25 August 2001 | vkn
A big banquet of fluffy kitsch, with pretty animation and cute idealism.
Momoko, Yuri and Hinagiku are three young girls slightly obsessed with the idea of a happy marriage. One day, they are given magical powers to transform into the fabled Love Angels Peach, Lily and Daisy (a fourth angel named Salvia later joins them) in order to fight against demons plotting to overrun the world and stamp out love and gentleness altogether. That, in a nutshell is the plot set-up for what seems like a very typical magical girls anime series.
One major criticism Wedding Peach often receives is that it very blatantly borrows plot elements from Sailor Moon. This is actually quite true. Of course, since both series fall into the same magical girls genre, there are bound to be similiarities, (in the same way that every SF movie has spaceships and lasers) but a trained eye can tell when Wedding Peach is deliberately copying it's main rival. The way Momoko and Yousuke constantly argue is very similiar to how Usagi and Mamoru didn't get along at all in the early days of Sailor Moon. The angel Limone's penchant for arriving at the very last minute to help our heroines out is an obvious nod to Tuxedo Kamen, and the at first difficult co-operation with the more mature Salvia reminds one of Sailors Neptune and Uranus quite distinctly. But if they're able to forgive this lack of plot originality, fans of magical girl series and cute, fluffy anime in general might very well enjoy this series a lot.
For Wedding Peach doesn't really need an innovative plot. The series works to a formula, and the viewer knows it. A standard episode has the girls fussing a bit over some event of everyday life (usually involving the favors of their love interests) while the villains plot a nasty and often slightly daft scheme. They eventually attack with a monster-of-the-week henchman, the girls transform and go into battle, win in the end, and all is well with the world. Bar a few episodes that actually further the story and bring the girls closer to their final goal, the standard formula is maintained. And it's actually handled very well. Wedding Peach uses all the typical, tried-and-tested elements of the genre and adds a large extra helping of colourful kitsch.
The animation quality is admirable for a standard TV series budget, with rich colors and great attention to detail on the glossy character designs. The music is pleasingly cute and boppy, with addictive songs thrown in. And everything else you'd want from a magical girls series is delivered by the bucketload; there are lots of elaborate and flashy transformation scenes, chucklesome comical moments (complete with some SD scenes sprinkled about), dewy-eyed teenage romance scenarios, absolutely silly monsters and über-villains who really steal the show with their downright funky hairdos and costumes (I'm particularly fond of Igunis). As an added bonus, the two sexy male leads spend most of their time in skimpy running shorts. Hurrah for some blatant exploitation of male skin-showing.
So yes, it's all standard magical girls fare, and yes, it -is- fluffy, commercial and very daft. Note, for instance, that the girls first wear elaborate wedding dresses when they transform (and actually attempt to fight in them), which later "power up" to more Sailor Moon-style battle costumes. But for fans of the genre, who know what theyre in for, it's a real delight. As such, the only real complaint I have about the series is that the battle scenes sometimes become nothing but successions of the girl's transform and attack sequences, with very little else in between. But even then, a good magical girl transform scene never gets -really- boring.
Wedding Peach's attitude towards love and romance will perhaps strike a casual viewer as very cheesy. No shojo anime series is complete without big dashes of romance, usually of the dreamy and idealist variety. And indeed, in the Wedding Peach world, your crush on the boy next door materialises in lifelong bliss after you've married him and married people are still hopelessly in love with each other after several decades (and they never age beyond 30, by the looks of it). It may be very naive, but it's also sweet and inoffensive, and certainly wins my sympathy more easily than the typically Hollywoodian concept of "romance" where Macho Man and Plastic Girl indulge in gratuitous porn scenes for no reason at all (which, in it's own way is also naive and entirely unconnected with real life, unless Americans -really- are like that). At least Wedding Peach's concept of love stories offers a pleasant escape from the rough real world and allows for one's hopeless romantic side to find some peace of mind. Sugary and naive as some of the emotional scenes may be, they do manage to be genuinely touching in places, such as the second episode, where a bride gradually remembers the first meetings with her husband and thus shakes off the demon that possessed her, or the hesitant first date of a shy couple in episode 27. It's simple, idealistic and usually very cute.
Like everything else, the emotional scenes work best with an audience that's used to shojo and magical girl series and knows what to expect. Those who turn up their noses at the merest hint of a pink heart should obviously stay away. But if one is prepared to let their sense of reality go a little and believe in Wedding Peach's optimist message that love triumphs over everything (almost literally, as an energy called "love waves" is the main form of attack for the angels), the suspension of disbelief works and the series offers a nice and beautifully animated bit of dreamy entertainment. Basically, if you liked Sailor Moon and Pretty Sammy, you should also have a very good time watching Wedding Peach.