Wedding Peach Anime Review
Ai Tenshi Densetsu Wedingu Piichi
Legend of the Love Angel Wedding Peach
KSS, OLM, NAS
US Release By
51 25-minute episodes
1995-04-05 - 2996-03-27
Wouldn't you know it, earth is being invaded again, this time by Rain Devila, who seeks to destroy everyone capable of love (wouldn't that be just about everyone?). In order to do this, she needs a conveniently non-specific, undefined item called the Saint-Something Four, so she has begun dispatching her henchmen to random places in Japan where they use their devil powers to make groups of people act like total jerks. What a great plan.
Standing in their way are Momoko, Hinagiku, and Yuri, three teenage girls with the ability to morph into the love angels Wedding Peach, Lilly, and Daisy, and fight the demons by literally harnessing the power of love (cleverly named "the love wave"). Aided by the love goddess Aphrodite, a devil turncoat named Jamma-P, and a mysterious angel-like stranger named Limone, they seek to find the Saint-Something Four and use it to defeat the devils.
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Another trip into the the terrifying realm of the Magical Girl genre, the shows of which seem destined to make all the exact same mistakes and, at best, aspire to mediocrity. My main motivation with this particularly embarrassing concept was sheer curiosity as to exactly how bad the genre could possibly get. It could have been worse, but as usual you have lengthy transformation sequences, stock footage battles, and endless morality lectures, paired up with boring characters, minimal plot, incompetent villains, and bad animation. This one, to go with the wedding theme, adds "weapons" even more laughable than usual--compact mirrors, lip liner, and the power of love. To its credit, partway through the second half the series adds a fourth heroine who's actually interesting--a gruff war veteran with a real weapon and combat skills--and improves the villains a bit as well. Unfortunately, it's too little, too late.
I know the magical girl genre isn't ment for people like me (namely males), so I always try to approach it with an open mind, but I couldn't find a single redeeming quality in this one. No matter how you look at it, Wedding Peach is awful--a series good for unintentional comedic value and MST3K fodder, nothing more.
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Oh boy, here I go again. Another trip into the the terrifying realm of the Magical Girl genre. I don't mean terrifying because it's not ment for my age group or gender (though that is a major factor). I mean it because it's a genre is which everything I've seen so far is below average or plain bad, and all for the same reasons. It's as if the flaws are inartistically built into the very essence of the genre, and they absolutely must be present in every series. But the sad thing is, I keep watching them! Other than for the purpose of review writing, I can't think of a good reason, and in this case I'm not even going to pretend it's because I was hoping to find a better one. After all, who would expect superior quality from a show called Wedding Peach? In fact, I expected this to be one of the worst anime TV shows I've ever seen, and my main motivation was sheer curiosity as to exactly how bad the genre could possibly get.
It turns out this isn't the quite the worst anime TV show I've ever watched, but it's close enough. And while I haven't seen enough of these to know if it's the worst magical girl show of all time, you would have to work pretty hard to make something worse. Again, it's for the same reason as every other one I've seen so far. In describing the flaws, I could use the same template for every magical girl show review and get by just by changing the name of the series when necessary. By this point I'm starting to think a series that's bad for different reasons is the best I can hope for.
Once again, the first problem is that this is a total Sailor Moon ripoff. Just like Sailor Moon, this has a bunch of school girls who morph into super heroines to fight an endless stream of henchmen dispatched from an evil queen in an alternate dimension seeking to take something from Earth and use it for some dark purpose. And, just like in Sailor Moon, the girls are aided by some divine being and a mysterious male stranger who shows up to save the day whenever they need him, and is most likely a classmate the girls are attracted too.
Then we get into the problems that plague virtually every series of this kind: The superheroine transformations are way too long and followed up by a pointless morality lecture, the girls each only have one type of attack for each weapon they use, their weapons are totally illogical, and the attack moves and transformations are nothing but stock footage. But here, what really distinguishes Wedding Peach is that these flaws are magnified to the most extreme degree. Now instead of one long, repetitive transformation scene for each of the girls, we have sit through two long repetitive transformation scenes, the first of which serves no purpose whatsoever. First the girls morph into wedding dress attire (because if there is one thing that intimidates your opponent, it's a wedding dress), which (as expected) doesn't help them fight, so then they go on to morph into their battle gear (the so-much-more-intimidating getup of leotards, mini-skirts, and high heels). Often they go from normal mode to wedding dress mode to battle gear in the same transformation sequence! Also, instead of one totally unneeded, ineffective pre-fight morality lecture from the main character, we now get three unneeded, ineffective pre-fight lectures-- one from each character! I just can't fathom the thought process that led people to believe this would be a good idea. It all adds up to very short fight scenes and a lot of wasted time.
