Wedding Peach Vol. #04 (of 10) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, July 11, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, July 13, 2004
What They Say
One by one classmates begin to disappear, ghosts emerge out of nowhere and poor little Jama-P is kidnapped by the devil Sandra! In comes the Love Angels to battle devil after devil sent down to Earth by the wicked queen Lady Raindevila. Will love triumph over evil after the dust settles?
Just when you expect the show to slide into some routine filler episodes, it's plot, plot and more plot.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its English dubbed format. The show is getting close to its ten-year anniversary, so it's not surprising that the track here is a pretty basic but good sounding stereo mix. There doesn't feel to be a huge amount of directionality across the forward soundstage but there are a few good moments during some of the combat sequences. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout the show and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing back in 1995, Wedding Peach's transfer is surprisingly clean and clear looking. Though I hadn't expected something bad looking, I was expecting something closer to Sailor Moon since the two have been tied together whenever one is talked about for so long. The transfer here is quite smooth and full of lots of great colors. Even better, aliasing is minimal and I'm hard pressed to find much cross coloration here. This really looks quite good across all five episodes on the dual layered disc, much better than I expected it to be.
With a clear keepcase, the Wedding Peach series continues to get some of the best looking covers coming out of ADV lately. This one breaks from the past three by doing a dual group shot; in the background we have each of the girls in their Wedding Dress outfits while the foreground has them in their battle outfits, all set against a really nice background of stars and bubbles. The colors look great and there's a lot of detail to the artwork. This is one of those covers that you'd want as a poster. The back cover provides a filmstrip running from top to bottom with small shots from the show throughout it. The summary gives the basic rundown of the premise and there's a good box listing the discs features and extras. The bottom of the back cover provides a good summary of the technical features on the disc as well, breaking down the run time for both the main disc and the bonus disc also. There's no insert included here but there is a "reversible" cover where there's an image of the trio of girls going to the beach but in various swimsuit attire relaxing on a blanket.
The menu is very nicely done, laid out just like the back cover with a small filmstrip along one side with green filtered clips from the show playing out to part of the music from the series. The main section of the menu has an image of Momoko obscured in the blue filter as well with clouds passing over her. Each episode can be jumped right to it from the main menu and the usual layout of languages and extras sit off somewhat awkwardly to the side. Access times are nice and fast and the layout looks great overall.
The only extras included on the disc are a clean opening and ending sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It seems like every time I expect this show to fall into routine or do something that's done just as predictably in other series of a similar nature, Wedding Peach bucks the trend. In explaining the show to someone, I mentioned the usual formula of the show; character plot, danger, eye-catch, battle, resolution. Book-end that with an opening and ending and you get an episode of Wedding Peach. Now, that's not to say that the material is bad or that it doesn't progress the overall plot, but the past few volumes have followed that formula pretty well.
So of course, this volume mixes things up a bit by bringing the villains in earlier, bringing more plot to the later part of the episodes and making the Saint Something Four a highlight of the volume. In fact, the show made me feel absolutely stupid for not realizing what a Saint Something Four was. I had simply attributed it to a hard to translate name or something, but suddenly it became apparent that the "Something" is the traditional pieces; something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. So simple, so obvious and completely beyond me. I plead being male in my defense however.
While the search for these artifacts has been the goal of those coming by order of Raindevila, it's something that they've mostly failed at finding. Even Pluie, who got close to discovering one, only made it halfway there and gave the ring back to Momoko. But the ring itself isn't the artifact. With Sandra now sending his minions all over, supposedly to work in groups instead of individually so as to not suffer the same fate as Pluie, the search ends up becoming more critical for both sides. And it's a surprise in that they nail down three of the four Something's within the first three episodes of the show. That again goes against formula. You'd expect filler and exploratory time with the new artifacts! But no, they barrel ahead with more plot.
There are some good episodes on this volume due to this. A radio event leads Noise to figuring out that one of the letter writers to a late night romance talk show is linked to one of the Something's. As it turns out, the letter was from Momoko and about her growing feelings for Yousuke and the conflict it creates with her long held desire for Yanigaba. Of course, this situation is quickly picked out by her friends and they tease her mercilessly about it. But Momoko's feelings, which are imbued in the letter, end up sending love waves out across the radio waves and it leads Noise to Yousuke. Figuring he may have one of the Something's, she manipulates him into taking her to his place.
From this, we get to know a lot about Yousuke. First, I'd love to see some statistics on how many single parents leave their teenage kids in Japan while they go to Paris. And they always seem to go to Paris! Yousuke, to the surprise of Momoko after she deals with the attacks, learns that Yousuke lives alone and has for the past two years when his mother left to go to Paris for undisclosed reasons. He couldn't bear to leave the city for whatever reasons and has lived there since. We also get to see his tearful farewell to his father who never returned from a sea voyage he worked on. But we do see the small bell that he had left Yousuke as a good luck charm and continues to hold onto until this day.
This episode brings a lot of character material to bear for him but it also ends up involving Momoko nicely and gives her more reasons to like and care for him, though the two of them of course try to push that possibility off the table. But the reality of it comes through well during the times that Noise attacks and we get the conditions set where their emotions run so high and in synch that the love waves end up creating one of the Something's, giving Momoko a new weapon to use against the Devils that Sandra and Raindevila are sending down against them. Much like other parts of the series, it's a bit cheesy but they somehow manage to pull it off and make it fun and enjoyable to watch.
This gets repeated twice with some dangerous situations again on this volume which allows Hinagiku and Yuri to acquire their own more powerful weapons. It also sets things so that when Sandra realizes that his minions are not working together and Raindevila begins to threaten him more personally that he has to take on the situation personally. Just as with Pluie, the stakes get raised as each arc goes on but in different ways. The addition of the new powers through the new weapons is a standard tactic but it's standard because it works.
While I almost feel dirty at times for simply liking a show named Wedding Peach, it continues to be outweighed by the way it keeps building up with interesting characters and the way it manages to avoid a lot of the basic problems that series like this usually suffer from. The amount of real filler in this show has been pretty minimal overall and the pacing is solid which has made the first four volumes, which cover twenty-two episodes, go by like a breeze. It's got the usual dramatic moments of over the top emotion that are the staple of shoujo series and it's got the campy action and some of the silly villains but it's all founded in good characters. The more I watch the more I want more of it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Wedding Peach