Wedding Peach DX Anime Review
Ai Tenshi Densetsu Wedingu Piichi Derakkusu
Legend of the Love Angel Wedding Peach Deluxe
US Release By
Four 23-minute episodes
1996-11-29 - 1997-03-21
Several months have passed since Momoko and her friends defeated Rain Devila and life is returning to normal. Momoko's parents have reunited and the war between angels and devils is over. However, their adventures are not quite over yet, as it turns out there still remain rogues from both the devil and angel forces who are not content with the peace the end of the long conflict has provided. With the Earth and Heaven threatened by their presence, Momoko, Yuri, Hinakigu, and Scarlett must team up once again to protect both realms from whatever threats to the newfound peace fate has in store for them.
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The entire plot of this sequel is that the war between devils and angels is over, but there are still some stragglers that need to be mopped up. That doesn't give you much hope, but it turns out that Wedding Peach DX is an enjoyable experience. These four "deluxe" bonus episodes manage to give the girls actual, functional weapons (including a love grenade launcher!), several decent action scenes, devils that look good enough to almost add a sense of gothic horror to the series, and it also pokes fun at itself and several of the conventions of the genre. The final episode is pure comedy, but there are also some great story aspects that pack an amazing amount of substance into a 23-minute timeframe; the second episode does more than anything in the TV series managed to. The only thing wrong with DX is that it's only four episodes long--it has no central plot, the ending is unresolved, and you never get the feeling it has any clear-cut purpose.
Wedding Peach DX gave me some great entertainment, memorable weapons, and at least one excellent story within the confines of four 23-minute episodes. But more than anything else, it gave me hope that the magical girl genre isn't always a quagmire of stock footage, morality lectures, shallow characters, and stupid weaponry. It showed that when it wants too, a magical girl story can be action-packed, edgy, and even morally conflicted.
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So let me get this straight. The entire plot of this sequel is that the war between devils and angels is over, but there are still some stragglers that need to be mopped up? Pretty underwhelming, huh? Well, you don't know the half of it.
The DX in this OVA series is shorthand for "deluxe", and that's all these four episodes are. Basically four unnecessary bonus episodes in which the girls deal with a special threat in each one, with no progress other then restoring the status quo. Honestly, I don't think I've ever encountered a sequel with less potential. Four needless filler episodes to a horrible series in which the storyline episodes were pretty bad to begin with. And right from the start, it seems like things are going downhill. First of all, the series falls back on the absurdly overused amnesia theme, and in this case there is no reason for it at all. Basically we learn that after defeating Rain Devila, the girls asked Aphrodite to erase their memories of being love angels so they can move on with their lives. Why would they do that? Why would being the saviors of the planet and heaven be an unpleasant memory interfering with their lives? You would think that would be something to cherish.
Even if one overlooks this obvious issue, the amnesia part still is pointless, because ten minutes into the first episode they get attacked by a rogue devil and need to get their memories back. Fortunately, this isn't a problem, since Aphrodite apparently saved their memories on some sort of divine Zip drive or something and can restore them instantly, but it still leaves the viewer wondering why this whole sequence was necessary to begin with.
Then the first battle sequence begins. After experiencing half an episode of utter pointlessness, I was sure this would be the series' death blow, as it was going to fall back into the nightmare of endless stock footage, needless morality lectures, and stupid weapons that define combat in the magical girl genre.
But then something amazing happened: The girls started using real weapons! Scarlett (Salvia) got an extra sword, Yuri (Lilly) got a spiral whip, and Hinakigu (Daisy) got a pair of boomerangs. Not only that, but they don't just use them to throw energy waves in pre-rendered backgrounds. It actually shows them using their weapons to hit the specific enemies they are fighting! Not only that, but they also have some special angel-based powers, most notably the ability to fly with angel wings. The shock of this transition is still something I have a hard time accepting, but it does exist and it saves the series from going down the drain with its predecessor.
Of course, this does bring up a lot of questions. Where did they get these new weapons and powers? Why couldn't they use them before? The series never provides an answer, but who cares? Just the fact that they have them now is enough, and I haven't even gotten to the best part, Momoko's new weapon: A grenade launcher equipped with a heart-shaped gunsight that literally blows away her enemies with the power of love! That may just be the coolest anime weapon I've ever seen in my life. I mean, I've seen the power of love do all sorts of things in various movies and TV shows through the years, but I've never seen it obliterate bad guys in the most literal manner possible. And while I've seen my share of iconic anime weapons, both real-life models and sci-fi ones--Talos' concealable chaingun (Crusher Joe), Rally's CZ-75 (Gunsmith Cats), Lupin's Walther P38 (Lupin III), B-Ko's wrist-mounted missile launcher (Project A-Ko), and Rosette's 1911 (Chrono Crusade)--Momoko's love grenade launcher may just top them all. At the very least, it's up there with them and earns Wedding Peach DX a special place in anime history.
