I don't know what it is with catholic schoolgirls in Japan, but it seems they are all lesbians -- some more closeted than others. Whereas Maria-sama ga miteru only hinted at relationships between the girls, it seems like everyone in Strawberry Panic! has a full-blown crush on a classmate and/or, ehm, "enjoy each others company" once the lights go out...
Anyway, the action takes place on Astrea Hill, where three schools: St. Miatre (the school for refined girls), St. Spica (the school for ambitious girls) and St. Le Rim (for fun-loving girls who don't take thigns so seriously). All of the students live in the dorms, which are triangular and (thus?) is called the 'Strawberry Dorms'.
Nagisa enters St. Miatre, and on her first day she meets Shizuma, who is the "Etoile" -- the most beloved girl in the three schools. Of course, Shizuma latches onto Nagisa...
And so begins the whole mess. As with Marimite, some things are blown way out of proportion by the girls, whose world pretty much just ends at the school gates. The thing between Nagisa/Shizuma/Tamao is complemented by the thing between Hikari/Amane/Yaya, with a bit of random episodes strewn in for good measure.
Whereas I could stomach the drama in Marimite quite well, after 26 episodes of Strawberry Panic I was glad it was done. I had difficulty in caring for the things the characters found important, which made it hard to care for their motivations and actions. It seems I can take about one season of this particular type of madness before it starts to wear thin.
I guess it's telling that my favourite character of the series is a secondary character.
Visually, the series is not spectacular, but the animation is quite servicable. The voice acting is pretty good, the music is quite forgettable.
- Amusing at first.
- Oh, the DRAMA!
All in all, a 7. If you're a yuri/shoujo-ai fan, then it's quite OK. Otherwise, I wouldn't put it that high on the list.