Last week we looked at a slightly unconventional take on the magical girl genre. Today's review is older, more conventional, and nowhere near as good.
WEDDING PEACH (Ai Tenshi Densetsu Wedingu Pichi), by Nao Yazawa. First published in 1994, and first published in North America in 2003.
Momoko Hanasaki is a romantic young lady, who dreams of having the most perfect/beautiful/sparkly/etc. wedding EVAR, just like her dear departed mother's wedding. It certainly doesn't help that her father is a professional photographer who works at many weddings himself with Momoko as his unofficial assistant. Momoko's matrimonial fantasies often star one Kazuya Yanagiba, the soccer team captain and resident Cutest Boy in School, but his dark and snarky teammate Yosuke Fuma keeps getting in the way. Everything changes when a strange bishonen named Pluie tries to steal Momoko's ruby ring, an heirloom from her mother. As she gives chase, another bishonen by the name of Limone shows up and basically walks Momoko on how to become the magical Angel of Love, Wedding Peach.
I couldn't make this crap up if I tried.
Soon Momoko's best friends become magical girls themselves, and it is up to them to protect love and romance itself from the machinations of Pluie and his master, the demoness Rain DeVilla.
You know, I expect a certain degree of girliness in magical girl stories, more so than your average shoujo story. When you read a magical girl story, you expect a lot of frills and sparkles and friendship and schoolgirl romances. There is a point where it can becomes excessive, and Wedding Peach is a shining example of that excess.
I know teenage girls can get rather romantic, but Momoko's focus on weddings and marriage is downright bizarre. I could get her obsession to a degree if it was more about connecting herself to her dead mother, but it's kind of sad that her greatest goal in life is simply to get married. Even her best friends are kind of weirded out by the whole thing, although 'best friends' is a relative term considering they do their best to compete with Momoko for Yanagiba's attention. That's not the biggest issue I had with the story, though.
No, the far bigger I had with it was just how lazy and rote the story is. It's clearly cribbing more than a few notes from Sailor Moon, which at this point was only a couple of years old, right down to the fact that we have a team of magical girls and even the love themed equivalent of "in the name of the moon, I will punish you!" The attacks are incredibly bizarre at times - where else will you see a magical girl fighting evil with a camera or lipliner? It also becomes quickly apparent that even at this early stage, Yazawa is struggling to come up with ways to turn love and weddings into magical girl-style attacks.
The villians are just ridiculous, including but not limited to their rain themed names and their plots to literally destroy love and enslave the angels. To do so, they need to seize four items called the Four Somethings. Later on we learn that these refer to the old rhyme about brides wearing 'something old, something new, etc.," but before then it comes off more like the villians can't remember the name of what they are trying to steal. "We must possess the Four...um...er...Somethings! I don't remember what they are called, but they are very important, and we must take them at once!" Their methods are equally ridiculous. Sure, it sounds intimidating to possess other people to attack the girls, but any fear is completely undercut by the fact that the creatures possessing these people look like a cross between a Furby and a Popple, ready made to be turned into plushies.
Of course, it's not a shoujo romance without a schoolroom romance, and we have that thanks to the weak-ass love triangle between flighty Momoko, Yosuke the jerk-ass, and the practically nonexistent Yanagiba. No surprises here - even blind people can see where this triangle will lead. But then, why should the romance be any more unpredictable than the rest of the story? Ok, some of this predictability is a given of the genre - after all, any given magical girl's victory is as guaranteed as it is for any shonen hero. Everything here is so predictable, though, and it leaves the reader with nothing to invest themselves in. At the end of the day, this story is nothing but a bunch of ruffles and sparkles and pretty boys with not an ounce of soul or depth behind them.
Based on the character designs, I suspect Yazawa is a Rumiko Takahashi fan. They're very much in the same vein - small torsos, long legs, big blobs of hair; they've just had a dash of shoujo-style chibification added to boot. As you suspect from such a description, these are not terribly expressive characters outside of big, broad overreactions. Sadly, she didn't attempt to imitate Takahashi's clean, crisp take on action scenes. All the attacks here are a mess of swooping speed lines, sparkles, and screen tones. Panels are packed like sardines on the page, and even when Yazawa tries to expand the panels for the fight scenes, it doesn't make things any clearer - it just makes it messier on a larger scale.
There's far less to say for the artwork than there is about the story. It's old fashioned in its character designs and it's kind of a mess on the page, which only adds to the mess that is the writing.
There's a pointless little side story centered on a school sports event, and that's the extent of the extras.
This series was released by Viz. All 6 volumes were released, and all are out of print.
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