The odd thing about this series is that all three volumes are terminated about 2/3 of the way through and filled out with a short story. It could definitely have been done in two volumes, or even one large volume. Ueda mentions she stopped drawing the series due to maternity leave and couldn’t resume the proper pace after having her baby, so she had to end it early. Since the series didn’t really have a direction, having it end kind of on an open note seems okay, but there are still a few unresolved issues, like whether or not Sae will be able to graduate this year or how the relationship with her and Saru works out.
Three different volumes bring three different men for Sae though, counting Saru. This one was actually the easiest to take, since the relationship seemed genuine in the beginning. The way it winds up feels like a real cop-out, though. Sae doesn’t get Sae’d, precisely, the guy just… is beyond belief. The speed at which the relationship moves was way too fast though, especially compared to the original series. I would much rather have had Sae bouncing between two different guys, sadly, with more drama than the lighter series we actually got. But that’s more my personal preference, I suppose.
Sae still seems pretty shallow here, and it’s still hard to take some of the justifications for her behavior, but they’re a bit more believable in this volume, and there were a lot more sweet moments that I really got into. Sae at least came across as a human being.
The short story at the end was unrelated to Peach Girl, and actually struck too close to home for my comfort. Ouch.
Ugh. This series continues, and I’m a little ashamed to admit I was drawn in. It’s annoyingly fast-paced, where Peach Girl excelled at making a moment last the entire volume. Sae is kind of a shallow character, and it feels like there’s constant lame justification for all the mean and spiteful things she does. She continues to just… treat her childhood love in the worst way possible while chasing after a lame guy and spiting the girl who was trying to go out with him first. And Momo and Kiley STILL aren’t anything more than a background presence. What a waste.
There’s another short story that takes up the second third of this volume, too. This one centers around Momo and Kiley. Even here though, the original spirit of the series seems lost for good. A problem arises, some really forced drama is thrown in when an old girlfriend of Kiley’s shows up and tries to pull a Sae on Momo, there’s a resolution… it lacks the dramatic, addictive charm of the original, even with the same characters. Even with Toji.
I knew this series would be no good, but I bought it anyway. Peach Girl is still one of my favorite series of all time, and there’s plenty to like about it… but it’s going to be hard to get through even three volumes about the completely unlikable antagonist from that series.
I hated Sae. I know a lot of other people may have liked her (apparently more than I thought, since she got her own series), but I just hated her. Ueda tried to be sympathetic towards her at the end of the series, but I would never have forgiven her if I were Momo, since the things she did were absolutely despicable. Forget the number of times she set Momo up to get the entire school to hate her, she staged a rape and took photos to blackmail Momo’s boyfriend into dating her. There is no redeeming a character like that. She makes for a wonderful antagonist, but that kind of character doesn’t do well in the main role since she’s got no good qualities.
So. Here we get Ueda trying to get a sympathetic backstory going for Sae so you can understand where she comes from. The half-hearted character development is only one of the many problems this series has. One of the things that made me most mad is that Momo and Kiley come back as characters as well, and they appear relatively often, except that they are totally one-dimensional here and only act as a conscience, only appear together, and are only talking heads when they do appear (what the hell?).
The story also suffers from having too much going on at once. In Peach Girl, things were fairly simple: Momo was being tortured time and time again. Here, you have to drag everything that happened over from the original Peach Girl, as it seems to be randomly relevant as memories are swapped between the characters. The plot, without all the stuff from the original, is all over the place, and… I don’t know… Sae just isn’t a very good character by herself. She just isn’t star material.
There’s also a TERRIBLE story in the back of the book which is a one-shot trying to explain away all the absolutely awful things Sae did to Momo at school in the original series. The justifications are really tacked on and don’t make much sense. Ugh. I lost whatever respect I had for this spinoff when I read that.