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Strawberry Panic 04
Friday, April 28, 2006
Strawberry Panic | Episode 04 | You On The White Horse

The fourth episode of Strawberry Panic introduces another three characters fully, as well as doing everything it can to make a yurified (I'm starting to love that word) "handsome prince" type story. Who is the prince in question do you ask? Well that would be Amane Ootori from the white uniformed Spica school, and her princess (at least for the purposes of this episode as I've no idea where the story is going to go) is Hikari Konohana (pictured above on the left). The pair have more than a passing resemblance to Rei and Shimako from MariMite respectively, but I'm trying to put it to the back of my mind that SP is just MariMite will all the subtly removed and judge it as it's own show. It's very difficult to do so.

The third character to appear is Hikari's supremely predatory roommate Yaya (pictured above on the right). She exhibits a more than slightly gay vibe and seems to be interested in Hikari (despite Hikari only having eyes for Amane) she just hasn't said anything in the story as of yet.
Anyway, Hikari has always admired Amane from afar (Amane has hoards of screaming fans practically stalking her) and watches her ride about on her white horse. She's more than a little obsessed with her.

Amane has just arrived back from winning a tournament of some kind (to her hoards of fangirls great excitement) and Hikari is watching awestruck from the crowd as Amane gets off her horse and with gentle sweep of her hair multiples her gayness rating by approximately 900,000%. Shizuma gives her flowers as part of her duties as Etoile and Aoi and Tamao make one of their brief appearances in this episode watching from the sidelines. It's quite nice to have a break from Shizuma running around molesting Nagisa this episode really, and good that the anime is going to explore the other schools at least to some extent. Just a refreshing change.

You can tell something is going to go horribly wrong for Hikari as she is so excited about singing in the choir in front of Amane it's just obvious something will. Despite Yaya trying to calm our squeaky, girly, intensly annoying , blushing Hikari down she sings before everyone else and embarrasses herself! Oh no! Shock! Horror! The walls of reality come tumbling down! Well.. not really, Amane stands and glares at the crowd to stifle their murmurs at Hikari's mistake (handsome prince to the rescue!) and things continue as they were supposed too. Hikari however has taken the incident a lot more seriously than well, anybody else apparently.

*Insert evil megalomaniac laugh here* Like I said last week the Spica student council (who don't seem to be the nicest of people) are planning something! To have Amane elected as Etoile this year! But, (shocking revelation) Amane doesn't want too! What fiendish plan will the student council pull off to convince Amane to enter the upcoming "Etoile Battle"? Will they offer her countless amounts of yuri subtext filled scenes in the anime? Will they let her ride her white horse down school corridors? Will they merely order her? Well we don't find out this episode, so I'll put that plot aside for now...

Yaya tucks Hikari in goodnight (awww), you get the impression she wouldn't mind tucking herself in with her but she doesn't and they turn the light off. However it's at this point the true level of Hikari's angst is revealed, she's quitting the choir! One thing I love in shows is totally unnecessary drama and this is what is happening here to be honest. NO big fuss has been made about Hikari's mistake, Amane quieted all the mumblings and it doesn't seem a single bad word has been said to her. However, angst levels about not impressing Amane have reach exploding point and after she thinks Yaya is asleep the restless and angst ridden Hikari sneaks out their room (with all the sublty of an elephant as she wakes Yaya up anyway).

Fairly obviously during her night/early morning wanderings Hikari meets Amane (after singing the song she wanted to sing for her and catching Amane's attention with it). Amane is well gentle, kind and sweet to Hikari, letting her voice her problems. She even puts her riding jacket around the shivering Hikari's shoulders as *shock horror* SP manages to produce a fairly romantic scene. At the end of their talk Amane takes Hikari's hand and puts it to her chest to show her the warmth inside her heart (no she isn't groping her!). Amane is certainly a good (if cliched) character, and demonstrates that she has a wonderful personality here and is in no way like the predatory Shizuma. She manages to "just" climb to the top of my favourite character list with the scenes here although she may well be beaten down the list again later.

to reinforce the image of the prince on a white steed saving a princess, Amane takes Hikari back to her dorm on horseback. Amane sweetly tells Hikari that she wants to hear her sing again, before cutting a dashing pose once more and riding off into the rising sun. Once again so cliched, but very funny and over the top scenes here as the episode ends. Hikari is evidently ecstatic by all that has transpired.

