Strawberry Panic 26 (End)

StoPani has been both excruciating and entertaining. The ending wasn’t too surprising, given all the hints sprinkled in the run up to the final episode. I’m also relieved that most of the loose ends were nicely tied up, even though the final episode was entitled "Beginning" – unlike certain egregious recent SUNRISE series Which Shall Not Be Named. It also continues to affirm my belief that OPs can give a good indication of a series’ plot direction.

Firstly, hair or more specifically the tying and untying of hair was a pretty motif of this episode. I was thinking that if Shizuma cut her hair, it would really mean that she had really given up on Nagisa. We’ve seen this with Sei Satou at the conclusion of MariMite’s Forest of Thorns arc. Even in the romantic relationship-less Azumanga, Chiyo hesitates to ask Tomo about her new, shorter hairdo after the summer holiday and has to check with Yomi first.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Hikari gets Yaya to give her away by tying her hair with the Spica colours. As she finishes the task and lets go of Hikari’s locks, the scene transitions into the appearance of the groom.

To the Miator green, Tamao adds her Ribbon of Protection Against Shizuma +3. Unfortunately the last time she tried this trick, it was that very ribbon which was the trigger for Shizuma’s Hit On Nagisa no Jutsu to roll a critical hit of 20 with Pool Plunge and Firsto Kissu.

After running through a season’s worth of recycled Shizuma x Nagisa Happy Times footage (which was *shock horror* less annoying than Evangelion or GSD footage recycling), Shizuma raids the wedding to steal the bride. Well, one of them anyway. Tamao wins the admiration of Underdog Sympathisers everywhere by untying her Ribbon of Protection and releasing Nagisa to her One True Love.

Before discussing the conclusion and the series as a whole, a bit on one of the loose ends. As predicted in the OP, Yaya and Tsubomi get each other as Consolation Prize and sort of get together. Which I think is much more interesting than either of them pairing up with the too good to be true “Blandie” (as Mentar derisively calls Hikari LOL). Tsubomi finally reveals her dere dere side after lots of entertaining tsun tsun. I half-suspect that her constant interfering with Yaya’s attempts to sidle up to Hikari was a cutely confused mix of jealousy (keep away from Hikari, you shrew!) and wanting attention (pay attention to me, Yaya-senpai!). In any case, it looks like Yaya’s quickly gotten the upper hand in her relationship with Tsubomi.

Conclusion. And they live happily ever after. Well, at least until next March when Shizuma graduates. No mention of a loveless rich families arranged marriage like Miyuki though.

There’s been a general consensus that StoPani is a trashy series but as Erica has pointed out, the manga is even worse (though I must confess to enjoying the sheer OTTness of some of the characters e.g. Yaya is really evil, Shizuma is a shameless playgirl, Chikaru is even more eccentric with a propensity to plot against Spica and Miator and so on). Given that expectations of this series were never high, I dare say no one was terribly disappointed with it.

In many ways, it’s a MariMite parody gone berserk. I wonder if this is the first 26 episode anime that is unabashedly about girls loving girls – that isn’t on a planet other than Earth, I hasten to add, before the fans scream: “SIMOUN!!!” The “plot” of the second half was about Nagisa finding out that Shizuma still loves her dead lover and the story moves towards how both Shizuma and Nagisa overcome their own pain to act on their feelings for each other and get together. Which could also fit within the framework of a guy meets gal story.

Earlier series like Kannazuki no Miko, Yamibou and even MariMite / MariMite Haru have strong yuri elements but the romance still gets stuck in the rut of yuri as forbidden love – even if they were also vast improvements over a character’s lesbian orientation as a standing joke e.g. Maya Ibuki in Evangelion, Kaorin in Azumanga, Koyuki in Keroro Gunsou or Shinobu in 2×2=Shinobuden etc.

Any of those characters travelling from those series to the StoPani universe would probably be as disorientated as William Mandella from Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War when he returns from his time-dilated inter-stellar tours of duty to find that homosexuality is now the norm on Earth. Except, unlike Mandella, our heroines Chikane, Hazuki and Sei will either be jumping for joy or moping that their love lives have suddenly lost the tragic element that made them dramatically interesting.

