Ichigo Mashimaro

July 14, 2007

This reminds me of a younger version of Azumanga Daioh. How so? Because there are cute little girls, cute little girls and cute little girls. No, I don’t have a fetish for little girls nor do I have a lolita complex. But that’s what I think when I watched Ichigo Mashimaro or literally Strawberry Marshmallow in English.
 
So if you go "Eeeeeyeeerr… So cute… So adorable.. So kawaii…" whenever you see such little kids, then I think you’d probably want to have a look at this anime as well since cuteness is the main theme. Cute girls doing cute things in a cute way. Therefore, cuteness is definitely guaranteed. Have I mentioned cuteness too many times? Now isn’t that cute?
 
This series has only 12 episodes so there are enough cuteness to go by. Luckily it doesn’t span 100 of episodes so much so that the cuteness appeal would’ve been lost over time. And probably by that time too, those little girls would’ve grown up and become pretty and sexy teenage ladies. Just kidding. Though this series is of a comedy genre, you won’t really be laughing every single second of it (okay, most of the time). A little bit of character bonding, drama and slice of life as well.
 
Of course the first episode starts off by introducing our main protagonists of the show. We see Nobue Itou, a 20 year old college student who rides a scooter and is a habitual smoker. She’s like the big sister among the other main characters in the series. She’s a little annoyed that she ran out of cigarettes and proceeds to go to her little 12 year old sister’s room, Chika, to borrow some money. Since Chika’s got a headphone on, she can’t hear a thing as Nobue decides to play a little prank on her but ends up slipping herself. Would you give more credit to somebody who is a bad pay master? Well, yeah. Chika isn’t going to lend her.
 
Then suddenly come ‘flying’ into Chika’s room from her window is their next door neighbour Miu Matsuoka. Unfortunately, she tripped and she fall face flat on the floor. Yes! This Miu girl is my favourite character and the main reason why I watched this series in the first place. Also because of her, I feel that the entire series is funny because of her or else it woul be just plain and dull. How interesting is Miu? In one word, she’s a brat. Okay, maybe that’s not enough to describe her. In addition, she’s a troublemaker, mischevious, naughty, irritating, instigator, suka cari pasal and all those equivalent words you could think of. And everytime she does or say something bad enough, she’ll get her typical punishment. That is, you’ll see her lying face flat down on the ground with her arms spread out. Though we won’t get to see the process of how she ended up like that, but seeing the end result is funny enough to make you laugh because the scene changes quickly to this ‘punishment’ with a short moment of silence. Hahaha. I love this part when it happens to Miu. This will happen at least once in every episode. Trademark. Sorry if I sound like a sadist. But I think Miu is one too and she deserves it in a way. Sometimes you might feel like you want to strangle and punch her in the first but because she’s just a 12 year old and look cute in doing it (even if it’s totally wrong), you may think otherwise.
 
After some whatever blabbings from Miu, another friend of theirs comes ringing their door bell. It’s the 11 year old besepctacled Matsuri Sakuragi. She is the most naive and gullible girl I have ever known. Because of that, she is often made the teasing subject for Miu. Poor girl. I wonder if she really understands what’s going on. Yeah, a crybaby too. But luckily, she’s got ‘big sis’ Nobue to comfort and ‘protect’ her from the ‘evil’ Miu. So which means, the usually cheerful Chika is the only ‘normal’ one I find among the gang. Anyway, she came crying because of somebody eating her pudding…?! But as usual Nobue comforts her but Miu too wants some pudding and shows her teary eye innocent face to Nobue. Yeah, she ends up outside the roof with her typical punishment face down.
 
So as Nobue eventually left to get some cigarettes, more antics and disturbings from Miu on Chika and Matsuri like Miu trying to wrestle Matsuri wearing some face mask and sunglasses…?! I wonder how they could all really tolerate her. But the main thing about this episode is that Nobue’s birthday is coming soon and the trio are pondering what to give to her as a birthday present. Since they notice Nobue likes to smoke, they’re thinking of making a paper ashtray. Since they want it to be a surprise, they’re trying their best not to let Nobue find out what they’re doing. Of course Miu is up to her no good again like after pestering Chika to cook because she can’t work on an empty stomach, she goes to sleep. Haih… Not only that, when they’re halfway making the present, because they’re little kids, they start to doze off and Miu whacks them awake with a paper fan and tells them not to sleep on the job. She’s the one to tell because Miu herself too fell asleep and gets a taste of her own medicine from Chika.
 
By the end of the day, Nobue comes home and after a shower, she enters Chika room to see the trio sleeping soundly. Well the place is kinda messy and looks like they managed to finish it and even wrote some colourful notes as birthday card messages. Nobue reads them and feels quite touched, that is, until she reads Chika’s one which says something about her body size (big, growing, fat, I suppose). Would any girl that age feel insulted? Yeah, Nobue takes a marker pen and wrote something on Chika’s left cheek. The next day as the 3 little girls head for school we see the words written on Chika’s cheek which goes something like "Currently running away from home". I guess Nobue’s pretty satisfied she got her revenge and her birthday present. Though, I’m not really sure the meaning or implication of that line.
 
