A starving rabbit girl in a sailor school uniform and a former princess armed with a sword meet in a forest and bond over the sharing of a carrot. A member of the harefolk, the hungry Frau is overcome with gratitude and pledges to follow Sally until the “carrot debt” has been repaid. The two travel to a village, where Sally plans to part ways with her long-eared friend, but witnessing the extreme prejudice of the villagers toward the demihuman girl changes her mind, and she decides to stand by Frau. With a little subterfuge, they find hospitality and refuge for the night. The next day, a giant rooster demon (oni – translated here as ogre) ravages the village, striking fear into all and activating Sally’s right eye so that it glows and she is compelled to confront the fearsome fowl, only to ultimately freeze in the path of danger. Fear not, for Frau comes to the rescue with a deadly kick to the beak! Surely the villagers who have witnessed this heroic deed will now embrace her, bunny-tail and all? Sadly not! Sally and Frau are instead arrested by knights, locked up, but then freed by Captain Hawthorn who was moved by Frau’s chivalrous heart. The two are released just in time to confront a massive walrus ogre, but Frau’s kicks cannot save the day this time. Instead, it is Sally’s glowing eyes to the rescue! She wields her katana with deadly precision and vanquishes the beast, wearing a creepy grin as a luminous peach flickers in her eye.
Peach Boy Riverside spins off of a well-known Japanese children’s story about Momotaro (literally, Peach First Born Son), a boy who washes down the river inside a giant peach and is adopted by an elderly couple before setting off to rid the land of oni. The premise of this series, then, is that there were other peach children washed down river, with the implication being that Sally is one of them. Until now though, her powers had not awakened. In the original story, the boy travelled with three animal companions, whereas by the ED, Sally is set to lead an even odder band of travelers, including Frau, Hawthorn and one of the oni, a woman who is reduced to the stature of a child every time she uses her power (she accompanies mega-walrus oni). These four are interesting enough characters to make me want to stay tuned to see where it goes, particularly with the theme of confronting prejudice and changing people’s perspectives through acts of courage and kindness. I also want to see Hawthorn’s backstory and discover what makes him accept Frau so readily, despite having been raised to believe demihumans are irredeemably evil. I appreciate the whole ‘retelling a classic story with a modern twist’ angle as well, and am keen to see whether the twist is simply the addition of a “peach girl” or whether it will turn out that demihumans can be “peach boys” too. The art is very clean, and Frau’s design and that of the other animal oni are particularly well done. Frau reminds me a little of Sailor Moon, with her long trailing yellow scarf, and the voice acting for her is quite charming. There are a couple mild ecchi bits (and a disturbing tentacle flash-back for Sally) that, if they become a more prominent theme, could be a bit much for my liking. But all in all, this seems set to be a solid series for watching over lunch break. Especially if you like carrots.
Peach Boy Riverside can be streamed on Crunchyroll. Read our thoughts on all the new summer anime series, in addition to comments from our other writers, on our Summer 2021 Anime First Impression master post.