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Pioneer Entertainment presents
I My Me! Strawberry Eggs #1: Make Up Exam (2002)

"Being a woman is such a hassle."
- Hibiki Amawa (Yuji Kishi)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: August 22, 2002

Stars: Yuki Masuda, Yuji Kishi, Akeno Watanabe, Sally Dana, Crispin Freeman, Carrie Savage
Other Stars: Kujira, Yuji Ueda, Omi Minami, Mikako Takahashi, Fumiko Orikasa, Katashi Ishizuka, Rika Taniguchi, Eriko Kawasaki, U-ko Tachibana, Takayuki Yamaguchi, Mae Yoshikawa, J.E. Jaress, Ted Sroka, Suzy Harbulak, Jennifer Sekiguchi, Sienna Canyon, T. Axelrod, William Knight, Noel DePaula, Erica Schaffer, Jaime Gallardo, Josh Phillips
Director: Yuji Yamaguchi

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (moderate fanservice)
Run Time: 01h:32m:17s
Release Date: August 13, 2002
UPC: 013023181793
Genre: anime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+AA C+

DVD Review

"Nothing good comes from males, even if they are given an education." - Principal

Pioneer delivers the first disc of I My Me! Strawberry Eggs, a light, gender-bending comedy marketed in the US as Strawberry Eggs. Featuring character designs by Maki Fujii (Hand Maid May) and directed by Yuji Yamaguchi (Angel Links), one of the interesting features of this series is the number of cultural terms left intact in both the sub and dub versions.

Hibiki Amawa (Yuki Masuda/Yuji Kishi), a twenty-five-yea-old kyoshi (physical education instructor), looking for his first job. He is the latest tenant at Gochiso, an apartment complex run by Lulu, a little old woman who, despite her objection, is commonly referred to as Ba-chan (a shorter, more affectionate variation of obaasan, meaning grandmother). Like her other boarders, Hibiki has one little problem—having no money for rent—but it is a situation he intends to rectify by getting himself a job as the kyoshi of Seitow Sannomiya Private School, but there is a problem. He quickly discovers that the school is run by a radical femminist who believes there is no place in life for men, especially not on the staff of her high school. Knowing how things would turn out, Lulu comes up with a plan to get Hibiki his job—by transforming him into a woman! After a crash course in makeup and high heels, he applies again for the position and lands the job, on the condition he can demonstrate his teaching abilities by helping one of the students complete the 50m run.

Meet Fuko Kuzaha (Akeno Watanabe), a shy, unassuming young girl, who is also a major klutz, for whom taking three steps without falling is an accomplishment. Needless to say, with some careful guidance, Fuko eventually completes the task, forming a bond with her new sensei (teacher) as a result. Hibiki gets the job, but how long can he keep up the guise as a woman?

I My Me! Strawberry Eggs has a lot going for it over these first four episodes. The animation is bright and vibrant, making for a very enjoyable watch, and the voice acting on both Japanese and English tracks comes off very well. The story is unfolding at a comfortable pace, presenting interesting scenarios that have non-traditional resolutions. The cross-dressing creates a number of very funny situations and unusual dilemmas, such as when the girls at the dorm room invite Hibiki to bath with them, believing he is a woman. The characters are well introduced, and the principles are firmly established. Hibiki is sincere in his desire to be a good teacher, managing to juggle his dual identities, but not without the occasional slip up. Fuko is a sweet girl, whose clumsiness and doting manner is taken advantage of by her classmates, but her new teacher is sensitive to her feelings, and takes her under his wing. This relationship works well, giving the series a nice warmth, while also providing another level of humor.

To add a bit of spice to the mix, Hibiki's housemates back at Gochiso have been exploiting the building's use as a school shortcut to ply their perverted hobbies, and the show does contain a fair amount of fan service, with gratuitous panty shots showing up fairly often. While it has a good deal of charm, and certainly an abundance of humor and cuteness, there hasn't been anything yet that really puts the show over the top in terms of attraction, but it looks to have potential.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: As a very recent series, it is no surprise that the transfer looks simply gorgeous. Colors are vivid or subdued as appropriate, and black levels are bang on. Defects are practically nonexistent, limited to a few instances of interlacing during very fast side to side movement. There is no aliasing, no compression problems, and no cross-coloration.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Stereo audio is available in original Japanese or English dub. Both have clean, nicely balanced soundtracks, with good separation and no defects. The soundstage is reasonably directional, with dialogue sticking pretty much to center.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gatekeepers, Vandread: Second Stage, Fushigi Yugi: Eikoden
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Clean opening credits
  2. Art gallery
  3. Student roll call video
Extras Review: Pioneer has put together another nice package for this series. The menus are classroom-themed, with a chalkboard for the selections, and the main menu has an English voiceover introduction. The opening of the show features soft subbed English credits over the original Japanese, however subsequent sequences have hard credits. There has been no overlaying of Japanese sign or title text, so translations are available soft subbed.

In the extras department, there is a full color, seven image art gallery, and the textless opening animation sequence. The series has a large ancillary cast, so this first disc includes an 8m:56s featurette introducing the male students in a mock roll call. This is available in English or in Japanese with subtitles, however watching the Japanese version requires either lightening fast reading skills or copious use of the pause button to catch everything going on. A submenu allows selecting an individual character, and also features line art of their design. Like any series with an ensemble this large, I would prefer a hard printed guide to supplement this type of feature.

A trailer reel with Gatekeepers, Vandread: Second Stage and Fushigi Yugi: Eikoden is also included.

The packaging keeps the school theme, listing this as the "first quarter." Aside from an episode list, there is a glossary of some of the Japanese terms, opposite a mini poster of Hibiki (in drag), his dog, plus Fuko and a few schoolmates.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Strawberry Eggs has what counts—great characters, nice aesthetics, a fun story, and some hilarious situations. All said and done, it may not be the best series out there, but it certainly kept a smile on my face through its entire run time, and I'm looking forward to more.

 


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