Yuri Anime Review: Strawberry Panic

strawberry panic yuri anime

Coming up just short in our Which Anime Should We Review Next? poll was Strawberry Panic, but when it comes to yuri anime, they don’t get much more legendary than this one, so it had to be what we reviewed next. More than a decade after its premiere, this is still one of the titans of yuri media, so it’s about time we gave it its due~

Synopsis: Aoi Nagisa transfers to one of the three affiliated all-girl Catholic schools on Astraea Hill, St. Miator’s Girls’ Academy. There, she discovers a community of fellow students entwined in an intricate hierarchy, in which two Etoiles represent the three schools. In order to fit in, Nagisa must go to class, join clubs, and make new friends. Meanwhile, Shizuma Hanazono, the sole Etoile of Astraea Hill, finds herself drawn to this new, exciting transfer student. As Shizuma and Nagisa get to know each other, Shizuma finally decides it is time to face her troubled past.

Year: 2006
Length: 26 Episodes
Genre: Drama, Romance, School, Yuri

Right off the bat, I love that this show was twenty-six episodes. You go down a list of yuri anime, and you rarely see shows that have more than the standard twelve episodes. More often than not, that results in a story that’s somewhat compromised, and just lacking, at least compared to its two-cour counterparts (like the excellent Simoun). Thankfully, Strawberry Panic avoided this cruel fate, and over the course of its twenty-six episodes, it methodically weaves a compelling tale of life (and love) at Strawberry Hall, the shared dorm for all three schools on Astraea Hill.

strawberry panic nagisa tamao

The main focus of the story centers around Nagisa, the new transfer student that immediately catches the eye of Shizuma, the current Etoile. The cat-and-mouse game involving these two was easily the most interesting relationship in the show for me, and once Shizuma’s traumatic past came to light, there was just an extra layer of depth there that the other relationships were lacking, in my opinion. I think Shizuma seems to be the most popular character in this show, but earlier on, I wasn’t exactly heading up the Shizuma fan club, as she came across as a seductive womanizer who was quite forceful with Nagisa. That was kind of off-putting for me, and compared to how sweet and caring Tamao always was with Nagisa, I was firmly on the Nagisa x Tamao bandwagon.

I know I’m in the minority here, but my favorite couple in the show was Hikari and Amane.

Even later on, Shizuma kisses Rokujou, so for me at least, she made it pretty hard to see her as the person that Nagisa should ultimately wind up with. Things changed a little bit when we see her tragic past with Kaori, yet I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have still preferred Tamao as the object of Nagisa’s affection instead. Nevertheless, once Shizuma finally comes to terms with what happened, it’s much easier to accept and embrace her and Nagisa being together. The ups and downs of their relationship only served to make their storybook ending all the more sweet, so at the end of the day, I guess it’s all good, and I shouldn’t complain too much~

And now that we have that out of the way, I have a bit of a confession to make. I know I’m in the minority here, but my favorite couple in the show was Hikari and Amane. As a more typical prince/princess-type relationship, neither of them carry the emotional baggage that Shizuma has to bear, so their romance lacks the extreme turbulence of Nagisa x Shizuma, and we get a cuter, more straightforward kind of love. That’s not to say that there isn’t any drama, since Hikari’s best friend, Yaya, is secretly in love with her, and Hikari becomes the target of another couple of girls who hate Amane. The courtship between Hikari and Amane is super sweet, and it’s the type of relationship where you just want the two people to immediately get together. What made things even better for me was Yaya’s role in all of this.

Despite that one (major) mistake from Yaya, I actually liked her quite a bit, and her situation with Hikari somewhat paralleled Tamao’s with Nagisa, so I guess it’s no surprise that I liked them both so much. It probably could’ve been pretty easy for her to go to the dark side once her feelings for Hikari weren’t returned, yet she saw the error of her ways, and Hikari forgave her, and she went right back to being Hikari’s rock. You feel bad for Yaya and her unrequited love, but her endless support of Hikari was amazing and probably the best way that things could have played out. And since Hikari and Amane had sex, that’s another way in which they usurp Nagisa x Shizuma for the title of Best Couple in Strawberry Panic. 😛

strawberry panic amane hikari

However, it’s not all about Tamao x Nagisa x Shizuma and Yaya x Hikari x Amane, as there are other characters that play specific roles in the series. The three student council presidents (Rokujou, Chikaru, and Shion) also play somewhat important roles, and Chikaru’s ambiguously gay duo of Kizuna and Remon were pretty entertaining, as was the adorable Kagome. I hated the even gayer duo of Kaname and Momomi, since they were just major bitches that had it out for Amane and Hikari. At least they contributed to the yuri quotient in this show, so that’s one less reason to hate them.

