I, My, Me: Strawberry Eggs (anime)
Hibiki Amawa is a recent college graduate who has taken up residency in a boarding house owned by aggressive, gun-toting land-lady Lulu Sanjo. He is looking for a job as a Physical Education Teacher and is living off of his meager savings, but eventually his savings run out. Nearby Seito Sannomiya Private Co-Ed School is hiring a Phys Ed. teacher, but despite Amawa’s excellent credentials refuses to hire ANY male faculty, claiming that men do not have the instincts to care for and instruct children. Still desperate for a position, Amawa disguises himself as a woman and is hired on immediately. The series is, for the most part, a standard and expected gender-switcheroo comedy, full of close-calls, odd crushes, and goofy disasters. Thematic issues with gender and sexuality do play out in some interesting, albeit mostly predictable, ways, but it is ultimately the sweetness of the show that kept me watching. The characters genuinely care for one another, and want to see each other succeed. With great episode titles like “Forbidden Eyeliner,” and very tender moments between friends and classmates, the series is worth watching.
There is, however, something in this anime that makes me slightly uncomfortable, to say the least. Amawa throughout the series develops strong feelings for awkward, immature, and naive student, Fuko Kuzuha (and vice-versa). Amawa is approximately 20 years old, and Kuzuha is 15. Their age difference is disturbing given the current conditions of their relationship (teacher/student…and erroneously same-sex?), but the age difference wouldn’t cause much uproar later in life. This isn’t a case of pedophilia really, because the closeness of their ages seems to thwart that interpretation, however the age issue is still too great to be deemed socially acceptable. And, in defense of the main character, he/she recognizes the problems with succumbing to a more physical relationship (and is adequately disturbed by his love for Kuzuha), and the series ends with a declaration of love, a reveal of identity, and promise from Amawa to return once Kuzuha reaches maturity. Despite the obvious problems with the relationship, and sexual tension, between these two characters, there is something sweetly innocent about their affection for one another.
So, to sum up: I, My, Me, Strawberry Eggs has a stupid title and contains at least one potentially skeevworthy relationship, but somehow manages to remain funny, sweet, a little sad and completely watchable.