Peach Girl: Sae’s Story
裏ピーチガール (Ura Peach Girl)
Shoujo – Comedy, drama, romance
3 Volumes (complete)
Sae is ready to start her wonderful college life. There’s just one issue: she’s actually still in high school! But Sae isn’t going to let being held back a year stop her from going to campus and meeting men — and nor is she going to let an annoying guy from her past and his dog put a damper on her fun life either!
As this is a sequel, spoilers ahoy from Peach Girl in this review.
They say you can’t have a good story without a good villain, and regardless of how you view her as a person, there is little doubt Sae helped make Peach Girl memorable. Despite her often horrible behavior, Sae ends up being key to Momo realizing whom she loves, and their frenemy relationship is more friendly than enemy.
As the title suggests, this is very much Sae’s story, set about a year and a half after the events of Peach Girl. Momo and Kiley are around often to try to stop Sae from making too many mistakes. But if it’s one thing they know, you can’t stop Sae! They do star in one major side story set in high school (with Toji appearing there as well), but for the rest of the manga, they act as observers and try to offer advice, which Sae mostly ignores. The couple gets along with Sae much better overall, but you can tell they wouldn’t mind a peaceful life with Sae and her antics.
But, for better or for worse, Peach Girl: Sae’s Story is Sae at her best — without most of the criminal activity from Peach Girl. She’s still great in her role as part-time villain, but she is still far from a role model. You would hope by now she had matured a little more, but in many ways, she’s stuck in that Peach Girl antagonistic mindset. Ueda tries to get readers to be more sympathetic toward Sae by showing Sae’s home life and Peach Girl from her perspective, but I think the later volumes of Peach Girl already explained some of Sae’s issues. Instead, At least one part of Sae’s past really didn’t seem to match up; I was just as shocked as Momo and Kiley. I think the main reason it doesn’t make sense it that there are little to no remnants of it in her current life with no explanation why.
While this series is technically three volumes long, it’s actually closer to two volumes. Each volume contains a lengthy bonus story (two related, one unrelated to the main plot), so this is a very short series for a protagonist that starts off with a lot of flaws and needs to develop. Sae kicks off her tale by lying about being enrolled in college, so yeah, her scheming, mischievous nature is still well in play. That personality doesn’t do much to quell rumors about her with her classmates.
But while most people avoid Sae, who should appear but Kanji and his dog, Sora. Kanji was a neighbor who moved away, and the first thing he wants to do now that he has returned is to see Sae again. After all, they promised to be married! The fact Sae is different (like doesn’t like dogs anymore) doesn’t bother the super-positive Kanji. Sae though makes it clear she has no interest in a monkey-boy and pervert.
So you know where this is going… but you don’t. Sae’s Story ends as if it was cancelled or the author got bored. Even the subplot between Sae and the dog is left unresolved. Unlike a lot of other stories, I really don’t have a clear picture of the protagonist’s life after reading “the end”. Did Sae ever get along with her classmates? What will she major in in college? I didn’t have a clear picture of Sae’s life after Peach Girl outside of pestering Momo, but there’s a difference: she wasn’t the protagonist then.
Yes, the manga does make it seem like Sae will get her own happily ever after, but the story ends with any potential romance between Sae and Kanji still a ways off. It doesn’t help that although Kanji supports her, Sae spends much of this series chasing after a couple other guys. I believe in this case, having a “someday” ending is better than a quick love confession. Even if Sae was willing to admit she’s fallen for someone outside of her ideal, I do think Kanji needs to draw closer to the current Sae. She may still be, in many aspects, the same girl he loved all those years ago, but this Sae is much more assertive than the girl he knew. Kanji a nice guy who gets some shocks during the series, but if the story were to continue, I’d like to see more of “I love this Sae” instead of “I’ll always love Sae”. The latter may seem more romantic, but I think the former is what Sae herself really needs.
As for the art, a lot of the newer characters look like ones from Peach Girl despite having no relation. The main characters have aged a bit despite this series only starting (in their world) a year and a half at the end of Peach Girl. Otherwise, this series’ artwork is a continuation of its predecessor. Whether you liked it or hated it, nothing much has changed.
This series basically continues the standards of Peach Girl. I delved quite deeply into the adaptation last time, so I’m not going to here. There are swapped speech bubbles, incorrect romanizations, line changes, etc. As for the latter, one example is, “Are you on your period?” to “Why? I know you think I’m cute!” Completely different. I mean, considering the events in this series — let alone the prequel — a period is objectionable? Not to mention it gives Momo a much better reason to blush. Sigh. Anyways, Sawatari is nicknamed “Saru” (monkey), but the joke is never explained. Sae just calls him “Monkey Boy”. The series does use “senpai”, a rarity for Tokyopop, but even more surprising is “gochisosama”. No translation or footnote is provided for either.
If you’ve already invested 18 volumes into Peach Girl, then another three volumes isn’t going to make much difference time-wise or financial-wise. However, the fact that this doesn’t have a digital version and is out-of-print means that most new Peach Girl readers will end up skipping it, and missing out isn’t a huge deal.
Peach Girl: Sae’s Story is going to be required if you want the full Peach Girl collection, otherwise, it’s not worth tracking down. Don’t come for Sae’s or Momo’s romance stories; only come for Sae’s antics.
Tokyopop released all of Peach Girl. The series is available digitally from Kodansha Comics, who also has the sequel Peach Girl NEXT available as ebooks. Del Rey’s publication of Papillon was dropped.
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