Strawberry Eggs Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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

Strawberry Eggs Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     January 30, 2003
Release Date: February 11, 2003


Strawberry Eggs Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Truth be Told... From his hospital bed, Hibiki must deal with his feelings for Kuzuha and teaching career. Reiko, the vice-principal decides to force the issue and reveal Hibiki?s secret - can Hibiki change her mind? What would the students think if they find out? Hibiki has some heavy questions to answer before he can continue as a teacher...

From TNK, the animation studio behind Hand Maid May!

The Review!
The final ?quarter? of the series, Strawberry Eggs manages to eke out more emotion than I was honestly prepared for it to do and surprised me by being such a heartwarming show in the end.

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:
Colors are solid and look fantastic, cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is like a memory. This is a great transfer that lets you simply enjoy the show without getting distracted by anything.

Packaging:
Fuko and Hibiki take the cover for the last time in a nice embrace with some red cheeks to accentuate things as they stand by the road. The back cover shows off other sides to both of them set against the countryside. 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.

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 are little issues with speed or load times. This is a nicely laid out menu for the most part.

Extras:
The final volume rounds out with a good selection of new and original extras. The commercials for the show are presented here in all their strange glory, as well as the revelation that this show ran at 6:30 PM during the middle of the week. The art show provides more great artwork from the series, but the best extra here continues to be the class introduction segments, this time shifting to the faculty. We mainly get the principal and the vice principal, and I must admit shock that the principal is listed at being seventy years old! She certainly wasn?t animated like it! All in all, with the bilingual extras and the sheer amount on each volume, Strawberry Eggs made out fantastic for both Japanese language and English language fans. Great stuff.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For the most part, we?ve enjoyed watching Strawberry Eggs and have generally felt that while the show doesn?t have a larger purpose or storyline to tell, it has been telling a number of fun self-contained stories about a man dressing up as a woman who ends up changing the lives of her students. It?s not exactly revolutionary and it?s not something we haven?t seen in anime or in live action before.

Of course, with the live action material, they tend to not have the male lead be in his twenties and finding himself attracted to a shy fourteen year old. Ah, cultural differences are what I?m sure many are saying. But still, this can?t be looked on all that affectionately in Japan either, which makes me wonder just how well it did with its running during the evening.

The final three episodes here tend to shift away from the humor, though there are still a number of lighthearted moments. With Fujio upset about being turned down by Akira, who finds himself being very much in love with Fuko and upset that she?s turned him away as she?s confused about her own love, that being Hibiki-as-sensei, we?ve got a lot of people acting somewhat out of sorts and generally avoiding each other in different ways. The main problem comes from the Fuko/Hibiki relationship, as Fuko is simply dealing with the problem of being attracted to another woman while Hibiki?s dealing with the fact that he?s attracted to a fourteen year old.

All of this emotion and people avoiding each other ends up coming at a time when a mysterious stalker has snatched fourteen people in the area already, so the teachers start making everyone go home and come to school in groups, causing people who don?t want to be near others to be forced into the groups, which just begs some awkward moments. It also ends up leading to a situation where Fuko goes missing, and that ends up bringing people back together to save her from the stalker. It gets a bit over the top in a few areas, notably the motorcycle that the old lady drives, but mostly it?s well done.

The results of that episode though cause some serious changes in the series to happen, as when an injured Hibiki is taken to the hospital and the vice principal continues her quest to prove that she?s a he, she strikes it rich in more ways than one and catches a very intimate moment with Hibiki and Fuko. Such an intimate moment that I completely disliked the vice principal character from there on out, and with the way the show played out, I had hoped that they would see the error of her ways and have her thrown out of the school.

But the story goes forward as they try to push Hibiki out, and everyone starts to go with the flow and pushes her out of their lives. The character interactions here as they break apart again and grow reflective are excellent, though again I personally keep coming back to the age difference. Barring that, the way everyone bands together in defense of each other is excellent and there?s some real strong emotional moments throughout. Of course, there are some truly campy moments here and there as well, but overall I loved how it all played out. My only regret is that there isn?t a follow-up episode that takes place like four or five years later with a real resolution of some sort.

While the series initially played out simply, I?m impressed at how well it managed to subtly win me over during the first 10 episodes that I became as involved in the characters emotions as I did during the final three. It caught me completely off-guard. While I wouldn?t rate the series as a must see, it?s definitely something that?s going to appeal to a growing segment of fandom, and that?s something I?m definitely glad is happening.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Full Color Gallery,Faculty Introduction,Japanese Commercials

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.

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