And where were all the adults in this show?! The head sister and Nagisa’s homeroom teacher make brief appearances, but it’s like the inmates are running the asylum. Lastly, one thing that I could’ve done without was some of the melodrama that creeped in from time to time. The time right before Amane could confess her feelings to Hikari, but her stirrup irons broke and she went flying off her horse and landed on her head? That was ridiculous, and I’ll admit that I laughed (I know, I’m a terrible person). I’m sorry, but I just think the show overdid it a few times. I don’t think it’s a very big deal, yet those moments in the show were a bit much.

So the story is a bit sappy and melodramatic, but I think it’s still pretty enjoyable, and with all the girls (there are literally ZERO male characters), this is a pure yuri anime that I think a lot of yuri fans can’t help but enjoy~

This is an older show (2006), so it’s especially hard to judge it on the visuals. The setting is kind of drab, and you’d be hard-pressed to find something within the visuals that’s particularly eye-catching, but does anyone who watches this anime care about any of that? I don’t think so. Even though it doesn’t look great, I certainly wouldn’t say that it looks bad, so more or less, the visuals of Strawberry Panic fall in line with what you’d expect from a yuri anime that’s solely focused on romance and drama.

Given the setting, it’s only natural that the music be opulent, with woodwinds, brass, and, of course, piano, up front and center. I don’t think there’s a piece of music that’s overly memorable, nevertheless, the music is perfectly suited for this show. And being two cours, that means there’s two OPs and two EDs. For me, I greatly preffered the OPs, as I thought they were simply far more catchy, and the anime scenes themselves were more interesting than the live-action footage during the EDs. That’s pretty interesting in and of itself. The only other anime that I’ve seen which had any sort of live-action theme was Nyanpire, so it was pretty surprising that this would have two of them, both featuring Nagisa and Tamao’s seiyuus, no less. Still, I think it’s all about the background music here, and whether it was something dramatic, sweet, or light-hearted, the music remained nice and high-quality.

I don’t know what more you could want in a yuri anime. With romance, drama, strong characters, an engaging story, and more, Strawberry Panic is one of the best and brightest that yuri anime has to offer. I know I’m not alone in saying that it was my first yuri anime, and several years later, I’d say it’s still in the conversation for being the best one that I’ve seen. Whether you’re new to the genre or not, this is one of the few yuri anime that you literally have to watch~

“One of my all-time favorites~”

Story: 7.5
Characters: 8.5
Animation: 7
Sound: 8
Yuri: 10
Total Enjoyment: 8

strawberry panic yuri anime


17 thoughts on “Yuri Anime Review: Strawberry Panic

  1. Still a yuri classic and, like it or not, timeless.

    While I still feel Tamao was robbed she was going up against a vampire-like hottie in Shizuma so she was at a disadvantage from the start. Either way I was on Team Tamao. Same goes for Team Yaya.

    Best girl will always be Chikaru-sama.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So much love for Tamao (and Yaya)! I’m pretty surprised, actually. 😀

      I can understand that, but I’d take Tamao’s inner beauty over Shizuma’s outer beauty any day~

      Liked by 1 person

      • Justice for Tamao and Yaya! The former is a bundle of love and joy and the latter is a sexy beast who tried a bit too hard to win. Also her love interest was kinda dull…then again both Amane and Hikari are the least interesting characters on the show to be honest. Sorry AmaHika fans.

        I get ya. Tamao is love but again Shizuma was gorgeous and had vampiric powers so it was really hard for Tamao to win, even when she had an opportunity to win she showed why she was the better girl by not taking it…as sad as that is to admit.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. YES! was looking forward to the review to this epic yuri anime! 😀 Great scores all around but I have to agree with Lena’s score of 9. I would give it a 10 but I cant stand the fact that Yaya lost Hikari to Amane T.T Have fond memories of watching the subs for this masterpiece when it first came out way back in 2006 along with Simoun. what a year for yuri 😀 On a side note I dont understand the hate for Shizuma I actually liked her and am glad she got to be with Nagisa. I like Tamao too and feel for her but Shizuma was going to win all along that was obvious. also I found Shizuma to be a good character.

