Peach Girl Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, September 17, 2007
Release Date: Monday, September 17, 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?
6 " Sudden Death at Love
7 " A Brief Love Sign
8 " Fame Isn't Enough
9 " The Destruction of Pure Love
The soapy angst continues, as Sae's efforts to make Momo's love-life a hell on Earth continue " and she's being quite successful in her efforts, too, until Kairi pulls the rug out from under her. Will ending up on the wrong end of her own schemes teach Sae a valuable lesson, or will she bounce back even bitchier than ever? No prizes for guessing...
Audio is presented in English and Japanese 2.0 stereo " I listened to the Japanese track for this review, and you'd wonder in places why they even bothered with the second channel. Peach Girl is very heavy on the dialogue, which is firmly anchored to the centre channel, leaving the show sounding decidedly on the flat side. The opening and closing songs do make use of the available channels and sound a bit better, but that's pretty much it as far as directionality is concerned. There were no obvious encoding problems.
Video comes in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect, and looks very good. The show makes extensive use of strong, bright colours and a simple animation style. The end result is a clean picture, with nothing in the way of obvious encoding problems.
Momo and Sae feature on this volume's cover, arms locked but in anything but a friendly way. It's a fairly simple piece of artwork, placed on a plain white background " not the most inspiring of cover designs, to be honest. The rear has the usual promotional material, technical info and screenshots.
Menus are nice & straightforward, with a copy of the cover image on the main screen along with options for scene selection, language setup & extras. The rest of the main cast feature on the submenus. With direct access to episodes from the main menu being almost standard these days, it's a shame this disc doesn't feature that, but otherwise these are perfectly serviceable & easy to use menus.
This volume provides another VA interview, this time with Sae's Japanese VA, and the usual creditless opening and closing songs.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Kairi's still trying to make his own pitch for Momo's affections, and after stealing a kiss from her in the locker room it looks like he may finally be making some progress - although it's probably against Momo's better judgement. Back in the pool, Momo's managed to borrow another swimsuit and is ready to do her best for her classmates - but once again Sae's busy spreading rumours about how she's been losing on purpose as some attempt to get at her. When Kairi tries to put everyone right, Sae's quick to take him to task - is there anything Momo can do to keep Sae from ruining her reputation..?
Well, yes, there is " if she can somehow persuade the rest of her class that Sae's the lying little toerag that she is instead of the little victim she makes herself out to be, then her problems should be over " at least for a while. Momo's problem is that she's just too nice to become as devious as she'd need to be to beat Sae at her own game, so she's not going to be able to do that without help. Help that comes, unrequested, from Kairi, and leads to a wonderful scene where Toji learns first-hand just how Sae has played him for a fool and humiliated Momo, and where Sae's standing with her classmates goes all the way to zero in the space of a few minutes. Justice is served.
That leads to an episode mercifully free of angst or scheming, as Momo gets to enjoy her summer vacation without having to look over her shoulder, or be wary about what Sae's going to do next. Sae in beaten-woman mode is a comedy sketch in her own right, as she's shown as a cardboard cutout of herself, with very little to say for herself but "Momo-sama!!" as she tries to work her way back into Momo's favour. Once again, though, Momo's decent nature ends up leading to problems, as her forgiveness of Sae soon leads to the resumption of their war.
Before that, though, Sae gets herself a boyfriend of her own " the amusingly-named Jigoro, a male model who falls for Sae at first sight and would do anything for her. His attention turns Sae back into her usual three-dimensional self (complete with small explosion and cry of "I'm back!!") " but as soon as she begins to feel that Momo may be getting a better deal out of Toji than she's getting from Jigoro, she's straight back to her old ways, with added nastiness.
It's genuinely hard to watch Peach Girl without developing a strong desire to beat some sense into the characters. Last volume it was Toji, with his blinkered inability to see through Sae's lies " here, it's Sae herself and the way she just continues to ratchet up the stakes, despite having learnt first-hand that it can easily all come crashing down around her. I remember being a teenager myself, vaguely, and I honestly don't remember it ever being quite so difficult " but then it was a while ago.
Fortunately, it's not all backstabbing and angst. Episode 7, with the school out for summer, brings some merciful relief and has the series beginning to feel a bit more like most other high-school shows out there, while the 2D-Sae scenes during episodes 7 & 8 make for some great comedy. There are other humourous moments dotted throughout the disc as well " definitely a requirement for making sure that all the scheming simply doesn't become too much to bear. I also couldn't help but wonder if the Jigoro / gigolo similarity was deliberate, or just an unfortunate coincidence that my gutter humour latched onto...
Part of me wants to put Peach Girl to one side on account of it just being too mean in places " but that part's being meanly beaten into submission by the part of me that can't help but watch and see what Sae does next, and whether Momo will eventually learn to fight fire with fire. It's a series that works best in chunks " four episodes in a row is an awful lot of meanness in one go, but an episode at a time and it becomes quite entertaining without being too much to bear. I do hope the series doesn't continue in this vein for another 4 volumes, though...
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Sae's Japanese VA,Creditless Opening & Closing Sequences
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Revelation Films
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Peach Girl