Episode 2 introduces another 11 year old to the gang. She’s Ana Coppola from Cornwall, England. I was surprised that Ana’s voice actress is no other than the talented Mamiko Noto. It did remind me of her when I first heard her voice. But there’s something strange about Ana. No doubt she’s from England, she can’t actually speak proper English and she is very fluent in Japanese! Reminds me of my case, a banana ;p. Because of that, the newly transferred Ana is telling herself that she must’nt let other people know that she can speak Japanese. However, while doing this on her way to school, she’s already busted because Miu and Chika by coincidence cross paths.
 
And in school, she got into the same class with Matsuri and at first Matsuri is quite afraid of her as Ana takes her seat next to hers. But overtime, these 2 will become friends as Matsuri finds out about her secret and knows that Ana is a nice and polite girl and decides to help keep her secret. So in class, Ana just sit there keeping quiet, trying not to have any conversation with her classmates as it may leak her embarrassing secret. So the reason they conclude about her non-talkativeness is that she’s a foreigner who doesn’t seem to be fluent with Japanese yet. But at times, Ana’s secret comes close to being exposed as Ana herself isn’t cautious like how she first writes her name on the blackboard using hiragana letters and how she says the traditional "Itadakimasu" line before her meal and even had brought chopsticks for her bento. So Ana tries to cover up by clumsily using the chopsticks in an awkward way. Perhaps they’re all little kids that they can’t tell Ana’s acting or maybe really blur. By the way, there’s a kid in their class, Sasazuka, who’s always being picked on by their homeroom teacher. Whether it is his fault or not (usually the latter), the homeroom teacher will ask him to go stand outside. Poor kid. And he has no choice but to do it.
 
Besides Miu even causing trouble in her own class (like drawing some funny stuffs when the teacher asks her to do some maths problem on the blackboard), Matsuri brings Ana back to Nobue’s place after school and to Ana’s horror, she saw Chika and Miu there. But I think Nobue instantly takes a liking for Ana as she hugs her. Yeah, Nobue really has a thing for little cute girls especially Ana and Matsuri. Maybe she’s immune to her little sis Chika and that’s why Chika don’t get that same treatment. As for Miu, we all know why lah. But the story ends when troublemaker Miu writes Ana’s surname in kanji, which irritates Ana a lot. Yeah, Coppola means like hole, bone and cave in that writing. Another punishment for Miu outside the roof. She really deserves it as Miu’s been pissing off Ana ever since she got here.
 
It’s ironic to see Matsuri trying to teach Ana some English in episode 3. Because they were’nt successful, Ana invites Matsuri over to her house to study together. Back in Chika’s room, I’m not sure why but Miu’s being tied up with some rope. Whatever it is, I’m sure she deserves it. Matsuri tries to go out and to Ana’s place without letting the others know but you know the harrassing Miu. Nobue must be really doing this to satisfy her cute craving for Matsuri because she suggests her to wear some cat hat complete with a cat’s tail. Gullible Matsuri does and even adds a ‘~nya’ at the end of her sentences. Though Matsuri is on her way and slightly lost, she bumps into the quartet and tries to bluff her way out. Yeah, who would believe that there’s an alien behind them. And only Matsuri could fall for her own trick.
 
Anyhow, the gang decides to tag along as well. Once there, we see Ana’s real big mansion. Uh-huh. Rich kid. Ana arrives at the gate to greet Matsuri but to her horror sees the rest of the gang there. Except for Miu. She ran off after ringing the bell. Because of that, the rest got in and Miu got left out. As we tour the house and see the grandeur of it, everyone’s quite impressed as at the same time Miu tries to get into the house through climbing one of the walls. Once she manages to do so, she got chased by Ana’s pet dog. Don’t worry it’s a friendly chase but of course Miu’s exaggerating it. Once settled, Ana shows them her CD collections, have some tea, staring at a huge map of England, and of course life wouldn’t be complete without Miu pissing Ana off further and making the latter cry. Luckily Ana found her comfort in Nobue. Later, they discover Ana’s dressing room collection and are amazed at her numerous dresses hanging there. Naughty Miu tries on a little girl’s bra and doesn’t seem satisfy with it and even puts her hands on Ana’s just to try for size! With that, Ana drops her English book as Nobue picks it up. Secret busted. Luckily Nobue thinks Ana is teaching a friend in English when she asks her how much this dress costs. A slip of Ana’s tongue causes Ana to answer in Japanese. Secret really busted.
 
Nobue’s smoking habit is starting to kick in in episode 4. Just like a poor church mouse, she once again heads to Chika room and tries to take some money from her mailbox-like piggy bank savings. Of course there wasn’t any money. As usual, Miu tries to wish real hard for it before tossing it out of the window. That’s not even her stuff. Later something about a tissue led to Nobue having an idea of them playing a doctor-patient thingy with Miu as the doc while Ana and Matsuri as her assistants. I think Nobue wants to see how cute her Ana and Matsuri darling are in a nurse outfit. Good thing is Miu has no chance of becoming a future doctor because she flips up Ana’s skirt and says some unpleasant comments after examining Chika. Yup, that usual punishment again. So Nobue takes over the doctor role and examines Matsuri who’s playing the patient in labour now.
 
