Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Mizuki Kawashita
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Advanced)
MSRP: $7.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Who would you pick?
There are many choices that pop up in our lives whether its choosing the right college to go to after High school or pondering what career track you would like to follow after that. In Strawberry 100%, our boy Junpei Manaka is cursed with picking between a number of girls that develop feelings for him. Will he go with the cute and brilliant writer or the saucy and very bosomy flirt? Maybe he prefers the girl that once became his girlfriend? Oh yeah, these choices are enough to make a boy’s head explode.
In Volume 7, Junpei ran into his old flame, Tsukasa and then spent a day with the busty and bouncy Satsuki as he realizes that he might still have feeling for one of them and the other, well, is the victim of a one-sided love. Junpei does realize that, despite her playful flirting, Satsuki is really in love with him and this could end badly if he doesn’t put a stop to it. So, in Volume 8, when Junpei’s seventeenth birthday arrives, he refuses a gift Satsuki bring him in school. As it turns out, this wasn’t such a very good idea on Junpei’s part. He even refuses the Aya’s gift but, in the end, accepts both gifts anyway.
With Satsuki not only disappointed and hurt to the point that she fails to show up in the film study club meeting, Junpei decides to place all his efforts on his film project that new member, Misuzu, keeps pushing him to cast. Instead, Junpei spends his time hanging out with Tsukasa who works in a pastry store near his part-time movie theater job. He even somehow feels guilty spending time after work with his ex-girlfriend that he doesn’t tell his friends or Aya about it until one day Misuzu spots a girl she thinks is perfect for the role of the hero’s love interest for their film project.
As it turns out, the girl is Tsukasa and she accepts to be in the movie when Junpei reluctantly asks her. Having seen her in a cute dress – after inadvertently walking in on her changing clothes – Junpei does begin to think that she would be perfect for the role. So, during a school break, everyone (including Hiroshi and Rikiya) decide to head out to the country for the shoot. It feels funny to Junpei that Tsukasa and Aya will be in the same place together on this trip. Even Amachi manages to show up later.
As fate would have it, Junpei and Aya are late arrivals having shared a train together. On top of that, a storm is brewing and the cabins where they were going to meet the others isn’t easy to find. When the rain starts pouring, Junpei and Aya find refuge in an abandoned cabin after having fallen in a pond. So now its raining and getting dark and their clothes are wet so what are two young High school kids suppose to do?
Ok, I’ll admit that we’ve seen this scenario a hundred times before in other manga and the outcome is always the same to the point that it’s not surprising at all. Still, Kawashita is still able to turn what other manga just turns into an excuse to see the cute girl in her underwear into a truly awkward moment that alters these two characters relationship. In an earlier scene, Junpei admits something to Aya when it is revealed that her story that was published won a literary award. It’s interesting to see that there’s more to their relationship than just flirting and dancing around the obvious.
During the field trip, another interesting development occurred between Junpei and Tsukasa when the group was paired up for a test of courage Hiroshi came up with during their film shoot. The two end up together as Tsukasa tells Junpei something that confuses and worries him at the same time. Clearly, there is something between them but what exactly that might be remains to be seen. What is obvious is that Tsukasa was actually glad that Junpei decided to take the acting role as the movie’s lead.
Volume 8 of Strawberry 100% becomes deliciously complex as Junpei attempts to make heads or tails of his growing feelings for Aya or his newly rekindled affection for Tsukasa. As the club’s movie project brings the two girls together, things are really getting interesting in this sweet and compelling manga series that has everything for everyone.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Junpei’s attempts not to mislead Satsuki and Aya during his birthday but only ends up upsetting one girl and confusing another. Even when he’s focusing on his new film project, he finds himself caught in another girl-related mess when he is stuck in an abandoned cabin with Aya. Also, could it be that he still has feelings for Tsukasa? It’s definitely not easy being Junpei.
The art is still absolutely gorgeous after eight volumes and that’s saying a lot right there. This is certainly a very visually appealing manga series.
Things are getting complex in Junpei’s romantic life and we couldn’t be more excited about what happens in the next volume of Strawberry 100%. Volume 8 is an excellent example that a manga can have plenty of fan service but still be a captivating story with depth and feeling. It’s also a fun little story to boot.