I'm a 32 year old male and my tastes in animation are broad and varied but they mainly include Disney movies. However, I like watching movies and shows that are different and seem to stand out to me.
Animation, Acting, Singing, Dancing
Animation that I love:
The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Avatar: The Last Airbender
I could only imagine what was going on in the minds of Strawberry Shortcake fans when the final special came around, with Baby Without a Name still floating around in their memories. Well, probably half of them didn't even care, but this special has me torn. It marks the closest Nelvana has gotten to bringing the specials to resembling the giggling nonsense of the 80s cultural cheese. Good thing it's the last one.
The 2003 version of Strawberry Shortcake ends rather slickly and with a bang of a finale that shows the complete reformation of the villains. We get no such luck here. The opening theme song almost gave me hope that Nelvana magic was working again as the segment was good simple fun and well animated. This piece gives way to a rather strange fantasy sequence that is sorta Don Bluth-esque in atmosphere. In this sequence, Strawberry Shortcake has changed into a pinker dress and stares into the mirror while she experiments with different hair styles. Then the fantasy sequence picks up as she imagines herself with different styles and doing different jobs. The song in the background is an 80s style ballad called When I Grow Up. On the one hand, the song is excessively cheesy. On the other hand, I can't help but still find the whole fantasy sequence adorable. This song is different from the rest in that it uses background vocalists. Most of the other songs from the Strawberry Shortcake specials either featured one or more of the kids singing or the villains singing or were of the old school Flo and Eddie feel, which often served as plot descriptors.
This special tries its hardest to remain appealing as the villains are still pretty funny. Later on, the Purple Pieman starts developing a crush on the Berry Princess. This is actually within character because the Purple Pieman seems to be a rather ineffective villain with the most inconvenient Achilles heels. However this special can't overcome the mere fact that the Berry Princess looks like a rejected clone of Lady Lovelylocks. Nor the fact that the Berrykins are really quite useless. It probably would've been better if the Berrykins were quite capable of doing their jobs without the need for a princess' protection.
The last two specials worked because they were innocent and simple, almost concentrating on the joys of its children characters while not losing sight of the importance of music and the beauty of the characters' utopian world. Baby Without a Name finished with an endearing appeal for love and friendship in a brilliant use of breaking the fourth wall, themes which echo in the superior 2003 tv series. This special, however, ends rather goofily. The less said about it the better.
Baby Without a Name has an unusual amount of high energy for a Strawberry Shortcake cartoon. The humor from Purple Pie Man and Sour Grapes is perfectly dead pan. They actually come up with a scheme that makes sense, and their song is actually not all that terrible. But the true magic comes from the titular baby with no name. To quote Strawberry, she is "the most huggable baby" you'll likely ever meet. If she had been introduced with a proper name, the emotional impact would've been lessened, and she would've been just like Apple Dumplin or Lem and Ada. But by not giving her a name, the show gives her a purpose.
Not only is the baby extra cute, but she seems to have been born without any fear. She warms up to Strawberry and the kids instantly and wanders off to chase after Fig Boot, the special's so called monster who isn't really all that big or scary, and befriends the creature. Fig Boot, it turns out, is just as cuddly as the baby and makes a perfect pet for her. This special does all it can to make everything seem super marshmallow sweet without being treacly. The final treat comes when Strawberry breaks the fourth wall twice. Once when she endears the baby to the audience and asks for somebody to come up with a good name for her. The second time is after the special's final song, a simply sweet tune that is aptly named "Berry Best Friends". She turns to the camera and says "I love you berry much." Whether you judge the whole thing as sappy or adorable depends on your point of view.
This special reminds me of the 2003 version's World of Friends DVD. It's kinda fun to see how some of Strawberry's international friends started life. Only Almond Tea, who gets reborn as Tea Blossom, and Crepes Suzette are recognizable. Mint Tulip, Cafe Ole, and Lem and Ada never make it to the modern version. This special lacks the modern version's careful lessons about diversity, but it makes up for this loss in other areas.
Lem and Ada, the bad pun on lemonade that they are, are better British characters than T.N. Honey from Big Apple City. During a game of hide and seek, Lem and Ada hide in the box containing the recipes, which causes complications when the Purple Pie Man steals the box. The songs are shorter and sweeter this time around. If the song writing style sounds familiar, just check the credits and you'll probably spot the guy responsible for most the songs from Care Bears. If You Wanna Talk Berry is goofy fun and darn near impossible to get out of your head. The Purple Pie Man actually does something good for a change in this special. It's all disposable fluff, but this special looks more like classic 80s than the previous ones.
The Peculiar Purple Pie Man tones down his "Snidely Whiplash" routine, but when you see him wanting to steal the trike and ruin the pet show, the first thought that might come to mind is "Is that the best you can do?" Clearly he's not a very good villain. That's where Sour Grapes comes in. In this special, the terrible twosome are complete and Pie Man(I hate saying his full name) starts to look more like comic relief. In this role, both the villains succeed in making the special modestly entertaining.
This special marks the introduction of one of Strawberry's core friends, Angel Cake. In the 2003 version, Angel Cake is the resident artist and cake baker, who occasionally lets her need for perfection to manifest itself as a moody temperament. This version of Angel Cake is a fairly nondescript girl who says "May I, Please, and Thank you" one too many times. She's obsessed with dieting but states that "If you don't think about it, the calories don't count." Well that's no lesson to teach the kids. Fortunately she has enough heart to adopt a shy skunk named Souffle, whom nobody seems to want except for the kind kids in Strawberryland.
This is an oddball special in that both Custard and Souffle talk. I can't find voice actor credits for them, but I found this weird because Custard was mute in previous specials, and no other special features any animal talking except for the giant animals that offer their services as transportation. Custard in this version is your average, huggable kitten and certainly lives up to her color of pink. I definitely prefer the 2003 version's blend of heart tempered by snarky pessimism.
The songs are still terrible although an increase in quality from the previous one. The villains' attempt at singing is ear-splittingly painful, but this is balanced out by the one good song, A Kid's Best Friend, which is actually more like talking than singing anyway.
Strawberry Shortcake is still prone to burst into tears in this one, but remarkably she starts to show a propensity for gutsiness as she bounces back to confront her nemesis by exploiting his allergies to "berry talk". This new attitude carries over into subsequent specials as Strawberry shows more confidence.
You could do a lot worse than this special considering the time frame. Thankfully, the quality could only go up from here as production of the final three get taken over by Nelvana.