I liked how the story ends on the note that, after everything, that Tamao and Nagisa are still friends – as predicated by Chiyo. It’s so easy to forget the underdog and just devote the remaining narrative time to how happy Nagisa and Shizuma are. Thus the moral of the story for underdogs:

If faced with overwhelming odds and the threat of total annihilation, make a graceful tactical retreat, live to fight another day, accumulate good will and then harry the occupying forces with guerilla tactics (which is more like the manga Tamao)! After all, Shizuma x Nagisa get together also can break up what. Also that damned white haired witch is going to graduate soon and Nagisa-chan will still be my bestest friend and roommate! Hope and horniness springs eternal. Mwahahaha! :P

22 thoughts on “Strawberry Panic 26 (End)

  1. I wasn’t unsatisfied with the ending. I also wasn’t satisfied with it. It didn’t leave me with a sense of closure. It also didn’t make me feel as if it could viably go on without changing the very nature of the story. The story had its ups and downs but I kind of felt they canceled out. It’s rare for something to leave me unable to really form a definitive impression. I am kind of confused by it all really. Was it ever really there?

  2. I love the ending so much. It was beautiful. Also I want more action from the main characters. Hahaha Zyl your qoutes are hillarious. I can see Tamao still have not give up on Nagisa, lolz… One thing I want to mention, I hate the fact that Yaya didn’t get together with Tsubomi >.

  3. I was not surprised at the ending. It was expected from a show that was not showing any originality. This show was just filled with every cliche that has ever been used in anime, cheese to the squere. I was more shocked and surprised by the fact that Mao and Okamaru from Blood are going on a trip to the middle east than the fact that Nagisa and Shizuma end together. The writers from Strawberry panic could learn a lot from the Blood writing team.

  4. Zzz… it’s probably because StoPani was really two different shows. The first half with the silliness and the second half with the cheesy melodrama. I doesn’t leave me with any definitive impression either except maybe LOL and OTL

    honey_clover, thanks. Not to malign Tamao-chan, those weren’t quotes but just speculation of how to make the best out of a lousy situation. It just happened to fit the last pair of screencaps rather well. As for Yaya x Tsubomi, I’m disappointed that there wasn’t much buildup (and thus little progress) on that front despite the OP teaser but at least it’s a start. A Y x T happily ever after scene would been too quick and too OTT.

    golthin, there was initially a lot of scepticism about how Production IG could sustain a 52 episode telling of blood and the middle part until the Rick/Diva incident was pretty boring for me. The only things I can say in defence of StoPani (LOL) is that IMAGN/Madhouse did the best they could with terrible source material (light novels/manga) and expectations were never high anyway – a parallel, although both are printed on paper, we don’t normally compare pulp fiction against the standards of classic literature.

  5. Considering the fact that this story is really no more than a collage of recognizable scenes, stereotypes and conventions taken openly from other series, I have to say, I thought it turned out pretty good.

    There’s no denying that SP wasn’t brilliant, but considering that it was meant to be trashy, it pulled out a few moments of dignity and elegance out of the trash heap.

    As stolen memes go, using the (admittedly obvious) one from “The Graduate” for the final episode made a satisfactory semi-resolution.

    Yes Miyuki and Tamao are still doomed to lives of loneliness and alcoholism, but as clones of Youko and Tomoyo that was their fate from the very beginning. In other news, the Shizuma x Nagisa, Amane x Hikari, Kaname x Momomi and in a surpising late entry Yaya x Tsubomi pairs all live *happily ever after!* or some reasonable facsimile thereof, until bad fanfic writers kill one of the pair off in a heavy-handed attempt to create crisis and re-pair the other with someone else.

    But I digress.

    No, SP is not a diamond in the rough, but let us call it an attractive riverstone, washed suprisingly clean and shiny by the many, many, MANY tons of water that has flowed downstream from clearer and cleaner sources. :-)



  6. I’d go even one step farther: SP has been a solid piece of entertainment on its own accord. Why does everybody seem to go down this “It was bad of course, but good bad” road? There are few animes nowadays which can claim to be honestly new and original, so why does this seem to be a definite requirement? Even SP had its original aspects, for example completely dropping the “forbidden” notion of lesbian relationships. And yes, while it had its shares of “oh gaaaaawd” cliche’d scenes, we were also treated to several real surprises (at least to me).

