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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Peach Girl, Vol. 3
Peach Girl, Vol. 3
FUNimation // PG // July 10, 2007
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jamie S. Rich | posted July 12, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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THE MOVIE:

Peach Girl: Super Pop Love Hurricane is intended to be a five-volume DVD series collecting the complete run of anime adapting Miwa Ueda's shojo manga classic. This makes Volume 3 the dead center of the series. Featuring episodes 10 through 13, this disc is kind of the make-it-or-break-it point of the show. Though a series can pull it out for a strong finale, the middle is where many shows start to sag, separating a truly great serial from a merely good one.

With that in mind, Peach Girl - Volume 3 doesn't start off on the right foot. The second volume ended on a rather dark note. The main character of the series, Momo, had been tricked by her rival, Sae, into getting caught in a scandalous situation with a bad boy actor named Jigoro. Sae then arranged for the two boys who have been vying for Momo's heart--the jockish but kind Toji and the cute class clown Kairi--to find Momo in said situation. She is in Jigoro's bed, undressed, and seemingly she just lost her virginity to him. Given that she blacked out and has no memory of what occurred, the implication for Momo is that she was date raped.

Heavy stuff for an otherwise weightless high school sudser. (Yes, the people caught in these tangles are juniors in high school!) So, yes, we should take it for granted that Peach Girl is intended to be light entertainment (for more story background and my theories on why the show works, read my review of Vol. 1). No one is really expecting it to veer off into such super serious territory. Even so, it's strange how casually the issue is dispensed with, and even worse, how easy it is to gloss over Kairi's overly creepy revenge plot. He actually puts Sae in a position where she very nearly is assaulted, and it's only Momo's humanity that saves the day. Rather than chastise Kairi for doing what he did, everyone thinks that Sae should now understand the gravity of her own actions. It's the kind of thing where if you're going to stick your toe in the water, you'd better jump all the way in.

Even so, this does lead to Momo discovering the truth and lets her get back to the business at hand: her romantic love affair with Toji. Being the middle, however, Peach Girl - Volume 3 can't let a sugary sweet date to the amusement park go unimpeded. The status quo has to be dismantled! Sae blackmails Toji, threatening to release photos of Momo and Jigoro, and despite the fact that not only does Toji know how evil Sae is, but Momo knows, as well (and even suspects that Toji is being blackmailed), the dolt breaks up with his beautiful, caring girlfriend anyway. Oh, the self-sacrifices the handsome and dumb will make for love!

Sure, credibility gets stretched to its absolute thinnest in Peach Girl--if it began as a tree, it would now be a toothpick--but I have to admit that this rapid switch is way more of a laugh than the months of counseling the other plot stuff would have required, so I'm more than willing to forgive and forget. Besides, as a guy who always rooted for Joey Potter to choose Pacey instead of Dawson back before the Dawson's Creek kids went to college and got totally lame on us, I've been waiting for the chance for Kairi to finally make his move. So, as much as we hate the villainous Sae and as much as we want to smack Toji upside his chiseled head, their getting together is the best thing ever!

Which, yes, is the guiltless joy of the pure, unpretentious melodrama of Ueda's story. Episodes 12 and 13 advance us to the beginning of the school year, and Toji and Sae fade to the background. Kairi and Momo are getting to know each other, and Momo has to struggle with getting over one boy in order to see the good in another. New threats are introduced as Kairi's family and his past step back into the present, and this sets us up for the future tension, and for the final two DVDs in the Peach Girl series.

In addition to the trashy delights offered by the plot, Peach Girl is always a series that is just as enjoyable to look at s it is to become involved in. All the things that got me hooked in the first place--the pretty colors, the slick animation, the fancy clothing designs, and the exaggerated poses and use of the abstract to enhance the required mood--are all intact in these four shows. It's one of the best things about animation, that the look of a series can mirror the intended mood and style of the story. Peach Girl goes all dark when the emotions run deep, and gets crazy when wackiness takes over.

THE DVD

Video/Sound:
The first two DVDs in the Peach Girl series have set a standard that has yet to be dropped. A good looking full frame picture with dynamite colors. No enhancement problems, no layer shifts, just good anime.

Similarly, we once again get stereo mixes of the original Japanese language track and a new English dub. I've actually taken to mainly watching the dub on this now, a rarity for me. Momo and Toji are perfectly cast, and the other main characters are adequate. Some of the background characters are a little cheesy, but the spoken English dialogue has more personality than the subtitles. I watched all of episode 12 and some of 13 with the Japanese dialogue, and this time, the sutbtitling was at a much more normal pace, none of the rapid shotgunning like on volume 2. Take your pick, it's fine either way.

Extras:
Sticking with the format established in the previous volumes here, as well, we get essentially the same extras as we've been getting all along. The main ones are the opening and closing credit sequences shown without any text. Each DVD has also had interviews with members of the original Japanese cast, and this time it's a short piece with the voice of Toji.

Funimation rounds the disc out with trailers for other anime.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Peach Girl - vol. 3 is an excellent entry in the anime series, providing the important bridge between the early episodes and setting us on our downhill slope toward the finale. It's a little darker by design, as the things that happen are more crucial, and if you aren't caught up in the story now, you never will be. Heartbreak and teenage angst has never been this pretty, either. Slick, colorful animation and great fashion designs set Peach Girl outside the norm for girly romance serials. Highly Recommended.

Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.

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