Strawberry Marshmallow Encore OAV


        For the 4th post of my “12 moments of anime 2009” series I’m choosing Nobue’s expression of Moe and Mono no Aware towards Chika, Miu, Ana, and Matsuri in Ichigo Marshmallow Encore OAV 2.

        I really loved how this episode portrayed what I feel is the true spirit of Moe, and what I mean by this is how Nobue gets enjoyment (non-sexual) from watching “cute girls doing cute things”.

         I’ve always felt that there’s almost no better example of someone enjoying the Moe aesthetic than how Nobue takes pleasure in watching Chika, Miu, Ana, and Matsuri being cute little girls. Nobue takes pleasure in enjoying the girls’ innocence, not in any sort of sexual manner, it’s like she sees them as a younger version of herself, not yet cynical, untouched by the baser realities of teenage life; longing for boyfriends, sex, smoking, having to work for money, and so forth. I think that Nobue’s pleasure in watching the girls is also an expression of  her appreciation of the principle of Mono no Aware, she knows that sooner or later the girls will exchange their childhood innocence for a more worldly adult experience, and she chooses to enjoy every last moment of their childhood.

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     This episode begins with a skit in involving the girls sitting around doing their homework and Miu getting Chika to scratch an itch that she can’t reach herself. Then we find out that Nobue is trying to quit her smoking habit, Chika tells her that there’s no way it’s possible, and they end up making a bet involving bathroom usage, and another task.

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      Then we get a little skit where Miu copies all of Chika’s expressions and mannerisms, ending with Miu getting a picture of Chika acting real silly, and a face plant for Miu. After we watch how Ana and Matsuri interact with each other, the scene switches to Miu and Chika where Miu asks Chika if they’re just friends of best friends? Chika asks if there’s a difference, and Miu says she thinks there is, so she rushes off to ask Nobue. While Chika is listening to some music Miu bugs Nobue about the difference between friends and best friends. Nobue walks out of the room and texts her classmate about what their status with each other is?

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       A little while later, Ana and Matsuri show up, and when they enter the room Miu ambushes Matsuri and threatens to write on Matsuri’s forehead unless Ana plucks out her nose hairs and sticks them on her eyebrows. Nobue walks in and grabs Ana and tells Miu that if she doesn’t unhand Matsuri she’ll stick her fingers up Ana’s nose or even kiss Ana. Soon, Chika gets upset at the noise and Nobue and Miu let go of the girls, and Nobue tells Ana and Matsuri that Miu was checking how close they are.

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       Miu says that Ana and Matsuri are pretty close, best friends? Both Ana and Matsuri say yes without a moment’s thought. How close? They tell Miu that they’re close at school, they play after school, they have matching cellphone stickers, and they text each other all the time. Well, Miu says that she and Chika text each other all the time, so she demands to see Matsuri’s phone so she can look at their texts. When Matsuri hands the phone over, all of Matsuri’s and Ana’s text are nice, cute, and sugary sweet texts to each other, so much so that Miu’s on the floor laughing.

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        Then Miu tells Nobue to look and see how best friends text each other, when she see Matsuri’s messages she says how cute, and when Miu shows everybody her and Chika’s messages, everybody feels sorry for Chika. Then Miu sends a sugary sweet text to Chika, and her response is to blow Miu off. Then Miu asks how far Ana and Matsuri have gone, Miu says she’s kissed Chika, and they’ve even touched each others tits a long time ago, so she asks Nobue if that makes them best friends? Well, when Miu goes to talk to Chika, it looks like Nobue told Miu that they’re liable to be lesbians, Miu gets another face plant. Matsuri asks Ana what’s “liable to be Lesbians” mean, and Ana tells her that she doesn’t need to know.

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        Nobue asks the girls what her status is with them? After a short pause, Miu tells her she’s a boss, and a second later her classmate texts her back saying, Nobue is a boss! Well, poor Nobue tells them that she guesses that she doesn’t have any best friends. Ana and Matsuri tell Nobue that she’s best friends with them, but Nobue says that their ages are too different. Both Ana and Matsuri say they don’t understand the age difference thing but they love her anyways, this instantly cheers Nobue up. Then the question of how close Ana and Matsuri comes up again with Matsuri being asked if she would give up one of her organs to save Ana’s life if it wouldn’t kill her? Of course she would, and Ana would do the same for Matsuri. Then Miu asks Chika the same question  in a Miu manner, but when Chika hears the details she agrees that she would save Miu, making Miu very happy, but Miu tells Chika she wouldn’t give her an organ.

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       As Miu is getting ready to leave, she looks at everyone and goes off on them, she tells them that they’re boring, they do them same thing all the time, and she does mocking impersonations of everyone. Her impression of Nobue is just perfect, I’m an old lady that likes cute little girls, Chika agrees with Miu’s act, and both Miu and Chika get a face plant from Nobue. Miu tells Nobue that she has to prepare for the day that they become junior high school girls. Oh, the horror of that thought, poor Nobue is in tears. Chika tells Miu that this is too sudden for Nobue, so Miu wants to slowly prepare her for that day. So, all the girls including Nobue put on sailor uniforms, and Miu wants to take them to the world where they have left grade school.

