Strawberry 100% Vol. #07 (Mania.com)

By:Robert Harris
Review Date: Friday, September 24, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Years ago, Junpei decided that he wanted to be a director. That single, life-altering decision used up all his decisiveness for the next ten years. Watch him struggle through life, unable to choose a pair of pants to wear, a type of jam to put on his toast, or even which of his friends will live...and which will die.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Mizuki Kawashita
Translation: Yuko Sawada
Adaptation: Yuko Sawada

What They Say
A juicy romantic comedy about life, liberty and the pursuit of strawberry print panties.
Junpei hides in a classroom that soon fills up with girls...who aren't there to learn algebra!

EXT. ROOFTOP OF A SCHOOL BUILDING, SUNSET -The hero (me, Junpei Manaka!) sneaks up to the roof to see the sunset. When he opens the door, he startles a mysterious beauty. She panics and runs away, but not before Junpei has caught sight of her adorable strawberry print panties...in EXTREME close-up. With that vision forever burned into his memory, Junpei embarks on a quest to find the girl, and the panties, of his dreams! FADE OUT

The Review!

What a difference a few years make. I find myself thinking this a lot when reading manga, partially because it’s my modus operendi to pine for the past while fearing the future, but mostly because many series which seemed so shiny and new near the turn of the century often lose their luster upon modern inspection. I suppose it’s inevitable that you wake up one morning, turn over in bed and realize you’ve married a manatee, referred to generously as ‘the cow of the sea’. What I’m trying to say with this rambling, sepia-toned nostalgiathon is that I remember <B>Strawberry 100%</B> as an excellent series, one of the few which first attracted me to the harem manga as a concept. Now I look back and can only shake my head. Oh, the follies of youth. Which is very much in the theme of the series now, isn’t it? I suppose life does imitate art after all.
 
Volume seven can essentially summed up the same way every volume in the series can be: Manaka likes a bunch of girls who are generally way too good for him, and a bunch of girls who are generally way too good for him like Junpei. Cut, copy, print. The illusion is given that girls come and go, but truthfully new characters are never given fair consideration for romance, and previously excised girls have a way of returning the very next volume. For example, volume six marked the second time Nishino broke it off with Junpei, after literally zero interest or effort invested from his end, and yet she’s right back in the thick of things this time around. I know it’s following a formula for popularity’s sake, but when it’s so transparent the story lacks any punch; we know virtually nothing is going to change until the end of the series.
 
The specifics in this volume are relatively unimportant. Yui, Junpei’s - sigh - “childhood friend” from last volume is still around, and Sotamura’s sister is introduced as part of the regular cast. Meanwhile, Satsuki continues to throw herself at Junpei, Aya is shy to the point of having some kind of psychological condition, and his two goofball friends are typically goofy. Then there’s Junpei, who I am shocked to discover (how did I miss this before?) is possibly the blandest main character ever. I always thought the fact that he had a singular goal he strove for made him interesting, and to a point it still does. Unfortunately, any time he’s stuck in the same room - or worse, a one-on-one conversation - with one of the girls, all of which he has presumably known for several years now, he becomes slobbering mute. I’m not sure how he’s getting all these girls when the two best words I can use to describe him are ‘awkward’ and ‘indecisive’. I’m well aware that harem comedies rely on a certain indecisiveness to their protagonists in order to keep the drama furnace stoked, but it’s just so...blatant...here.
 
In Summary:
I’m struck dumb at how I could have looked past so many glaring flaws once upon a time. It’s not a terrible installment by any means - the characters remain generally likable, if one-dimensional, and watching the growth of a student filmmaker is an interesting concept. However, it’s unfortunate that Junpei’s personal growth is so often shunted into the background while the author focuses on jerking us around with obviously dead-end romantic leads. I truly hope that at some point in the future, the drama is shelved - even temporarily - to focus more on Junpei and the improvements he’s made, both as a director and as a person. That would really be nice.




Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.99
Pages: 210
ISBN: 978-1421516639
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Strawberry 100%