Strawberry Panic Light Novels 1 & 2: An Unbiased Review

Last time I read a book, I had to push the limits of human creativity to fit lesbians into it. Not this time.

Why bother reading when I could watch anime? Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering bouts of eye strain lately.

I’ve been dropping glasses and everything. I am such a dojikko.

So I’ve turned to reading as a means of getting away from the computer screen. As for my choice of Strawberry Panic, I couldn’t resist the tagline:

The first ever yuri light novel in North America!

Now my Mexican and Canadian readers can has yuri too.

Here’s your unbiased review:

Three things that suck:

1. Not enough evil lesbians

There’s a lot scheming going on, but nobody seems to exist for the sole purpose of ruining another character’s life (and then going down on another girl).

2. No global warming

3. Not enough pictures

There are stretches of 15-20 pages without any artwork. Perhaps that’s standard for light novels. Still disappointing.

Three things that rock:

1. Chikaru

Chikaru, a.k.a. The Shadow Empress (OH SHIT!), is a major player in the light novels, as evidenced by this excerpt:

Chikaru, the party-loving Costume Club President, who never missed a chance to wear costumes, had volunteered her club to serve as pool attendants.

Today’s theme was “Bunny Girl.”

“Here, you need to stick out your butt…because I can’t see.”

Mmmm…! Kizuna, red-faced with embarrassment, scrunched her face and poked her butt out to Chikaru.

Chikaru, kneeling behind Kizuna…stared intently at Kizuna’s butt.

What a cute butt, Chikaru thought as she repressed her urge to spank it…and slid her fingers around the French-cut edges of the suit.

Uhyayaha! Kizuna squirmed.

“Come on, stay still…”

Chikaru grasped Kizuna’s hands to calm her. Kizuna endured tickling sensations as Chikaru slowly and deliberately continued her movements.

She randomly rubbed Kizuna’s butt, fondled it…and sometimes pinched it softly…which surprised Kizuna each time.

And finally…treating it like a precious treasure, she gently placed her lips on Kizuna’s butt…and kissed it.

Don’t get your hopes up too high. That was the best part of the whole book.

2. Focus on the √Čtoile competition

The competition was a largely meaningless sideshow in the anime. It’s serious business in the light novels, which makes the girls seem slightly less petty for backstabbing each other.

3. The Setting

It goes without saying that the true strength of Strawberry Panic is that every character is a lesbian. But anyone can create a story about lesbians. What makes this one unique? The setting. Consider the two things that the anime did not change:

  • The lesbians
  • The setting

From the dorms to the schools to the secret lesbian hookup spot in the library, Astraea Hill provides a charming environment for young lesbians to discover themselves.

Other differences between the Light Novels and the Anime:

  • No pink-haired tsundere girl (forgot her name, I guess I’ll have to rewatch Strawberry Panic to find out)
  • The girl with the Teddy Bear may actually be important
  • Amane has a new rival (Kaname, the evil global warming lesbian, plays a lesser role)
  • Less rape
  • No twig stepping
  • No thumb wrestling

The final volume won’t come out for a while, so my next reading project will probably be finishing up the GTO: The Early Years manga. I’ll consider recommendations for other reading materials as well, as long as they’re not real books.

22 people love sucking up to me

  1. Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha manga. India pre-suckage. The time of badasses. Either that or try Apollo’s Song. Think what you would get if Krauser wasn’t a metal musician but was a troubled young male sex offender who gets his shit ruined by karma/the Goddess of Love. Hell, you would even like Black Jack, which is a Tezuka manga that’s been translated recently. Or Dororo. That has samurai and demons, before they were overdone.

    More modern stuff includes the novel Train Man which is actually a collection of true life forum posts on 2Channel, about an otaku who falls in love with a girl on a train after saving her from a drunk guy. No lesbians, but it contains badassery you don’t see coming.

    A Japanese novel by Junchiro Tanazaki I’m reading, the classic book “Quicksand”, is all about lesbians before it was socially acceptable. None of this pansy love and commitment crap either, there’s lust and backstabbing. It is a classic literary work which happens to contain lesbians.

    You could always read Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice, that has Japan in it, but the racism is a bit off putting. Very British 1950s.

    You could always try reading Genshiken (the manga) or even something as daring as the manga Read or Die.

  2. Aw, I totally had a crush on Chikaru! She’s so sweet.

    And by “pink-haired tsundere,” did you mean Kagome (the psycho little girl who talked to her bear all of the time) or Tsubomi (the precocious first year girl in desperate need of an attitude adjustment)? Because I thought Tsubomi was great. Reminds me of me at that age.

  3. It seems that most light novels are intended for male readers rather than traditional female ones. I haven’t seen any yaoi light novels before while the yuri ones already have Maria-sama ga Miteru and Strawberry Panic. While Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu isn’t yuri but still aimed towards male audiences.

  4. The best part about Strawberry Panic are the visuals… I dunno how I feel about reading it. But now that I know this exists, dammit. DAMN YOU I HAVE TO READ IT.

  5. @digitalboy: I will follow through with your suggestion.

    @Rakuen: More in the anime, but still plenty in the light novels.

    @Asperger’s: I’ll probably start reading Buddha around September. This summer I’ll be living with my parents, and if they catch me with it, they might assume I’m reading it because it’s about Indian stuff, not because it’s manga. I’d rather have them catch me with porn (as long as it’s not Indian porn).

    @LJ: Who knows, if my eyesight gets any worse, maybe I’ll just strap on a blindfold and start listening to audio books.

    @Eroshiyda: Ah yes, Tsubomi was her name. The way the anime was set up, she was a necessary addition. The light novel doesn’t spend much time on the younger students, except for Chikaru’s harem, and the occasional Chiyo scene.

    @Day: I’d rather read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

    @Amex_Yohko: See comment #6

    @Epi: Yes, if by visuals, you mean lesbians.

    @wut: wut

  6. I received the Traveling Pants series at a white elephant Christmas party. I’ve read the first chapter of the first book and now the series is currently holding up the lopsided corner of my bed. I think I would have enjoyed that chapter more if I had pretended that it was a yuri light novel….hell life would be better if I pretended it was a Yuri light novel.

  7. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but last I had heard Seven Seas has all of their Light Novels on indefinite Hiatus so I wouldn’t count on getting volume 3 anytime soon if ever. Light Novels seem to have been a huge bomb overall. Only thing that has a chance of reviving the market it Haruhi if it sells well.

  8. Just jumped on the Strawberry Panic band-wagon after I saw and enjoyed the anime. Since I liked it so much I went out and bought the 2 manga’s, and the 1st volume of the light novel. But then I realized “where is volume 2?” After much research and live searching I realized it is now where in sight. No one has it, and as far as I know they are not going to reprint it. This makes me sad because I don’t want to read/buy the 3rd without reading the second… So if it is true that they will not reprint the 2nd volume I am kind of thinking of returning them. It is bad enough that the manga was discontinued, but if the fans don’t get enough respect for a reprint of the novel I don’t want any part of it. I spend way too much money on anime and manga for the publishers do not try harder to meet the demands of the readers. I know it is hard but if you want constant purchasing you have to do all that you can to finish a series, or give it to a company that can.

  9. well i have not read strawberry panic yet but so many ppl reccomend so i lookd into it n this page shows its not as good as the raves say. iwas really dissapointed when it said that the part quoted was the best part. who knows? maybe i will read it….

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