Oh and when Hikari gets back to the room, Yaya (who has presumably been waiting and worrying all night) fairly suggestively pins her to the bed and demands what has happened (she sees Amane drop Hikari off from the window). Jealousy disguised by curiosity perhaps? Only time will tell...

A nice change from Nagisa/Shizuma/Tamao this episode with one similar character (Hikari is similar to Nagisa if you ask me) and two others who are different. I actually like these three more than the main trio after this one episode and hopefully they will get decent amounts of screentime throughout the series.
posted by Mangaminx On Friday, April 28, 2006  
  • On Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Blogger Dav said…

    L.O.L!! Your comments are way hilarious! Enjoyed reading your review as much as watching the episode itself (I honestly do coz Amane X Hikari are my favorite couple). Brilliant stuff. ^___^

    Ah... What is StoPani (Strawberry Panic) without cliches heavily laced with yuri connotations anyway? I loved how they used those cheap animation/music/sound effects to maximize the um... Corniness of the scenes (I ended up LMAO at where I shouldn't have. D'oh!).

    Nevertheless, I really like this episode. Well yeah, partly because it showcased my favorite pairing but also because, as you said, it's a refreshing change from the main couple of the series. Despite all the near-kisses and love hints given out by Shizuma to her prey before this, I think this episode has the first true (and proper) romantic scene between a destined couple (Woo! Cheese corn please!). AMANE X HIKARI FTW!!!! ^^

    PS. Yes, Yaya is jealous but she has yet to fully demo her predatory gayness. I'm looking forward to the day when she turns emo. Even better if she learns to do it the Tomoe Way (Damn ant!!).

  • On Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Blogger Mangaminx said…

    Totally agree with you (cheesiness included). This episode has the first scene that was vaugely romantic. Amane and Hikari work well as a romantic couple. It may be funny but there isnt really anything romantic in Shizuma grabbing Nagisa and trying to kiss her.

    Yaya certainly has potential to be a total psycho as the series progresses too. She has a predatory streak about her which I thought may well be worse than Shizuma's once it fully develops. She certainly looks rather angsty in the opening sequence so perhaps that side of her will creep through more soon.

  • On Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Blogger Dav said…

    Although it will be amusing later when Nagisa really falls in love with Shizuma (Who needs spoilers :p). I have always been confused with Shizuma X Nagisa's story. You have Shizuma who blatantly goes after Nagisa just because she finds the latter, how should I say, attractive (Gawd, help us!) in an incomprehensible way. Or it could be due to the very straightforward reason of Shizuma being a player. And then there's Nagisa who tries her best to avoid being trapped by Shizuma's charms but becomes helpless (almost) after getting the deep gay stare treatment. Where would this lead to? How will it end? Well, in any case, they will turn out to be a rather odd pair. I'm hoping the Anime's writers will make their story more believable coz now it's looking very shallow (Vampire stalker, WTH?!).

    Regarding the Amane X Hikari X Yaya triangle... Their story has an uncanny resemblance to Kannazuki no Miko. There's Amane the prince (Who's way better than Souma, imo), Hikari (Not so much of a deadbeat like Himeko initially, and she's quite popular in Spica as well because of her role in the choir), and of course you must have the angsty Yaya who pretty much fills in Chikane's role. Even what Yaya's doing now is very similar to what Chikane did for Himeko i.e. trying to hook up her best friend with the person she goes akogare all over, and then battling with personal angst coz she's in love with her too. Ha... I honestly don't know what the Anime's writers are doing. In the novel and Manga, Yaya is very honest about her feelings for Hikari and she shows it openly to the latter but in the Anime, she hides and angsts over it and goodness knows how high on the Tomoe meter will she go. I can only imagine her probably ending up like Chikane but since things are currently taking a cheesy turn, she may spice things up a bit and back off later.

