Brief Review: Strawberry Marshmallow OVA and Strawberry Marshmallow Encore

I’ve been in love with Strawberry Marshmallow for years. It was one the first anime I purchased when I got a job, and it’s one of the few I’ve purchased and watched multiple times. For a show that is simply about cute girls doing cute things- Strawberry Marshmallow has made a lasting impact on me as a person and possibly shaped my anime tastes.

So, when the OVAs were finally ported to the US, I just had to have them. I had never seen the OVAs or knew what happened in them. Which is kind of strange when you think about it. I love Strawberry Marshmallow a ton, but I never sought anything on the OVAs since they weren’t available over here. All I had was the opening to Strawberry Marshmallow Encore on my ipod.

I even had no idea there were two OVA’s, so imagine my surprise when I saw that there were five episodes split between two OVA sets on my new DVD! I will never claim to be the most clever person, but I really should have known there were two OVA’s for one of my favorite series. I’m actually a little embarrassed I didn’t know for this long.

To start things off let’s talk about the release timeline for the Strawberry Marshmallow series. The original show (Strawberry Marshmallow) came out in 2005, the first OVA (Strawberry Marshmallow OVA) set released in 2007, and the final OVA (Strawberry Marshmallow Encore) was published in 2009. The same studio (Daume) and director, Takuya Satou, worked on all seasons with the other animation staff members changing consistently – from what I can see using about five minutes of Google, at least.

This information is very important because the last OVA, Strawberry Marshmallow Encore, has a completely different animation, coloring style, and feel to it compared to the previous seasons. Before I looked up the release time lines and studio information, I was under the assumption that one or both of these factors were to blame. However, since the release schedule, director, and studio is the same between the first season and the first OVA and it is between the first OVA and the second OVA- none of these are the reasons for such a stark contrast in feel and look.

The first Strawberry Marshmallow OVA reminded me a lot of the original series. It knew what I loved about the show and gave me more. Do you love when the girls just shit around Chi’s room and talk? Got it. Do you love Nobue? Got it. Do you love Miu’s jealousy? Got it.

This OVA got everything right and made it feel like the show never ended. It was such a crowd pleaser that I almost popped in my Strawberry Marshmallow DVD (because I own the original US boxset like a boss) to watch again before starting the second OVA. In hindsight, I probably should have done just that to prolong the disappointment I felt with Strawberry Marshmallow Encore.

I, honestly, don’t quite know how to describe what the opening animation for Encore is other than bad. It’s fluid, sure, but it’s  blobbed, off-putting, wacky, sloppy-looking and certainly jars you out of any enjoyment. It’s an animation that would make more sense in an Adult Swim comedy than in a niche slow-life anime.

Luckily, this strange animation is replaced with a more controlled style after the initial scenes, but the base-line feel is still lost to almost blobby character designs and a less sketchy coloring palate. Encore lacks the soft adorableness of the first series and previous OVA which makes this iteration a severe step down in comparison. While Enore isn’t very good it does retain the air of fun stories – like Miu “dying” and going to hell and heaven.

My bottom line for the Strawberry Marshmallow OVA: great for long time fans of the series, but I wouldn’t touch it if you never saw or liked Strawberry Marshmallow in the first place. The OVA’s are certainly made for fans, like most OVA’s, and though there isn’t any continuity needed to understand the show I can see these episodes being very boring for someone who doesn’t already know the girls.

Did you happen to see Strawberry Marshmallow and watch the OVA’s? Let me know what you thought in the comments! I’d love to hear more opinions on this show.

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