Nov 28, 2007
Manga Review for Strawberry 100% Volume 2 by Mizuki Kawashita. Translated and adapted by Yuko Sawada. Originally published by Shueisha in 2002. Published in US by Viz as part of their Shonen Jump Advanced line. Rated T+ for older teen with a "Mature Content" label on the cover, $7.99.
You would think that Junpei would be quite satisfied with his life these days because his girlfriend, Tsukasa, is the prettiest girl at school and also the owner of the mythical strawberry panties he glimpsed back in Volume 1....or is she? Even though he really likes Tsukasa and has slightly pervy urges towards her, Junpei is taken aback when she invites him to her house to cook dinner for him and study. Things get even more interesting when he finds out her parents are not going to be home anytime soon! But even in this situation, the poor boy finds himself thinking about Aya Tojo. One of his friends, the studly Okusa, told him that Aya had a thing for Junpei, but he thinks its just because he wants him to break up with Tsukasa so he can hook up with her. While Junpei doesn't know the truth, he does find himself falling for Aya. While all this is going on, he still has to find time to study for high school entrance exams so he can realize his dream of becoming a film director.
While the second volume of Strawberry 100% was enjoyable on its own terms, it's starting to slant dangerously close to becoming a harem comedy, especially with the entrance of a new female character in the closing pages of this book. I just don't see how the storyline can sustain itself UNLESS it keeps on adding characters to distract from what is otherwise a very simplistic setup. I really enjoyed the first volume because, for once in this type of book, the main character had no problem getting the pretty girl. Now Junpei realizes that the girl of his dreams is the wrong girl of his dreams. This is what happens when you fall in love based on seeing someone's panties. You have to see the soul and the face to truly judge a person's worth. An aspect of this manga that seems a bit goofy is the fact that Aya can't be recognized by Junpei when she isn't wearing her glasses, a la Clark Kent/Superman. So when he catches a glimpse of Aya without her glasses, he recognizes her as the girl with the strawberry panties, but does not recognize that she and Aya are the same person. It was a bit of a surprise that glasses wearing cute girls are repeatedly categorized as unattractive and plain in Strawberry 100%. I though bespectacled cuties were a common weakness of otaku the whole world over? I still like the characters and the art is quite good so I hope my fears about it becoming some type of Love Hina castoff are wrong.
My Grade: B