I tend to avoid shojo anime/manga. They’re ususally overly dramatic and tend to focus on, if you can believe it, love and relationships. Personally, if I want to watch an anime like that, I’ll watch a Harem or a RomCom but I don’t typically go to anime for living my love life vicariously through someone else. I do go to anime for drama though occasionally and the series we’re going to be talking about today has it in spades. Today, we talk about Peach Girl.
Momo Adachi is a young girl like any other, trying to navigate the maze that is high school life. Good thing that she’s got her good friend Sae to tell her whats what, right? Well, not so much as Sae is revealed to be a manipulative lying bitch who will stop at nothing to make Momo’s life even more miserable than it already is. She already has a false reputation for being a slut because of her tanned skin and bleached hair which are side effects of her being on the swim team for the entirty of middle school and this proves to be one of her biggest complexes as she has feelings for Toji but hears that he doesn’t really go for girls with tanned skin, preferring lighter skinned girls…like Sae. But Momo’s life is about to get even more complicated because school playboy Kairi is in love with Momo. What’s a girl to do, right? Now Momo has to do battle with Sae while figuring out who her heart truly belongs to, Toji or Kairi.
Peach Girl’s plot is nothing if not entertaining. Within six episodes the drama reaches explosive proportions and it’s just getting started. It’s really quite a spectacle to behold as Sae uses the characters insecurities about themselves and each other to her advantage, Momo and Toji doubt aspects of each other while Kairi has the potential to go either way, helping or hindering Momo’s cause while also playing the role of alternate love interest/only male friend. Miscommunication is the name of this series game and Sae plays it so well it’s almost horrifying that such a person can exist. Adding no shortage of problems is the school itself, siding with Sae and swaying with the wind as to whether they hate Momo or not which helps to isolate her and drive her further into the arms of Kairi. The narrative soon expands it’s character web to include two celebrities, the school nurse and a past lover who never quite feel out of place but leave the viewer thinking “What the fuck could possibly happen now?!”
Unfortunately, for this viewer, the visuals of the series don’t entertain nearly as much as the plot does. Peach Girl straddles this awkward line of interesting/appealing character designs but not appealing characters. I’m not sure I said that right. Okay, so I like the way some of the characters are designed but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I like the way the character looks. I feel that this is almost an oxymoron or a contaradiction but the characters visually just don’t look very attractive. They’ve all got these big lips large eyes and they just look…awkward for some reason…at least to me. To the average anime watcher I’m sure that the series will do well enough in the visual department but it personally doesn’t do much for me. The music is…meh. I barely noticed any of the background tracks and the only things that stuck out to me were the dubbed opening and ending. Even if I didn’t really care for the songs, I felt that they were dubbed decently and they didn’t kill my ears. I have not watched this series in Japanese and personally, I feel that it should be watched in English if only for that soap opera feeling that it conveys, though personally I feel that most soap operas are a touch more subdued than Peach Girl. My friend put it best. “It’s so soapy, soap’s eyes are burning right now.”
But lets take a moment to seriously talk about this. Peach Girl seems to be set in the same kind of universe as School Days where real world logic is thrown out the window in favor of dramatic reversals and idiotic choices that further the plot. Nary an adult is in sight in this series and what adults there are tend to get caught up in the drama which has high schoolers at it’s roots. And to be honest, adults are exactly what this series needs. Like School Days, which I’ll continue to use as the most direct comparison to this series in terms of shit gone wrong, these kids are basically just left to their own devices or simply choose not to tell their parents about what’s going on and I can understand that. Parents can often make the already trying life of high school much harder than it needs to be as their advice, while it tends to be common sense, tends to oscillate between “Just ignore it” and “Beat the shit out of X”. Other times the suggestion to be taken out of school may be brought up which might’ve actually been the best case scenario in Momo’s case but considering how she ends the series maybe it all worked out for the best. Except, it didn’t. At the end, Momo’s found her true love but look what it took to get him. She spends the entire series being largely dragged around by the two men in her life, largely lacking any kind of agency and looking like an idiot half the time due to Sae being a manipulative bitch. When she does have agency it’s ususally “I’m picking X and that’s it!” except that it’s not because she continues to dwell on lover #2 and when she’s not, some other issue is complicating her relationship. It’s all very…Japan, I suppose. I feel like while the series could very well take place here in the West the drama probably wouldn’t be as overt as it is with the conservative setting of Japan. Momo’s tanned skin wouldn’t be a hindrance to her here in America because of all the different races we have here. Sae’s manipulation would further be curbed by some authority figure because parental/teacher units are a thing in Western media. Kairi would probably have quite the reputation for having slept with a number of females, though whether or not he actually did would be a plot point and something for Momo to agonize over. I feel like Toji would probably be the only character relatively unchanged and unaffected by a setting change. I honestly feel though like this series is just dramatic enough and during the last two episodes I felt that there should’ve been more drama. Using School Days once again as a comparison, it’s a roller coaster for it’s entire length. The ending, which should honestly be the series selling point, is so dramatic that it leaves you feeling like, “YES! It could’ve only ended this way.” Peach Girl on the other hand has one of those endings that’s not quite horrible but feels lacking. I was sitting at my computer thinking “Okay…now what?!” and then it just ended. I’ll give it points for dragging this love triangle around for a solid 25 episodes but the resolution just made me think that there should’ve been more. Basically, this was the ending that the series needed, but not the ending that it deserved then again it certainly leaves you wanting for more which I suppose any good anime should but at the same time it just doesn’t feel concrete and complete.
In the end, while Peach Girl is an entertaining series, I sure as hell wouldn’t call it a “good” one. Just about every situation could’ve been solved by the characters just telling a responsible adult, sitting down and talking with one another or just beating the shit out of Sae which I assure you would’ve happened if this series took place here in America. But at the end of the day, the characters feel well rounded and relatable and everyone gets some character development and it actually ends so, can I really harp on it for that? No, I don’t think I can. If you’re ever in the mood for anime drama at it’s best, Peach Girl will satisfy you like no other and when you finish and want some more, there’s a Taiwanese Live Action version readily available for you on YouTube, just like the anime itself. I suppose I could say that it’s more substantive than most American drama’s that try to do the same thing but I’ve yet to see a character threaten suicide just to make someone else listen to them in a series made over here. Check it out if you so desire. DaWaRou~!