Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

May 15, 2009

Strawberry 100% - Mizuki Kawashita

Serialized in "Weekly Shonen Jump" from 2002 to 2005, this title is not typical of what I would normally pick up. Regardless, after the first chapter with mystery strawberry panties, I was hooked.

Synopsis: The main ch
aracter Junpei Manaka is the luckiest guy, period. Starting in middle school Manaka wishes to become a movie director. His encounter on the school roof with an unknown girl in strawberry panties is inspiring enough to encourage his film making pursuit. The mystery girl is one of several nubile teen girls that surround Manaka in this series, making him the head of this "harem" type story. The fan service abounds, but it's not at the disgusting point, unless you think flashing panties and bras is disgusting. Much of it is used humorously and puts Manaka in embarrassing or hilarious situations. After entering high school and starting a film club, the story focuses on Manaka's many relationships with the four main girls, each which has her own endearing and distinct personality. Of course, most of them can be stereotyped - a quiet and book smart school girl, an outgoing and popular sweetheart, an aggressive and athletic sexy babe, and a kid-sister childhood friend who's now older and cuter. What keeps you reading is Manaka's indecisiveness. He tries to be nice to them all, and by doing so, will never choose just one. The mangaka puts him in situation after daring situation with the different girls, building the suspense for the outcome. Like a broken compass that doesn't know which way is north, Manaka spins in all directions trying to follow his heart. Eventually he must make a choice. Most likely, you'll have a favorite you'll be rooting for him to pick.

Review: The artwork in this series is nicely penned and pleasing to look at. Especially if you are a young g
uy. ;) Mizuki Kawashita writes a coming of age story that may be relatable, but not very realistic, which is what makes it a fun read. So many teenage girls throwing themselves at an average nice guy just doesn't happen. So for guys, this is a fantasy played out to its fullest. This was probably the author's intent in the first place. The character development is Kawashita's strong point. The main character and his harem are very well fleshed out, and watching them change and grow to become young adults is fulfilling for the reader. The character relationships can make you laugh or cry. You may envy Manaka or even sympathize with him at times. You may even feel like strangling him for being so indecisive. It is the author's ability to evoke such emotions that makes the story engaging enough to devour volumes in order to discover which girl Junpei Manaka really loves.

Romance Rating: Lustful - this has its sizzle moments. Several kisses are exchanged. There is implied intimacy between Manaka and one of the girls, and with the fan service this denotes the mature content label.

Media Status: The Strawberry 100% manga consists of 19 volumes, with a total of 167 chapters. Currently there are 8 volumes released in America. It was adapted into a 26-episode anime TV series by Madhouse, directed by Osamu Kebita. We'll have to wait and see if it gets licensed in America.


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