    Leaving that aside, nothing has really happened between Amane and Hikari yet, although it's obvious Hikari already has feelings for her sempai. Amane now is only doing what good seniors do for their juniors e.g. generally being kind to them. Based on the events in this episode, she looks as though she sees Hikari as a unique third-year who's a little different from the others, and she takes notice of her.

    I definitely can't wait for the day when Amane realizes that she has fallen in love with Hikari, a story which may be compelling coz there's a bit of angst involved. That is, if events in the Anime go canon.

  • On Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Blogger Mangaminx said…

    Yes, hopefully "some" depth and reasoning will be put behind the Shizuma/Nagisa pairing as you say. It wouldn't totally spoil the show if it didn't (as lets face it, it isn't the deepest of anime presently), but would perhaps let the viewer (certainly me) like their relationship more. There is nothing deep there presently.

    Interesting comparison to Kannazuki there aswell, I hadn't thought about it much but they really are like Souma/Himeko and Chikane in a great many ways. I havent seen all of KnM yet, but I'm aware of "most" of the seires events, I admitedly would like to see Yaya go all "Tomoe" as a result of her bottled up feelings (she is definately behaving like Chikane does at the start of KnM at this moment in time) purely as no cheesy variety yuri series is complete without a character like that.

  • On Sunday, 30 April, 2006, Blogger Dav said…

    "It wouldn't totally spoil the show if it didn't, but would perhaps let the viewer like their relationship more."
    True. I may even come to like them depending on how their relationship is handled in the Anime. Oh... And we musn't forget that there will be a new contestant coming up probably in the next ep. Triangle will soon become a quadrangle with the inclusion of that girl whom Nagisa saved from tripping over in Ep 3 (Since you read the Manga, it's safe to disclose her name - Chiyo). That scene was, for me, the snarkiest and most cheesy one in this series. She looked as though she deliberately tripped. Heck, she didn't even seem to have tripped. She fell over her own feet, I'd say. Great, lets just see who will snag poor Nagisa. My stakes are still on Shiz (Wonder why famous lesbos have the same first 4 letters of their name), but it would be fun to see a twist at the end. This story may run and conclude differently from the original works after all.

    Nya... I feel even more sorry for Yaya in the Anime, mainly coz she's doing the Chikane thing, and the possibility of her losing to Amane is like 99% (But gosh dammit, I wish it would stay that way until the finale of StoPani, even though it's gonna be a somewhat unhappy ending for our very yuri angst queen). To be honest, I was quite surprised when she asked Hikari whether the latter wanted to get closer to Amane, and she even offered to help her. The first thing that came into my mind was "Ooh... She took Chikane's lesson on 'How to win the heart of your crush by hooking her up with your rival'", followed by "Does she know what the heck she's putting herself into?", and finally "Imminent self-BOOM-BOOM." If she acted like her Manga counterpart, I wouldn't feel as bad for her later on, although her personal approach on things is interesting. She's more skillful at molesting than Shizuma. The more aggressive they are, the better. ;p

  • On Monday, 01 May, 2006, Blogger Mangaminx said…

    Presumably Yaya will act a bit more like her manga counterpart as the anime continues... , she certainly deserves more screentime than Nagisa and Shizuma.

    As for Chiyo, yes I mentioned in my episode three review she was bound to fall for Nagisa (taken from my manga knowledge rather than me being premedetative). I can't say I like her much in the manga as she is the type of character that annoys me, but with four girls after Nagisa things could certainly get interesting.

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