SOS: Strawberry on the Shortcake

by mo on 06/5/2009

When you have a piece of strawberry shortcake, do you eat the strawberry on top first, or last?

SOS (Strawberry on the Shortcake) is the story of a total creepster, Irie-kun. In the first couple of episodes he does delightful things such as:

  • Tries to shoplift, but fails to work up the courage
  • Thinks about killing himself, but fails to work up the courage
  • Mail-orders a knife, brings it to school, and threatens some bullies
  • Steals his teacher’s bra from the drying laundry at her home
  • He meets Yui, a strange girl who seems to be following him, to learn that she will be his new sister when their single parents wed. Yui, played by Fukuda Kyoko, is equally selfish, greedy, creepy and annoying — in short, she and Irie are a perfect match.

    SOS is from 2001, so Tackey (Mr. Creepster Irie) is a little bit young. Up until this point, I’d entirely managed to avoid Tackey (Takizawa Hideaki) dramas, and so I knew him merely as his 2006 self, where I saw him appear as part of his music duo (courtesy of Johnny & Associates, Inc.), Tackey and Tsubasa. They frequented TV programs and terrorized the nation with their song “Venus”:

    Anyway, let’s get back to the point. Preventing Irie and Yui from their psuedo-incestuous relationship are two supporting characters, who thankfully save the show. Sawamura, Irie’s childhood friend, who has had a longtime crush on him, gets into a dating situation with Irie because he is too passive to ever say no. Eventually, when she takes him to a love hotel and he uh… fails to perform, she figures out that he’s really after Yui (before he does) and decides to turn her efforts to helping out with that, rather than being bitchy about the loss.

    Meanwhile, Yui has a crush on their classmate, Saeki-sempai, who is actually 20 years old (and still in high school) because he is hopelessly in love with his teacher (the same teacher Irie-kun stole the underwear from). So now Yui’s jealous of her teacher (and even attacks her at one point) and Irie is jealous of Saeki on several levels, and suddenly this show has teacher/student relationship and the pseuodo-incest relationship. Things just keep getting better.

    The show keeps going, Irie invents a fake character, Hirase Ai, and sends fake letters back and forth to her to mislead Yui, Yui plays sick, they both continue to be greedy, deceptive, obsessive, and rather disturbed, while their teacher remains completely confused as to whether she likes Saeki or not, while managing to be the blandest character of them all.

    The whole thing gets more and more complicated/stupid, so I drew a graph to help out. Notice the unrequited love progression (the thick red arrows), starting at Sawamura and continuing all the way to the teacher. Those red arrows, are really the main problem this show deals with.

    But what is this whole strawberry business? The whole show, other than resting emotionally on the line, which runs through Irie’s head several times per episode, “That’s why I won’t forget you,” is built on a solid philosophical base: the question, “If you have a piece of strawberry shortcake, and you like the strawberry on top the best, do you eat the strawberry first, or last?”

    Throughout the show we learn the answer each character would give. Turns out, Sawamura and Irie-kun would eat the strawberry last, because they like it, and Saeki and Yui would eat the strawberry first, because they like it. Really deep, I know. Gives Socrates a run for his money.

    So SOS kind of sucked. The two supporting characters kept it from being a total disaster, but I’ve never seen another show where the two leads were both so disgusting. However, after a few episodes, it was like watching a train wreck and I needed to see this disaster through to the end. And hey, the show made good use of ABBA.