But the main thing about this episode is Nobue finding a part time job so that she could have some money to buy cigarettes. She ends up applying as a waitress in a cafe. Though the pay is reasonable but the skirt is a bit too short and there is a no smoking policy on the job. Looks like Nobue has to just deal with it for the time being. While working there, Ana and her mom are having their meal there when Ana spots Nobue. Later, Ana tells Chika and Matsuri about it. The trio tries not to let Miu know but too late, she’s already heard it all. Now Miu plans to patron the place. Nobue’s pretty annoyed to see the 4 there. And she’s their waitress. Miu’s first annoyance is when she lifts up Nobue’s skirt only to make Nobue stick the ice cold glass of water in her cheeks. So a war of words erupted, which is bad because it affects the cafe’s reputation. No choice, Nobue has to suck it in for now. The customer is always right.
 
To make things worse, all 4 of them came back day after day. This is really pissing Nobue off as she has no choice but to tolerate and serve them. Sabarlah… The other 3 girls blame it on Miu and somehow got drag into all this but can’t back out now. Miu is ordering expensive and fancy desserts and says it will be on Nobue’s treat. Though the rest of the girls have a guilty conscious, but I guess there’s so much Nobue can only take. So Nobue puts some Tobasco sause in Miu’s dessert. Since Miu isn’t the kind to learn her lesson, soon she starts tripping Nobue, making her drop plates and glasses. Nobue retaliates by doing the same. A confrontation looms as Nobue starts and the 2 started a food fight throwing everything possible at each other. It’s a real havoc! Some old man got victimized there as the food got all over him but he just sat there without any reaction while the food fight goes on. In the end, Nobue gets fired and her pay is used for the cleanup and damage costs as she only manages to buy 1 pack of cigarettes. Back home, Nobue’s not gonna let Miu go scot free as she shows the bill of 275 Yen and writes ‘nengumai’ (annual rice tax) on Miu’s forehead. I don’t think that mark will come off so soon as we see Miu trying to wash it off.
 
Miu and Ana’s spat continues in episode 5. Well, you know whose fault it is, right? Uh-huh. They’re trying to outdo each other by seeing who’s taller standing on stacks of magazine. Unfortunately they both fell down when the stack became unstable. Then in Ana’s class, she herself is quite popular as she receives several love letters. One of them even in English! Yup, "I fall in love with you! I love you! I need you!". So young so expressive so creative. Of course Ana’s still trying to keep her Japanese speaking a secret. So far so good. That is, until Miu who’s playing baseball outside swings her bat too hard and the ball breaks the window and flew into Ana and Matsuri’s class. Miu just barges in to retrieve it. That’s when the horror starts (for Ana) when they saw each other. Yup, Miu called her Coppola.
 
Back home, Ana’s gonna ‘kill’ Miu with a recorder (?!) but is restrained by Nobue. But Miu gets her usual punishment. It seems Nobue seems to favour Ana and Matsuri more by paying attention to those 2 rather than Chika or Miu, much to the latter’s dismay. I mean when the gang are shopping at the supermart, Ana gets whatever she wants but as for Miu, all her stuffs got rejected. So an attention-crazed Miu does her way of getting attention, causing trouble, that is. What else. She does some during nabe dinner time and eventually gets her usual punishment. Later, Nobue, Miu and Ana are taking a bath together. Miu and Nobue are staring at Ana and are admiring her beautiful complexion (and her small chest…?!). Of course Ana felt a little embarrassed even if it’s girls who are looking. Because of Nobue’s bragging on how cute and adorable Ana is, this causes Miu to blow her top and in her jealousy she cries (no crocodile tears this time). Nobue felt pity and allowed her to sleep with them for the night. With that, Miu felt a little more secure. No matter how bratty she is, Miu’s still a little kid. But the next morning when Nobue wakes up, she finds Miu’s stomach bigger. Yup, that naughty kid’s back to normal and plays a prank that Nobue may have impregnate her. Some things never change. Don’t worry, it’s just a pillow under that.
 
It’s a darn hot summer in episode 6 as the 4 little girls trek back from school in the sweltering heat. You may think it’s the heat that it’s getting to Miu’s head as she’s up to another mischieve again but she’s always been like that all year round. Miu suggests a rock, scissors and paper game to see who would carry their school bags. Though Matsuri lost, Miu ends up carrying all the bags because of the latter’s comments about exercising some power to control over the losers. Later as Nobue, Chika and Miu are in Nobue’s air-conditioned room relaxing, Miu suddenly opens the window letting all the hot air in. You know what happens after that lah. Miu and Chika have another round of weird rock, scissors and papers in which Miu lost again. This made Miu to use Nobue’s handphone to call the soba shop and order something and soon the police. Of course Nobue isn’t amused and stops her since it’s her handphone.
 
