SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!!!! SPOILERS!!!!! SPOILERS!!!!! SPOILERS!!!!
I stumbled on Peach Girl: Next by complete accident. I am pretty sure it was when I was looking for pictures for my Peach Girl review. I happened to catch a glimpse of the picture shown above and immediately had to begin my research. Come to find out, Miwa Ueda began releasing it back in October. There are only 4 volumes out currently, and as far as I can tell they are not available in paper copies yet. Even though I couldn’t get a paper copy, I loved Peach Girl so much I had to continue the story. I broke down and got a digital copy for my kindle. I guess I should mention I am breaking down this review by volumes simply because it is a current manga and I have every intention of staying current on it. I guess you could call it a first impressions. So, let’s get right into it! Oh, and obviously there are spoilers!
First of all, the story takes place ten years after the events of Change of Heart. We are introduced immediately to Kairi (Kiley but now with a more common spelling) and Momo. Momo is now a scuba diving instructor and Kairi owns his own soba noodle shop. Kairi and Momo have spent the last ten years together, and having been living together for the last four years.
We are taken to Kairi’s soba shop, where we meet a woman that works with him named Ayame. Of course, she has a huge crush on him. Kairi begins to talk about how lonely it is because Momo is away on a work trip. Ayame begins to try and make her move because she thinks that because Kairi and Momo have been together for ten years, yet they aren’t married they are in a doomed relationship.
Momo begins to worry that her relationship is plateauing. She starts to think about her life and where she wants it to go. Eventually, she begins actually crunching the numbers and realizes she doesn’t have a lot of time left if she wants to have kids. She wants to have three kids. She went ahead and booked a wedding hall (a year in advance). Which that would make her 28 when she is married. Then when you start adding on kids that is a year before birth…she starts to get worked up.
When Momo goes to meet her friends from high school, she is asked if her and Kairi were thinking about getting married yet. Everyone is shocked when Momo tells them that her and Kairi haven’t even talked about marriage yet. The girls soon begin to put ideas in Momo’s head about Kairi using her as a doormat. That he will only keep her around until he has become successful, then leave her for someone younger and prettier.
We are then transported back to the soba shop where Kairi is working with Ayame. She immediately puts on the moves again. She asks him to leave his girlfriend and be with her. He puts her in her place and tells her the only person he is in love with is Momo. It isn’t long until the important question is dropped. If they are so happy, why aren’t they married? Kairi says there are some things that are more important than marriage. His dream. Which this is a statement I can truly understand. Kids are expensive. I get not wanting to have them before making your dream come true. However, I can also see Momo’s point as she isn’t getting any younger and with her dream is having three kids. She’s not getting younger. Nothing that a good talk wouldn’t fix, but knowing these guys they certainly have to fight before they talk it out.
Anyway, Momo walks in and overhears that his dream is more important than being married to her, and with the words of her friends already in her head, she becomes very upset. When they get home, Momo decides she is going to leave since she isn’t important to Kairi. As she leaves, Kairi grabs her arm and tells her they share the same dream and that he can’t do it alone. He then breaks down and tells her that his dream is to have a family with Momo. He says that raising three kids would be expensive so he has been saving up like crazy. Momo is amazed that Kairi knew what she wanted without even asking her. He is very close to his monetary goal so he just goes ahead and says it, knowing how important it is to Momo. He asks her to build a family with him (proposal).
Kairi then begins telling all the regular customers at his shop that they are going to be getting married. One of the regulars, a very rich old man, gives them a wedding present. Keys. He gives them a house to live in. It was for a family member, but the family member decided they didn’t need the space.
Three months after they move in to their new house, everything takes a turn for the unfortunate and strange. One day Kairi wakes up and yells for Momo. Only to find that there is a house that looks EXACTLY like their house next door. Cue backstabbing, crazy Sae. She is moving into the house next door with her new roommate…..Toji.
Quickly Momo begins to revert to high school Momo because she fears Sae is trying to interfere with the couple’s wedding plans. Kairi decides that he doesn’t want to wait 9 months to sign the wedding papers. He is afraid that old feelings might begin to bloom again.
After being rejected of entering Momo and Kairi’s house, Sae invites them over to have dinner together. When they arrive Momo notices that Toji has seems to have lost a lot of weight. More importantly, she notices that Toji has a wedding band, but also notices Sae does not. At first, Momo thinks Sae is blackmailing Toji again or that they are having an affair. It isn’t until later that she learns the truth. The following day Toji is among her new scuba students, where they begin to grow closer. She asks Toji if he is being blackmailed and he says he’s not. He just missed her….and Kairi.
