Strawberry Panic: Between Shizuma and Tamao

While Shizuma’s attempts to dominate Nagisa are flamboyant and hard to miss, Tamao is no less intrusive. In fact the anime pairs these efforts in the second episode "Etoile." If Shizuma attempts to kiss Nagisa twice, so too does Tamao try to undress Nagisa to help her put on her new dress. Nagisa reacts to both of them contrarily, rounding upon Shizuma while she doesn’t yet know she is the Etoile, and retreating and falling backwards from Tamao. Indeed, she even complains to herself in the previous episode about Tamao’s efforts to control her: "It feels like…I’m being pushed around completely." Tamao understands Shizuma’s forward behavior perfectly, and explains it in terms of her own motivations: both are responding to the fact that "Nagisa-chan is just too cute!" Nagisa is hemmed in between two similar if opposing forces.
The episode begins a competition between Shizuma and Tamao for Nagisa that only concludes with the climax of the anime. Tamao vows to protect Nagisa from Shizuma, and hinds her to herself with a cord in Nagisa’s hair. It is only when the cord is released that Nagisa can make love to Shizuma, which we will see twice, once when Tamao goes home for the night, and finally at the conclusion.
This contention of forces makes it hard to see Nagisa’s own character. Even at the end Tamao releases and pushes her towards Shizuma, and Nagisa does not act on her own. Thus I am having a difficulty understanding who Nagisa is, such that the conclusion signifies a necessity of Shizuma and Nagisa’s characters, and not an arbitrary resolution.
One should note, however, that Tamao corresponds not to Shizuma but to Miyuki. Both act professedly for the sake of responsibility, which is true, but conceals a disguised love and jealousy towards the object of their love. Both Tamao and Miyuki represent friendship, an expression of care and concern, but which is also a mode of realism, in Miyuki’s case for propriety and duty, and in Tamao’s for ordinary social life and perhaps bishojo infatuation. If Shizuma appreciates Miyuki’s care, and Nagisa loves the ordinary social world and Tamao’s connection with it, neither regards their shadows as objects of passion. In Strawberry Panic love exceeds and flies beyond ordinary friendship.
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