Peach Girl Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2007
What They Say
On your mark, get set... Go! The school year is racing to an end, but Momo Adachi still finds herself coming in "last place." With her classmates against her, Kairi in constant pursuit, and Toji clueless as ever, just about any other girl would give it all up as lost. But when the chips are down, Momo fights that much harder. And the school swim meet could prove the ticket to success.
From bad to worse... When it looks like Sae might finally get what's coming to her, a chance romance with a teen-idol sends the scheming schoolgirl back to the top of the food chain. With Momo's birthday right around the corner, will it be a sweet sixteen or just another typhoon of tears?
Contains episodes 6-9.
Sae enters total bitch mode and even after getting a dream handed to her on a silver platter she still intends to destroy Momo.
The series is presented in the two standard languages, both of which are done in a decent if unimpressive 224 kbps encoding. Neither track really features much in the way of dialogue placement and with it being a very dialogue driven show this gives it something of a flat feeling. The full sounding mixes carry it all well enough and there aren't any issues with it technically but it doesn't deliver all that much in terms of actual presentation. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Similar to a slew of other recent FUNimation series, the main area that's problematic here once again is the opening and closing sequences. While I don't believe more bits will fix every problem, the two areas here could certainly use a few more in order to smooth out problem areas that have break-up and heavy aliasing going on. The main show itself comes across well, mostly due to it being filled with lots of bright solid colors and not a lot of high energy animation for the most part. Some aliasing does show up throughout, typically during various camera pans, and there seems to be some edge cross coloration going on here and there. With the way the show looks I had initially thought it might have been from several years before 2005.
Using artwork that was either from a rental version or elsewhere, the main cover piece looks really good here with an illustration of an angry Momo that has Sae practically attached to her hip. Similar to a lot of Japanese releases, there is a good deal of white space around the characters. Add in the pink logo and heart around the volume number and it'd be easy to imagine this showing up at any number of women's accessories stores in malls across the country. It simply has a really good vibe to it that's positive. The back cover keeps to the general color scheme but introduces more soft colors through the various shots The summary covers the basics of the plot and the characters and there's a good listing of the discs features and total number of episodes. The technical grid of course is far too small to be useful at a quick glance as is most of the other production information crammed above it. As usual, not insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.
The main menu takes a shot from within the show that works well as Toji holds Momo close to him as she relaxes in his hands. Between her expression and the bright vivid colors, it's a really solid piece even with the slightly less than rousing instrumental music tied to it. Though it's just a static piece, it shines quite a lot here and does a great job in selling it to the viewer as something fun to watch. Access times are nice and fast and navigation isn't much of an issue with the layout chosen. As usual, we had to go with manual language selections both due to angle issues and because the full subtitle track is listed as Japanese.
The extras are a touch lighter for this volume but still enjoyable. In addition to the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, an interview with the Japanese voice actress for Sae is included.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first five episodes of Peach Girl I was definitely entertained but wondered how long before I would tire of Sae's antics. While every heroine must have her foil, if that person is too constant and manages to pull the wool over other peoples eyes too often it just gets to be too much. Sae as already close to that with the antics she was pulling while Toji was in the hospital so it won't take much more to actually be too much.
Unsurprisingly it doesn't take long to happen. Her manipulations at the swim meet has already put Momo in a bad position and the class is just furious with her all the more. Even worse, Kairi has gotten himself involved with her again and has made her all the more uncomfortable from it. Though his reasons are later clear and she can come to some sort of acceptance about it, the initial reactions of being hugged in the locker room while wearing just a towel is quite understandable. It's also something that Sae is able to learn about and use to her advantage in trying to destroy what little remains between Momo and Toji. She's simply so quick to pounce on any particular bit of news that comes her way that it borders on an obsession.
Where things do take a new turn is in that Toji is able to get out of the hospital early. With so much nonsense spewed by Sae up to this point and his own misunderstandings, he's intent on fixing things as much as possible before they get out of hand. That doesn't quite happen though since Sae's able to take things so far and Momo has reached he limit but it does allow for some nice drama and after effects. While Sae isn't done with her manipulations by a long shot, the series has opted to move beyond this phase of them and allow the two main leads to try and find themselves. With a greater understanding of what Sae's willing to do, they're able to take her on in a more unified front.
Sae is of course just completely off her rocker. While the summer break gives everyone some down time, the return to school provides her with a new avenue. She's pretty much deflated in general but life has a way of providing for some and she lands in a wonderfully perfect little world. But even that isn't enough for her as she realizes that no matter what she has, and she has quite a lot once she takes up with a model, she won't be satisfied until she has what makes Momo happy. While Sae's reasons supposedly get explained away in a sequel manga series, what she does here can't be forgiven no matter what her past may be like. As soon as she takes up a Single White Female approach to her relationship with Momo and Toji it's all over. If anything, Toji should be calling the police on her for what she did.
With four episodes on this volume, the manic level of teenage angst and drama doesn't feel quite so overwhelming in one sitting. The change in the dynamic between the leads is quite entertaining as Momo and Toji start hooking up more and provide that front against Sae. They're not free from being manipulated though and things start to get out of hand easily towards the end here. But where many series spend so much of their time having the two leads just trying to get to that first kiss, Peach Girl reaches that much earlier and then starts to deal with far more interesting material afterwards. Sustaining a relationship is always harder and the one for Toji and Momo looks to be harder than most as long as Sae is around.
Peach Girl continues to be quite entertaining with this second installment that brings us up to episode nine. A good deal of material has been covered in these first nine episodes but some time has passed between events so that it doesn't feel like too much at once. While Toji has many of the characteristics of a weak male lead, he is starting to shape up as the show progresses. Aware of the manipulations that Sae is capable of he's far more in tune with Momo now and has given himself to protecting her and exploring the love that the two seem to share. Even with the awkward hand gestures for love that had me laughing due to their different meaning here. This is all over the top in its own way but it manages to make me laugh without getting me too frustrated with how it all plays out. There's a lot of pleasure to be had here but I fully admit that it's all a guilty one.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Sae's Japanese Voice Actress, Trailers, Textless Songs.
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 480p, 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: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Peach Girl