Meanwhile Matsuri is at the vending machine and her trouble starts when the can she bought starts rolling down hill. Maybe she’s always around Miu so much so trouble follows her. At the same time, Ana is trying to pronounce ‘ginger ale’ on a can in another vending maching at a store when an old man (yes, that victimized one from Miu and Nobue’s food fight several episodes ago) tells her how to pronounce it. Same expression too. Ana recognizes him and quickly leaves to find Matsuri. Later when they regrouped at Nobue’s room, Nobue heads out to get some food and Miu ‘borrows’ Nobue’s handphone to record some lines like "I’m hot!". Miu got the others to do so too but wants Ana to say hers in English. When Nobue comes back, she finds the girls sleeping and Miu napping on her bed. Miu wakes up and wants to go to the toilet but since it’s too hot she decides to hold it in. Eventually she can’t hold much longer and went. When Miu comes back, she saw Chika sleeping in her place and soon gets annoyed and starts waking her up. Before you know the 2 started arguing which causes Matsuri to sleep in the comfy bed. Uh-huh, they drag Matsuri into it too so much so Miu threw a pillow but it hit Nobue in the face.
 
Once it’s over, Nobue decides to sleep on the bed herself. Not wanting to be noisy and wake her up, Miu suggests writing on paper to communicate. It’s funny to see when Matsuri writes if she could go to the toilet, Miu replies by drawing a black devil. Hahaha. Chika then felt the need to sneeze but Miu quickly tries to prevent her and pounds on her. Luckily Nobue’s still asleep. Then as they ‘converse’, Miu again draws 2 black devils this time, followed by a sketch of some guy (hmm… quite good sketch there). This made Chika wanting to laugh as she’s trying hard to hold it in. But when Chika hits Miu’s head with a paper fan, Miu then draw 3 black devils. Hahaha. Nobue wakes up in the evening and they all have some popsicles on the rooftop. Looks like Nobue caught a little cold herself. The next day as the little girls walk home from school, Miu comes up with an idea to see who carries everyone school bags. She suggests whoever steps in the sunlight has to do so. Everybody does by walking under the shades and when finally Miu spots a long stretch of no shades, she decides to make a big jump, but falls short. Yup, Miu becomes the mule again. With that Miu decides to call Nobue but when Nobue’s handphone rings, her ringtone is set at the loudest "I’m hot!" and surprises everyone there including Nobue herself, who’s quite embarrassed about it. Now Nobue’s really pissed off. Punishment time…
 
Continuing with the hot summer vacation in episode 7, Ana and Matsuri have followed their respective families for a vacation. So this leaves Nobue, Chika and Miu. Miu has a project of her own. That is, she’s planning to observe Chika and Nobue with her camcorder. Yeah, this kid could really get creative (irritating is perhaps the right word) with the camcorder. By this time, Matsuri has already come back from her trip and shows them her photos of her in the countryside with some goats. Miu continues her observation by taking away Nobue’s cigarettes and giving them to Matsuri. Though Miu told Matsuri not to give the cigarettes back to Nobue, naive Matsuri eventually does after Nobue went to go talk with her. Also, Ana comes back and shows a video play she made during her vacation. Ana’s dressed up in a white lacy dress and trying to speak some English but mixes it up with her Japanese. This prompts Miu to show what she has recorded too. It’s a recording of Chika sleeping. She focuses the camcorder on Chika’s little chest. That’s not so bad… yet. Miu then takes some stuff toys and stuff it under Chika’s chest to prop it up. With that, Chika gets really annoyed and Miu gets her usual punishment.
 
The next day the 4 little girls decide to go to the swimming pool but since it’s raining, it ruined their plans. Nobue comes to pick them up with an umbrella and tells them that she’ll bring them to the beach instead. So okay, unless you’re ogling at Nobue’s sexy swimsuit, perhaps there’s nothing much to see for the rest, unless you’re a lolita fetish. Thing is, when Nobue told Miu to bring her camcorder, Miu forgot to, disappointing Nobue because she was quite looking forward to it. When Nobue says how ‘flat’ Miu’s is, this prompts Miu to take off Nobue’s top, leaving her in a state of embarrassment. As punishment, Miu is buried in the sand with only her head sticking out. Yup, they’re gonna have a watermelon splitting event and the watermelon is Miu’s head! Well, Ana had a near miss. After some pleading and soon gets released and uses a real watermelon this time. When it’s Matsuri’s turn, she can’t take the whole thing and just got ‘sick’. Uh-huh, she had to lie down for a while. When it’s Chika’s turn, following Miu’s direction, Chika gets further away from the watermelon and ends up near a stall.
 
