Review of Strawberry Marshmallow (2005)
A group of girls aged 10 to 11 play and do their homework. An older sister—whose elevated age in the anime is partly a case of anti-smoking censorship—often hangs out with the others, giving them treats and such.
Slice-of-life yurui comedy with the lightest possible seasoning of child porn. Even more than Azumanga Daioh (2002), Bottle Fairies (2003) or Kamichu (2005), which are all similarly based on comics from Dengeki Daioh magazine, Strawberry Marshmallow fetishizes children. Occasional hints at “romantic” emotions and a couple of sex jokes from a young troublemaker are about as explicit at it ever gets, but the girls still seem eerily objectified.
As with the other Dengeki Daioh series, it’s easy for a casual viewer to see Strawberry Marshmallow as a children’s program, but I doubt children would want to watch it. It aired in an adult time slot. Stylized cuteness and adult humour are the only sources of amusement on offer. It is most likely to be aimed at childless grown men, including but by no means limited to perverts. I have never heard of a similar piece of Western culture, and yet it’s less strange than Miss Machiko (1983), which had a broader target audience.
Miu is impressively psychopathic, and Ana’s dilemma is a typically adorable running gag: She wants to distinguish herself as an exotic foreigner but has forgotten all about the English language and her heritage. Instead she has admirably precocious insights into the minutiae of Japan, and is embarrassed about it.