Teen comedies are unfortunately a dime a dozen when it comes to anime. It seems that just about everyone has some idea of what love and friendship was like during high school and they simply have to share it with everyone else in either manga or anime form. The market is sadly saturated with too many titles that fit into this genre and that's a shame really. It really makes it difficult for newcomers to wade through the mundane and generic in order to find the good stuff which is actually out there.
Here at DVD Talk we look at anime all the time and try to help you out and steer you in the right direction. As far as teen romance and/or comedy series are concerned some of the better ones stand out such as Rumbling Hearts, Boys Be..., and Rumbling Hearts. With FUNimation's latest collection of Peach Girl there's yet one more title to add to that list.
Peach Girl is a 25 episode anime that originated from Miwa Ueda's original manga that started way back in the late 90's. For all intents and purposes this is a high school drama akin to what you'd expect to find in One Tree Hill or The O.C.. It's trashy at times and often difficult to watch but throughout it all the show maintains a certain level of quality that will appeal to fans of the genre. Its characters are well-developed, the high school world is eerily accurate, and it's hard to deny that this series is something of a guilty pleasure.
At the center of everything going on in Peach Girl is the ridiculously tanned and blonde Momo Adachi. On the outside she's a pretty girl who is adored by boys and vilified by the other girls in her class. Her appearance has her branded a slut as this is something of a symbol for it in Japanese society. The ironic part is that Momo didn't tan and bleach her hair on purpose; it all came about thanks to her dedication to the swim team. With the current state of Momo's life she has to pick and choose her friends carefully. Unfortunately for her the man of her dreams seems to not want anything to do with her, the guy she doesn't want fauns over her, and an archrival steps forward to ruin her life at every turn.
While Momo is generally an innocent girl painted wrong, it's safe to say that Sae is the Picasso to her canvas. This girl does whatever she can do foil Momo's quest to be with Toji. Not only that but she goes out of her way to spread rumors about Momo being a hoochie and attempts to strip her of everything she has. There truly is no rhyme or reason behind Sae's desire to destroy Momo's life other than a mean teenage girl being a mean teenage girl.
As the series unfolds the bizarre love triangle that resides between Momo, Toji, and Kairi strengthens in preposterousness. There are so many misunderstandings, awkward moments, and emotional glitches between these characters that it's often hard to follow exactly what's going on. Throughout the 25 episodes here you'll see each character get themselves into situations that common sense would dictate that you avoid and in general there is a certain density to perceptions all around. Why does Momo completely shrug off Kairi? Is Toji really that stupid? And just what the heck is Sae's problem anyway? Are all questions that you'll be asking yourself after just a few episodes.
Despite my misgivings about the run-of-the-mill teen romance angle, Peach Girl did have a lot going for it. The writing was better than most and even though the characters were one-dimensional they proved to be interesting enough within the confines of the series. There is also a decent sense of humor that permeates everything here and if you enjoy off-the-wall antics then you'll find yourself right at home.
To its benefit Peach Girl is a guilty pleasure among guilty pleasures. It's a simple concept filled with fun characters that are what they are simply for the sake of the program. If teenage dramatic comedies are your cup of tea then consider this your tea ceremony. It's a fun show from start to finish and though some of the antics stretch the reality of human emotion and potential, it's still entertaining to watch. If this genre isn't your thing then Peach Girl certainly won't convert you. In the end it feels like it pays homage to the genre rather than trying to reinvent it, but that's a good thing just the same.
Peach Girl is presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and it's one hell of a colorful show. With a vibrant palette to play with colors become a character all their own and they help to define what this series is all about. The character designs are also fairly unique and that certainly helps separate this show from so many others.
As far as the transfer is concerned the quality is very good with little to no grain and virtually no compression to be found anywhere. The opening and closing animations do look kind of choppy at times and there is some aliasing here and there as the camera pans but other than those flaws this series features a smooth sailing display. Sure the look of this show may be girly and put most guys off because of that, but it's a solidly presented program just the same.
This is a very wordy, dialogue driven series and because of that the 2.0 stereo presentations works just fine for both the English and Japanese languages. Don't come to the show looking to be blown away by immersive or dynamic sound and you'll walk away with all of your expectations met. The dubbing quality for both English and Japanese languages is very decent with the latter edging out the former. While the English dub fit the theme of the show I found some of the voiceovers to be a tad over the top. The Japanese track just felt much more natural at the end of the day.
The bonus features from the six individual volumes have been retained for this box set. The collection includes some trailers, textless songs, and a promotional video. Discs one through five feature some interviews with the original Japanese cast. Zach Bolton and Kate Oxley from the English dub sit down to provide an audio commentary which turned out to be rather insightful into the program. Another commentary also makes its way onto the final disc which features the cast getting together and having a good time.
If you love teen dramas or romantic comedies then Peach Girl definitely has a lot of what you're looking for. The characters are a tad one-dimensional but the writing certainly creates plenty of interesting situations for them. I particularly loved the character of Sae who was just mean for the sake of being mean and Momo who is just an innocent bystander in the grand scheme of things. This show symbolizes just about everything that's good about the genre and it does so at the sake of being kind of stereotypical. There's still plenty to love though and in the end this is a strongly recommended show for anyone who is looking for a good shōjo anime.
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!