Reviewed by: LittleWoodenBoy
Released by: TokyoPop
Publishing Country: USA
Age Rating: 13+
Page Count: 184
Follow the lives of Nobue Ito, her younger sister Chika, and her friends Miu and Matsuri--these cute girls try to solve problems and help each other out in the most adorable ways! Whether it's helping someone to quit smoking or organizing a sleepover at a friend's house, these girls always remain a joyful treat in this slice-of-life delight!
Strawberry Marshmallow (or Ichigo Mashimaro to give it its Japanese title) is a manga that follows the every day exploits of a group of young girls. There's the Ito sisters, the older, Nobue, a chain smoking and drinking 16 year old and her younger sister Chika, who generally ends up playing the straight man (or should that be girl?) role. The hyperactive Miu lives next door and generally can't help herself from constantly coming over and bringing with her a little chaos. The group is rounded off by Matsuri, a crybaby that lives in the local neighbourhood, and her pet ferret John.
There is no overall plot to the series, so each chapter is standalone. Which makes it very easy to dip in and out of. A lot of the chapters are based around fairly normal events such as what happens when Chika runs late for school or Nobue trying to give up smoking. While this might not sound like a thrilling premise for a series, it works as its all about the characters and their reactions. Its a dangerous read out in public as it will have you chuckling away for a lot of it, whether its Chika being thrown in a bin or Matsuri wearing cat ears and having to meow at the end of every sentence.
The artwork is good and rather cutesy, however it does change in style over the course of the volume which can be a little confusing as to who is who in certain frames. Not that this is by any means a deal breaker. By the end of the volume, Barasui has settled into a groove which is retained in later volumes.
Overall, its not a series for everyone, people looking for a decent plot and action need not apply. But for anyone that enjoys a good giggle and slice of life series, like Azumanga Daioh, would do well to check it out.
They're currently up to volume 5 in US, but we're unsure of Japanese releases or how many volumes Tokyo Pop will split it into.