Synopsis & Analysis
The director does not provide a coherent narrative spanning the length of his series. Instead, each episode tells a separate story that simply consists of the ordinary adventures and occurrences that happen to the protagonists during some period of time. Happily, all of these little tales are engaging, funny, and suffused with both a poignant genuineness and a mundane magic.
The protagonists are even more appealing than are their lives. The series centers around four eleven and twelve year old girls, the shy Matsuri, the rambunctious Miu, Ana, an English girl who has been raised in Japan, to which she has been acculturated, and Chika, who lives with her twenty-year old sister, Nobue. Every one of these girls is nicely realized. Miu is ridiculously energetic and is constantly up to some mischief. Matsuri is quiet, cautious, and compassionate. Ana, though she wants to emphasize that she is English, even to the point of pretending not to be able to speak Japanese, has actually forgotten how to speak her native language. Chika is pleasantly normal, and Nobue, who takes a strong liking to Ana, whom she finds adorable (thanks to her light skin and blue eyes), is frequently either trying to earn money for cigarettes or looking after her younger sibling and that girl's friends.
Whether the girls are going to a festival or the beach, attending school, socializing at home, or, under Miu's influence, tormenting Nobue at a restaurant where she gets a job as a waitress, both they and their adventure are alive with an overwhelming cuteness. In fact, a large part of the series' appeal is its presentation of adorable little girls looking and behaving adorably. Oddly, as cute and sweet as Strawberry Marshmallow is, it is never saccharine. The girls are very cute, but their cuteness, instead of leaving a bad taste in the viewer's mouth, is likely to make him smile and immerse himself in their warm, bright fictional world.
I should mention that the animation used throughout Strawberry Marshmallow is vibrantly colored, attractive, and effectively done. The character designs are, of course, sweet and charming. All of the girls, with their big, liquid eyes and innocent faces, are thoroughly enchanting simply to look at. Fortunately, although the backdrops are often fairly pedestrian, the images employed over the course of the series have a simple, homely warmth that is made even warmer by the presence of the protagonists.
Strawberry Marshmallow really is an endearing series. It is sweet, innocent, and genuinely fun.
Review by Keith Allen
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