ADV Films // 1996 // 150 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // April 29th, 2004
It's a thin line between love and hate...a line that's about to be smashed!
It's tempting to simply compare Wedding Peach with something like Sailor Moon and sweep it under the rug. To do so would do a promising series an injustice, because underneath all the boy-crazy silliness of this title is an earnest expression of the idea that love makes the world go 'round. For goodness sake, these girls transform into western style wedding dresses as their battle gear! What's not to like?
Momoko Hanasaki is the heroine of this story. She's cute, she's ditzy, and she's perpetually late for everything. She thinks she's cool, but she's kind of a klutz. However, she wouldn't be our heroine if she didn't have a heart of gold that is big enough for her to be a warrior for Love in her spare time.
Momoko and her best friends, Yuri and Hinagiku, spend their days working on the school newspaper and trying to get a glimpse of "dear Yanagiba," the dreamy soccer team captain. Yanagiba is blonde, totally clueless, and a bonafide hottie. Who isn't, in this series? All the boys, right down to the green-haired bad guy, are total hotties. I mean, totally. The three girls, who are just bursting with healthy beauty, are very much aware of how cute everyone is, but especially dear Yanagiba. Unfortunately for Momoko, crabby Yousuke keeps getting in her way. Yousuke also thinks he's pretty cool, and he and Momoko fight like cats and dogs. They are, of course, destined for each other. It helps that Yousuke looks just like her dear Papa.
The story begins with Momoko trying on her mother's wedding gown and special ruby ring, which have been in storage since her death. Her greatest dream in life, of course, is to get married in a beautiful ceremony, just like mama and papa. She wants True Love, and her charming idealism will not be dampened, even when her friends walk in on her and give her a hard time, reminding her she has to actually meet someone first.
Later on, she is followed and confronted by Pluie, an agent of the Devils who represents all that is hateful and vile. He wants her special ruby ring, but Momoko isn't about to give up her treasured memento. Then, down from the heavens (no, really) comes Limone, an ethereal hottie with long blonde hair and bedroom eyes. He gives Momoko a talisman that helps her to transform into Wedding Peach, a Love Angel with the ability to wipe out hate and inspire love in others. Her battle gear is a lovely wedding dress, the most potent symbol of love there is. Aphrodite, the love goddess herself, appears to grant Momoko her powers.
Momoko is called into action because of a threat from evil (and just a tad bitter) Lady Reine Devila, who wants to spread hate and mistrust throughout the whole world, and destroy love. The only people who can fight her are the Love Angels, who can drive out hate and discontent with their special powers. Eventually, Yuri and Hinagiku discover they are also part of the act and they fight alongside Momoko, complete with their own battle gear change sequences that challenge even the most patient fan.
Okay, let me just say right up front that I'm a sucker for love stories, especially the unrequited kind that manage to keep love pure even when it steams up the screen. For some reason, anime of the Wedding Peach variety really speaks to me, because it is just so unashamedly sentimental. You would never catch an American television show or cartoon being so downright sappy, which is too bad in a way. There is a certain innocence to Wedding Peach that is rare in televised entertainment, and it turns even the most jerky behavior and tomfoolery into charming antics to be indulged, not scoffed at.
This is one of those instances where I am impressed that ADV would take on an apparent risk like Wedding Peach, which follows a format that (at least in the past) hasn't had much appeal with the American anime audience. It is sentimental, silly, and the characters come off as annoying and shrill to many viewers. Momoko and her friends squeal and obsess over hot boys, dream about the perfect date, and seem to have nothing going on except vapid pursuits. It's fun, and frivolous, and that's the point. For those who desire love for the sake of love, Wedding Peach and shows like it will deliver. I am encouraged to see more overtly sentimental shows being translated. For those of us who have been clinging to the few deeply romantic tales available (such as Please Save My Earth) for years, it is a welcome change.
I really liked the character designs. I have watched series that take four episodes or more to get off the ground and make me buy into characters, but Wedding Peach is like an ardent lover -- it's hard to forget even a moment of on-screen action, and the characters clicked for me before the first episode was even over. We're introduced to Momoko's father at the top of episode one, and when Momoko runs (literally) into Yousuke the first time and we see that he looks just like dear old dad, we forget about that loser Yanagiba right away, and we know this is the guy she's just gotta end up with!
Wedding Peach, for all its innocence, is a fun sex comedy. Sexual imagery and metaphors are packed into every scene, and I'm not talking about the fan-service type of crotch shots that are popular in certain types of anime. The idea that she is called Wedding Peach, for once, is pretty evocative, as the peach has...er...ripe sexual overtones. The girls run around in tastefully skimpy outfits that show off either their purity or their feistiness in a perversely repressive way. Then there's all the longing looks and reddened cheeks that come with stories about people being in love. These range from the sweetly tender to the innocently suggestive, and provide an interesting subtext that Sailor Moon never accomplished as subtly. This may be a little light on action scenes, at least in these first six episodes, but it still gets the heart going.
The visual quality for this DVD release is excellent, with a clear and colorful transfer in full screen presentation that shows only slight distortion at some points. Both the English and Japanese soundtracks are clear and distinct, with well-balanced 2.0 stereo surround. I appreciated the English signs-only subtitle track in addition to the regular subtitle track. Both were well done here. Voice acting is excellent, with actors capturing the spirit of the Japanese voice performances very well, something that is so important for a series that features spunky, exuberant girls. Too manic or too sedate, and the mood is ruined, but they got it just right. I was a little disappointed by the "stock" extras of clean opening and closing animation, but there are six episodes on one disc, which is a pretty good deal, so I can't complain.
Wedding Peach is not without its problems. The endless changes into battle gear (not just one, but two different outfits depending on the type of combat, and for three girls) had me grinding my teeth after the third back-to-back episode, and I was being extra patient because I like the show. I wish, just once, these "girls save the world" animes would just show an elaborate change only the first time, then have a drastically shortened sequence thereafter. I kept wondering why the bad guys would sit around while she was flailing about in the air during her transformation -- why not just take off right there, or take a swipe at her when she was between costumes?
The constantly defeated bad guy gets a little ragged around the edges early into the game. After the third or fourth "You'll pay for this!" threat as he runs away with his tail between his legs, I'm wondering how he even finds two brain cells to rub together. Thank goodness he has a boss who is too busy thinking up ways to eradicate lovers, love, and a fondness for stress-free living. Did I mention she hates everything and everyone, especially lovers? Yes. We hear her instructions about this repeated several times.
You get the idea. I'm hoping to see this series open up a little bit in the next DVD, now that all the characters are firmly established and the three Love Angels are a complete unit. Who will end up with Yanagiba? Will someone else fall in love with Yousuke while Momoko sits on her hands? I must know!
If you want some light, happy entertainment that won't have you obsessively wondering "What happened -- what did it all mean?!" afterwards, and you adore sentimental love stories, you can look forward to a pleasant afternoon or two watching Wedding Peach. You will giggle, roll your eyes, and generally forget your troubles while you wince and moan at the antics of the kids in this series. If there are one too many costume changes...well, that's what the remote is for.
Wedding Peach is hereby granted a full pardon by the court, but is hereby ordered to pay damages for the egregiously long battle gear costume changes.
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
* English (Signs Only)
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Clean Opening Animation
* Clean Closing Animation
* Reversible Cover
* Official Site