After that, the gang heads for a swim in the ocean. Nobue teaches Matsuri how to swim which causes Miu to feel a little jealous again. So when Nobue gives her some swimming lessons, Miu is happily paddling a certain distance when she surfaces only to find the rest of the gang had gone back on shore. Once it’s sunset, they all head home. Miu gets back to her irritating camcorder observation back home and is annoying Chika’s who’s doing her homework. But the next day when school reopens, Chika is surprised that Miu’s summer project earned her 2nd place. Yup, it’s an exaggerated summer vacation like Nobue taking an aeroplane, Matsuri meeting a kappa, and Ana investigating a crime scene murder in a Sherlock Holmes outfit. While Chika is impressed, Miu says that she may have got 1st place if she had included this picture. Miu whips out a photo of Chika’s ‘inflated’ chests while she was sleeping then. A very pissed off Chika gives Miu her punishment.
 
It’s the festival in episode 8. But before that our little girls are having a little exam. Miu as usual is causing some ruckus just before the exam finishes by hitting her table with 2 recorders. And when Miu tells the teacher out loud that Chika won’t show her answers to her, the teacher threw a chalk at her but Miu blocks it with her recorder and smirks. This causes Miu to stand outside the class as punishment. Back at home, Nobue is helping the girls put on their yukata. Miu plays with Matsuri’s name because the latter’s name also means the same thing in Japanese. Miu soon leaves but comes back dressed as a red ninja with a basket over her head. Miu takes off the basket only to reveal another mask she’s wearing. And later as Miu’s causing her usual annoyance (like throwing CDs as her shuriken and attacking with her toy sword), Nobue finds some black marks around Miu’s face which make her look like a panda. Funny. Soon it’s Miu’s turn to be dressed in a yukata by Nobue as she asks Miu to strip naked. Though Miu playfully feels ‘violated’ but she’s glad that she’s gonna wear a yukata.
 
As the gang heads to the festival, they’re wondering why Miu has brought a bag of random stuffs. We find out why. At the festival she’s planning to use them as barter trade in exchange to play a certain game at the stalls like that goldfish scooping thing. Of course, the owner isn’t dumb and Nobue has no choice but to pay for her. It seems Miu is quite skilfull, getting lots of goldfish. Though Miu says she’s saving them, after Nobue praises her, she releases all the goldfish back. Yeah, catch and release, she say. Later Miu teases Matsuri to say some tongue twisting word. Matsuri is trying her best but manages to pull through with Nobue’s help. As they get something to eat, they spot Miu trying to sell her random (and useless) stuffs by making a makeshift stall. Though some guy comes by and says nicely that she needs to get a permit to sell, Miu says she isn’t selling because she hasn’t sold 1 and soon packs her stuffs and quickly leaves.
 
They heard some drum beat getting louder and notices Miu up there causing another trouble as she’s calling for her Nobue Itou onee chan to help her as the authorities are trying to get her off. Nobue covers her hears and says to herself that she doesn’t know her. Oh the embarrassment. This isn’t happening. Eventually, Nobue has to as she apologizes to the authorities and promise to be strict with her. But as the fireworks start, they couldn’t see a thing because it was blocked by trees (or perhaps they’re rather too short). So back home, the gang played a little firework of their own when Miu toss some ring on Nobue’s head causing that sparkler to go off, making her mad at the same time. Nobue yells that she intends taking Miu back to the festival and selling her off. Miu then asks her 2 goldfish she got from the festival, James and Richard, to save her.
 
Every girl goes through that stage where they’re concerned about their weight and figure. Is it Nobue? Nope. It’s more of Chika. In episode 9, after having some potato/yam snack, Miu comments how fat Chika has gotten. Even though Chika’s words are meant to be mischevious only but Chika took it quite seriously. Chika first tries to weight herself on a scale she freaks out seeing her weight. Thing is, Miu’s there too and simultaneously freaks out as well. And then, Miu gets into her mind games again when Chika’s making some cookies like saying how she’s eating lots of cookies even though she’s just tasting. Chika slips into further depression and tries to avoid eating anything else. So much so Chika doesn’t even take a bite when Ana brings some cake over. Thinking that her weight may have gone down a little, Chika checks again and to her dismay, it’s still the same.
 
Nobue notices Chika reading a diet book and tries to cheer her up by playing a game of baseball outside with the rest. Chika throws a powerful pitch which hits Nobue’s side. And because of Miu’s comments as the umpire, she got ‘sit out’. When Nobue finally manages to hit the ball, Matsuri can’t even catch the ball and is covering her head in fear, though the ball landed quite a distance away. So they tried some football. Nobue is taking on Ana when Miu decides to steal the ball by flipping up Ana’s skirt. You know Nobue’s fetish, right? This causes Nobue to be slightly distracted. With that Chika steals the ball and scores. GOOOOOAL!!! But it was too powerful and hit Matsuri off the swing she’s sitting on. And for some unknown reasons, Miu too throws the baseball right at Nobue, hitting her.
 
