May 1, 2021
What's this? Looks like Peach Girl Next doesn't have any reviews! Well then, I guess it's up to me to write one!
Like many weebs of the female persuasion, Peach Girl was one of my first forays into manga. The candy-colored covers caught my attention at the library, and it wasn't long before little 13-year-old Mokocchi was hooked. Every twist and turn in the story left me clamoring for more, and let me tell you: at the time, it was TEH BEST LOVE STORY EVARRRR!!!111
But times change. Recently, I revisited the series, now twice the age I was when I first read it. And to say
"YIKES" is a massive understatement. The unhealthy obsessions, toxic girl-on-girl hatred, and not to mention, the sheer amount of times sexual assault was used as a cheap drama tactic left me with...well, several questions, really, with the biggest one being: WHERE ARE THESE KIDS' PARENTS???
And yet, despite all of the above, I still found myself just as enraptured with Momo's twisted love life and Sae's dastardly schemes as ever before. I don't know how Miwa Ueda does it - though I suspect witchcraft was involved - but I couldn't say I disliked Peach Girl, even knowing that it was 100% Grade A Garbage.
So naturally, when I found out that a sequel series was released in 2016, I was intrigued. I mean, the original was 18 volumes long, and we also had the, admittedly mediocre, Ura Peach Girl (aka Sae's Story) spin-off - what more could be done with the convoluted world of Peach Girl?
Well... Not much, really.
Peach Girl Next takes place ten years after the events of the original Peach Girl. Now 27-years-old, Momo and Kairi are still a couple, but - gasp! - not married yet. Aside from that, though, their lives are absolutely perfect...that is, until Sae decides to move in right next door to them, with Toji, of all goddamn people, as her roommate. Throw Misao into the mix a few volumes later, and everything goes right back to the old status quo: misunderstanding after misunderstanding after misunderstanding, with a bit of blackmail, sexual assault, and attempted murder (!!) thrown in for good measure.
As with the original series, I'm left with several questions. Like, first and foremost, why does everyone let Sae get away with this shit? I could sort of understand it in the original - most of the characters were in high school, and teenagers aren't exactly known for their rationality. But here? They're adults! There is no reason for Momo, Kairi, or anyone else not to call the police on this lunatic! And make no mistake, some of Sae's antics are straight-up criminal.
But an even bigger question I'm left with, is how the hell Momo and Kairi's relationship lasted ten years if misunderstandings and petty jealousy are enough for them to nearly call off their engagement. Sure, they may not have had Sae, Toji, or Misao around at all during that period, but their communication skills have not seem to have improved since high school. They even make a point of promising each other, numerous times, to actually communicate with each other, and then forget that promise moments later once jealousy gets in the way.
The other characters don't fare much better. Toji is still a beta doormat, though I can't help but feel bad for him - poor guy just can't catch a break! (I might be biased because I was on Team Toji from the beginning.) Misao, on the other hand, is a complete train wreck. I never cared for her, but Next made me go from apathy to flat-out disgust. This disgust is further amplified by the fact that she and Toji are never given proper resolutions for their arcs; like with the original, Peach Girl Next just kind of ends, with all of the characters suddenly forgiving and forgetting the drama that, just pages before, seemed like a life or death situation.
After all this, it must seem like I hated Peach Girl Next, right? Well, you'd be wrong. As I said earlier, even though I was rolling my eyes at the stupidity of these characters most of the time, I still found myself completely enchanted by the web of melodrama Miwa Ueda wove. The fact that the art, though lacking in the 90's charm of the original, was absolutely gorgeous, certainly helped that feeling of enchantment.
Peach Girl, and by extension, Peach Girl Next, is not a series for everyone. But if you, like me, sometimes enjoy turning your brain off and getting lost in the manga equivalent of a Mexican telenovela, then look no further than Peach Girl.
What did you think of this review?