Can I see panties?
Welp, not quite.
As you may be able to tell, based on how quickly this review is following my review of the previous volume, I am making my way through the Strawberry Panic light novels pretty quickly. Its a pure fluff read, so I can’t make any claims as to it taxing my abilities, and, as I think I said before, its almost the perfect summer read. It is also, incidentally, an excellent exercise read, and with my customary lack of concern, one could find me cycling away in a military post’s gym reading this thing as I made my way to glory. Or something.
Anyway, let’s use some bullet points to highlight differences between show and book, because everyone loves bullet points:
- Makoto Kusanagi exists here!
- Kaname is openly obsessed with Amane, and is not a rapist
- Momomi isn’t dating Kaname and isn’t a terrible person
- Kagome participates in the Etoile competition
There are other differences, too, obviously… y’know, like the fact that the axis of the books is the Etoile competition itself. But I think I established that one pretty well in my prior review, so no need to hit that matter again.
In volume two, we meet Makoto Kusanagi, a character I’m actually pretty disappointed never surfaced in the show, because in a totally ridiculous story, she somehow manages to stand out as even more absurd. Makoto hates Amane, and thinks Amane has tarnished the entire Etoile thing and all of Spica because of her filfthy, filfthy love for Hikari… and by filfthy, well, y’know, the whole gazing at each other longingly thing. Makoto thinks romance between women is wrong. So, she goes about solving the corruption rampant at Spica by coming back from Russia (of course!), and, uh, pretty much building her own harem. She also has a sister complex the size of Alaska. Do we think there is some sublimation going on here?
Of course, we also find out that Amane thinks romance between girls is wrong, wrong, wrong, even as she carries on with Hikari, so she should probably just move to America, and become a Republican or something. Where Amane was more likeable in the prior volume than in the anime, she does a lot to damage her cause in this one, frequently taking her complaints and angst over being popular to obnoxious lengths.
Tamao becomes a bit less creepy in this volume, which is a welcome change; however, a lot of the reduction ends up getting tossed out during an utterly cringe-worthy scene involving her, Nagisa, Chikaru, and a bunny costume. And speaking of Chikaru, where she was cunning in volume one, here she embraces her inner creep, coming off as frankly pedophilic in her interactions with the thirteen year olds Kizuna and Remon and the twelve year old Kagome. Chikaru’s dress-up adventures with these girls in the anime always felt light-hearted, but here they take a turn for the skeevy, a wholly unwelcome development.
Its an unfortunate change, because Chikaru’s machinations are becoming even more apparent (even if they are loony as all hell), which should make her an even more intriguing character. But after a butt-kissing (literal) incident, I was almost wishing she’d disappear from the narrative entirely.
As long as we’re talking creeps, Yaya becomes less creepy, before becoming really creepy again. Too bad.
Kaname and Momomi both get upgrades as people, which is to say, they aren’t downright awful, but it is at the expense of everyone’s favorite Evil Psycho Lesbian couple. Kaname spends most of her time screeching about Amane, which is tiresome, even if does make her a more decent human being simply since, y’know, she isn’t trying to sexually assault anyone. She also displays some decency when helping Hikari train for dancing. Momomi is neither obnoxious nor mean, acting as a sort of Greek chorus for Spica student president Shion.
So what does happen in this volume besides all that? Well, there’s a bit of futzing around and politicking, and the second round of the Etoile competition finally kicks off with the Faceless Devil event, in which competing couples aren’t allowed to see each other for two weeks. A “devil” will approach the various individuals, and will attempt to either a. make them break the rules by seeing their partner, or b. break the rules by cheating on their partner. But, remember guys! There is NOTHING gay at ALL about the Etoile competition! PURE SISTERLY LOVE FOREVER.
Oh, yes, and one of our couples runs away, which I could see from about ten miles off.
Despite my complaints, I did still enjoy this volume, albeit less so than the first. Makoto’s delightfully over-the-top, certainly adding some extra silliness to the proceedings. Expect things to keep getting even more ridiculous from here on out.