This is a episode commentary. It is intended for someone who has seen this episode, and will contain episode spoilers.

Strawberry Marshmallow: Episode 0 Commentary

Collage of Strawberry Marshmallow screenshots.

It was a while back when I bought the Strawberry Marshmallow DVD box set, as well as the manga volumes. Due to other obligations (A Little Snow Fairy Sugar and Janggeum’s Dream), Strawberry Marshmallow continued to wait patiently. I planned to read through the manga chapters and watch the anime episodes fairly concurrently. I’ll take a moment to say the manga books are very well made, with a nice feel to the cover. I don’t know if the Japanese release had covers like these, of if it’s a common TokyoPop thing, but I like it.

Seeing on the first DVD’s box that the first episode dealt with a birthday, I figured I’d read the comic up until that story, which turned out to be the fourth chapter. (The manga calls chapters “episodes”, but I don’t want to confuse them with episodes of the anime.) By the time I started reading chapter four, I had started to wonder if the anime’s episodes were based off of chapters from the manga, or if they were completely new stories. I think that that would be a nice way to go with a slice-of-life story, having the two different mediums work together as two parts of a whole, rather than being two versions of the same thing. There would have to be some overlap, though, such as with Ana (who seems won’t show up until the second of the four manga volumes, but appears in the second anime episode), unless one media introduced her at one point, and the other started with her already as a cast member.

After watching Janggeum’s Dream, and its DVDs with no previews or anything, just straight to the main menu, it’s a bit painful to have to see so many bothersome things before the main menu. Thankfully Xine lets me skip straight to the main menu, but still…

While I expected to start from episode one, seeing the “Episode 0″ seemed to be a good place to start to check out the voices for the characters, Japanese and English both. Starting with Japanese language and English subtitles, the voices sound fine (and Matsuri gets extra points for having the same voice actress as Elmina in Petite Princess Yucie), but the subtitles are difficult for me when it comes to names. It’s simply jarring when someone is “Mi-chan” and the subtitle is “Miu”. Maybe one day one company will release a series with not just dialogue subtitles and sign subtitles streams, but add a second subtitle stream with Japanese names? This would allow them to put in one stream with “Miu” for people who want to watch in Japanese without having all the san’s and chan’s and kun’s showing up, and another stream with “Mi-chan” for those who prefer to see the proper naming and honorifics kept in place. Hm, and how about two matching dub streams while at it? Hey, if I’m dreaming, I’m going to dream big.

I’m not sure about Miu’s English voice. It doesn’t sit well with me. She shows up a lot on promo artwork, as if she’s the main character (although the manga seems to center around Chika and Nobue within the first few chapters). Even if she’s not the main character, she a main character. Main characters must have voices well suited for the character. It’s still early on yet, as I haven’t even reached episode one, so maybe things will improve.

Matsuri’s voice seems a bit strange for her, but it’s a cute voice. Surely it will work out. Ana’s voice I’ll have to hear a bit more. I’m certain Chika’s voice will fit right in for me quickly, although the voice acting sounds off at times. Is this an experienced voice actress, or a beginner? Nobue’s voice seems fine. As it turns out, her voice actress also played Fiona in Zoids, although this is a completely different kind of role.

I like the “ichigo spaceship operating system ver.1.5″ with its warning screen ending in “Was this information useful? Yes : Y/ No: N”. The group who worked on this made sure they had their English correct, and put in a nice bit of humor/fun. Of course, when the manga has Nobue and Miu playing Super Mario Kart on a Super Nintendo, it just has to be good. Well, except that the girls think the feather is a “wingy thing”… Back to the episode, it’s also nice with the “Character Status” showing the girls’ “hunger” bars lowering and Nobue’s “nicotine” bar plummeting rapidly.

Somehow outer space and The Blue Danube seem to go together. Perhaps Johann Strauss was ahead of his time with what would become something of a space waltz, thanks to the cultural icon status of 2001: A Space Odyssey? Personally, whenever I hear this music, I will always think of Daffy Duck.

Episode 0 is too short to give an idea of what the series is like, but I imagine it’ll be similar to the manga, only with longer stories. Some of the chapters leave a lot of room for potential growth, so if the anime bases its content off of the manga, there shouldn’t be issues of running out of material too quickly. The other option is the Azumanga Daioh route, with multiple stories within one episode. I guess the only way to know which route Strawberry Marshmallow has taken will be to start watching the episodes, and continue reading the chapters, especially since I’ll have to finish the first volume of the book to keep caught up with the anime introducing Ana in episode two.

Perhaps episode 0 was a short preview episode, but I get the feeling this will be my longest post on the series. I’m not sure if there’ll be much to say about a slice of life series (which is one reason I haven’t done anything on Azumanga Daioh yet), but I’m sure I can find some way get by.

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