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       So, Miu explains her vision of life after grade school to everyone, of course it’s a Miu version of the future, slighty off kilter. In her version of the future she and Chika are in eight grade, Ana’s in seventh grade, and for some reason Matsuri is still in sixth grade. Her version also includes a lot of school girl anime tropes found in many of those types of series’s. Also, in Miu’s version, everybody but her comes off bad, and she gets another face plant.

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       Later, we see Nobue looking in a store’s window at a turntable or some other thing, it looks like she was saving she money to buy it, but it’s already been sold. As Nobue is getting ready to drive off she sees a cigarette machine and pauses. Back at home Chika and Miu walk-in on Nobue having a smoke, and Chika asks her if she’s going to live up to her end of their bet. Yes. Chika calls everybody up and tells them to meet at her house, Nobue is taking everybody to the beach. At the beach, the girls have a good time and Nobue has a good time watching them play. Well, that’s all for this episode.

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Nobue’s in her Heaven & All’s right with the world.

       I’ve always felt that there’s almost no better example of someone enjoying the Moe aesthetic than how Nobue takes pleasure in watching Chika, Miu, Ana, and Matsuri being cute little girls. Nobue takes pleasure in enjoying the girls’ innocence, not in any sort of sexual manner, it’s like she sees them as a younger version of herself, not yet cynical, untouched by the baser realities of teenage life; longing for boyfriends, sex, smoking, having to work for money, and so forth. I think that Nobue’s pleasure in watching the girls is also an expression of  her appreciation of the principle of Mono no Aware, she knows that sooner or later the girls will exchange their childhood innocence for a more worldly adult experience, and she chooses to enjoy every last moment of their childhood.

From William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experiance (1789)

Nurse’s Song (or Nobue’s song)

     

    When the voices of children are heard on the green
    And laughing is heard on the hill,
    My heart is at rest within my breast
    And everything else is still. 
    “Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down
    And the dews of night arise;
    Come, come, leave off play, and let us away
    Till the morning appears in the skies.” 
    “No, no, let us play, for it is yet day
    And we cannot go to sleep;
    Besides, in the sky the little birds fly
    And the hills are all cover’d with sheep.” 
    “Well, well, go & play till the light fades away
    And then go home to bed.”
    The little ones leaped & shouted & laugh’d
    And all the hills echoed.

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       After a hellish couple of days at work, I’m going to do something I don’t normally do, I’m going to give a quick impression of the Ichigo Mashimaro Encore OAV RAW. Usually I don’t review RAWs because my Japanese language skills aren’t good enough for a in-depth review but I’m so tired that I don’t have the energy for a full episode review of something else. So, I’ll just list the skits, and show a few screen caps, then I’ll join Ayu and dream of taiyaki with her.

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       The first skit involves Chika getting some prank phone calls, whenever she answers the phone no one says anything to her, then Miu gets pranked too.

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       Now some caps from the opening.

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      The next skit is about Miu dying after trying to pull off a standing back flip, Miu ends up being judged by Nobue and sent to hell.

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      After managing to get past the devil Chika, Miu takes a elevator to heaven where she meets the angel Ana, Miu manages to trick Ana into giving her a set of boobs and wings. Miu then uses her wings in a escape attempt, only to be foiled by Nobue.

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       Once Miu finally wakes up from her fall, she’s back in the room with the other girls, and she discovers to her disappointment that everything is back to normal. Then the girls end up at a school field trip where Chika discovered that she forgot some of her school supplies, and Miu calls Nobue, forcing Nobue to make a trip to bring the supplies.

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      Once Nobue gets to the location, Miu proceeds to piss off Nobue with her usual antics, and she suffers Nobue wrath. Then the girls just kind of wander around the place looking cute, and doing cute things. Then the girls finally settle down to do their sketching and painting assignments, while Ana, Matsuri, and Chika try to be serious, Miu just sketches silly and ecchi drawings.

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        Here’s some caps from the ending.

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       Well, here’s my quick impression of the RAW. I feel that the animation style for this OAV is a little different from the previous iterations, while the girls are still drawn very cute I feel that the four younger girls are drawn looking younger than before. I also feel that Miu’s face looks a little chunkier that usual. The girls all still have their usual personality traits; Miu is still Miu, dense and silly; Ana is extremely cute; Matsuri is cute and vulnerable; Chika is still kind of the foil to Miu’s silliness; and Nobue still gets her moe enjoyment from the girls,and she still favors Matsuri. Oh, I also found the devil Chika and angel Ana to be over the top in cuteness. Overall, I found this OAV to be quite enjoyable and relaxing, so I hope that this OAV will either be released on DVD or get a official online release.