YAZAWA Nao (art & story), TOMITA Sukehiro (original creator)
Shoujo – Action, comedy, fantasy, magical girl, romance
6 Volumes (complete)
Clumsy Momoko dreams of one day falling in love and having the perfect wedding. But that might never happen f the Demons have their way and steal all the love in the world! One day, Momoko is given a mysterious compact and gains the ability to transform into a Love Angel named Wedding Peach. Can Wedding Peach protect love and save the Angel World?
Wedding Peach is a classic example of the magical girl genre from the 90s.
Now, one of the most common criticisms of Wedding Peach is that it is a Sailor Moon rip-off. A gluttonous, clumsy, often short-tempered but full of love young girl transforms with the help of a compact to fight an evil organization with theme-named recruits to defend love in the world as she finds love. Oh, and she does so in a non-battle-appropriate outfit and has allies who also have their own Engrish transformation and attack phrases.
But as Yazawa also talks about Wedding Peach in an interview and the Japanese Wikipedia page points out, several members of the original Sailor Moon staff were involved in the Wedding Peach project. And to quote Google Translate’s translation, “From this circumstance, it is sometimes treated as a substantial derivative / sister work of Sailor Moon.” .
And that’s what it is. Wedding Peach has a lot in common with Sailor Moon, so the tl;dr version of this review is if you liked Sailor Moon, you will like Wedding Peach; if you’re a not fan, you won’t.
Momoko and her two best friends, feminine Yuri and tomboy Hinagiku, are members of the Newspaper Club, and the three are some of the many fangirls of an upperclassman on the soccer team. Through their “investigative reporting”, Momoko meets first year goalie Yosuke, and he starts teasing her. But as irritating as Momoko finds him, she has far more to worry about when a stranger tries to steal her mother’s ring. As the Demon Pluie faces off with Angel Limone, Momoko is given a compact and transforms into a Love Angel named Wedding Peach. Yuri and Hinagiku eventually awaken as Angel Lily and Angel Daisy, and the three must find the Sacred Four Somethings to reinstate the barrier around the Angel World and drive the demons away.
Now, I’m sure a lot of Wedding Peach fans are going, “It’s totally different! Stop comparing the two!” But it is impossible not to. Once one particular story gains popularity, anything similar is going to be compared to it. And no matter if you think of it as a rip-off or a spiritual successor, Wedding Peach is going to be compared to Sailor Moon.
That’s not to say there aren’t some differences. Unlike Sailor Moon, Wedding Peach focuses on one war. The series kind of has two arcs (the turning point being the focus on the Sacred Four Somethings), but the Angels only battle Rain DeVilla and her servants, not different groups. But probably the biggest difference between the two manga is the tone. Both series were serialized in magazines targeting young girls, but Wedding Peach skews younger. This may disappoint those of you who preferred manga Usagi’s growth or disturbing images like a melting Mamoru.
However, everyone had heard of Sailor Moon by the time Wedding Peach made its debut, so instead of trying to revolutionize the genre, the latter just fully embraced it. Girls fighting in short skirts? Let’s have them fight in short skirts and wedding dresses! English phrases? Wands? Mythological inspirations? Romance? Check, check, check, check!
Downplaying the drama also helps the story in other ways. Yosuke is a schoolmate of Momoko and friends, so his joking nature and blossoming feelings come across more naturally than Mamoru’s. Yuri and Hinagiku are already friends with Momoko, so we don’t need to spend time introducing them. Without someone around to constantly guide and lecture the girls, Momoko and her friends are free to be their 14-year-old selves and look forward to living happily ever after instead of an eternal battle.
Of course, the simplified, shorter story does mean it’s not nearly as epic. At points, it’s so girly and childish, it is probably nauseating for a lot of potential readers. The girls head to the Demon World, but all we pretty much see is black vortexes. Instead of clashes of whips, thunder, and fire, we get… rainbows from lipsticks and a super-powered camera flash? The Love Angels also switch between their outfits to use one of their two different attacks, which is rather silly. One love story is the definition of love at first sight — the full “hi, nice to meet you. I’ll love you forever and a day”. Parts of the story are either unexplained (Wedding Peach “has risen again”? What? Were there other Wedding Peaches?) or glossed over (the ending, as Yazawa admits she ran out of time). Several bonus stories are inserted at the end of the volume, and it would have been nice if these had been part of the main storyline. Between this, the rather unimpressive final battle, and the fact a couple of key characters are introduced to the end, I wish the series had another volume. I think Yazawa would have preferred to as well.
But, hey, even some of the best Disney movies are full of too-perfect coincidences and some major leaps in logic. Rather than the overall story, I really like the relationship between Momoko and Yosuke. Neither are oblivious to their growing attraction, and even when they start to affirm their feelings, they do so in a way without declaring this is Ultimate True Love. Meanwhile, Hinagiku and Yuri are never pushed to the side. They power up just like Momoko, and they have their own relationship problems. Their romance stories aren’t nearly as strong as the main couple’s though. I thought they could have used some more impact to feel like they just weren’t being paired up for the sake of pairing up. But hey, it’s better than the side pairings in the first seasons Sailor Moon Crystal.