Even back home, Chika continues with her dieting by doing some simple exercises. Even when Chika and Miu are bathing together, the latter still as usual playing some mischievious pranks on Chika but since Chika’s too preoccupied with her dieting, you could say she’s ignoring Miu a little. Okay, so maybe except for the part where Miu nearly drowned her. Once done, Chika finds Nobue in her room going through the diet book. Chika is still upset with her weight gain but Nobue tells her that since she’s growing up, her weight too has to increase with her height. With that, Chika gets her self-confidence back. But as for Nobue, after flipping through the diet book and then weighting herself, to her horror she noticed that she has gained some weight. Planning to go on a diet? Hehe. So how different is she from Chika?
 
In episode 10, Nobue’s out on her scooter and stops at a scenic spot with a cabin-like restaurant next to a lake. Meanwhile back home, Miu is playing some hypnotizing game with the rest. Of course she’s a failure. At one point when Miu and Chika left the room to go to the toilet, Matsuri really belives that Chika had turned into a dog because Miu and the dog only returned to the room. Of course we know it isn’t lah. Chika’s just taking longer than usual and soons show up. But their hypnotizing show comes to a halt when Nobue calls Chika and asks them to come over to the place she’s at. She’s not saying why as it’s gonna be a surprise. I find it a little weird for Nobue to ask the little girls to come over by themselves. I mean, it’s dangerous, don’t you think? The rest of the episode sees how the quartet try to get there but end up being ‘delayed’. We know Miu is gonna be the main source of it, right?
 
For instance, Chika wanted to take her bicycle but since it’s got a flat tyre, she has to walk to the bus stop, the place where they agree to meet. And that Miu is on her little scooter as she whizzes pass Chika who’s having a hard time catching up. Uh-huh, something about competing with an old man as he’s jogging pass by. When Chika does, she’s catching her breath and notices Miu, Matsuri and Ana on the bus leaving as Miu waves goodbye to her. Yeah, they got split up. The trio gets off at the destined bus stop and Chika manages to catch up with them once again. On foot. Miu scoots off in her scooter again with Chika giving chase, leaving Matsuri and Ana behind. So Matsuri and Ana are trying to find Nobue at the park. Matsuri got tired and decides to rest on a bench when Mastsuri’s pet ferret suddenly runs off. Some foreigner finds the pet ferret but is asking directions in English, in a weird accent. Ana’s in a little panic. Fortunately and ironically, since Matsuri has studied a little English, she takes the foreigner to the place he wants to go. As for Miu and Chika, they’re at a vending machine as Chika decides to get herself a drink. Before Chika could push the button of the drink she wanted, Miu beats her and presses another drink. Do you just feel like slapping her?
 
Because the kids are taking too long, Nobue decides call them but nobody picks up their handphone. Luckily she manage to get through Matsuri’s and says she’ll come get them. Then Miu calls her and begs her to come on some swan boat ride, pissing Nobue off as she yells to come here right away. Well, it’s her fault to ask them to come here unsupervised in the first place, right? Once she manages to round up the gang, she tells them that she wanted to treat them to some cake but since they’ve took an awfully long time, she changed her mind. Of course the girls are not too happy about it and decides to hypnotize Nobue. Yup, all of them tried to. Not sure whether if the hypnotism worked (of course not lah) because Nobue eventually treats them all. Then on after their treat as they’re walking back, Matsuri spots some flowers blooming as the 4 little girls went to have a closer look. Nobue says something like how it’s okay for them to be simple minded. But Chika replies that she doesn’t understand this kind of things. Nobue just smiled and asks them to hurry home as they all took a stroll back home in the setting sun.
 
Episode 11 starts off with the gang as usual gathering in Chika’s room. While Chika is dead serious and busy trying to do her homework, the rest are just idling and hanging around there. Even Nobue is hanging out with them. As usual too, life wouldn’t be complete without Miu’s mischieve like how she gives Chika a used tissue paper. Yup, Nobue just sneezed and used it and Miu had the cheek to give it to Chika as some toilet paper exchange. Chika is a little annoyed not only towards Miu but the rest as well. That’s because they’re so dull and they can’t do anything outside since it’s freezing cold. Yup, winter is approaching. While Nobue soon leaves, the other 3 girls then decide to play some paper sumo. The sumos are made out of paper and they ‘move’ by hitting the table with their palms as though like playing a conga drum. Miu of course is giving irritating nicknames to everyone else and we find out Ana is quite knowledgeable about the sumo culture. Yeah, she may be a sumo fan. Anyway, since the gang are too noisy, they’re pissing off Chika so much so that she kicked the 3 out of her room.
 
Just then Nobue comes back and she has caught a cold. How? Well, while on her scooter and trying to buy some cigarettes in a vending machine, she slip and fell off. So the cold icy snow soaked her clothes. Nobue tries to take a hot bath but the heater’s down and the repairman can’t come until tomorrow. So the kids suggest to go to the public bath house, which Nobue agrees. Funny part is when the gang leaves, Miu dresses and bring stuffs which indicates like as though they’re heading to the beach. Umm… What else is there to do at the bath house? I mean after putting their stuffs, klutz Matsuri even having trouble taking off one of socks while standing and losing balance, take a nice deep warm soaking bath, exchange different shampoos (Japanese and English shampoos, that is), scrubbing each other backs, Miu causing a little disturbance like asking Nobue to press some button on her back but when Nobue does Miu says that there’s no way she could have a button on her back, more soaking but this time Miu farts letting loose some bubbles (eewww… And it stinks too!), there’s that victimized old man all alone soaking by himself. Wonder if he’s really listening to the girl’s conversation. I feel it’s a little ecchi here, though nothing serious happened.
 
