Reviewby Allen Divers, Mar 7th 2003
DVD 4: Absent
Hibiki Amawa has always wanted to be a kyoshi, specifically a teacher a local middle school. The problem: the school only employs female teachers. With the help of his landlady, Hibiki disguises himself as a woman and lands his dream job. After quite a few teaching successes, Hibiki finds himself trapped in a love triangle with a few of his students. He must reconcile his feelings for Kuzuha while deciding the future of his teaching career. To make matters worse, Reiko, the vice-principal, has discovered Hibiki's secret and plans to use it as the key to turning the school into an all girls' school. Will his students stand by him when they find out that Amawa-sensei is actually a man?
I My Me! Strawberry Eggs, despite its unusual title, is a well-written story focusing on Japanese school life. While a bit over the top in terms of a man actually being able to disguise himself as a woman to teach, the series has been filled with a lot of wit, charm, and humor. Absent, the final volume in the series, brings all the loose plot points together, marking a very dramatic end for a series that manages to do quite a lot despite its simple premise.
The DVD itself is a very standard Pioneer release featuring the last three episodes of the series. The bonuses include a full color art gallery, bilingual DVD menus, TV commercials, and a bilingual character introduction short. Absent also features two subtitle streams, one for translation of the Japanese audio and the other for simple signs and song translation.
In the translation of this series, ADR director and script supervisor Crispin Freeman made the decision to leave many of the Japanese terms in. Many are simple choices, such as leaving in honorifics such as -kun, -chan, -san, and even -sensei. Others push the limit of what the average Anime fan knows with terms such as kyoshi, bento, and inunabe. The English soundtrack for Strawberry Eggs stands as a bold experiment, testing the waters for just what dub fans are looking for and will tolerate in a proper translation. While most meanings can be deciphered from context, it would have been nice for liner notes to have been included. The same can be said of the Japanese subtitles, as quite a few terms were left untranslated there as well.
With a solid translation in its script, Strawberry Egg's English soundtrack stands out as one of the best of the year. All the actors are well suited for their roles, and with many of the characters being middle school kids, they actually sound their age. The Japanese cast is also well suited to their roles, giving both soundtracks a nice balance. Both the English and Japanese soundtracks share the same music and sound effects, keeping the feeling consistent between the two. The music stays bright and upbeat, never overpowering the dialogue or action. It complements the artwork quite well.
While the music acts to complement the animation, a major contrast exists between the art style and the actual content of the series. The animation is done in a very bright fashion, focusing on very bishounen/bishoujo styles. Visually there is quite a bit of fanservice with the short school skirts and many overemphasized, teasing shots of the female characters. In many ways this works against some of the more serious themes the show is addressing. It's almost as if the story of Strawberry Eggs is for females, while the animation and blocking serves as a distracter for the guys. Despite this strange mix, the animation and art style work together to make a beautiful show filled with well done character designs and detailed backgrounds.
I My Me! Strawberry Eggs starts with a simple premise that has actually been used as major plot points for a few of Hollywood's biggest movies. The idea of an outsider having to change his appearance to fit in is nothing new, so it creates a simple foundation from which Strawberry Eggs builds. Hibiki's desire to become a teacher, mixed with the strange obsessions of the landlady, comes together to create a unique take on that cliché. From there, the series develops into a coming of age story as many of the characters must come to terms with their feelings and decide the next step in their development. To keep things from growing too heavy, Strawberry Eggs also has a few characters to help keep things light and allow for quite a few humorous moments. The final three episodes bring all the various storylines that have developed over the previous three volumes and carry them to a very satisfying conclusion. In the end, Strawberry Eggs falls back on the tried and true moral of being true to oneself. The humor this time around goes into reserve, allowing the drama to make more of an impact.
Strawberry Eggs is a show that can mean different things to different people. At its core is a storyline of learning to be true to oneself that then works towards being with others. Despite its heavily fanserviced visuals, the series becomes a very charming romantic comedy when taken as a whole. Pioneer and New Generation Pictures took a lot of care bringing this show to a North America audience. I My Me! Strawberry Eggs mixes a lot of elements to create an engaging tale that should entertain everyone.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : B
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ Mixes a lot of strong elements to create an engaging story
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