Junpei meets a new female friend, who joins the cast after he drops about two large on her behalf. I’d hang out with him for half that.
Writer/Artist: Mizuki Kawashita
Translation: Yuko Sawada
Adaptation: Yuko Sawada
What They Say
One boy's quest for a goddess in strawberry print panties.
A juicy romantic comedy about life, liberty and the pursuit of strawberry print panties. R to L (Japanese Style). Events whirl around the impending debut of Junpei's new movie, from kidnappings to quarreling couples to the struggle to pull in an audience! Then there's the big question--can the film win a big enough prize to cover the expenses for all of this? EXT. Rooftop of a school building, sunet. 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
After a primarily Tsukasa-centric installment, <B>Strawberry 100%</B> is back to giving all the girls some space, including the new one. That’s right, the new one, and let’s forget Yue was added just a short while ago. Chinami initially comes off as annoying and selfish, but give her a chance and you’ll discover that she’s <I>slightly less</I> annoying and selfish than initial impressions would indicate. So if, by the fourth or fifth page after her introduction, you’re ready to strangle her to death, give it a little while. After her boyfriend issue is resolved she becomes much more an organic, if still unnecessary, gear in the whirring, clacking contraption that is <B>Strawberry 100%</B>. Stumble on you clockwork automaton!
Thankfully there’s a lot that happens in this volume, and only some of it has to do with Chinami directly. Tsukasa, Toujou and Satsuki all get their own chapters more or less, and I’m pleased to say that many of these are actually fairly significant - within reason, of course. No major game changers are involved, but for a series that has subsisted primarily on fluff to get it through a whopping ten volumes up to this point, it’s pretty substantial. Junpei’s and Tsukasa’s moments together are pretty serious, he learns something about Toujou which help put everything that’s happened between the two of them in a slightly different light, and we get to see just how far Satsuki is willing to go to bag one particular man.
These interactions are all genuinely interesting, and I found myself enjoying this volume more than the past few. That’s even taking into consideration the reprehensible act of introducing Chinami in the most awkward way possible. Without giving <I>too</I> much away I’ll merely say the “randomly meeting someone and taking on their gigantic burden for no real reason other than a sense of civic responsibility or other innate goodness” shtick has really begun to ring hollow over the years as I become more and more embittered and miserly.
I believe this volume of <B>Strawberry 100%</B> is noticeably better than the past few. No events here really shake the foundation of the Earth, much less this little fictional sliver of Japan, but there are some interesting interactions between the characters, and a little progression between Junpei and most of the other girls. While I’d like to see someone try and defend Chinami’s introduction as something not completely stupid and unnecessary, she’s not as bad as she seems at first and derails the proceedings relatively little.
If I have one problem, it’s that Junpei is continually growing closer to these girls, both emotionally and physically. The fact that he can almost strike a home run in one chapter and then, a few pages later, be on the verge of kissing another really puts a strain on our good graces. We can sympathize and make excuses for him because he’s kind of a hapless dreamer who sort of stumbled, unawares, into the aiming reticule of three ladies. His character works because he’s a relative innocent, whose only crime is (or at least, was) being too popular for his own good. As things progress with Tsukasa, Toujo and Satsuki, I believe we’re approaching a point where naivete and good-natured confusion are becoming thin excuses for his behavior. There’s a line between a confused goofball who has inadvertently caught the eyes of three young women, and a playboy who’s knowingly juggling said women. It’s a line the protagonist of a harem comedy shouldn’t cross if they’re meant to keep the sympathies of their audience.