    Summing everything up, StoPani kept my interest more and also more easily than many other shows which would arguably be “better”. It had some very intriguing characters (unfortunately, the second main pairing was not one of them), it was fairly risque in some parts, but without stepping over the line.

    Final Menty verdict for SP: ( )

  7. You and your directive-eating scripts, Zyl ;)

    Final Menty verdict for SP: (double-plus)

  8. I agree. I personally think SP is cool. Better than Marimete anytime. Marimete storyline was so like many animes(like character development and waste space for the main character to develop) but SP different. This is something new in terms of storyline delivery. I don’t want storyline delivery back in 1990′s and 2000′s are the same. We should move forward. Many has been complaining about the plot is because this way of storyline is rare and most viewers are not use to it. But to me, I totally loved it. It’s like more real-human than anime. In no time, those writers must change according to time and viewers demand.

    Nothing much from me actually. I’m only a research marketer XD

  9. *Grins impossibly wide*

    I don’t think anything…amd I mean…ANY|THING…can stop me from grnning all day today, probably next week.

    This series has given me the patience I will need to wait till next year for more yuri.

    Amen to this series. The only 26 ep long 100% yuri show in this galaxy.

    If only Kazumi didn’t die in Devil Lady then it might be almost as good as this.

    I am a Shizuma/Nagisa fan so it is all good with the world as now Shizuma-sama, Chikane-sama, Sachiko-sama and the rest are in heaven.

    Thank you God of the Yuri. Thank you.

    I will be visiting your site from now on Zyl till Striker S(I think it will be the first for me to see next year) and see if I can try to pass some time here.

    Thsi late year has been good. Simourn had a good ending too(Yuri-wise).

    Hmmm….On the bright side, more time to write yurifics.

  10. Fair enough, Mentar. (Or can I call you Menty from now on? :P) I’ve gone down the

  11. Okay I have a really really dumb question. I followed this series from beginning to end and watched every episode (although most of the time I was doing something else while I was watching so it’s very possible I missed many things). What I don’t get is, what’s the conflict between Tamao and Nagisa running for Etoile together and Nagisa and Shizuma being their own lovey-dovey couple on the side? Like, why are these two events mutually exclusive? Nearly all the angst in the last 8 episodes have come from Nagisa making googly eyes at Shizuma and Shizuma being all angsty because it’s like Nagisa can’t be hers anymore – but can’t Nagisa just have a working partnership with Tamao to do their Etoile duties (whatever they are – they appear largely symbolic and clerical in nature) while having yuri moments with Shizuma? Or was there something that said Etoiles have to be a romantic couple? In that case, Tamao and Nagisa shouldn’t have been eligible in the first place (since Tamao’s one sided crushed was unrequited and unofficial, anyway).

  12. I have watched Ep26, and I am feeling a little bit hollow inside. Everybody got a happy ending except Tamao… It just doesn’t seem fair…

    … …
    … …
    … …
    … …

  13. On a lighter note, while jotting down notes during my viewing of Ep26, I made a couple of ‘Naruto’ related jokes, so I was quite surprised that Zyl made some of his own as well. Was there Naruto brainwashing inbetween the frames of the finale?


  14. kaei, the Etoile couple is supposed to be the role model for the rest of the school so they should be very very close and devoted to each other (thus no third party?). Given how closely Tamao and Nagisa have to work together if elected, there’s every possibility that feelings will blossom along that long road. In any case, the manga completely avoids this conumdrum by having Shizuma declare that she’s running again with Nagisa.

    Skane, I haven’t watched any Naruto at all so I’m surprised I’ve made Naruto jokes. ^_^;;

  15. Woooo, after what has been positively ages since the last episode aired, I bring to you my last entry on Strawberry Panic.
    ~~~~ ~~~~

    Episode 26
    The Heartbreak of Suzumi Tamao:

    Actually, the title is ‘A New Beginning’, but a new beginning of what? Hmm… a fresh start of conspiracies? Okay, okay, on a more ‘serious’ note, this episode concludes the emo-fest that was Shizuma & Nagisa(S&N), gives a happily ever after to Amane & Hikari(A&H), consolations prizes for both Yaya and Tsubomi( each other), converted Chiyo’s lust into an onee-chan fetish( shared by Kagome), Kagome got assimilated completely into the Lulim Student Council, Shion had her wish come true, Miyuki got to see the true Shizuma come back to life, while Chikaru and Co. remain blissfully cheerful.

