Original Run: July 1, 2021 - September 16, 2021 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Action, Fantasy Based on the Series Created By: Cool-kyu Shinja and Yohane
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Peach Boy Riverside. Reader discretion is advised.***
There is an old legend of a boy born from a peach. That boy would grow to become the strongest warrior in the world and the scourge of all demonkind. Although everyone knows the story, there is a question no one seems to ask:
What if there were more than one hero?
In a world where humans and demons have distrusted and hated one another since time began, two such “heroes” exist. They are Saltorine “Sally” Aldike and Mikoto Kibitsu (voiced respectively by Haruka Shiraishi and Nao Touyama).
Sally travels the land trying to bring coexistence between the races. Mikoto, on the other hand, despises demons and takes great pleasure in killing them.
But with the powers of the Peach Boy at their disposal, both Sally and Mikoto are forces that no one can ignore.
I was optimistic about going into Peach Boy Riverside. Since this series was an adaptation of a Cool-kyou Shinja webcomic – the same person who gave us Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying – an interest was present. Granted, only the Peach Boy Riverside story was Cool-kyou Shinga’s; the art was from Yohane (who I am unfamiliar with).
Still, I thought to myself, “Although I have never read Peach Boy Riverside, I have enjoyed other Cool-kyou Shinja adaptations. Therefore, I see no reason why I should be hesitant with this one.”
Unfortunately, I did not account for the studio that made Peach Boy Riverside, Asahi Production, wanting to be all “artsy.” This series aired anachronistically, a.k.a., not in f@#$ing order.
However, a chronological (in order) release did happen, but only on the Japan-exclusive dAnime Store. Thus, I will write this section of the review as though Peach Boy Riverside went from point A to B to C, rather than A to BS.
Also, before we begin in earnest, Peach Boy Riverside is an action-filled, highly-stylized “sequel” to the Japanese folktale “Momotaro.” There were enough references to that story to make this series slightly harder to follow if you are unfamiliar with it. Conversely, you can damn near guarantee every Japanese viewer will know this tale as thoroughly as every American would know “The Three Little Pigs.”
Although anime has an international fanbase, it is still a Japanese medium. Thus, culture-specific incidences such as this do come up from time to time.
So, to help, here is a criminally brief summary of the “Momotaro” story:
An old couple found a giant peach floating down the river. From the peach came a baby boy, who the couple named Momotaro (Peach Boy). As Momotaro grew older, he grew stronger. As a man, Momotaro went on a quest to slay the demons of Onigashima (Demon Island). Along his journey, he befriended a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. Together, they defeated the demons of Onigashima, and the land knew peace.
I do recommend looking up the story for yourself, but that is all you really need to know before diving into this series.
With all the preamble done, Peach Boy Riverside – it was pretty bland. Even when you take the random order out of the equation, this show was nothing special.
That said, had this series simply used a straightforward timeline, it would have been a fairly acceptable action anime. The battles in Peach Boy Riverside were big and flashy. This point became especially true whenever Sally Aldike and Mikoto Kibitsu entered – oh, what the hell do we call this – their Peach Boy State (sure, we’ll go with that).
Essentially, the Peach Boy State turned Sally and Mikoto into bloodthirsty killing machines. But unlike an overpowered isekai protagonist, the Peach Boy State was beatable; Sally and Mikoto could – and on occasion, did – lose. This slight vulnerability added enough tension to make each fight fun and the things you start looking forward to the most.
But it wasn’t just Sally and Mikoto. There were several over characters who could hold their own.
Of the two that come to mind, Peach Boy Riverside had Hawthorn Grator and Frau (voiced respectively by Toshiki Masuda and Mao Ichimichi). Rather than being mere sidekicks for Sally, these two characters proved they were not around simply to fill out the hero’s party.
On the contrary, Hawthorn and Frau were proper companions. And now that I think about it, this show maybe did a better job paralleling the “Momotaro” story than I initially gave it credit for. In the lore, Momotaro had his dog, monkey, and pheasant comrades, each of whom added to the hero’s overall strength.
I can say the same thing about Hawthorn and Frau towards Sally.
To continue giving credit where it is due, Peach Boy Riverside’s action probably would have saved it. Yeah, it didn’t make up for the forgettable characters, paint-by-colors plot, and baby’s first racism-is-bad narrative. But it would have held things together.
The problem, this show, for some reason, was all over the place. You have to wonder, “What was the thought process behind doing things this way?”
Now, you could argue, “Why not just watch the episodes in the proper order yourself?”
While you could do that, is it worth it? Do you want to take the time to figure out what goes where for a show you’re most likely not going to remember in a week? If the answer is “yes,” then, by all means, go for it.
But you see, I suspect the answer is a big, fat “no.”
Before diving into the obvious, let’s take a quick look at everything else Peach Boy Riverside fumbled at:
- Uninteresting characters
- A predictable story
- Unoriginal social commentary
- Unnecessary fan service (Sally’s pants might as well have been painted on they were so tight)
- There was a weird running joke where Sally envisioned tentacle porn every time she saw an octopus
Frankly, there were a lot of strange quirks in this series that made it feel off. It definitely wasn’t something to get excited over.
And now, let’s get into it. Please know that even if this show had had a typical release, I doubt I would have recommended it. Peach Boy Riverside isn’t worth your time.
But to have it released out of order could not have been a worse decision.
Only on the rarest occasions have I seen an anachronistic anime work. In fact, there is only one example that comes to mind – the Monogatari series. But Monogatari succeeded where others failed because it was still partly chronological; the story broke itself up into multiple narrative arcs, which helped maintain the timeline.
However, for something like Peach Boy Riverside, it was just confusing.
Not only was this series hard to follow, once you realize things were going to be this way – which I didn’t – all of Peach Boy Riverside’s flaws become far more apparent.
Anachronistic storytelling is necessary to better explain characters and their motivations. Action and events themselves are far more important than when they take place. A narrative needs to be gaining something if it chooses to do this. And from what I can tell, Peach Boy Riverside gained nothings.
It also doesn’t help that – as far as I know – the original webcomic didn’t do this. Correct me if I am wrong on this point, but this decision was the sole responsibility of the studio. Hence I have to assume Asahi Production had zero confidence in this story. Why else would they want to “spice things up?”
There is no good answer to that question since the result would be the same – a subpar fantasy tale that was unnecessarily difficult to follow.
Since I was optimistic about this series, naturally, I am feeling disappointed. But since my optimism had no real basis besides “other studios have made good adaptations of this author’s works,” I am the one who overhyped this show.
While the action was decent, everything else about this story was lacking. And having to keep track of when everything took place was a challenge no one asked for. So why do it in the first place?
Since this series utterly failed to answer that question, Peach Boy Riverside is one you can skip.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Peach Boy Riverside? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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