Judge Sandra Dozier misses the original dramatic wedding march theme song, but sort of likes this new, jazzier, action-packed theme song—and if you think we have even the faintest idea what she's going on about, you'd be sadly mistaken.
If two's company, and three's a crowd…
Momoko Hanasaki is a good-hearted, if slightly daffy, girl who leads a double life. She's also known as Wedding Peach, the leader of a team of fighting Angels who protect the goddess Aphrodite and all the Angels in heaven against the evil of Lady Raine Devila and her minions, the Devils. Momoko and her friends Yuri and Hinagiku are the Love Angels, who fight in wedding dresses or bridal battle gear, and wield special talismans called the Saint Something Four—from the old "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" wedding tradition. There is also a fourth Love Angel, who makes her appearance in this volume of episodes.
The goal of the Love Angels is to protect Aphrodite and the heavens by securing the Saint Something Four and defeating any Devil they encounter with their Love Wave—a powerful manifestation of the love each Angel holds in her heart, which can purify Devils of their hate and fear. They are guided by Limone, a heavenly servant to Aphrodite, and quite a little teenage hottie himself. When not saving the world, Momoko is busy trying to figure out if she loves Yosuke, a classmate who calls her "Momopi," if only to annoy her, and with whom she shares a love/hate relationship. They're destined for each other, of course.
With the appearance of the embittered Scarlet O'Hara (great name, huh?) as the fourth Love Angel, the trio has to find a way to bring her into the team and work together. Scarlet, however, has other plans—she is something of a lone wolf, and with her Saint Pure Sword she wants to obliterate all the Devils she meets; she has no interest in purifying them of hate, only eradicating them from existence. Her violent appearance and actions stun Momoko, Yuri, and Hinagiku, but they quickly recover and work on getting to the source of Scarlet's pain and rage. It is essential to unite so their Love Wave can be intensified, since the battle between Angels and Devils in the heavens is escalating every day.
Meanwhile, Yosuke continues to demonstrate flashes of his own special aura or ability. He has done it at least once before, while protecting Momoko from a water Devil, and protects her again with a brief flash of blue aura when she is disabled and attacked by a Devil. Although this always catches the interest of anyone around him, events are usually happening too fast to address it, and it is forgotten by the next episode. What is going on with Yosuke?
The last episode in this volume introduces Petora of the Folzen Devils, a Devil so brutal that he had to be encased in stone for the protection of the other Devils. That's pretty badass, and when this guy is released by Raine Devila, you sort of expect him to go nuts on the populace of the Human World, but it seems that his long imprisonment has weakened him and he must rebuild his strength before he can wreak havoc. So he comes off more like a scary Bruce Lee wannabe, and his disturbingly deep-pocketed familiar (with his mouse ears and magic, brainwashing hammer) complicates the weirdness quotient nicely. All in all, a man not to be messed with.
The appearance of Scarlet and this new, potentially super-powerful Devil on the scene ramps up the action and intrigue of the show. There are fewer plots involving humans in a love crisis that the Angels must repair, and more involving the direct conflict of Angels and Devils. There is definitely a coherent progression in this series: When the girls first become Love Angels, they attract low-powered Devils and must hone their skills on a series of love emergencies in the Human World. As their power increases, however, they attract more powerful Devils and take their fight to a new level as the Angel-Devil war grows more serious. However, the show retains its adherence to the charming idea that love is a pure and healing force that can literally conquer all. Momoko, especially, embodies this philosophy in the way she treats others, even sparing Igneous (in the previous volume of episodes) and asking him why they had to hate each other. "Nothing comes from hate—nothing!" Momoko tells him. The writing for Wedding Peach sells this optimistic point of view well, and neatly avoids bogging the viewer down in too much sentiment or sappy idealism.
Wedding Peach is a recent series, so both sound and audio transfer to DVD are excellent, with bright colors that pop on screen. While the animation has a sort of simplistic quality (except in reused sequences, such as when the girls change into wedding dress and battle gear outfits or activate their weapons), I find it works well for this series, which has enough going on without getting bogged down in busy visuals.
The Dolby 2.0 surround soundtrack is clear and robust for both the Japanese and English soundtracks. I am partial to the English dub for Wedding Peach because I like this interpretation of Momoko, who is a bit kinder and gentler in the English dub. Even when she is telling Scarlet that Wedding Peach would not be able to forgive her hateful heart, the compassion in her voice is so clear and heartbreaking that we get a strong sense of Momoko as a fully realized person who understands her responsibility as a Love Angel. It's so gratifying when a vocal performance can communicate so much. The other casting for this series was also spot-on, especially for the key male roles of Yosuke and Yanagiba.
In addition to the reversible cover (coupled with the clear box, it makes this release one of the more attractive anime boxes on my shelf), the new opening and closing credits that were introduced in Volume Six appear as clean sequences in the extras section, and there are the usual ADV previews for additional eye candy.
Wedding Peach continues to impress and improve, even trimming down the number of reused animation clips that plagued the show in the early episodes ("yet another bridal change sequence?!") to a manageable level and packing more plot into every episode. At six episodes per volume, the bang-for-your-buck level is higher than ever. This is a series that fans of love and fighting-girl drama should not miss.
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