    Which leaves Tamao… who got totally screwed in the giveouts. No Nagisa, no Etoile-hood, not even a consolation snuggle with Chikaru. I mean come on… even Spica’s Evil Lesbian Duo(ELD) had a happier ending than Tamao, and that is just so wrong. I only take comfort in the fact that given the scene shown in the ED, Tamao has not totally given up on Nagisa yet, and may yet snatch her away, but that is just clutching at straws.

    I like the idea of Tamao becoming Chikaru’s apprentice. It works out on many levels.
    ~~~~ ~~~~

    Episode Highlights:

    **) The episode begins with narration from Nagisa, Miyuki and Shizuma respectively, as the episodes jumps from scene to scene.

    **) After the depressing opening and titlescreen, we are shown the lovable antics of the Lulim Student Council. Chikaru in a Santa outfit no less. I loved how the BGM went all weird as one of the girls pointed out the unnecessity of Chikaru’s strategy. Kizuna meanwhile became a girl in snow, minus the sadness.

    “Kizuna, come back!”

    **) Shizuma allowing Miyuki to brush her hair brought out the sexual tension between the two of them.

    **) Hikari continues to remind Yaya directly in her face that she’s Amane’s one and only true love. While it crushes Yaya’s heart, it will work out for the better in the long run. Hikari telling Yaya to tie the ribbon for her was like leading Yaya on just before Yaya’s hopes get dashed again with the entrance of Amane.

    I can only imagine what Hikari writes in her diary… “Today I crushed the heart of Yaya-chan again! Yay me!”

    **) Miator is green. Spica is blue. Lulim is red. The only colour we are missing is yellow, before we can have a proper Harry Potter parody.

    Going by colours alone, that would make Miator the evil ones, Spica the proud ones, and Lulim the good guys. Hey, what do you know. It fits.

    **) During Nagisa’s dressup scene, Tamao attaches the ‘Red String of Fate’ to Nagisa’s hair. It will be the metaphor for her tragedy.

    **) Tsubomi ‘tsuntsuns’ over Yaya in front of Chiyo. Tsubomi ‘tsuntsuns’ in front of Yaya. Yay for implied romance. It allows the fans’ imagination to run wild.

    **) Loved how Chikaru made the other Student Presidents uncomfortable with her commentary on who might win the Etoile elections. Squirm mortals, squirm in the awesome that is Chikaru.

    **) More heavy-handed foreshadowing when Shizuma spaces out in front of Nagisa before Tamao gives her a mental boot to bring her back to reality. Tamao’s gripping of Nagisa’s hand was also pretty poignant in that she does not want to let go of Nagisa at this point.

    **) Amane did the same thing to Hikari as was done in the Manga-version during the vow-taking session. Come to think of it, ever since they did the horizontal tango, Amane has been more ‘lively’.

    **) Remember how Kagome was like a stealth ninja in prior episodes? She continues to display her powers as she outruns Kizuna and the rest of the Lulim Student Council.

    **) Shizuma emotes in the Greenhouse.

    **) Nagisa emotes during the dance.

    **) Shizuma emotes in the piano room. Noticing a pattern here?

    **) Miyuki sees through Nagisa’s genjutsu and realises that Nagisa is pretending to be dancing with Shizuma instead of Tamao. Talk about ill-boding for Tamao & Nagisa fans.

    **) Shizuma emotes at the tree of love.

    **) As they were panning to the really large window behind the Student Presidents during the results presentation, I was somehow expecting Shizuma to smash through the windows and claim Nagisa. I think I would have laughed out a lung if it did really happen.

    **) When Shizuma openly declares her love for Nagisa, Tamao finally admits defeat( for now) and in a symbolic gesture, unties the ‘Red String of Fate’ that binded her to Nagisa and lets her go. Although I was kind of hoping for more drama when Tamao clutched Nagisa from behind possessively.

    “No! She’s mine!”

    **) I just felt so crushed during the night scene between Tamao and Nagisa. Although my mind is racing with thoughts on the possibility that Tamao is smiling because she knows that the battle is not over yet, and that Shizuma will disappear soon when she graduates. A part of me hopes that Tamao continues to plot her way to eventual victory.

