Strawberry Eggs Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, November 28, 2002
Release Date: Thursday, December 12, 2002



What They Say
All?s Fair in Love and War! It?s students vs. teachers, when a student is accused of the theft of a teacher?s paycheck! Will Hibiki?s students respect him if he doesn?t? stand up for their rights? Unfortunately, Hibiki has much more to worry more about when the class goes on a school camping trip and his students become a little too forward in expressing their affection for each other and for their teacher! From TNK, the animation studio behind Hand Maid May!

The Review!
The 3rd quarter of Strawberry Eggs does a good job of getting the relationship side of the kids going, though not without some amusing moments from all sides.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Though this show is among the most recent ones made and brought over, it still features a pretty basic stereo mix. There?s some nice usage of the forward soundstage on occasions, but the show doesn?t feature a whole lot of directionality. It is a very good solid sounding track though with no problems.

Video:
In general, this volume holds up very well compared to the past two, but some minor faults start to show through. While cross coloration continues to be non-evident here, the aliasing side of things picks up fairly well in several areas of these episodes, notably during camera pans of the crowd of students, especially in mid range shots. Other than this distraction, the transfers colors look solid with no over saturation.

Packaging:
Fuko and Hibiki take the cover again, though not as gratuitous as the last volume with Fuko sticking her chest out. The back cover shows off a few of the other girls as well as more of the school. There?s a brief summary of the shows premise and a listing of the episode numbers and titles. The discs features are clearly listed as well as the technical information and production credits. The insert is a nice foldout, where the front has a great picture of Kuzuha and a listing of the episode numbers and titles. It opens to some nice full color character artwork, while the back provides a good character illustration and a listing of terms and suffixes used in the subtitles.

Menu:
The main menu layout is setup like a classroom board, with all the text being selections. The text is nicely stylized and the layout works well, though I?m sure some will complain about understanding what selections mean. Moving to submenus is nice and fast and there?s little issues with speed or load times. This is a nicely laid out menu for the most part.

Extras:
The extras continue pretty well here with more all new material. The eye-catches are presented in bilingual fashion here, showcasing a whole lot of characters. The art gallery has several really nice full color pieces of artwork from the shows opening and ending as well as inbetween and some conceptual stuff. And much like we had with the school kids introducing themselves, the tenants of Gochiso get their turn to bask in the sun and talk about themselves, again provided in both Japanese and English.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This series continues to be nothing more than a pleasant diversion and a way to spend the evening with just a smile on my face. While it does have its awkward moments, such as the 25 year old Hibiki ending up nearly kissing 14 year old Fuko on purpose, the majority of it is either just silly stuff or the fun kind of school age stuff we see in a lot of series.

The tension aspect of the story does build up here though, as the boys continue to get ridden rough by the administration. Apparently even though the school has a contracted janitorial serve, they principal and vice principal insist that the boys do some of the basic cleaning so that they can ?get used to what they?re really good for?. Hibiki naturally rails against this, as he finds it to just be more of the foolish separations that go on, since the girls are exempted. Some of the boys usual play while work gets on the bad side of the vice principal, which causes Naruo to go and hide her salary.

He?s also quickly called on the carpet about it, but the other boys don?t believe he did it and they actually stand up well for themselves and start a protest by barricading themselves along one section of the school. This pushes the administration over the edge and they get plans going to expel all the boys while Hibiki tries to figure out a way to get everything settled and keep everyone happy. Much like past episodes, this one works well in letting him save the day, but also expands the trust he has with his students as well as influencing Fuko to fall more in love with him as her.

The relationship side of things really picks up over the next two episodes, with the camping trip to the mountains really getting things going. Several of the boys start to really get interested in having a girlfriend, so they go through the list of all the girls and each have their own amusing quirks in their eyes. It was really amusing to see Fukae try to subtlety steer people away from Fuko by calling her immature but having a look in his eye when he did it. What?s unfortunate about it is that he ends up getting trapped out on a hike with Fujio and the two spend the night in a cabin to avoid the torrential downpour that hits the area.

With such warm time spent with Fukae, Fujio starts to really fall for him and that starts to become noticed by another of her friends. As seems to be traditional, at least in the anime series about high school romances, Fujio starts working her way towards professing her love to Fukae. Of course, there?s the entire potential relationship with Fuko that comes into play, giving the entire series of events one where you can?t quite be sure where it?s going, even after seeing Fuko and Hibiki nearly kiss.

And Fuko has to wonder if she?s weird! The relationship stuff here, as opposed to the larger boys vs. girls aspect that the school level pushes was very entertaining. They play out well, with the characters talking plenty about their feelings as well as having solid animation for those episodes, whereas the first one looks like it was done a bit on the cheap side. With only three more episodes to go, this is turning into a simple show about relationships with no larger goals attached to it, and it?s becoming very charming. I?m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,Bilingual student roll call (video extra #2),Art gallery,Bilingual motion menus,Bilingual ?Presented by...? clips

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Strawberry Eggs