But probably the worst thing about this series is the weapons. In the other Magical Girl shows I've seen, I've witnessed battles being fought with songs (Mermaid Melody), Castanets (Tokyo Mew Mew), and even a Tiara (Sailor Moon). But nothing prepared me for what I would see here. The Love Angels' starting weapons are... man, it's almost embarrassing to say this... a compact mirror, a wristwatch, and lip liner. Let that sink in for a second. Lip Liner is used as a weapon. Which is sadder: the fact that humans need this junk to protect us or the fact that the devils can't defeat it? Eventually the girls get a wide variety of new weapons, but they are all just as illogical and only slightly less stupid.
To be fair, that's pretty consistent with everything else about the Love Angels. Listen to their attack and transformation statements: "Beautiful Wedding Flower!" "Saint Lip Liner Lilly Rainbow!" "Lovely Operation Tempete!" Is there anyone on the planet who would find this intimidating or impressive? Really, if you're going to insist on including cheesy statements with every attack and transformation move, at least make them commanding and intimidating ones like in say, Inuyasha. Instead, it seems like the creators of this series were trying to create the most un-heroic, un-intimidating, un-imposing, and un-interesting protagonists ever made. The one exception is Limone, who, to his credit, at least has the good sense to wield a real weapon (a sword). He also has a pretty cool entrance, showing up on scene by literally descending the stairway to heaven. I gotta admit, that was one thing that always looked good no matter how many times it was displayed. Too bad it's not enough to make up for the girls' shortcomings.
When it comes to their personal lives, the love angels don't fare any better. It's just polite smart girl (Yuri), tomboy girl (Hinagiku), and clumsy girl (Momoko). Anyone who's seen a show like this before can easily guess who the leader is. They hardly have any abilities with real value (pretty much all they ever do is ogle boys anyway), and the ones they do have aren't properly used. For example, Hinagiku is an expert martial artist, but does she use this asset in battle? Of course not! That would be too useful. Instead, she'd rather rely on her most lethal fighting move: A wristwatch. Meanwhile, Momoko is involved in this pathetically forced love triangle between one guy who seems like the Disney stereotype of prince charming and another guy who constantly insults her and treats her like dirt. Gee, I wonder which one she'll pick. Seeing as this is an anime and not a Disney film, #2 seems like a safe choice. Romance through antagonism wins again.
The devil villains aren't particularly noteworthy either, though at least they have attacks that appear to be capable of hurting people. The problem is that their attack powers are all typical and they usually die within a few episodes of their initial appearance. It feels like Rain Devila is just sending them in after plucking them off the stock bad guy assembly line: "Hmm, well, sword guy just bit the dust, better send in lighting girl. Oh, lightning girl kicked the bucket, time to go with fire dude..."
But what really sticks out about this show is the profound lack of effort. Using the "power of love" as a literal fighting method. A war between devils and angels. It really feels like they just took the first few ideas from a one-minute brain storming session and decided to make an anime about them without any further refinement or thought. Wedding Peach is just an unbelievably generic series in a category already overloaded with un-creativeness and un-originality. And, quite frankly, I'm amazed they thought these concepts were enough to sustain a series of any length, let alone a series of 51 episodes.
However, I will say this show is an example of how in order to do a proper review of a long TV series, you have to watch every episode. Later in the series, Wedding peach does go through some positive changes. First of all, it gets an excellent new opening theme song, which at the very least allowed me to finish the series feeling like I got something worthwhile out of the whole thing. Also, the villains start to get a bit more longevity, so we aren't just going through them every few episodes. Some of them are actually memorable, most notably one who appears to be based on Bruce Lee. I gotta say that's not a reference I'd ever expected in a magical girl show, but it appears that is the case, as he looks, dresses, and even sounds like the martial arts legend. I was really hoping he'd end up as the last boss, but sadly it didn't turn out to be so.