So to recap, we now have actual weapons, actual fighting with weapons, and one amazingly distinguished weapon. But the good parts don't stop there. We also have some very dark and creative villains. Some of them are pretty typical hellish-style beasts, but they still look great and almost add a sense of gothic horror to the series. There are also some great story aspects that pack an amazing amount of substance into a 23-minute timeframe, namely the second episode, where Scarlett gets her first love interest, who turns out to have a dark side that she has to deal with. It's a surprisingly deep and moving tale, and by the end I felt like it dealt with far more issues and morality themes than any of the other girls' relationships did over the span of an entire 51-episode TV series. The final episode goes for pure comedy, falling back on the classic "body swap" gag, in this case having the girls being transported into the bodies of devil cats. While there was nothing really special about it, it was a nice contrast to the other episodes and I thought they handled it about as effectively as possible under the circumstances.
The animation really shows its age most of the time, but overall I thought it was better than the original series. Also, there were some parts where they did an exceptional job, such as an assassination attempt scene in the second episode in which I was able to identify guns used by the assassins in close up shots by their real life models (Uzi submachine guns, a Glock Pistol, and a Browning Hi-Power). That's pretty impressive, as weapons authenticity is not something I would expect the makers of a magical girl show to put high on their priority list. I also thought they did a good job with the music. The beginning and ending themes are enjoyable and pleasant, while the series also has a few mid-episode montages that sound pretty good as well.
Also, when it comes to comedy, the series isn't above mocking its own flaws. For example, in one part where the girls are pressed for time, Momoko initiates "Angry Double Speed Transformation," causing their transformation scene to speed up like it was on fast forward. I don't know if this was a nod to viewers who were sick of how long it normally takes, but it sure felt like it, while also acknowledging they can go faster if they wanted too. There is also a part where Momoko is about to give her pre-fight morality lecture, only to be interrupted by another character, who shouts "Hey what's with the speech? Just kick his ass!" That's pretty much what I was thinking in every episode up to then, so to hear a character in the series point it out made me want to stand up and cheer.
So the final is result is... well... I like this. I seriously honestly like a magical girl show, and not for unintentional comedy. I actually enjoyed watching this series. However, it still has some major limitations. It's just four episodes, it has no central plot, the ending is unresolved (Aphrodite tells the girls there are more devils to fight right before the end credits of the last episode), and you just never get the feeling it has any clear-cut purpose. The best way I can describe this is it feels like you're watching a football game in which your favorite team falls behind 27-0 going into the fourth quarter, but then comes back and narrowly loses 27-24. You might feel proud of their effort, and the fact that they didn't give up when it seemed hopeless, but you still have the pain of a loss, just as I still have the pain of enduring a horrible 51-episode TV series just to watch four good ones. Meanwhile, you can't help but wonder why they played so lousy for the first three quarters when they played so well in the last one.
However, I can say that watching Wedding Peach DX was an enjoyable experience. It gave me some great entertainment, memorable weapons, and at least one excellent story within the confines of four 23-minute episodes. But more than anything else, it gave me hope. Hope that the magical girl genre isn't always a quagmire of stock footage, morality lectures, shallow characters, and stupid weaponry. It showed that when it wants too, a magical girl story can be action-packed, edgy, and even morally conflicted. The only question is, does there exist such a series of full length, rather then a handful of bonus episodes? That remains to be seen, but for at least now, when I watch shows within the genre, I can do it with greater motivation than wanting to throw up another review. I do so hoping that one day I will find the one I'm looking for.
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Apart from the TV series it's based on, 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
Wedding Peach is a relatively large 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 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.
Kotono Mitsuishi, whose many prior roles include Usagi Tsukino, the main character in the Sailor Moon series, and Excel in Excel Saga, returns as the voice of Potamos in the third episode.
US DVD Review
Wedding Peach DX was included as an add-on to all of ADV's Wedding Peach TV series releases, initially as "volume 10" of the individual-disc release, and then as part of the second-season thinpak box set and later collector edition. The DVD has English and Japanese stereo audio, an English subtitle track, and doesn't boast any special features.
A lot more edgy then the original series, featuring more direct violence, borderline nudity (particularly in the ending credits), and the second episode also deals with some significant mature issues.
Violence: 2 - Not particularly violent, but the girls have real weapons now, and they are clearly used to injure and kill the devils; nothing less is implied.
Nudity: 2 - You can see the outlines of the girls' naked bodies during the transformation scenes, and the girls are all naked in the ending credit sequence as well; nothing explicit is actually shown, though.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - A wee bit more serious in this category this time around.
Language: 1 - Nothing significant.
Available in North America from ADV Films on bilingual DVD as part of their release of the TV series; originally as volume 10 of the series, then as part of the second five-disc thinpak collection, and most recently on the second 5-disc collectors' set. All are currently out of print.