chapter 6, this happens: Julia is suddenly pronounced -and effectively rendered- "completely incompetent" and incapable of putting the moves on the girl she likes.
    • Chapter 6 also ends with Julia taking Ran to her house, and a note stating that she "collapsed from anemia the minute she got home" and slept all the way through to the next morning. Later, however, an extra chapter reveals that important things happened that night...
  • Running Gag: Oh boy, where to start. Ran is the main source of these, and hardly a chapter goes by without her:
    • Finding an excuse to touch Julia and make her burst out in a nosebleed.
    • Falling asleep somewhere for great cuteness.
    • Saying something that'll make Sera do a Spit Take.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Averted! Even though Shizuka is a famous actress with lots of power and influence, it doesn't stop Julia from putting her in 42 joint locks.
  • Seme: Invoked by Word of God (in the notes at the end of the first volume), but actually avoided in the manga: while Julia simply can't work up the courage to make her move, Ran struggles through several chapters to stop herself from pouncing on Julia. In the end, Julia confesses first, yet she still thinks she's the "passive partner" because Ran takes the initiative for the kiss; and the dynamic leading to that moment has nothing of the Seme/Uke in it. Rena, on the other hand, goes full Seme once she gets over her Tsundere phase.
  • Shipper on Deck: Never explicitly stated, but Ryou is so obviously intent on getting Ran and Julia together (see Concert Kiss above)
  • Shout-Out:
    • ZLAY is a parody of the real life Japanese band GLAY.
    • Ran and Julia's names are a reference to Romeo and Juliet.
    • Ran's real name, Ran Ohtori, is the name of a famous Takarazuka Revue actress. As for her false name, Ran Asakawa... well, just google it and see.
    • In the first chapter, Julia is stopped short of performing the infamous, trademarked Lupin dive on Ran.
    • There's a discreet visual reference to Heidi, Girl of the Alps in the second chapter.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Julia, most likely. She never shows any interest or attraction towards anyone, male or female, other than Ran.
  • Slapstick: less frequent than in other Hayashiya Shizuru titles such as HayateXBlade, but there are some instances. It usually ends up in a Cranial Eruption or some other kind of Amusing Injuries.
  • Spit Take: Rena, twice within three pages, courtesy of Ran.
  • Stalker Shrine: Julia wants a life-size poster of Ran. To put it on her ceiling. Make of that what you will.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ran thinks that there is one after her in one of the subplots; Saeki is convinced Julia is one and is afraid she'll take it too far. Also, in the final chapter we learn that while Ran was supposedly living overseas with her father, she was actually still in Japan and regularly stalking Julia.
  • The Stoic: When Ran first appears, she gives off this impression due to her rather sleepy look and lack of expression. This changes as the story goes on.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders:
    Julia: How can a tall idiot like that manage to look so cute? [3]
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Julia: I'm just drinking to soothe my nerves [...] I don't want to get Ranran drunk and take advantage of her.note 
  • Teen Idol: Julia, Haruna-chan and eventually Ran.
  • The Talk: With zero clue as to how two women...get intimate, Julia calls up a pro on the subject: Kaoru. She still doesn't do anything with Ran.
  • Tom Boy And Girly Girl: Played with. The short-haired, boyish-looking Ran is the more gentle and feminine one, whereas small, long-haired Julia is an aggressive Kick Chick.
  • Tsundere:
    • Rena acts this way towards Sera, the one she loves, with emphasis on the tsuntsun side.
    • At one point, Julia thinks it may be better to act colder towards Ran during work and more friendly during free time. All she succeeds in doing is confusing Ran even more.
    • Saeki is a classic tsundere, having a stern, serious attitude that hides a softer, nicer side.
  • Unknowingly in Love: Ran and Julia spend a good deal of the manga like this: first by failing to notice their own feelings, then by practically refusing to acknowledge that said feelings are mutual. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: What the plot revolves around. Chiefly between Julia and Ran, but also between Rena-chan and Mutsuki. Also, played with between Kaoru and Saeki: since practically the whole cast are gay, it is heavily implied that Saeki might actually be a closet lesbian and that Kaoru's lust for her might not be totally unrequited. This turns out to be a red herring, though.
  • Unwanted Harem: Things get pretty hot around Saeki in chapter 4. Sadly, it only lasts for that one chapter.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Never really gets answered, even after they move in together. They're trying, though.
    Julia: Ran-Ran! It turns out we do need experience points! Let's try our best to do it tonight!
  • Windmill Crusader: Julia tends to blow things out of proportion with her overactive imagination, especially during the 'stalker incident'. Since she has a much calmer, not particularly bright character -Ran- as her foil and sidekick and she's also blissfully unaware of any flaws in the object of her affections, this would basically make her a Don Quixote, with Ran being both her Dulcinea and Sancho Panza.