    **) Ending eyecatch is that of Shizuma & Nagisa kissing.
    ~~~~ ~~~~

    Random Thoughts:

    ..) They really need to oil the doors in the Chapel.

    ..) Not since Kotori( from Da Capo) have I felt this much sympathy for a female character. It even beats out the sympathy I have for Kiri( from Canvas2) and Kaede( from Shuffle!).

    ..) A cynical part of me is wondering whether they went with the Shizuma ending so that anguished fans can pursue the Tamao ending in the recently released Strawberry Panic game.

    ..) “I’m happy for you. No really, I am. Aha… ahahahaha…”
    ~~~~ ~~~~

    Am I happy about Strawberry Panic? Well… I suppose not, since Tamao IS the main reason why I watched the series in the first place, and she got shafted pretty bad in the finale. Remember my Want-List from a while ago? Practically none of it got fulfilled.

    Was I satisfied with Strawberry Panic however? Yes, I am. It succeeded in entertaining me, and it does have many memorable moments. Now I just need to ask myself whether I should go get the subbed DVDS when it gets released. Unless they introduce some gimmick where there are alternate finales, I don’t really feel like buying a series in which the finale will just make me feel frustrated. Much like how I do not rewatch Da Capo because it would just make me angry and feel murderous.

    Sigh… fight on, Tamao. May they make an OVA in which you have happier times. Tamao & Chikaru perhaps?

    “Come, Tamao… give in to the Dark Side.”
    “Yes, my Master.”

    Cheers, and thanks for reading.

  16. I would buy the series if ever it were to be sub in english. The series was fun to watch despite Tamao has left with nothing. I can’t believe she couldn’t have happy ending like Yaya did. Hmm I guess there’s a reason why her storyline was this way. Skane you thought of Tamao x Chikaru? I keep picturing Tamao x Miyuki XD

    I’m happy Shizuma x Nagisa at last together. Accept I can’t believe I couldn’t have bed scene. Even the boring prince was credited bed scene why not Nagisa right? Sigh.. More of Tsubomi and Yaya won’t ruin a thing XD

  17. I must admit I would not have persevered if not for the wonderous speculation and posts by Skane in the name of Tamao and Zyl’s promotion of Yayaism. It was almost like that beloved b-movie with cheese in abundance and the most memorable “you are the chosen one.”

    Still I think that in the end Chikaru, Miyuki, and Tamao will form the first triumvrate and rule the school from the shadows. All three have the prequisite of being adept at using unconventional means to achieve goals, Miyuki and Tamao are more alike than they know (they both have blue hair) and now they have a common objective make Nagisa and Shizuma pay, because let’s face it at most Shizuma and Nagisa have at most one brain between them. After they all graduate they launch a nekomimi-meido cafe empire, Miyuki’s husband turns out to be a meido-con and is kept on a short leash leaving Miyuki to do whatever she pleases. In fact Miyuki can be a most terrifying power behind things, all she needs is direction.

    Yaya and Tsubomi will take over the choir and later form a band called the Ichigo People with such memorable hits as “In the JSDF”, “YWCA”, and “Tsun-tsun Girl.”

  18. >**) Shizuma allowing Miyuki to brush her hair brought out the sexual tension between the two of them.

    Yep, we all know that Miyuki just needs a drink or two and she’ll be going “Oh Shizuma! Banng me baby!” ^_^

    Overall, a sweet and wonderful ending. I’m just so happpy that Shizuma and Nagusa finally got to be together. :) I wish them happiness for a long time plus a Tamao/Yaya hook-up. ^_^

  19. i like strawberry panic a lot. its shows how the real love is (shizuma-nagisa) and how that love can make the pain leave.
    i was very happy that shizuma and nagisa were end up together and i wish them the best, even get married one day.
    Tamao should be in love again with other girl,for example chikary or miyuki at the end.
    From the other hand its good that she stay alone because although she knew that nagisa and shizuma were in love with each other she didn’t let them alone sometimes and in all episodes she had fake dreams. she should understand that nagisa would never love her cause she was her best friend and shizuma was her destiny.If you remember the first episode where nagisa fall in love with shizuma and also shizuma with her.

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