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...completely derivative yet oddly enjoyable [series], which is best known in yuri circles for stealing characters, symbols and whole scenes from well-known yuri anime and manga series, putting them all into a blender and emerging with the anime version of a Long Island Iced Tea.
Nagisa Aoi is a New Transfer Student at St. Miator high, one of three Elaborate University High all-girls schools on Astraea Hill. The three schools share a common set of "strawberry-shaped dorms" as well as a reputation for "interschool romances". On her first day, Nagisa stumbles into a mysterious figure known as the "Etoile" and finds herself uncontrollably drawn to her. Her new roommate, in turn, promptly develops a crush on Nagisa.
Strawberry Panic! finds its origin a series of illustrated short stories by Sakurako Kimino and like most series with its setting, it deliberately evokes a shoujo-like artstyle and pacing, (though being released near the MariMite anime certainly invites a specific comparison).
A major departure is the series knowing its Seinen cute-loving (although both novel and manga ran in Shonen magazines) fanbase and treating its melodrama, clichés, characterization, and male-free Love Dodecahedrons with absolute straightforwardness to the point of a Stealth Parody. This fact can sometimes turn people off, but after realizing that the series is fundamentally poking fun at the genre (while still delivering an enjoyably sappy love story in its own right) it can be quite enjoyable.
One thing to keep in mind when watching SP! is that the series developed from a rather unusual process, and all of the matchups are based on reader polls done in the magazine in which the manga was originally published. This makes some of the more ridiculous pairings more understandable, since the writers had to try and find a way to make the pairings that the readers wanted. Considering what they had to work with, the series is truly a tribute to its fans, however its level of Fanservice is quite a few shades lower than most similar series.
The anime in particular has proven to be a very Love It or Hate It series, with many detesting it for its stereotype characters, simple plot and ridiculous scenarios, while many love it for its genuine "Pure Love Story" style (in an academic sense, a sort of Neo-Dolce Stil Novo), great amount of character development, and moments of true drama.
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council
- Almost Kiss: Shizuma gets a kiss interrupted almost every other episode near the beginning of the series.
- Arranged Marriage: Miyuki
- Attempted Rape: Hikari by Kaname, twice. Yaya even does it once too. Oh, poor Hikari always being taken advantage of by everyone.
- Awful Truth: The death of Shizuma's lover, Kaori, is why she is constantly changing girlfriends and is unable to make deep connections. She was once lively and energetic, but after Kaori died due to her illness, she went into a state of depression.
- Bait and Switch Credits: We do not remember a Chiyo×Nagisa×Tamao threesome, like in the begining of the second opening.
- Bait and Switch Lesbians: Averted oh-so-hard. Numerous female/female pairings show open affection for each other, kiss, and have (off-screen) sex.
- Beach Episode: Though interestingly, not a filler episode, as they usually are; instead, a pretty important moment in the series' story arc, where Nagisa first starts to realize what the pounding in her heart around Shizuma might mean.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Much of the interaction between Tsubomi and Yaya hints at this.
- Amane and Kaname (good and "evil" versions, respectively).
- The light novel and manga also gives us Kusanagi Makoto (who also happens to attend Spica).
- Bifauxnen and Ladette: Amane and Kaname again.
- Bow Ties Are Cool: Kagome's teddy bear, Percival, has one.
- Broken Bird: Shizuma
- Cannot Spit It Out
- Cast Full of Gay: Yes.
- Chekhov's Gun: Tamao reading a book with 'Prosper Mérimée' on the cover, who wrote the Carmen novella that ended up being the play selected in episode fifteen.
- Chick Magnet: Nagisa, Hikari, and Kizuna in the visual novel; each one has nine potential girls they can end up with: Chiyo, Tsubomi, Kagome, Tamao, Yaya, Remon, Shizuma, Amane, and Chikaru.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Kagome is not involved in any of the intrigue going on, instead preferring to stare at nearby butterflies, pick flowers, or take sudden naps with her teddy bear, Percival.
- The Chosen One: Amane, at least according to Kaname.
- Cool Big Sis: Chikaru seems to be as much therapist to the younger girls (especially Nagisa and Hikari) as any of her (many) other duties.
- Cosplay Otaku Girl: Chikaru runs the costume club and enjoys putting her "favourite" girls in alluring, lolita-style costumes.
