OP: 「Dark Spiral Journey」by Suzuhana Yuuko
「元姫と卯人」 (Moto Hime to Boujin)
“Former Princess and Rabbit”
Cool-kyou Shinja is having quite the season with this, Maid Dragon S2 and Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi, but Peach Boy Riverside is the first one to come right out of the gate. But what makes the first episode of Peach Boy Riverside promising is how unique it is from his other manga by being a fantasy series that places a heavier emphasis on action.
There was quite a lot of restraint for the anime to kick off with minimal fanservice. There was an odd scene where Sally fears octopi for tentacle hentai reasons and one where kids in the Kingdom of Rimdarl take note of her large breasts. But knowing the author’s penchant for adding ecchi whenever it feels necessary, it’s neat to see that they used fanservice as more of a spice than a key ingredient.
In its place is brutal violence. Again, I’m so familiar with the author’s fluffier stories that I wasn’t expecting the walrus ogre Sett to splatter knights with a swipe of his fists. It was impressive to see what was otherwise a relatively calm fantasy story and suddenly see it dive into violent territory the moment they need limbs or bodies to be eviscerated. It makes it all the more intimidating the moment Sally’s Peach Boy vision takes control and she’s able to destroy Sett’s arm so easily.
Above all else, the episode is effective in establishing the sociopolitical sphere of the world that Sally aims to explore as she leaves her kingdom to search for the traveler Mikoto. Because she decides to have a harefolk known as Frau join her on her adventure, she quickly learns that the villages and kingdoms she comes across are all prejudiced against Frau and demihumans in general.
It gives Peach Boy Riverside a lot more substance to work with for Sally to confront villagers, lords, and knights on their irrational racism, especially when Frau takes it upon herself to protect Sally and the village from ogres that serve as the anime’s antagonists. Although Frau is endearing with her adorable design and her love of carrots, she also has the compassion and strength to be more than worthy of Sally’s praise and win Sett’s respect. It makes it all the more frustrating to see how people are unable to look past their bigoted view of demihumans to show any respect to Frau. She does win over the knight Hawthorn quickly, but it wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence to see that it took her fighting the chicken ogre to help him move past his prejudice.
Peach Boy Riverside’s first episode is a nice glimpse into the anime’s universe as it gives us a well-distilled summary of what Sally’s motives are, how her powers work, and what her values are like. It helps that Sally is a relatable protagonist whose short-temper, quirky personality, and her drive to meet up with the traveler who inspired her to seek them out make her a character worth following. The payoff towards showing us the extent of what Sally’s Peach Boy powers were like was an awesome scene that encapsulates why Sally tries to keep herself from fully diving into her powers knowing they could drive her into a brutal frenzy.
Episode 01 also has a ton of potential to add more interesting plot threads along the way, especially with some of the cool characters that show up in the OP (it’s always odd when they throw the OP in ED territory for the first episode of some anime). I’ll be looking forward to seeing the outcome of Sally entering Peach Boy mode and the consequences of Meki and Sett’s raid on Rimdarl.