Peach Girl Collector's Edition Box Set 1
Long before Love Hina hit the shelves, there were really only two or three manga available in most mainstream bookstores. One of them was almost always Sailor Moon, another was Cardcaptor Sakura.
And then there was Peach Girl. Clearly aimed at an older audience than the other two titles due to its more complex storyline, Miwa Ueda's twisty romance series has finally been re-released by TOKYOPOP in their "100% Authentic" format. As with the other new editions of classic series (Magic Knight Rayearth and Cardcaptor Sakura), the new volumes are coming in a boxed set prior to individual releases. There are four books in this set. Happily, the box is very sturdy (more like the Cardcaptor Sakura boxes than the Rayearth boxes), with a couple of attractive renderings of Momo on the front and back. Four books come in the first set, presumably with the next half of the original series to follow in the near future.
Peach Girl's title refers to the main character of the book, Momo Adachi. She tans extremely easily, and thus she's earned an unfair reputation of being a party girl. She's very attractive, tall, and athletic, yet painfully shy. She's rather insecure, as well, which keeps her from standing up to the rumors that surround her. When the first book begins, we learn that she's been harboring a longtime crush on Toji.
She was told once by a friend that Toji can't stand girls with tans, however, and so she spends most of her time trying to lighten her skin enough to be worthy of his attention.
What makes the story truly interesting is the addition of Momo's best friend (who also happens to be her worst enemy), Sae Kashiwagi. Sae wants everything that Momo has, and when she learns of Momo's feelings for Toji, she goes out of her way to make sure she gets Toji first. Toss into the mix another guy, Kiley Okayasu, who may or may not be attracted to Momo, and we have a first rate love rectangle.
I can see why this series got so many people to start reading manga. It's consistently funny, and I was really able to empathize with Momo. She's a kind girl who has a combination of bad luck and forces beyond her control working against her, and I sort of understand what that's like. The artwork is impressive, the shading is smooth (an important item to note when the book emphasizes the tan of the primary protagonist), and the writing solid.
If you enjoy unpredictable, but realistic romances, and you haven't yet checked out Peach Girl, you need to.
If you already own Peach Girl, then there's basically only a few things you need to consider when deciding whether or not you want to buy it all over again. First of all, do you want a larger edition of the books? This release isn't huge, but compared to the pocket-sized Mixx versions of the manga, it's certainly a healthy increase in size. Secondly, would you want to read the book unflipped? It no longer reads from left to right, adopting instead the current standard way of domesticating manga. Finally, are you interested in seeing the original sound effects in place, rather than the English translations? The text to me appears to be essentially the same. Honorifics haven't been added, but the story reads as well as it did years ago when it was first released.
I never actually bought the original run of the books; I thought they were too expensive for the size. I had no hesitation in getting the box set this time around, however, because of the more authentic presentation, as well as the increase in dimensions. If you're a huge fan of Japanese-style comics and Peach Girl, I'd suggest that you pick up the books. Donate the old ones to a library, or keep them as collector's items, or sell them to someone who would enjoy them as much as you did if you must, but this is the definitive version of a great series.