    Liked by 3 people

    • 2006 was a nice year indeed, but I think there have been better years for yuri anime. If only someone would write a post talking about that very topic… 😀

      Just from seeing the cover art, it was obvious she would end up with Nagisa, but I just preferred the cuteness and sweetness of Nagisa x Tamao instead. 😛

      Funny thing is, I don’t think I felt as strongly about it the first time I watched the show. Then again, it was my first yuri anime, so I must not have had a vested interest, compared to now~


      • Lol it was my first Yuri anime too!..Now that I’ve seen a bunch I’m always hoping for a more adult version of “Sakura Trick” (like Netsuzou TRap)..lol but upon watching the first episode of Strawberry Panic I was in complete shock over Shizuma’s boldness and how everyone just went with it like fan girls..I kept thinking,” What the the HELL..is no one else seeing this shit!” So I skimmed down to the comments to see if this stuff was normal for Yuri animes, and the first one I read made me lmao with the statement “Welcome to lesbian bootcamp”, and definitely prepared me for every Yuri anime to come (well maybe not Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid..that one left me blushing in the first 3 mins).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lots of my classmates thought I was mad because I finished watching this series literally moments before leaving for an important maths exam (thankfully, I still scored 87% despite skipping revision to keep binging this!)

    Despite how much I enjoyed watching it, I thought half of the show was very wishy-washy… and yes, that put me in the majority. I didn’t like either HIkari or Amane as characters (they were a little bland) and I genuinely think their romance would have only lasted an episode or two if it weren’t for all the silly melodrama moving it. Poor Yaya though 😥 Probably the canonically good gay girl in anime I feel most sorry for (at least Chikane got the girl… kind of, Hazuki got an incredible kiss and a love confession, Paraietta moves on and I’m honestly not sure if Homura’s story is over lol)

    As for Shizuma and Nagisa… what a brilliant story they had, and one of my favourite romances ever. I couldn’t stop watching the gradual drip-drip-drip of Shizuma’s past, and Nagisa’s determination to help her. I loved that, even after all she did, it wasn’t love that helped Shizuma but she helped herself. A really very poignant message for depression that stories very rarely show (I would have seriously rolled my eyes if it was fixed that easily).

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this specific yuritopia setting, but I think Strawberry Panic is the only show to go the full-mile with the idea so I am willing to forgive it.

    I don’t think Strawberry Panic will stop being one of the most important, most opinion splitting and most essential yuri anime for a long, long time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t necessarily disagree about Hikari and Amane being a bit bland, but I love that everyone seems to feel for Yaya. 😀

      And very well said~

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aw you have to feel for Yaya, even Tamao to an extent. Both loveable and likeable characters, and loyal to a fault in some cases. They are actually both my favourite characters of the show, and neither really if you think about it get a happy ending. Both will probably be playing second fiddle to their roommates/Friends romances.

        I would expect Aoi and Tamao to be still close, you can tell Aoi really treasures her friendship with Tamao and vice versa, you can tell they are friends for life. But I think poor Yaya is on her lonesome, Hikari is the type that will spend her every living minute loved up with Amane and probably move into her digs with her lol. I find Yaya’s ending pretty tragic, I’m sure the directors/Writers threw in that happy shot with Yaya and Tsubomi to show it’s not all bad for her. But I think Tamao and Yaya’s endings were pretty sad.


  4. Pingback: Strawberry Panic | Anime Gauge

  5. I watched Strawberry Panic and Maria Watches Over Us, both my first anime’s. Over the last few days, both are excellent. At 26 episodes only, it’s a brisk watch. And the characters are fantastic and loveable, a bit like Maria, some episodes don’t quite hit the spot. But you forgive it.

