Case Number 05284: Small Claims Court

WEDDING PEACH: ANGEL BELL (VOLUME 5)

ADV Films // 1997 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // September 30th, 2004

The Charge

A kiss is but a kiss...Unless, of course, it's from a devil's lips!

The Case

At first blush, Wedding Peach looks like a sappy love story geared to the teen girl set. The stereotypical main character has a perky, sweet voice and bubblegum-pink hair that flows around her in a huge fan. She's a bit of a ditz and a klutz, but her heart is in the right place. Her friend Yuri, the "elegantly beautiful and wise-beyond-her-years" one, and Hinagiku, the "tomboy fighter with a heart of gold" one, complete the "anime girl fighter chick" squad. What do they fight for? Love, of course! In fact, the three are Love Angels, ordinary human girls who have been given divine power to fight the forces of Hate by the goddess Aphrodite herself.

In Momoko's world, the Angels and Devils fight for Earth -- the Devils, led by evil Lady Raine Devila, want to spread hate and fear to all humans, and the Angels, represented by the dreamy, flaxen-haired Limone, want to save humanity with Love. Through the use of magical talismans (a mirror, a lip gloss, and a watch), the Love Angels transform into wedding dresses, the most potent symbol of love, to fight the minions of Lady Raine Devila. What the Devils hate the most is the "love wave" -- any strong expression of love from humans. Their goal is to obtain items called the Saint Something Four so they can enslave the Angels and wipe out love.

With frequent battle-gear change sequences and a new villain every week to pummel, Wedding Peach comes off as a pale imitation of more popular girl-fighter stories like Sailor Moon. However, this pigeonholing would be doing an injustice to the core appeal of the show, which lies in the faithfulness of Momoko and her friends to the ideals of Love. She truly believes that Love will save humanity, and that sentiment and caring about the people you love are what really make people happy. The reason this works is because the show is so refreshingly innocent about presenting this idea to viewers; it does not try to be cynical or offer a balanced perspective -- it unabashedly puts forth the idea that Love is a pure, transforming emotion that will win over even the most hardened soul. Indeed, Momoko's main weapon is a talisman that allows her to project her feelings of love in order to defeat her enemies and transform them with the "love wave." Meanwhile, the Devils twist and distort the machinations of love in order to deceive others, showing the other side of the coin.

Another reason Wedding Peach works is the humor, as well as the charming relationship between Momoko and Yousuke, whom she alternately sees as her true love and as an obstacle to winning the heart of the yummy soccer captain Yanagiba. She can't decide, and they fight so often that she is constantly pulled back from the brink of realizing her true feelings. This unrequited love story is well played and delightful. There is also plenty of humor in the form of in-fighting (Momoko and her friends over the affections of Yanagiba) and pursuit of dreamy boys, which are in plentiful supply. If the girls aren't kicking Devil ass or righting wrongs, they are swooning or squabbling over cute guys. It's funny, and silly, and it makes older folks grateful they are no longer in high school.

Volume five contains a running plot line involving Takuro, a super-smart geek at Momoko's school. Takuro is in love with Momoko, but he can't work up the guts or the brawn to show her how he feels. A crafty Devil called Igneous makes him a deal he can't refuse when he offers to give him the athletic prowess and social grace to stand out and be noticed by Momoko. Of course, as a Devil is wont to do, he ends up perverting Takuro's genuine feeling for Momoko into a bullying, almost abusive pursuit that leaves her frightened and confused. On top of that, Takuro strongly suspects that she is Wedding Peach, and he holds the secret over her head. The question is, will Yousuke step in to help, and will Takuro lose his soul?

Visual and sound quality for Wedding Peach is excellent, with clear and bright colors and a crisp soundtrack. English dub for this series is spot-on, with strong performances for all the lead characters, which really helps sell the story. The voice actors are enthusiastic and animated (no pun intended), but they stop just short of "annoying freak-out." As far as extras, there is a reversible cover (or a poster cover, since it shows through the clear case from behind) and clean opening and closing credits.

In previous volumes, the long battle-change sequences (to change not just into a wedding dress, but also into sleeker hand-to-hand costumes) took up much of each episode's time, but in these most recent episodes, those sequences are reduced or even cut out all together, which means more action and story and fewer recycled scenes. This increases the bang-for-your-buck factor that is already high with five episodes per volume.

Wedding Peach is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it series, but it's worth giving it a try for reliable action, plenty of mischief and humor, and some real heart. Fans of unrequited love should definitely give this series a glance, as Momoko and Yousuke present one of the most entertaining examples of this particular plot that I have seen in a while. Although the stories are all about love, they stop short of being saccharine or overly moralistic -- it's all in good fun as far as the Love Angels are concerned.

Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English
* English (Signs Only)

Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Clean Opening Animation
* Clean Closing Animation
* Reversible Cover

Accomplices
* Official U.S. Site
http://www.advfilms.com/titles/weddingpeach/

* DVD Verdict Review of Volume 1
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/weddingpeachvol1.php?highlight=wedding+peach

* DVD Verdict Review of Volume 3
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/weddingpeachvol3.php?highlight=wedding+peach

* DVD Verdict Review of Volume 4
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/weddingpeachvol4.php?highlight=wedding+peach