I had a bit of a difficult time picking out shows to watch this season. In the past I would have just gone onto my streaming subs and just pick a handful of shows that caught my eye. This past few seasons I’ve started to be a little bit more discerning and doing a little research on what’s coming up. Which kind of feels like it’s missing the point of this whole blog series.
Either way, nobody is really raving about any of the original series airing this Summer Season. So I feel like it’s down to my own questionable taste to actually dig through this mountain of Isekai and find something actually worth keeping up with.
Momotarō, or Peach Boy, is a a piece of Japanese folklore. A story about a boy born from a giant peach found floating down a river by an elderly couple. As he grows older, he makes friends with a dog, a monkey and a pheasant and goes off to fight Oni (Demon Ogres) plaguing his land. As you might have guessed from the title, this series takes that old story and giving it a more modern anime spin.
Honestly though, the main reason this series caught my eye is learning it comes from the same Mangaka that wrote Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Which coincidently is also getting its second series this season. So I decided to have a go at this one for pretty much no other reason than that and the fact that this is one of the few shows that isn’t an Isekai this season.
The first episode drops us into the middle of Saltherine Aldarake’s story. It seems she’s a former princess out on some kind of adventure. She immediately bumps into a demihuman Rabbit called Frau and introduces herself as Sally. From here we learn that this world is filled with humans, demi-humans and ogres.
And it par the course for these kinds of anime fantasy shows, the humans suck ass and are immediately violently fearful of Frau. Despite the fact that she’s this cute bunny girl who could kick their asses easily if she wanted to. But she doesn’t because she’s chill.
Based on the first two episodes alone, I was super sold on this show. Frau’s design is simultaneously super cute and really cool. The show’s animation style does a great job of making her look great when she starts kicking the ass of the ogres they encounter.
Her and Sally journey to a larger walled city in their travels, becoming fast friends almost right after meeting. Just because Sally bought Frau some carrots. She’s simple like that. There, the city is besieged by two powerful High Ogres. One that looks like a big Walrus and the other looking like a Waifu.
It’s here we discover Sally comes from the same stock of Peach born people as Mikoto Kibitsu; who is based more directly on Momotarō of the Peach Boy story. Sally is searching for Mikoto for some reason and each of them encounter the pair of Oni individually.
Mikoto, despite being based on this beloved character of folklore is not exactly your typical hero type character. An androgynous looking guy, he seems to take some kind of sadistic glee in battling the Oni. Not enough to just kill them when he encounters them, he would rather allow them to come at him at full power so they can realise just how hopeless their struggle is. And then strip them of their power and leave them as a “fate worse than death”.
Meanwhile, Sally goes through a similar series of emotions in her encounter with the Walrus. Although, for her it seems to come in the form of a transformation. Where her personality changes and she takes on the look of a Yandere girl, and she also becomes much more violent and sadistic. Easily killing the High Oni and then passing out afterwards.
After Mikoto rips the power from the Waifu Oni called Meki she is arrested and left in the dungeon for dead. To which the now kindly Sally decides to break her out seeing as how she is harmless now and doesn’t deserve execution. Shortly after they escape the city, with the Captain of the guard Hawthorne in pursuit, the entire city is destroyed in a single energy blast.
It’s a great ending to the episode.
And based on those two episodes alone I was super interested in seeing where this went. The show had set up its main characters and created this real air of mystery around Sally and the nature of her power. The mystery of who destroyed the city and the nature of both the Oni and the Peach people. Because, based on the events of these two episodes, neither of them seem like sides we’d feel comfortable siding with. As Sally and Mikoto seem to be taking some perverse, sadistic pleasure in taking the Oni apart piece by piece.
And then episode 3 happens.
This episode jumps around in time quite a bit. Starting off by showing Hawthorne fighting in a tournament to win some money for him, Sally, Frau and Meki (who is now going as Carrot for some reason. Which seems an odd choice considering Frau is always talking about eating Carrots.)
From here we jump around, are introduced to a number of characters on the side of the Oni and some of them don’t seem that bad. Instead we’re introduced to Sumeragi, a very human looking Oni who wants to broker peace between the two races. Although can’t seem to resist breaking out in the largest, most evil smile I’ve ever seen at any given opportunity.
I don’t know, between all the jumping around in time, the undercutting of the mysteries surrounding the destruction of the city in the last episode and the lack of any characters reacting to the event. The underwhelming meeting between Sally and Mikoto and the super blatant villain introduction, it feels like the show undercut all the good work it did in the first couple of episodes to rush into a new storyline.
Verdict: I don’t know… Might give it a couple more
That third episode really drained any enthusiasm I had for this series. It was setting up all these mysteries around the characters and their real motivations, as well as giving us a few really dramatic events that would have left the character reeling. But then it throws all of than in the bin and feels like it skips forward, like there is some entire story arc left out between episode 2 and 3.
The character work is pretty thin, and the main four are super chummy right off the bat, which means the series doesn’t need to dedicate any time to its character building and instead can introduce its equally thin villain and rush into a choice for Sally between edgelord Mikoto who wants to kill all Oni and the obviously evil pastor who wants to broker a peace between Oni and Humans.
This sure would feel like a more dramatic design if I knew literally anything about Sally, her past and anything about either of the two characters offering her their hands.
Writing about this show has bummed me out on it even more than I felt at the end of episode 3. I might give this show another episode or two of my time just to see if it upswings again, but I’m feeling it has the vibe of a super generic fantasy action show right now.