Speaking of pairing up, one comment about this: Wedding Peach puts all of its emphasis on heterosexual love. Sure, there are a couple of jokes about Hinagiku being so manly she’s more likely to bring home a bride than be one herself, and it’s still illegal for same-sex couples to get married today in Japan, but the manga doesn’t acknowledge homosexual couples. This, of course, differs from Sailor Moon and even Cardcaptor Sakura, both of which were written around the same time. Plus, it seems like the ultimate form of happiness is getting married, a message even Yazawa won’t comment on.
The story is very 90s, and the art is as well. Open a volume of Sailor Moon, Yu Yu Hakusho, or Saint Tail, and you will find a lot of the same features, especially big hair and the abundance of comedic faces. Yazawa’s art also has a bit of Takahashi-ness to it; Momoko’s angry face in particular sometimes looks like Lum’s from Urusei Yatsura. If you don’t have a lot of experience with 90s manga, here’s a brief comparison.
If you have seen pictures of the Wedding Peach anime, you may notice the outfits look a lot different:
The designs weren’t final when Yazawa started doing the manga, so their anime outfits became the manga version’s powered-up forms. The revised outfits are better overall, but I never cared for Angel Daisy’s egg-like bottom. However, I don’t think grapes make good wedding dress accents either. Yosuke and Hinagiku’s friend Takuro also look younger (or at least smaller) than their anime counterparts. I thought their manga appearances actually suited them more, as they’re only in their first year of middle school.
Now, I’m going to kind of go off-track here. First, you may have noticed Volume 2‘s cover in particular looks plain and empty. That’s because VIZ did not use the original Japanese covers for these two volumes.
Although a bit hard to see, you may have noticed that the English versions between Wedding Peach Volume 2 and Volume 3 have some different colorings. The one that stands the most is Angel Lily’s hair switching from purple to dark blonde. Well, as I was doing research, this image came up, hosted on Anime News Network:
The third volume’s cover I found a non-colored version as a filler picture in Young Love, and but the second volume’s cover seems to be lifted directly from the the Fighter Angels’ debut in the first volume.
Let’s put them side by side:
Where did Momoko’s earrings come from? What happened to Lily’s ear? I’m guessing this is a crappy coloring, or maybe it’s a bad tracing. Lily’s and Daisy’s eyes look much less like Yazawa’s style, and accents like on Momoko’s garter are missing completely. But if there was a colored version, why didn’t VIZ use it? Or maybe this was some type of promo/preview image, and Yazawa just copied it into black-and-white and added all the changes? Because Wedding Peach 5‘s cover is also found in Young Love with snowflakes and Jama-P added…
Anyway, those two dull and ugly covers aside, the art is 90s. Shocks where the eyes white out, poses and speeches, somewhat vague backgrounds due to the lack CGI… yeah.
The fact that Wedding Peach is an out-of-print with no digital version available is also big hurdle. Many of the individual volumes are listed for $30+ on Amazon, although you may be very lucky and catch the series on eBay for about that price. I’ve looked before, and I’ve seen people list the last volume start at $50 on Amazon; to quote Momoko, “Wedding Peach is extremely displeased!” The other volumes aside from Young Love can be had for $10 or less used. The series isn’t even found much on eBay.
“Yanagiba-senpai” is used. Otherwise, honorifics are not used, and characters tend to use first names even when they don’t in Japanese. Despite being a rather old translation, I was impressed by the efforts to showcase the different speech habits like Yuri’s more formal speech and the Jama demons’ verbal tics.
While not too noticeable here versus Young Love, some of the asides and sound effects are in German. I don’t suspect Wedding Peach to be a translation of a translation, but it’s obvious the German version was used for lettering. And no, that’s not where the cover comes from.
The word “saint” is replaced with “sacred”, probably to downplay the religious connotations. So instead of “Saint Crystal Love for You”, it’s “Sacred Crystal Love for You”. This applies to all items and attacks. The legendary items the angels are searching for are the “Sacred Four Somethings” instead of the “Saint Something Four”. Wedding Peach are first called the “Angels of Love” before mostly switching to “Love Angels”. Daisy’s second attack is “Saint Tornado Dreaming” but “Sacred Tornado Dreams” here. Other foreign words are also translated into English (“Angel Love Peach” instead of “Angel Amour Peach”).
One item of note is Lily’s attack. VIZ Media calls it “Sacred Stardust Scepter”. The anime dub says it’s “Saint Astral Stardust”. The Japanese attack name seems to be セント・シュトラール・スターダスト. Well, if you can read katakana, the first and last are pretty obvious: “Saint” and “Stardust”. I did some research, and the middle word is Strahl, German for “ray” or “beam”. Don’t know why neither one of these companies changed it to the “Saint Stardust Ray” or something.
I did notice once or twice the speech bubbles were swapped in some unimportant places. (Speech bubbles of “Sir Limone” and “Limone” are pointing to the wrong characters.)
Wedding Peach is a Sailor Moon-inspired tale with its strongest asset being its main couple. The wedding theme means it doesn’t hold up as well or have as much cross-appeal though.
Wedding Peach was also adapted in five other magazines, each targeting a different grade level. Four different artists drew these versions. Of these, only two were released in tankouban format. Of these two, the one in Shogaku San-nensei was brought over as Wedding Peach: Young Love. Some additional information and images of these spin-offs: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3. The anime is currently out-of-print in North America.
Yazawa’s works Moon & Blood and Mizuki were made available in English from Digital Manga Publishing.