I'm not usually one for drawing out stories, but I'm so tickled by my experience with this manga that I just have to talk about how I got around to reading it.
When I first heard about Peach Girl, which was created by Ueda Miwa, Tokyopop already finished released all its volumes in English. So I went and got the complete set. However, I cringed when I started reading it, because I could not stand nasty love triangles where another girl would try and take the guy away (and succeed). I just felt that Peach Girl had too much angst and drama for me, so I stopped reading it.
Shortly after doing reviews for Itazura na Kiss, where I mentioned that I love stories where the guy realizes how much the girl means to him only after the girl walked away, I decided to give Peach Girl one more try. This is so I can finish reading it and return the complete set to the bookstore :P I started cringing again when I resumed reading, but after a while, the story got so good that I couldn't put it down. Now I know I can't return this to the bookstore. I'll just have to look under the cushions for money to buy the latest Harry Potter :P
Peach Girl was also turned into an anime, which is not finished yet at the time this page was written. For the most part, the anime was faithful to the manga, except for some modifications due to the more general audience for anime. It was not easy having to sit through the first part of Peach Girl again. Once I got halfway through, it was much better <3
Oh yeah, Kairi is the original Japanese name, but the translated manga made it Kiley. I stuck with Kairi just because it reminds me of Kingdom Hearts >.<
At school, Momo had a hard time making friends and hangs out with only one classmate, Kashiwagi Sae. Rather, Sae hangs out with her, and Momo doesn't really have a choice. The problem is, Sae has a terrible personality and gets off on taking things that Momo likes. For example, when they went shopping one day and Momo saw a bag that she liked, Sae told her that it looked terrible. Then Sae returned to the store later and bought the bag for herself. When Momo saw the bag, Sae claimed that she saw it first.
So Momo knows that she can never let Sae find out that she has a crush on their classmate, Toujikamori Kazuya (Touji for short). Momo liked Touji for as long as she can remember, but she's too shy to do anything about it because she heard that he likes only fair-skinned girls (making her stop swimming and using whitening creams). One day, when Sae started interrogating Momo about the guy she likes and started sniffing around, Momo pointed to the guy who was standing closest to them. It happened to be Okayasu Kairi, who is one of the hottest guys in school.
Naturally, Sae proceded to go after Kairi. However, Kairi called her out on the bag incident (he was in the store when Momo and Sae were shopping). Sae was so pissed that she spread rumors about Kairi and Momo all over school. This garnered Momo the hostility of Kairi's fangirls. Worse, this made Kairi stick to her like a leech XD
Eventually, Touji told Momo that he doesn't have a preference for fair-skinned girls, and that he always liked her. Naturally, when Sae found out, it drove her up the wall. She was consumed with breaking Touji and Momo apart and taking Touji for herself. Her schemes ranged from playing with Momo's insecurity to telling the whole school that she's dating Touji to messing with Touji's mind to trying to have Momo date-raped (yes, she's a nasty, nasty girl). Fortunately, Kairi was there to intervene on Momo and Touji's behalf. With him around, Sae's schemes always backfired.
Towards the end of the first part of Peach Girl, however, Sae managed to blackmail Touji into breaking up with Momo for good and dating her instead. Kairi tried to get Touji and Momo back together, but Touji refused. As a result, Kairi focused on helping Momo get over her grief (in his own perverted ways). Eventually, the two of them became a couple.
In the second part of Peach Girl, entitled Change of Heart, Kairi's past put strains on his relationship with Momo. The two of them had to deal with his shady older brother, Ryo (who is a total bishie), and Kairi's unrequited love for his childhood tutor. Momo kept faith in their relationship and stayed with him, even though he admitted that he couldn't care for her as much as he cared for his first love. Around this time, Sae also got her just desserts by falling in love with Ryo, who turned out to be a more vindictive and more cunning manipulator than her.
Finally, Kairi and Momo cooled off things and he went on a trip to straighten out his feelings. Momo was genuinely saddened and told him that she would wait for him at the end of his trip. If he doesn't meet her at that time, then she would give up on him. Around this time, Sae was recovering from her heartbreak over Ryo and decided to mess with Momo's mind. She worked to get Momo back together with Touji. He never stopped caring for Momo and could only keep silent because she was so happy with Kairi.
During Kairi's trip, he realized he truly loves Momo. But due to circumstances beyond his control, he was unable to meet with Momo at the end of his trip. That was when Touji took Momo back (he was waiting to swoop down when Kairi didn't show up). Kairi was devastated and tried his darned best to patch up things. Momo, in turn, was confused about who she really wants to be with. Ultimately, she realized it was Kairi she wants to be with <3
I'm a big fan of the Kairi and Momo camp, mainly because Kairi's the one who filled my guy-crawling-back weakness. Also, Kairi's always been the wily one and could be as manipulative as Sae. Also, he never really cheated on Momo. And yes, he's a bigger bishie than Touji.
The first part of Peach Girl is terrible. I couldn't stand all the Sae drama. It was just too...angsty and nasty for me. I hated Sae with passion, which I guess is probably good because then I'm identifying with the characters in the story. But Change of Heart was so much better. I love how Sae here got what's coming to her and eventually changing for the better (yeah, she got nicer). Also, Change of Heart didn't use the typical formula of former-girlfriend-coming-back-to-take-guy-away. I do think Ueda-sensei matured between the first and the second part of Peach Girl. It was just really cute how Kairi's defenses broke down in the end. He was always immature, but it seemed like that was just his defense mechanism.
As for Momo, I suppose some readers would probably want to smack her for going back and forth two guys. But Ueda-sensei handled things pretty well for her because given the circumstances she had, it was understandable for her to be confused between Touji and Kairi. She's the softhearted heroine who tries to do what is right but would stubbornly hold her ground. Also, I like how she looks different from the typical manga heroines because of her darker skin ^^
I would recommend only Change of Heart, but I think the first part of the series may be important as well. It gave me a deeper understanding of the characters and made me appreciate the second part even more. I consider this one of the ultimate manga love triangles. If you're a sucker for love triangles and nasty villains, this is something you'll relish. If not, you may end up liking it if you stick it out a little longer ^_~