Once done, they get dressed, drink some milk and feeling all refreshed and warmed up. As they leave, it started snowing which prompts Matsuri to say how nice it would be if she gets to see Santa Claus. Before Miu could tell Matsuri ‘something nice’ about Santa, she got herself her usual punishment. Isn’t the snow cold? Nobue asks if Matsuri has ever seen Santa but the latter replies she has never even though she tried staying up late. With that, Nobue fuzzily hugs the 3 girls and soon wraps her scard around their necks, like a chain. Miu instantly gets up and wants to join in too but Nobue says her scarf isn’t long. With that, Miu tries to get in but accidentally pushes them as they fall into the snow. Oops. And they’re all just freshed and warmed from the bath.
 
It’s a freezing Chirstmas Eve in episode 12 as Chika gets up and opens her room window only to be pelted by Miu’s snowball in the face. Some wake up, huh. As Noboue’s shovelling the drive way, Ana and Matsuri are having trouble keeping both their feet balance as the road is slippery. As the gang made a snowman, Matsuri seems to be quite looking forward to Christmas and Santa when Miu as usual is gonna tease her that she still believe in that fairy tale but luckily Ana quickly shoves Miu and the latter ended up like her usual punishment position in the snow. Soon they head back in for some warm cocoa. As they’re playing doll house, Miu once again is gonna say that Santa isn’t real when Nobue, Chika and Ana quickly piles up on her. Yeah, like some wrestling move to shut her up. Matsuri wonders if Santa ever came to Miu’s house. Because the other 3 girls are giving Miu that threatening look, Miu has to change her story by saying that she had won over Santa. Uh-huh. Something about when she was 3 years old, Miu asked for a traffic light but got 3 coloured flashlights, when she was 4, she wanted a hot spring but got a secret hot spring set, when she was 5, she wanted a sumo wrestler but got a sumo suit and when she was 6 she wanted a mountain but Santa didn’t give her one as he left a card saying that her wish is too big and that he can’t accomplish it with his powers. With that, it’ll be her parents who will get her Christmas presents. You could say Santa gave up after that. Weird wishes in the first place. At least they aren’t run-of-the-mill wishes. Of course naive Matsuri felt pity for Miu.
 
Nobue remembers the time when she tries to calm a crying Chika because she fears the non-existance of Santa. Well, Nobue dressed up as some weird Santa comes into Chika’s room through her window and puts a present next to her. Thing is, once done, Nobue slip and fell off the roof because it’s slippery. Thus Nobue decides to help Matsuri believe in Santa. That night Nobue, Chika and Ana are dressed as reindeers while Miu is in a Santa suit as they’re heading over to Matsuri’s house. Suddenly a lovey-dovey couple comes by and spots them (I mean, 4 weirdos hiding behind a lamp post. Come on). Nobue seems a little annoyed because she herself doesn’t have a boyfriend yet. The couple are initially surprised to see them at first but the girl gets excited and asks them what are they doing. Miu answers that they’re finding the best couple for a give away trip to Hawaii. Of course Chika denies it all. Meanwhile the guy is asking Nobue some questions (I don’t think he’s hitting on her, mind you) as Nobue’s still pretty annoyed. Then the guy digs his own grave when he says how single people gets jealous easily. Even Miu know what’s gonna happen as she says "Oh oh, he said it". Yup, Nobue lands him a couple of reindeer kicks which sends the guy sliding face down on the road as his concerned girlfriend chases after him. Not only that, Nobue wishes how the stupid couple would break up soon. Serious case of envy.
 
Once they reached Matsuri’s house, they climb in through the window as Matsuri has left it open thinking the real Santa would come. Nobue asks Miu to hand her the present as Miu gave her a toy hammer. Yup, her usual punishment. Even so, when Nobue asks for the real present this time, Miu now gives her 2 toy hammer. You guessed it too, double punishment. Nobue decides to take out the present from the sack herself instead. Uh-huh. It’s a Hale Potey book! But they notice that there’s 1 already lying next to her. So is it the work of the real Santa? Because Nobue’s a little noisy, Matsuri wakes up. The gang panics a little and tries to flee by tiptoe-ing. It’s so funny to see them freeze halfway when Matsuri calls out if it’s Santa. Probably Matsuri hasn’t had her glasses on, is still in sleepy mode and the room’s quite dark. Above all, we know she’s naive. Nobue tells Miu to respond. And Miu responds with a kung-fu chinese crane position while wishing Merry Christmas, which lands her the usual punishment outside the snow covered garden. Hahaha. So Nobue tries her best to talk to Matsuri but without giving away her identity. Matsuri thanks ‘Santa’ for the hard work and tells him to do his best, which made Nobue feel a little happy.
 
