Ichigo 100% by Mizuki Kawashita is a beloved classic in the shonen-romance genre. It was one of my first romance series, and certainly has a special place in my heart. This is why when the news of a sequel coming came along, I had mixed feelings. While I genuinely did love Ichigo 100%, I found the end to be quite satisfying and complete. Rather than giving me excitement, the news of a sequel gave me fear about ruining my beloved childhood series. Seeing Suzuka get butchered by Seo Koji by the creation of Fuuka certainly didn’t help.
Well, now that the first chapter came out (not English), here is what I thought about the series so far.
Warning: Spoilers for both Ichigo 100% and Ch.1 of the spinoff ahead.
To be frank, Ichigo 100% – East Side Story, feels like a complete disaster.
Mizuki Kawashita decided to tell the tale of Toujo Aya, the infamous second heroine who ended up getting rejected in the original story. East Side Story happens two years after the main events of Ichigo 100%, where Toujo is now a 2nd year university student and a successful novelist.
The story is told in the perspective of a new main character named Nakama, a high schooler working at a small bookstore. Nakama quickly develops a crush on Toujo when he accidentally sees Toujo’s strawberry panties, and Toujo start frequenting the store after noticing Nakama. Ultimately, it’s a story about Toujo coping with her past and finding new love.
The design of Nakama alone already raises a lot of red flags. He has a strong resemblance to the old hero, Manaka, and even his name is just “Ma-Naka” said backwards. What’s worse is that the reason Toujo seems to take an interest on Nakama is because of his resemblance to Manaka, even saying the name “Manaka” by accident in one scene.
The story progression also goes back to the same pattern as Ichigo 100% – average boy meets mysterious girl in strawberry panty, Toujo’s identity is “hidden” by her glasses, and even a friend that dares our hero to “confess”.
While it’s not exactly wrong to recycle similar archetypes or try to tell the tale of Toujo coping with the tragic aftermath of her first love, I had hoped for Kawashita to distance away from the original story as much as possible. It doesn’t feel pleasant seeing Toujo’s supposed “solution” to getting over Manaka is to get together with a copycat of the old protagonist. I would have hoped for the main character to at least feel different.
Throwbacks to the original are fine, but given how the sequel is dealing with a theme of coping with a heartbroken past, you’d want some sign that things have progressed rather than substituting with an exact replica. It’s only the first chapter and there’s plenty of room for things to get better, but so far it feels like my worst fears are coming true.