- Dead Little Sister
- Depending on the Writer: One of the most prominent examples is Kaname; her light novel and manga incarnation is a completely different character than her anime version. She does not attempt to rape Hikari and makes it very clear that Amane is the one she is in love with; she's still a Large Ham but more in a theatrical sense. She also looks completely different — her anime incarnation is an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, while her light novel and manga incarnation is a Dark-Skinned Blond.
- Dojikko: Chiyo.
- Dreaming of a White Christmas
- Elaborate University High: Three different ones on the same campus. Its the trope picture as well.
- Expy: Miyuki Rokujo, in both appearance and personality, is remarkably similar to Marimite's Yoko Mizuno.
- Fan Service
- First Girl Wins
- Foreign Language Title
- Gayngst: Ultimately averted! Not one, but several happy endings in a yuri series? Someone must not have gotten the memo.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Kagome and her teddy bear Percival.
- Gratuitous English: Kaname's speech to Amane after their tennis match.
- Gratuitous French
- Hair Decorations: Nearly everyone has ribbons, bows and hair baubles.
- Harem Seeker: Chikaru mentions in the light novel that she wanted to make the girls of Lulim her harem.
- Heel Face Turn: Kaname in episode 25; low-key, but she did do something nice for no particular personal benefit.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Inversion; Romantic Two-Girl Friendship tends to be the exception and mostly affects the younger characters.
- Hufflepuff House: Lulim. In the anime, they also do not send participants for the Etoile election.
- Ill Girl: Kaori
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
- Knight in Shining Armor: Amane, who even pulls off a horseback rescue at one point.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Amane in episode 24 and 25.
- Last-Minute Hookup
- Late for School
- Love Triangle: Yaya/Hikari/Amane and Tamao/Nagisa/Shizuma.
- Love Dodecahedron: Most of them center on the Miator students and eventually lead back to Nagisa and/or Shizuma, but unrequited crushes abound. Shizuma herself is the universally idolized Onee-Sama of Astraea.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places
- The library is used as a place for couples to have romantic trysts.
- Shizuma and Kaori, who is terminally ill once make love outdoors, in the evening.
- Meido: Anime episode 5. It's a custom at Miator to help your seniors clean up their room and wear a maid dress doing it. Of course, thanks to a useful plot turn, everyone ends up as maids as punishment.
- Meet Cute: Nagisa and Shizuma in the forest. Nagisa asks her for directions, and Shizuma leans in to kiss a captivated Nagisa... who faints.
- Moe Couplet: Nagisa has this relationship with Tamao in Strawberry Panic!, despite being in an Official Couple.
- Naive Newcomer: Nagisa. And Chiyo.
- Not So Stoic: Shizuma, episode 18: "Kaori...Kaori...Kaori..." Holy fucking shit! Shizuma again in episode 23.
- Not What It Looks Like: When Amane tries to help Nagisa up after she fell off the fence, Shizuma angrily orders her to back off and stick to Hikari. Amane even says it's not what it looks like.
- Oblivious Admirer: Chiyo re: Nagisa, although Chiyo might just be a closet Otaku Surrogate.
- Oblivious to Love: Nagisa has no clue about Tamao's feelings and doesn't notice Chiyo's blatant fangirling. She also takes a good long while to realize why Shizuma mesmerizes her so much. Hikari seems to not notice Yaya's increasingly obvious hints of affection.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Shizuma. We do occasionally see where she ends up afterward, though.
- Onee-Sama: Shizuma
- One-Gender School
- One Head Taller: Amane and Hikari
- Overtook the Manga: The manga series was canceled after two volumes, although the story is finished in the light novels.
- Panty Shot: Doesn't happen, but it was lampshaded.
Nagisa: Wha?! Oh no! Someone might see my panties!
- Plot Based Photograph Obfuscation: Done on photographs of the character mentioned directly below this trope, at least, until the flashback episode.
- Posthumous Character: Shizuma's deceased lover Kaori.
- Psycho Lesbian: Two of them, Kaname and Momoni, who double as Well-Intentioned Extremist Chessmasters that launch an Evil Plan to threaten Amane into become Etoile... a plan which involves molesting Hikari. However, everyone else is a lesbian as well, so the Unfortunate Implications typically inherent in the trope are pretty much absent.
