Peach Girl: Sae's Story Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, August 18, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Translated by:Ray Yoshimoto
What They Say
Kairi and Momo are now attending university together and are finally happy. Sae has been left behind after failing her last year of high school due to her poor attendance. We follow Sae's adventures as she reunites with a childhood love and deals with high school life (gulp!) again.
This cover is so bright and pink and sparkly, it oozes shoujo. Front and center, we have Sae facing forward, sticking out her tongue, and making a face. Behind her is Momo, laughing and winking. Both girls are wearing shoulder-baring tops and lots of jewelry. If that weren't enough bling, the background behind them is a rainbow of sparkly colors. The pink Peach Girl logo is above the girls' heads with "Sae's Story" in a curvy script just underneath and a yellow flowery volume icon just below that. At bottom center is the author's name, and a border in two shades of pink with a heart and flower motif runs up the right edge.
That border is repeated on the back cover along the left edge. The background of the back cover is all pink but in the same sparkly pattern as the front. The title logo is at the top, followed by the story summary in purple text. To the lower right is a twin headshot of Momo and Sae dressed up in kimono framed in a pink heart. I find the coloring for this Momo-Sae image a little strange; Sae's skin and hair tone are very similar to Momo's, making Sae look like a bleach-haired ganguro also. The fact that both of their eyes look red adds to its oddness. At the very bottom are rating and genre icons in red.
Binding and materials are average. Not too many extras unless you count the last chapter (pages 138-199), which is a recap of the first third of the original Peach Girl story as told from Sae's perspective.
Standard shoujo style artwork here. Everyone is extremely fashionably dressed. All the girls (and some of the guys also) have huge sparkly eyes with long lashes. Characters also tend to have large, pouty mouths. Ueda's character designs have sensual, almost slutty overtones, especially in the chapter title illustrations, even for characters that aren't portrayed as seductive. There are flashbacks to Sae's childhood which are conveyed with images in gray screentone. Backgrounds are pretty good, and Ueda makes good use of backdrop screentones. One scene that was a little confusing though was Sae's reaction to petting a puppy on page 122. Without the benefit of having the sound effects translated, I can't tell if she's having an allergic reaction or something snapped in her brain or what.
Dialogue flows well though the text in a couple of bubbles on page 24 look like they need to be switched. The editors have opted to have all our characters, you know, like totally, you know, talk in, like, Valley Girl-speak. Honorifics are changed to English equivalents. A couple of signs are translated with English overlays, and the rest are left untranslated. Sound effects are left untranslated.
Remember Sae Kashigawa, the self centered, two faced, back stabbing girl that wreaked havoc upon Momo's high school love life in "Peach Girl" ? Well, as they say, what goes around comes around. Momo has graduated and is happily attending college with her boyfriend, Kiley. Sae, on the other hand, is still stuck in high school. She cut classes too often and now has to repeat her senior year to make up for those attendance units.
Sae would like nothing more than to erase her past and go to college with Momo, Kiley, and the rest of her high school class. However, Momo and Sae's family aren't about to let Sae forget what her reality is. To make things worse for Sae, someone from her past returns to her apartment building and dredges up even more bad memories. He's Kanji Sawatari, a.k.a. Monkey, and Sae's kiddie sweetheart / first kiss! He remembers a Sae completely different than the catty, conniving woman she is today and pursues her as if she were the same sweet girl he proposed to when they were kids.
However, Sae wants nothing to do with her dorky, lanky neighbor. She ditches class (some people never learn) so that she can go scout out men at Momo's university and sets her sights on Takuma, a hot student who also models for a popular magazine. However, Monkey is a tenacious fellow " and determined to get through to Sae, no matter how hurtful her rebuffs.
Sae's Story begins pretty much where Peach Girl leaves off. Reading the entire original Peach Girl series is not necessarily a prerequisite for picking up this story, especially with the 62 page recap at the end of Volume 1. However, the ironies of the plot will have greater meaning for those who have either read Peach Girl or watched the anime.
As for the storyline, it follows the same theme of Sae wreaking havoc upon the relationships around her, even her own. Frankly, I find it a bit old. While it is intriguing to see how different Sae was as a child and it would be interesting to find out how and why she ended up turning out the way she did, I am not sure if I have the patience to tolerate the amount of shrill drama that Ueda will probably drag us through before we get to those details. My previous exposure to Peach Girl consists of the anime and a little bit of the manga. While I did manage to sit through the entirety of the TV series, I had had quite enough of Sae's hijinks and her victims' stupidity at its conclusion. I admit that I picked this manga up as I was curious as to what happened to Sae, but I think I have had enough of her scheming now. However, if you found her self-destructive teenage behavior entertaining, you will probably enjoy this continuation.
In terms of our characters, Sae has not changed at all (well, at least not yet). She is still shallow, frivolous, and self-centered. However, you do get a broader perspective of her life from her interactions with her family and a glimpse of her thought process during the turbulent "let's make Momo's life miserable" days. It certainly is not enough to make me feel sympathetic towards her though. Toji has moved away for college (hurray for Toji!) while Momo and Kiley are attending a local university. Momo and Kiley have been relegated to secondary characters status, but fans will still get to enjoy scenes of the happy couple sans Sae induced angst. However, they seem to tolerate having Sae around an inordinate amount considering the trouble she has caused them. While Sae did redeem herself (sort of...) at the end of Peach Girl, she still is not the most pleasant person to be around.
As for our new character Monkey, he's the most interesting element of the story so far. Unrefined and cheerful, he is an odd mix of pervert and innocent. Our first introduction to him is him peeping in on Sae in her underwear. However, he is unpretentious, open, and seemingly unable to comprehend that Sae has changed for the worse despite Kiley and Momo's warnings, despite Sae's words and deeds, despite... well, everything. Because he keeps seeing the best in her, you start to hope that perhaps he is right, that Sae might change for the better, but if so, she has a long way to go.
This title is rated 16+ for language, an attempted sexual assault scene, and Monkey's peeping tom behavior.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left