While making their way back, they’re talking about Santa’s existance and such as they notice Nobue isn’t still happy because she mentions that one day Matsuri will find out and that they’re just delaying the inevitable. But after some talk like if the belief in Santa makes one happy and such then Santa will be real. Uh-huh, that there’s hope kinda talk. In turn, this made Nobue realize and that Santa will definitely come. The next morning, Nobue wakes up and decides to shovel the pathway and calls for Chika to help but she’s not in her room. When Nobue goes outside, she saw 5 cute little snowman, oddly resembling them. Yeah, very odd. Nobue just smiled. Soon our 4 little girls make their way to school as they spot Nobue on her scooter. They ask her where she’s going and Nobue replied that she’s going to school. Ana wonders and asks Chika if there’s anything wrong with Nobue and Chika replied something about her sis mentioning a cool-looking guy in the morning the other day. Ana and Matsuri are surprised and thinks could that guy be Nobue’s potential lover. But Chika and Miu sarcastically scoffs it off saying "No way, no way". No confidence in her, huh.
 
Then a big change in class. Remember that Sakazuka kid? When the teacher tells him to go stand outside, he just said "I don’t want to". With that, the teacher goes and stand outside himself! HAHAHA! See, you must learn to say ‘No’ too. Meanwhile Ana and Matsuri are having a chat in their classroom and wonders what kind of guy he is Nobue’s potential lover. And as for Chika and Miu, Miu’s getting braver and braver as quoted by their teacher because she just stood up and raise her voice while telling the teacher how Chika won’t let her copy her homework and won’t treat her to sweets. Some things will never change. I suppose Nobue decides not to go to school because we see her relaxing and huffing her cigarette at some park while enjoying the moment.
 
Overall, I think this whole anime is cutely okay. Some funny and hilarious moments there especially from Miu. As mentioned without her, the whole story won’t be that interesting to watch. You could say variety spices up our lives. But this kid is too ‘spicy’. Though there is a 3 episode OVA and has already ended its run in early 2007, I still haven’t watched it yet as I’m waiting for the subs to come out. Yeah, I’ll be anticipating more of Miu’s mischieves. If you can’t get enough of this series, there’s even a video game on it.
 
Since the theme is cute, the drawing and art are made to look that way too. Though it’s not your typical bishies nor those drawing for kiddies, I guess it’s a balance in between. I happen to notice that at times the characters (especially the little girls) have this pink blush on their cheeks. Uh-huh. To make it look cute. Voice acting wise, I could say they’re quite well done and of course my favourite is still Miu’s. Quite fitting for her bratty role. There isn’t any real character developments since there isn’t any real plot. You could guess their personalities from the 1st episode and it stays that way right till the end.
 
The mid-intermissions somehow reminded me a little aobut Azumanga Daioh. Not that they’re both really similar. We see a still close up shot of some body part of Nobue’s (usually below her neck or her hips, but nothing ecchi) with that short single solo wind musical instrument playing (I think it’s a melodian. I could be wrong though) in an otherwise silent mid-intermission.
 
Another nice thing about this series is the background music. Though there are some slow ones, generally they’re all fun and cute to listen to. My favourite one is Hotto Suru Theme which is a cool and easy double acoustic guitar pluckings. It makes you feel like you wanna relax and chill on a hot day. Also both the opening and ending themes sound and look cute, though it doesn’t really appeal to me. By the way, the opening theme song Ichigo Complete are sung by the voice actresses of the 4 little girls while the ending theme Classmate is sung by Fumiko Orikasa, which is the voice actress for Miu. Hmm… They sound so different that I can’t recognize her.
 
I read many viewers say how the manga version is better than the anime. Well since I haven’t read the manga before, I guess I can’t do any comparison about it. Plus, there are quite a number of differences betwen the anime and manga like the character designs and Nobue’s age in the manga is only 16 years old. Also the anime tries to cramp several chapters into 1 episode. Not only that, even the video game is inconsistent with the anime and manga. Is that a good or a bad thing? I suppose it doesn’t matter if it’s all cute. But I still find the anime relatively enjoyable to watch. Though there are some little ecchi scenes which some people may say it’s like kiddie porn because of those parts where the girls took a bath together naked and such. But as far as I’m concern, all the necessary parts are strategically covered.
 
So kids, lesson learned is that never be like Miu. You may think that by trying to be cute Miu’s way, people would become soft-hearted. I think you’ll receive more than that face down punishment, seeing today’s world is so violent. And that "Are you trying to be cute?" respond isn’t likely to be a compliment either. Thus, I can foresee what kind of person Miu becomes when she grows up. But then again, the future may be uncertain and Miu may change. Maybe. But for now, no matter how irritating she is, it’s better for things to stay as it is. Hey, you need someone to bug you in order to keep you on your toes, right? Now isn’t that cute.

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