26 Jan 07
Strawberry Marshmallow is a very cute read. The manga basis itself around four girls and how they live their lives. Nobue is 16 and the oldest of the group. As such she often picks on the others but is generally good at heart, with a cigarette and a beer can not too far away. Her sister Chika, 12, often bares the brunt of Nobue’s demands and often finds trying to do school work very tricky at home. Next door is Miu, 12, a fun loving girl who looks at everything through adventurous eyes. Finally we have Matsuri, 11, who we find doesn’t have many strong physical attributes and cries a lot, but does have an awesome ferret named John.
The stories in Strawberry Marshmallow are very interesting and follow day to day events of the girls. For the viewer this does lead to a ‘Big Brother’ style of voyeurism. That being said throughout the book there isn’t really anything too pervy, and you could happy read Strawberry Marshmallow in public without the fear of people looking over your shoulder and judging you. This is a great ambassador for Japanese manga in the west showing that Japanese comics aren’t all porn and violence.
However, towards the end of the book there is one moment where this sanctuary ends and boobs are discussed. But this is still done in general good taste, and lets face it, a high school age group of girls are bound to discuss things like this sooner or later. Other stories all keep to scenarios that people can relate to, like the stress and anxiety of quitting smoking, and how to deal with some very dodgy sports referee decisions.
The relationships between the characters are displayed very strongly throughout Strawberry Marshmallow. There’s not only sibling rivalry between Nobue and Chika, but also sibling harmony. This generally changes depending on the scenario and who else is about. It’s obvious from early on that Miu and Matsuri don’t see eye to eye, and this does lead to the occaisional conflict. That being said Miu does frequently get on the groups nerves and because of such is frequently punished.
On the whole, Strawberry Marshmallow was an interesting read and a good manga book. Though I look forward to it’s release (and subsequent issues after) I won’t be as excited when it comes through compared to other manga.