Most importantly, after 34 episodes, the group gets a fourth Love Angel, who is far superior to the others. She uses an actual weapon, attack moves that look deadly, has a wonderfully short transformation scene (I clocked it at 12 seconds, and that's with the pointless wedding dress phase included), and is a major personality contrast to everyone else. Despite her peaceful title, this "Love Angel" is actually a gruff war veteran and heartless killer who is determined to exterminate the devils at any cost. However, she can be summed up as too little, too late. She never feels like a full-fledged member of the team, doesn't get any big sub-plots other than a single episode of backstory explaining why she's so hateful, and her time on screen is minimal, often relegated to showing up to help in battle, just like Limone. If they had introduced her earlier and given her a bigger role in the story, it really could have made a difference. Instead, she just seems like a desperate last-second addition in a vain attempt to salvage an irredeemable series.
I know the magical girl genre isn't ment for people like me (namely males), so I always try to approach it with an open mind. I haven't seen anything I've really liked so far, but in some of the prior shows I've reviewed I was at least able to find some redeeming qualities, such as some good characters in Tokyo Mew Mew and Mermaid Melody's excellent music. As such, I was able to at least comprehend how they achieved their popularity. But here, having an open mind didn't help. No matter how you look at it, Wedding Peach is awful. It's exactly what you would expect when you combine bad animation, boring characters, lengthy transformations, stock footage attacks, and lectures that take up to 10% of an episode, laughable weapons, and minimal plot, and put them together with no effort whatsoever: A series good for unintentional comedic value and MST3K fodder, but nothing more.
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Once again Sailor Moon is the closest resemblance, but there are plenty of others in the genre, such as Tokyo Mew Mew and Mermaid Melody.
Notes and Trivia
Much to my shock, it turns out Wedding Peach is a whole franchise, starting with a 6-volume manga series by Nao Yazawa that ran from 1994-1996 (available in English from VIZ). There are also three Wedding Peach video games, released for the Super Nintendo, Game Boy, and PS1, respectively, along with an OVA sequel called "Wedding Peach DX" and a single-volume second Manga series called "Wedding Peach: Young Love," also available in English from VIZ.
In addition to a DVD release from ADV Films, this show also aired on Funimation TV.
Wedding Peach is notable for being the debut of voice actress Larissa Wolcott, who provides the voice of Momoko in the English dub. Since then she has been in more than 25 anime movies, TV shows, and OVAs. Her more notable roles include the voice of Excel in Excel Saga for episodes 14-26 after original Excel voice actress, Jessica Calvello, injured her vocal cords, and the voice of Chako in Cosplay Complex.
Likewise, the subtitled version also features a distinguished voice actress, Kotono Mitsuishi, who plays the voice of Rain Devila's main henchwoman, Potamos. Mitsuishi's resume includes dozens of character voices in anime and video games. Her most famous role is the voice of Usagi Tsukino, the main character in the Sailor Moon series. Interestingly enough, she also provided the Japanese voice for Excel in Excel Saga. Small world, huh?
Wedding Peach also features a big-name director, Kunihiko Yuyama, who directed the Kimagure Orange Road series and several of the Pokemon movies.
The girls' given names are all flowers, and references to their alter-ego names (or vice-versa); Momoko means "peach girl," Yuri means "lily," and Hinagiku means "daisy."
US DVD Review
ADV Films released the entire series on bilingual DVD; it doesn't boast of any special features. As with most of their releases, it was initially available on nine individual volumes, plus a tenth volume containing the OVAs. They then re-released it on two much-cheaper 5-disc thinpak sets in artboxes, which were otherwise the same as the individual volumes (the OVA disc is included in the second set). Later still they repackaged it as two 5-disc collector's editions.
For the most part the fights are your standard harmless magic-throwing fare, with the girls beating their enemies by purifying the evil out of them. However, there are quite a few deaths, and some of them are rather bloody and brutal.
Violence: 2 - A fair amount of deaths from the angels and devils, a few of which are done in bloody, semi-realistic ways.
Nudity: 1 - Skimpy outfits and magical disappearing clothing that reveals silhouette outlines.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - A lot of romantic relationships, which as expected don't involve anything graphic or explicit.
Language: 0 - Nothing I can recall.
Available in North America from ADV Films on bilingual DVD; originally on nine individual DVD volumes (a tenth included the OVAs), then on two five-disc thinpak collections, and most recently as two 5-disc collectors' sets, the second of which includes the OVAs. All are currently out of print.