Friday, March 7, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake - Berry Blossom Festival, or Why I Love Raspberry Torte

What is this? Am I actually posting a summary of a Strawberry Shortcake DVD? Well, let me tell you, I blame this all on Raspberry Torte. Somehow, she won me over, and now I have to post about it. This is her 2D debut, and I have to say, she is one of the few characters that looks better animated. Of course, the animation has gotten a lot better since the first few DVDs, but still.

I'm really only doing the first half, since that's the part with Raspberry Torte. As is, it starts on a random spring day, with Strawberry admiring all the blossoms on her myriad of strawberry plants, which reminds her of the Berry Blossom Festival. She remembers it fondly, but Custard can only recall the near-disaster that occurred (which actually happens in the second part, so I won't get into here).
About a year ago, maybe two (who can tell?), the buds were huge. Stuff is happening, but because there's no Raspberry Torte, it's very boring. Finally Strawberry comes up with the idea of having a Berry Blossom Festival, and Custard predicts the usual mishaps. Strawberry disregards Custard's warnings and calls together the usual gang. Huck was busy, so Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Meringue, and Raspberry Torte take his place. Strawberry outlines her plan, and everyone has ideas of what to do. Blueberry suggests having a Queen of the Festival, which inspires Angel Cake to throw a super-fancy tea party. She and Blueberry leave together to plan it, and everyone else goes off to get to work, too.
We see Ginger Snap and Orange Blossom working, and then everyone gathers to watch Strawberry hang up the first poster for the festival. Since everyone is all together, Angel Cake hand-delivers invitations, advising them all to wear something fancy. But no one except Blueberry actually owns anything fancy, so they all go to her place to borrow clothes. The next scene opens with Raspberry Torte, late as usual, jogging up to Blueberry's place, and thus begins a mini-fashion show. I note that we don't see Raspberry try anything on. Hm...
Angel Cake notes the time and starts freaking out about the party, and Ginger Snap hems and haws as only she can before admitting that she doesn't know any really fancy manners. Neither does anyone else, though, so Angel Cake offers to teach them all at a pretend party. They all relocate to Angel Cake's, and she starts instructing them in the ways of good manners. But since it's pretend, they have to imagine everything, including napkins and forks. Everyone jibes with this, except Raspberry Torte. Especially when Angel Cake starts going after her for talking with her mouth full, even though the sandwiches are imaginary. Angel Cake also makes the mistake of making a claim she can't back up, that Manners Matter. Raspberry dares them all to prove it, and nobody can think of anything, so she starts to storm out. Strawberry stops her, and tells her that they'll have two parties and she can go to both. Raspberry doesn't see the point, but Strawberry just cryptically tells her that she can pick which one was better. Raspberry still doesn't get it, but agrees, and finishes storming out.
Once Raspberry is gone, Strawberry lets the others in on her plan: two parties, one with manners and one without, are sure to prove to Raspberry that manners make everything better. The girls aren't completely sold, but since Strawberry is the main character, they go along. And now comes the part that made me fall in love with Raspberry Torte. On her way home, she sings a song that basically outlines her worldview and is horribly catchy to boot. The main points being that manners don't feel real to her, and she mostly just cares about herself. And she just has so much fun doing it, too. After her song, she heads to Strawberry's house for the (unbeknownst to her) no-manners party.
Custard has been let in on the plan, and she relishes her part, being rude and unhelpful as Raspberry tries to get some info on the party out of her. Eventually Raspberry just knocks on the door, and gets no response, of course, until she bangs on the door. When Raspberry gripes at Strawberry for not telling her when the party was, Strawberry not-so-subtly tells her that it's because they're not using manners. Raspberry doesn't get it, though. And she still doesn't get it, even when she finds out that everyone was supposed to wear pink, and no one saved her a seat. So Strawberry just spells it out, and Raspberry's thrilled! Until everyone grabs all the food just as she reaches for it. And everyone makes these faces that are supposed to be sneaky, but just make them look stoned (no wonder they're eating all the pastries). And then they hit her squick points: spreading jam with their fingers, drinking juice off of saucers and straight out the pitcher. Once the party is over, Strawberry just slams the door in Raspberry's face, and even she has to admit, it wasn't a good party.
Raspberry dejectedly makes her way back home, and finds an invitation to the second party in her mailbox. At the second party, everyone except Raspberry is good mannered to a fault. When questioned, Raspberry tells them all that she prefers this party to the previous one, but only because she got more food. In fact, she does a spit take when she learns that everyone was using super-good manners, and reacts hostilely when Angel Cake brings up Manners Matter again. She walks out of the party in a rage, leaving the others dumbfounded. On her way home again, Raspberry fumes about the others and all their manners talk. She stops to talk to a bird, telling it how she had a fine time at the first party, even though she didn't get that much to eat. But then she remembers the other party, and she starts to realize that maybe, just maybe, manners really do matter after all.
So she goes to Strawberry's and apologizes, even busting out the waterworks to ensure Strawberry's forgiveness. And of course Strawberry forgives her, even going so far as to offer to teach her, and the kids at home, all about manners. This is boring, and annoying, so I'm skipping it. Except to note that Raspberry acting like she has manners is both totally cute and kinda creepy.
The next day (I think), in a tent in a field, Angel Cake finishes setting up for the tea party just as the guests arrive. Now, I want to know, who thought it was a good idea for Blueberry to say "absolu-oot-ly" to stuff? Thankfully she only says it once here, but it was that horrible catchphrase that nearly made me swear off this series entirely, since the first DVD I checked out was her debut, and she said it almost every sentence. Anyway, everyone is at the party except for Strawberry Shortcake and Raspberry Torte, making for a total Pygmallion moment when they show up, with Raspberry actually in a dress and her hair all bedecked with little flowers. Raspberry shows off her newly-learned manners, and then it's time for a song! The best part of which is that Raspberry gets a verse all to herself, and sings just off-pitch enough to be both awesome and strangely in-character. Seriously, I *love* the way she sings "Thanks, be mine, too," in the second chorus. After the song, Raspberry makes a speech about how she's learned her lesson and will be good-mannered from now on. And Strawberry and the others thank her for making the effort. Strawberry also reminds the kids at home to be good-mannered from now on, too, and the story ends with everyone saying completely random generic good manners phrases.
Now, how hilarious would it have been if at the end, Raspberry had been so completely good-mannered that it creeped everyone out and they demanded the old, unmannered Raspberry back? I guess that's what I really love about Raspberry Torte. She has such a definite personality, especially for someone outside of the core five. And I just love her voice. Most of the voice acting in the series is absolutely horrible (although, like the animation, it has gotten slightly better), and while Raspberry isn't spectacular, her voice actress somehow makes that work to her advantage. It's hard to describe, really.

By the way, does anyone know what the middle line in the first chorus of Man Oh, Manners is? I turned on the subtitles, but for the song, they just said "Singing," "Girls Singing" and "End." From what I can tell, the line goes something like "I tell ya, manners don't matter/It's much too much to deal." But I can't quite tell.

Not very fancy
Ginger Snap is nervous
What are you looking at, Raspberry?
Strawberry being sneaky
Her friends are Hoity Toity
If she feels like slurping, who's it gonna hurt?
She'll eat with just her fingers
No cookies for Raspberry
No fun at a no-manners party
Raspberry is squicked
Raspberry's house
Is it just me, or did Raspberry look jealous in this scene?
Confiding in a bird
So cute for the party!
Strawberry has a pie
Raspberry gets a solo
At the party

1 comment:

Kayla said...

I love your commentary on this episode... Especially all those screencaps!
I love Rasperry Torte too!
Could you post more screencaps?