In 2007, I was asked to write a Guide to the world of Yuri (or Girls Love) anime and manga for AfterEllen.com. Two years later, many new anime and manga titles have already made it to Western shores, with even more on the way, and several series have lodged themselves firmly in the collective consciousness of Yuri fandoms.
I have been asked to once again open the garden doors to the world of lilies — this time, to introduce you to the popular Yuri series Strawberry Panic!
Strawberry Panic! is the story of Aoi Nagisa, a transfer student who comes to Astrea Hill, a campus that houses three elite girls’ schools: St. Miator; St. Spica and St. LuLim.
Amid spring sunshine and the cherry blossoms swirling in the wind, Nagisa meets and is seduced by charismatic playgirl Hanazono Shizuma.
Shizuma is the current Etoile ("star") — the elected figurehead of the three schools.
Meanwhile, another transfer student, the angelic Kotohana Hikari, has managed to do what no one else has ever done, by capturing the heart of Ohtori Amane, known as the "Prince" of St. Spica.
In the grand tradition of Japanese Girls Love literature, the students of all three schools are caught up in a dance around these two transfer students as the election for the campus’s new Etoile approaches.
The story follows Nagisa as she is captivated, teased by, and ultimately falls in love with Shizuma, who has a reputation for loving and leaving her women. Nagisa struggles with the difficulty of being a transfer student who has gained the attention of the Etoile, trying to avoid becoming the most recent in a long line of hearts that Shizuma has wooed and broken.
At St. Spica, Hikari finds herself the victim of schemes concocted by the Evil Psycho Lesbian duo Kaname and her lover Momomi, as they plot to destroy Amane and gain the Etoile crown for themselves.
The Presidents of the three Student Councils watch helplessly as Shizuma and Nagisa, and Amane and Hikari, fall ever deeper in love, and plans for the glory of their schools collapse under the pressure.