Peach Girl Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • 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.
  • MSRP: 29.98/44.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Peach Girl

Peach Girl Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     May 14, 2007
Release Date: April 17, 2007


Peach Girl Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Momo Adachi, a high school teen, is best known for her tan skin and bleached hair. Misjudged by her classmates as a wild party girl, Momo is a modest, lonely girl, who only has dark skin and bleached hair as a result of her long hours of dedication on the swim team. Struggling to fit into her new school, Momo finds herself befriended by a backstabber, pursued by a playboy, and seemingly unable to catch the eye of the guy she's crushed on for years.

Contains episodes 1-4 and a bonus episode.

The Review!
Can this series be summed up simply by saying that "love sucks"?

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Using artwork that was either from a rental version or elsewhere, the main cover piece looks really good here with an illustration of a happy dancing Momo in a cute dress. Similar to a lot of Japanese releases, there is a good deal of white space around this. 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.

Menu:
The main menu is a really great looking piece that uses a beautiful illustration of Momo in a yellow top against a blue sky. Between her expression and the bright vivid colors, it's a really upbeat 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.

Extras:
A good selection of extras kicks off this first volume of the series with some pieces from the Japanese releases. In addition to the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, there is also an interview with Saeko Chiba. It's similar to most introduction/interview pieces as she breaks out her street cred for the shoujo manga fans and her similar experiences to what Momo has in the show. For English language fans, an actor/director commentary is included for an episode. Zach Bolton and Kate Oxley helm this particular commentary of which it seems like there will be more of in the future. Like most first volume dub commentaries it focuses a bit on the usual things such as getting into the business and general impressions of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Miwa Ueda which began in 1998, Peach Girl is a twenty-five episode series that takes the world of a high school girl and exposes all the drama therein. If emotional girls aren't to your liking or simply drive you nuts then this show is most certainly not for you. However, if you like to see how cliques work and the way that girls can be manipulative then you'll find a perverse pleasure here.

The series revolves around high school student Momo Adachi. Her time in this new school hasn't been the best as seemingly most students have ignored her. Her only friend right now is Sae Kashiwagi, a very popular cute and energetic girl. Momo is starting to see through who Sae really is as she's very much the type to see what others like and adopt it herself. When she and Momo go shopping, whatever Momo ends up liking becomes something that Sae tries to get before Momo can. Be it a bag or a hair clip, it has to be Sae's in the end. Even worse, Sae's nature is something that won't let her be called on it and she acts completely distraught and far too cute as she manipulates others emotions.

If it had just been kept to fashion and the like, Momo would likely be able to handle such a friend over time. But Sae won't leave it at that and inquires about who in their grade that Momo likes. While Momo is completely infatuated with a young man named Kazuya Toujigamori she doesn't want to let Sae know. She randomly points and ends up selecting Kari Okayasu, a rather popular ladies man with great looks and no sense of commitment. This on the spot moment ends up setting things into motion where Sae confronts Kairi about it which gives him the clearance to go after Momo instead. As it turns out, Kairi has a bit of history with Momo and has been interested in her for some time.

This just sets her off since he's so persistent and good natured about it and that gets Toji on his case since he's been interested in Momo as well. The confrontation between the men sets the stage for love triangle that is wrought with teenage angst and drama which simply doesn't hold back. Unlike a lot of shows that deal with triangles, Momo as the central focus works well in comparison to weak willed males lusting after the beautiful girls. Momo, while dark skinned because of her time on the swim team in middle school, stands out with her bleached and sun worn hair. She's athletic and manages to carry herself well which makes her appealing in a general sense. Not unlike many girls at this age though she's more wrapped up in what others think about her and the guy she has a crush on instead of figuring who she herself really is.

With most romantic triangle comedy series such as Kimagure Orange Road, the conflict comes between the lead trio trying to get together and dealing with the obstacles along the way. With Peach Girl it's a bit different as there are actually four lead characters with Sae. Though she's not really interested in Toji, she can't let Momo have him and she becomes quite the manipulative character. Her meddling crosses with all three of those involved in the situation as she does her best to break all of them up and have everything for herself. Though not everyone sees Sae for what she is at first it is something that starts to break down over these first five episodes. Confrontations are quick and like a burst of energy at times, emotions run high and the drama just as much. Like most shows of this nature, if anyone just sat down for five minutes and talked it would be all over. That happens at a smaller scale but Sae's manipulations, which includes the entire class, comes back to haunt regularly.

Keeping in tone with how the manga looks, the Peach Girl anime series has lots of bold colors and straightforward line work. The majority of it takes place at school so there's lots of uniforms and standard backgrounds. Even though this aired in 2005 the animation style and overall look reminded me more of shows from a few years earlier. There are a lot of camera pans with the characters to enhance the dramatic moments as there isn't a lot of action. But there are some wild moments throughout on the comedic side that let them break free of convention a bit. The downside to the way the show is done however is that with the numerous camera pans it creates a slight stuttering at times. Beyond that however, the design of the show is one that's bright and cheerful and very energetic that feeds on the content itself.

In Summary:
With no aliens, psychics of magic of any kind, Peach Girl is your straightforward teen drama. Though the manipulations can seem a bit much at times it does seem a touch antiquated in some ways. It's not so much that 1998 was so long ago but rather that teenage culture can change so much in such a short amount of time. The simple lack of cell phones in general here really dates it as you can imagine the kind of manipulations that Sae could accomplish with that device. In the end though, Peach Girl is a good bit of fun that avoids a lot of the hooks that are used these days that aren't realistic. With a long running manga series and a live action TV series to the franchise, the anime version looks to be a solid addition to all of it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Interview with Original Japanese Cast Member, Actor/Director Commentary, Textless Songs.

Review Equipment
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.

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