I remember as I was growing up, that I would often find myself glued to the television screen on the weekends watching cartoons. This memory of watching cartoons on the weekend gave me the idea to do a cartoon review feature over the weekend! These are any type of cartoons, as I deem appropriate. This could be a cartoon special, an animated movie, or a review of some episodes of a cartoon series!
“Strawberry Shortcake: Housewarming Surprise”
Written by Peter Sauder
Directed by Raymond Jafelice
Starring the Voices of: Russi Taylor, Robert Ridgely, Chris Wiggins, and more!
Strawberry Shortcake: Housewarming Surprise chronicles Strawberry Shortcake’s move into a new house. Her friends, including several new ones she met on a recent “around the world” vacation come to visit her. The villains attempt to ruin the fun by stealing all the recipes Strawberry’s international friends bring with them.
I watched this last night because well, I was a bit behind. I am impressed though that I ran out of steam near the end of the month and not at the halfway point. This is the fourth special in the vintage “Strawberry Shortcake” specials. I am nearing the finish line. I can almost see them and then these “Weekend Specials” will be a bit more wide open for other content. I wanted to challenge myself to watch all 6 of these though, so I am getting them knocked off my “always wanted to watch but wasn’t allowed” list. This special is also roughly 25 minutes in length, like the others.
The first big difference is the animation style. This could be because of the second big difference, Romeo Mueller is not attached. Romeo Mueller basically wrote and was in charge of the other three specials that were before this one. The specials largely seemed to have been his love child up to this point, but this changes here. While I cannot be sure, I believe that this is partially due to that generic feeling that seemed to have came with the last special. It felt very forced and just not as well done. It seemed like Mueller was losing his steam, so I am thankful that he seemed to allow or was forced to move to the side to allow someone else to do these specials. Now let me get back to the animation style. It just seems more crisp and what is the right word? It just seems more childlike and of a higher animation quality than the other three specials. Since I don’t know the history of animation at all, I wonder if there were some changes or technology advancements in making it easier to animate or something when this special was about to be released because it is a noticeable difference.
The special revolves around Strawberry moving. It is so apparent when we see the house for the first time that it was probably a toy that they had produced for sale. They were intelligent though and only showed it for a few seconds on the screen, so we knew where she had moved to. This was done in a much better fashion than what had been done with introductions of characters in the previous specials. This being said, new characters are introduced in this special as well. In this one, we have Mint Tulip, Almond Tea, Cafe Ole, Crepe Suzette and Lem n Ada, twin babies. I would say Mint Tulip or Almond Tea would be my favorite of the new characters. The issue here still though is that none of the new characters really get a significant amount of screen time, so they are almost stereotypes of the region that they seem to represent. Strawberry and the villains (Sour Grapes and Peculiar Purple Pie Man here) seem to be the only ones allowed to form any type of personality. Everyone else is flat. This makes the special still somewhat annoying like the last one. I realize that I like a world full of fully realized characters, even in my cartoons. I have seen other cartoons that have been able to showcase different personalities, even if these personalities are “the shy one” or “the strong one.” We don’t really get that here.
The story here also falls flat. The reason that the plot wraps up is not believable to me, even given the other specials where the Pieman does not like what happens. It is established in the other specials, I know, but it just doesn’t feel right here. Then all of a sudden, the bad guys are not so bad. They help the good guys when something happens to the twins. I don’t want to give too much away, but I was like “I like my bad guys to be bad guys, but I guess this is a children’s special.” I huffed a little on this special because it just didn’t fit with what I wanted to see I guess from this switch over from one head honcho to another. I wish I could have liked this more, but I only have 2 more specials. Maybe I am just getting burned out on Strawberry Shortcake? Say it isn’t so!
“Strawberry Shortcake: Housewarming Surprise” is the fourth of six specials for the character! Next weekend will be a review of the fifth special!