Sae quickly begins to start with her old schemes again, as she tries to get Momo closer to Toji. She sends him on scuba diving lessons on the daily. After a while, she tells Ayame all about Momo and Toji’s past and that they are spending every day together, in an attempt to break up Momo and Kairi. It doesn’t take long for Sae and Ayame to hatch a plan. They decide to slip Kairi sleeping pills at the next work party, and take him to a love hotel.
Meanwhile, Momo learns the truth behind Toji’s marriage. She finds out that he was married for a very short amount of time. She died in a car accident when she was 8 months pregnant with their daughter. The daughter survived but Toji hasn’t seen her. Toji’s mother-in-law fell into a depression and the granddaughter was the only thing that kept her living. Eventually, the grandparents asked Toji to stop visiting. Everytime he did, the mother-in-law thought Toji was going to take his daughter away. It was after all those things, Sae found him in a park. She asked him if he wanted to tag along when she moved in next to Momo. He obviously agreed.
There are so many things wrong with this part in the manga. I can not imagine any person who would, under the tragic circumstances, keep a man away from his daughter. I understand the mother-in-law’s breakdown, but neither mother or father-in-law took Toji’s feelings into account. I can’t imagine how he felt when his wife died, then immediately have his daughter torn from him as well. It is just messed up. This is why I love Peach Girl. The story is so deep and filled with meaning. There just is nothing like it.
Kairi quickly becomes insecure when he finds out that Momo and Toji are spending so much time together. It also doesn’t help when he finds Momo’s diving log and sees that Momo had to embrace Toji after he had a panic attack under the water. This eventually leads to him getting super drunk at the work party (because everyone knows you drown your sorrows in alcohol). This is where Ayame and Sae pull their stunt.
The next morning, Kairi wakes up at a love hotel next to Ayame. He runs home and tells Momo, who immediately gets very angry. She calls Ayame pretending to be Sae and finds out that the two of them set up the whole thing. She also found out that Kairi and Ayame had indeed slept together.
I don’t understand how anyone could still work with someone like that. Who went out of their way to try and ruin your life. More importantly someone who raped you. I also don’t know how Momo could forgive Sae the first time she pulled this stunt. If I was her, there is no way in hell I would forgive her the first time, let alone the second. I guess it just shows how amazing of a person Momo is. I know there are people like her out there and props to those people. I couldn’t do it.
In a chain of events, Kairi and Momo end up at the hospital. Kairi comes in order to get an STD screening because Sae said that Ayame had mention to someone that she had one. When he goes in to get the results, he gets results he wasn’t expecting. He was clear of STD’s but he could never bear children. This sets Kairi off on an insane spiral of depression and demands that he wants to break up and Momo should have kids with Toji and that him moving next door was fate. Momo calms him by reassuring Kairi that he is the most important person to her, and that it is okay if they don’t have children as long as they are together.
In the finale of Volume 1, the couple learns that Sae had tricked them again and that the results were bogus. The hospital called and informed them no one had come to collect the results. Everything becomes clear. Momo confronts Sae, and tells her that she will NEVER forgive her for hurting Kairi and says if she lays a finger on him she will punch the daylights out of her next time. After realizing her plan didn’t work, Sae gets very angry and swears she is going to destroy Kairi and Momo no matter what she has to do.
Overall, Volume One absolutely did not disappoint. It gave me all the characters I wanted to see and some I didn’t (Sae). It reminded me just how much I was drawn into the world of Peach Girl from the start. The character investment is still right on par. I am always finding myself filled with emotions as I follow Momo and Kairi. Even with Toji moving in next door. I can’t help but hope that he will find his happy ending as well.
Also, I have to mention that Peach Girl: Next is bringing the hard to discuss topics here as well. Again, we have an incident with Kairi being drugged and raped. Then we get to see the aftermath of that experience. Kairi hearing that he needs to go be treated for an STD and then receiving the news that he is sterile. They are all topics that you just don’t find in too many manga (that I am aware of). Then on Toji’s end, seeing the pain he goes through after losing his wife of 6 months in a tragic car accident, and not being able to see his daughter. This is all just the topics of this volume. I can’t imagine what difficult to talk about topic will come next.
I didn’t realize just how much Peach Girl: Next was needed, until it was given to me. I didn’t realize just how invested I was in this story. It is an amazing addition, and I really hope it continues to living up to the expectations I have. I have always wanted to see how Kairi and Momo’s story will end. Hopefully, Peach Girl: Next will not disappoint and give them their happy ending. The only way to find out is to continue on the journey with Kairi and Momo. I hope to see everyone over in Volume 2 to see what crazy things happen next. You never know when you got Sae around!! See you all there!