365 Days of Manga, Day 45: Strawberry 100%


strawberry10010.jpgSTRAWBERRY 100% (Ichigo 100%, “Strawberry 100%”) ????100%? • Mizuki Kawashita • VIZ (2007-ongoing) • Shueisha (Weekly Shônen Jump, 2002-2005) • 19 volumes • Shônen Romantic Comedy • 16+ (partial nudity, sexual situations)
One day in high school, aspiring teenage movie director Junpei accidentally startles a beautiful girl, who falls on top of him exposing her strawberry panties. Although he’s instantly smitten, he doesn’t get a good look at her face before she runs off…so which of the school’s several hot girls could it be? Despite the setup, Strawberry 100% is not a cheesecake-fest quite so much as a leisurely school romantic comedy, in which Junpei ends up dating his popular classmate Tsukasa, not realizing that aspiring novelist Aya, the stereotypical “girl who’s totally hot when she takes off her glasses,” is actually the nerdy girl of his dreams. It’s a nice character dynamic, though as the story follows the protagonists from 9th-grade onward, it dwells less on character development than on high school dating how-tos: how soon is too soon to call someone after a date? Should you sit next to the girl, or across from her? Kawashita draws good figures in a sparse style, although the story hinges on the fact that most of the characters have the same face; as a female artist drawing a shonen romantic comedy, her work is full of leggy, pneumatic women but lacks the fetishistic close-ups of, say, Masakazu Katsura and Yasuhiro Kano.
Today I was thinking how much I love really, really long manga series. 42 volumes of Dragon Ball. 37 volumes of Boys Over Flowers. 80 (gasp, choke) volumes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, not counting “Stone Ocean.” Although at times they can get repetitive, these long manga have some of the most satisfying storytelling and really reward you for getting into them. (Or maybe I’m just obsessive.)
And yet there are disadvantages as well — (1) they cost a lot of money (2) it’s hard to find all the volumes and (3) for publishers, it’s a HUGE risk to publish such long manga series. (They’re long because they were popular in Japan, but that popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to American sales, not to name names *cough* Firefighter *cough* Harlem Beat *cough* .) I’ve written up my thoughts on really long manga in my latest “Manga Salad” at comixology.com. Please check it out!
Today’s winner is Julie H. from California! Congratulations, Julie! We also have a new photo from a winner — Andrew Ho! Andrew won “Sarai”, the sci-fi postapocalyptic maid manga by Masahiro Shibata. Thanks for sending us your photo and showing us again that real people are actually winning this manga. I’ll be sending you some more (and possibly less maid-tastic) manga right away!