- Really Gets Around: It's implied quite a bit that Shizuma jumped from one girls bed to another, before meeting Nagisa, as a way to cope with the death of Kaori.
- Red String of Fate: In the form of Tamao's ribbon.
- Renaissance Woman: Chikaru is the head of Lulim's student council, which means she is great in any school subject. She leads the costume club and makes the costumes herself, is a highly talented actress, can cook really well and can help on any problem you might ever have. All this and more come with her being always friendly, cheerful and nice as well as being a real beauty, even for this series' standards. There is a reason why she is so popular in-universe as well as the Ensemble Darkhorse of the story.
- Replacement Goldfish: For a while, it seemed that Shizuma was using Nagisa as just a Replacement Goldfish for Kaori. At least, Rokujo seemed to think so. Then things got complicated.
- Rose-Haired Girl: Tsubomi
- Sailor Fuku: Lulim's students wear them. The students of Miator wear uniforms seemingly based on Elegant Gothic Lolita dresses, while Spica has a futuristic vibe (but not much).
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Chikaru wears them in the Beach Episode
- Schoolgirl Lesbians
- Series Hiatus: The third volume of the manga is likely never going to be released, although the two existing volumes, plus two never-before-published chapters were eventually published. Poor sales kept Seven Seas from releasing the third light novel, resulting in a No Export for You; however, the complete novel, including the final volume was released in June 2011.
- Shout-Out: Allegedly, the main character was named "Nagisa" as a reference to the Iczer series.
- Shower of Angst: As a result of rampant unrequited love and general Fan Service
- Shy Blue-Haired Girl: Chiyo
- Shrinking Violet: Chiyo
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Arguably, the second ED. Just as the series is taking a turn for the dramatic the original ED is replaced by a very happy go lucky song filled with Les Yay overtones in which the singers are two dimensional paper dolls in several colourful settings. At one point the contrast is nothing short of appalling, after Nagisa breaks down crying in a very emotional moment the episode comes to an end with her sobbing and then Extreme Sugariness follows. However, this is only the ending credits track, the opposite happens to the opening theme, turning from a quite light-hearted but still Les Yay soft rock song to a serious, emotional piece (complete with new title animation).
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: This is kind of the series finale, getting used in Does This Remind You of Anything? fashion
- Spell My Name with an "S": In some subs, they spell it Le Rim. On the banner in the series it is spelled Le Lim. In the translation of the light novels and manga, it's spelled "Lulim." And in yet other subs, it's spelled "Lilim"...
- Squee: In the English translation of the Strawberry Panic! manga, Shizuma's fangirls react to her this way.
- Stalker with a Crush: Tamao's pursuit of Nagisa leads her into downright creepy territory at times, including scaring Nagisa so Tamao can record her screams. Some fans seem to think Nagisa should have been paired with her instead of Shizuma at the end. Chiyo-chan can get rather strange about Nagisa at times too.
- Stealth Parody: Although it could well be that the makers are actually being serious — heaven forbid!
- Strawberry Shorthand
- Student Council President: Three of 'em, plus the Etoile(s).
- The Mourning After: Shizuma begins to spiral into this before she meets Nagisa, due to the death of Kaori.
- Those Two Girls: Kizuna and Remon
- The Seven Mysteries: Figures heavily in one episode, with Nagisa and Tamao deciding to investigate the first mystery, "The Girl in the Hallway" despite the latter's fear of ghosts.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kaname and Momoni; Amane and Hikari.
- Took a Level in Badass: The third time Kaname tries to rape Hikari, the girl shoves her away, tells her Amane will always be better than her, then leaves in a huff.
- Tsundere: Tsubomi, in spades.
- Umbrella of Togetherness: Lampshaded even when Shizuma exclaims that she found out the secret of the umbrella: "It is actually too big. It's made for two."
- Underwater Kiss: The trope page image.
- Visual Novel: One for Strawberry Panic! was released in 2006.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Shizuma.
- Whole-Episode Flashback
- Yaoi Guys: In the light novel and manga, Shion had this in mind when she paired up Amane and Kaname together for the Etoile competition. Amane is not amused.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair
- Yuri Genre: A cluster of three schools populated entirely by Schoolgirl Lesbians is the setting.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Grade C seems to be the norm and Yaya wears genuine Grade A.