While playing to the strengths of the genre and avoiding a number of its weaknesses, Wedding Peach actually makes girls powering up in wedding dresses fun.
What They Say
Love is on the run as the deliciously wicked Lady Raindevila conspires to rid the world of romance and ldove. But out of the chaos springs an unlikely hero: a young schoolgirl named Momoko. Armed with a mysterious ruby ring, Momoko and her two best friends, battle devils, save marriages, and still find time to go to shcool and chase boys!
Wedding Peach gets a pair of solid language tracks for its release and unlike the first time, we decided to do this run watching the Japanese language track. Each language track is given a standard stereo mix encoded at 224kbps so there isn’t a whole lot of surprises to be found here. The show is getting close to its fifteen 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, this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series in this collection is released on five discs in a 5/5/5/6/6 format that works out pretty well. Wedding Peach's transfer is surprisingly clean and clear looking. Considering its age and the general poor quality of other shows of this genre from this time, 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 six episodes on the dual layered disc, much better than I expected it to be.
The first half of the series is presented in this collection with five discs that span the twenty-seven episodes. The keepcase used is the thicker type with the hinges inside so it has a small bit of heft to it and doesn’t feel like a cheap release. The front cover is nicely done with a bright and appealing shot of the main trio of girls in their Angel Fighter outsides with hazy skies behind them and a light yellow framing to tie it all together. The back cover uses the same colors for the background as it provides for a good rundown of what’s included. The summary gives you the basics and there are several small shots from the show done in heart-shaped frames. They push the episode and disc count nicely and they also mention related credits by the creators which is quite nice. The remainder is given over to the usual production credits and a clean technical grid.
The menu is very nicely done, laid out just like the back cover with a small filmstrip along one side with various filtered color clips from the show playing out to part of the music from the series. The main section of the menu has an image of a particular character obscured in the filter for that volume 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Wedding Peach was first talked about years and years ago, I remember laughing at the entire concept. Girls who power up into wedding dresses to fight off bad guys in the name of love? Yeah, that’ll work for the young girl set in Japan (and here admittedly) but I couldn’t imagine enjoying it in the slightest. I had a hard enough time with shows like Sailor Moon with the formulaic approach and the way the characters personalities were designed. Wedding Peach simply came across as a wannabe to the genre with a different gimmick that would appeal to the young girls who dream of getting married. Not every girl goes through that, but it’s certainly common enough to market something like this to them.
When I ended up sitting down to watch the show, with my eldest daughter no less, my impression changed pretty well over the course of the first few episodes and greatly over the course of the entire series. Wedding Peach does come from a very familiar genre, and it pays homage to what it needs to, but it also avoids a lot of conventions that others like Sailor Moon have made so popular. While it does deal with some monsters of the week, it rotates out the managing villain a few times over this set so it’s fairly diverse in approach. It doesn’t add lots and lots of girls to the core cast and it actually takes a few episodes for the main trio to really settle in instead of getting them one by one in the first three episodes.
The premise for Wedding Peach is simple. We're introduced to three junior high school girls, Momoko, Yuri and Hinagiku. They're all good friends and are bright cheerful upright students of the day. They're also like most girls who go to this particular junior high in that they're madly in love with the captain of the soccer team, Yanagiba. Their aspirations for love are routinely foiled by Yousuke though, the goalie who looks out for his captain and likely has something of an interest in one of the girls himself, since the old adage of a boy picking on a girl generally indicates some affection that's hard to display otherwise.
Momoko is our lead character though. Her tale is fairly typical for a lot of anime in that she lives alone with her father, Shouichirou, as her mother passed away some time ago. Her father is a competent and popular photographer, so he's often gone and about for lengths of time as well as being the perfect person that helps Momoko get to travel to new places. In the opening episode, we see Momoko trying on her mother’s wedding dress and dreaming of the day she can get married only to have both her father and friends catch her. Her father realizes how much her mother she looks like while her friends think she's just over the top in things she does. But a piece of jewelry she keeps on from that tryout ends up changing things for her.
As expected, there's evil trying to do something to the world, and that comes in the form of Raindevila, the dark oppressive woman of elsewhere who wants to obliterate love and romance from the world. She uses her main henchmen, Pluie, to go to Earth and cause problems, such as getting lovers to attack each other, mothers and daughters to become enemies and so forth. But for every evil there's good, and for this it comes in the form of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She ends up coming to Momoko via the ring and turns her into Wedding Peach, her warrior of love on the human plane. With someone like Momoko as the warrior of love and good, you can expect the villains to be fairly incompetent. And when her two best friends eventually become recruited to be Angels with her, each gaining their own bridal dresses and transformation abilities to the more sexy Greek styled combat uniforms, they get to start taking on stronger villains and dealing with more complex situations.
Well, as complex as all of this can really get. This is at its core a magical girl show and those have certain rules that they have to follow, and Wedding Peach follows them all so far. That isn't a slam against it at all however, as the show is very competently done. I'm finding it hard to put my finger on it exactly, but there's a certain charm to the show that won me over very quickly, especially in the English version. I think part of it is that it doesn't feel as dumbed down as I've come to expect a show like this. It doesn't look terribly much like that series and it doesn't play out quite the same either. Momoko's not the swiftest girl on the planet, but she's not Serena or Usagi. There's something charming in Momoko and her friends in how they compete but are close friends and how their friendship slowly changes as they realize they're all part of the Angels and don't have to hide things like that.
The first half of the series is admittedly by the numbers in a lot of respects but it’s where it diverges from that formula that it really started winning me over during my previous viewing. Keeping the core cast down to the three girls is a big plus in my book but it’s in other areas that it works out even better. All three are interested in Yanagiba but he’s not the sole male of the series. Yousuke plays an important role and as time goes on, Takuro appears and plays a significant role as well. Though it’s plainly obvious to the viewer who the mysterious Limone is, it’s less apparent to the girls and they have potentially more choices as to who it could be. You’re not stuck in a Tuxedo Mask situation where it’s simply a given and you wonder how the girls could be so stupid.
Even better is that because there are more leading male characters here, the competition for Limone’s attention begins to dwindle as the show progresses. Yousuke and Yanagiba have their moments, but more attention is given to Yousuke when it comes to giving him a personality. Takuro gets a good deal of time since he’s being manipulated by one of the Devils during the last batch of episodes here but it’s setting him up to be a good character that one of the girls could easily latch onto. Watching the slow transition for Momoko in how she deals with Yanagiba to Yousuke is really appealing since he was someone she wasn’t interested in at all and came to realize that there’s more to him. It’s this kind of thing that makes Wedding Peach vastly more entertaining than a lot of shows from this genre. While Momoko is the primary character, it’s not all about her. Everyone gets their fair shake over the course of it and we’re only halfway through it so far!
I wasn’t ready to enjoy Wedding Peach when I saw the first volume back in 2004 but I came away not hating it. And as time went on and we worked through the entire series, it quickly became a favorite and one that has stuck in my head as a positive experience. Revisiting it now some five years later, I’m finding it just as enjoyable. The positives are all still there in the story, the characters and the interactions. What hampers it for me is that watching it in a collection over the course of a couple of days ends up highlighting the formulaic approach more than was visible in the singles. But if it’s spaced out a bit, it’s a show that will continually charm and keep you coming back for more. I’m looking forward to the second collection – after a bit of a break though. Definitely recommended if you like the genre but want something more out of it, even with wedding dresses!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.