    The high points of the show, Aoi is a loveable lead so you are rooting for her. Shizuma is a dislikeable character at the beginning (her throwing herself all over Aoi, was uncomfortable in places) but she wins you back around at the end, and her past storyline is touching in places. But my two favourite characters were Tamao and Yaya, both the most loveable and likeable of the group of characters. Tamao is the kind of friend anybody needs in their life, and I did think Tamao and Aoi were friends for life, unlike Hikari and Yaya. I did like the fact that they didn’t shy away from Lesbian content, you have characters making out and even going further, unlike Maria Watches Over Us, which is too chaste when it comes to their Girl on Girl stuff. Also I adored the first year students of Kagome and her bear, Tsubomi and the adorable Chihaya.

    My weaknesses of the show, like someone above said I didn’t quite like the Amane and Hikari stuff. I didn’t like the Hikari character at all, she wasn’t a terribly good friend to Yaya imo, especially all the crap that Yaya pulled Hikari out off, I don’t think she would have done the same for Yaya. Maybe that’s just me. I didn’t like that two of my favourite characters in Tamao and Yaya, didn’t get their own happy endings. If anyone deserved some love instead of Hikari it was them two. Also didn’t like the cheesy songs that played at the end of episodes, it didn’t fit the show at all.

    But overall a excellent show, that didn’t lose it’s steam. With a great central romance with Aoi and Shizuma, also a great friendship between Aoi and Tamao which is the heart and soul of the show imo. Shame that two of my favourite characters didn’t get a better ending, instead of the dull romance of Hikari and Amane. Plenty of great Yuri content. A Happy ending too, so what more can you ask for . 8.5/10


  6. best yuri anime ever made beside bloom into you.
    the story is good and enjoyable, all the spice the add into it make the story more insteresting and complex. for 2006 anime i consider this pretty good.

    i realy love to ship nagisa and tamao, especially tamao is kindheart girl type how many times tamao get her hopes up and down.

    shizuma is beter with miyuki i think , miyuki love her so much if her not paired with man since their childs , she wouldn’t hold her felling toward shizuma. she already waited for shizuma for 6 years.

    yaya same as tamao , that called love i think ,with you realize or not sometimes love can hurts others

    the biggest nonsense of this anime is the etoile system, why they should pick lover in the first place to representative them beside its only 3 years , its not a engagement or marriage which everything should be sacred. on episode 23 nagisa “rejected to become etoile” because she still love shizuma and accept it when try to get over her. In my though ” what the heck is that, you can be etoile even if you doesnt love her just do your job and graduate, you god wont angry with you even if you have lover beside your etoile partner” hahaha

    basicly i love the story, it give you a feeling of curiosity and wanted more and more .


    • Sorry for the late reply…

      I can’t really argue with that. I think it’s definitely in the conversation for best yuri anime~

      I have a soft spot for people who fall victim to unrequited love, so I definitely feel for Tamao, and part of me did want to see her end up with Nagisa instead of Shizuma.

      Shizuma x Miyuki is another pairing that makes too much sense not to have happen. I guess they’re a little too similar, and it would make for better drama if Shizuma was with someone who was more different.

      The whole system doesn’t make a ton of sense, it just seems to create more drama. This show is definitely guilty of having a lot of melodrama, and the Etoile system is probably responsible for a lot of that. 😛


  7. I also really enjoyed this anime, and I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that had Amane x Hikari as my favorite pairing. I love Yaya as a character and understand her pain (I’ve been in that situation, it sucks when your crush doesn’t like you back and you have to watch them be with someone else), however, it just isn’t right that she kissed Hikari in that one episode. I don’t blame Hikari for being upset about that, I wouldn’t like it if my best friend who I love and trust forced themself on me when they knew I was already interested in/going out with someone else. I do prefer Tamao with Nagisa a lot more than Shizuma though. And at least Tamao was a bit more respectful of what Nagisa had with Shizuma, like she didn’t force herself on her or anything despite how much it hurt.


    • I completely agree. You can be completely in love with someone, but there’s a line you just don’t cross, and Yaya crossed it. I wouldn’t blame Hikari if she no longer wanted to be friends with Yaya after that, but cooler heads prevailed, and I’m glad they eventually worked it out. That scene at the end where Yaya was happy for Hikari and Amane was soooo sweet~

      And I can totally understand preferring Tamao over Shizuma. It’s kind of like that “nice guys finish last” saying. Tamao was always respectful and kind towards Nagisa, but Nagisa chose something else. That’s the way it goes sometimes… 😛


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s