Every once in a while a show comes along that blurs the line between social and cultural values. Whether it's dealing with the subject of incest, pedophilia, cross-dressers, or homosexuality there is invariably something taboo about watching anime with any of the aforementioned topics. For most the subject matter is sensitive and in America shows that fall into these categories tend to get swept aside and not do as well as others. Does that mean they are lesser in terms of quality? Certainly not and I My Me! Strawberry Eggs is proof of that.
Published by Geneon, I My Me! Strawberry Eggs is a 13 episode series that just received the complete collection treatment. The show was produced by TNK who had their hands in UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie and G-On Riders so it shouldn't be very surprising to see them work on a title such as this. Both of the former examples featured some sketchy subjects from pedophile gags to fetishes though both wound up decent in their own right.
At any rate I My Me! Strawberry Eggs is a comedy series at heart with a fair amount of drama to carry the plot. Things begin crazily and end much the same way but in between there is plenty to appreciate and, yes, some stuff to dislike (depending entirely on your tastes).
The series follows the exploits of one Hibiki Amawa. Poor Hibiki wants nothing more in life than to be the best damned teacher he can be. Unfortunately his eccentric landlady demands this pesky thing called rent and since he can't find the job he wants, Hibiki is forced to take drastic measures. In order to get a better career going for himself, and get his landlady off his back, he sets his sights on Seitow Sannomiya Private School. Now, you might think with Hibiki's credentials he would be a no-brainer as a candidate. Sadly it's nothing on his resume that prevents him from getting the position. It's what's in his pants.
See, Seitow Sannomiya Private School is essentially an all girls academy with a very small boy population. What's worse is the principle is a hardnosed feminist and loathes men to a ridiculous degree. That means teachers have to own the right, uh, equipment, in order to educate the fine young ladies. Ruru, that irrepressible landlady gives Hibiki a hand at fulfilling his dream...of becoming a chick. Ok, maybe it wasn't exactly his lifelong ambition but if it puts food on the table and saves his puppy it can't be that bad. Hibiki gets the cross-dressing treatment from soup to nuts (pun not intended) and when all is said and done actually gets into the prestigious private school.
Once there Hibiki takes on the almost predictable role of physical education teacher. I mean, there are many situations that would spring from him being a cross-dresser but would, say, math have been as interesting? I think not. In any event he quickly forms a bond with some of the students though one that stands out is a young girl named Fuko.
Fuko is your typical clumsy, underdeveloped anime school girl. She has all of the cute charm that would make a boy fall for her but watching a 25 year old man do it is somewhat disconcerting. Let alone the fact that the man is dressed like a woman. The show plays off of this theme and awkwardness for a while and mostly strays from anything too taboo. Instead the show treats it relatively maturely with a good sense of drama and heartfelt emotion.
In between it all there are a couple other things that keep I My Me! Strawberry Eggs running at a decent clip. The first is obviously Hibiki's daily challenge of maintaining his illusion and the many situations it puts him in. The arranged marriage episode was amusing and so was the breast measuring episode for the school's physical examinations. Another key element is the boatload of fan service that creeps into the programming. The previously mentioned breast examinations and girls spending the night together ought to get that hentai blood flowing.
Sadly for all of the things that I My Me! Strawberry Eggs does right there are some elements that hold it back. The cross-dressing pedophile theme may not sit well with most viewers. I personally was uncomfortable with it but just kept telling myself that this was an animated series, and a funny one at that. Another thing that holds this show back is the cliché humor and predictable situations it places characters in. If you have seen even one school related comedy you'll see the gag appear here in some form. It's not entirely unoriginal but there were many moments that failed to impress in that regard.
Ultimately whether or not you'll enjoy I My Me! Strawberry Eggs really depends on how you perceive the subject matter. If you're easily put off by taboo subjects then you're not going to appreciate this show; it's that simple. However, if you approach anime with an open mind and look for the quality beneath the sometimes uncomfortable surface you'll find a humorous and highly entertaining show. It's rare that a series like this would be released in America with an English dub so there are many otaku who will treasure this.
Presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio, I My Me! Strawberry Eggs looks fine as shown in this collection. The series was originally released in 2001 and even though it's a short six years old the transfer here actually shows some signs of aging. Colors remain solid for the most part though there are some that appear to be faded and grain is present in almost every scene. There was very little in the way of compression artifacts and aliasing was practically nonexistent. Overall this is a decent looking show but nothing that will blow your socks off.
English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks are supplied for this show and based on the material that's all it really needs. Sure a 5.1 surround mix would have been appreciated but with a quieter dialogue driven comedy series you don't really need that. When given a choice between the two dub tracks I found the Japanese edged out the English by a decent margin. Technically speaking, however, both selections are roughly equivalent with neither impressing more than the other.
Unlike ADV, Geneon actually supplies bonus material with their complete collections. Because of that you can expect to find a decent offering with I My Me! Strawberry Eggs. The first disc houses a textless opening animation, art gallery, and male student roll call available in English or Japanese. The second includes a textless closing animation, art gallery, and another student roll call covering the girls. There are also a few "presented by" promotional tidbits that are amusing enough.
The third disc in this collection offers more art gallery goodness, a tenant roll call selection, and some of the commercial eye-catches. And finally the fourth offers the predictable art gallery, some TV commercials, and a roll call for the teachers. All in all I was very impressed with the bonus features here and though they don't offer a whole lot they brought more to the table than most shows do.
I'm not going to beat around the bush. There were many things about I My Me! Strawberry Eggs that just didn't do it for me (Hibiki and Fuko's relationship for one thing). However, as I looked beyond the things I felt were unthinkable I found a fun little series that actually impressed me throughout most of its run. The 13 episodes here don't all hit the ball out of the park but there were many inspired moments that induced real laughter.
If you're looking for an off-the-wall anime to check out and want to stray from the beaten path then this may be the one for you. Enter cautiously and heed the warnings if you do not like some of the sensitive subject matter. Like I said before, this isn't a show for everyone. Recommended
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