Wallflower Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, February 06, 2005
Release Date: Saturday, January 01, 2005
Translated by:David Ury
What They Say
Four fabulous guys must completely transform a high school girl if they want to keep living rent-free in her aunt's luxurious mansion. But Sunako Nakahara, the most fashion-hopeless girl in Japan, would rather live like a hermit and watch her favorite horror movies than undergo a makeover. When the guys stumble upon the mansion's secret subbasement, they discover the ghost of a prim and proper lady who (thankfully) begins to possess Sunako's soul. It seems their problem is now solved. Too bad that Sunako's now-suitable personality includes a desire to lock the boys up in the mansion's dungeon!
We get Yukinojo on the cover this time around, against a simple black and white background and the logo across his clothing. The back has a color image of the four guys from the hot springs with Noi standing right behind them and a passed out Sunako in the background. Very simple, but effective. Extras in this release include a cute side story about the mangaka, extensive liner notes and ads for other Del Rey products.
I have mixed feelings about the artwork. For the most part, it's very gorgeous, especially when it's regarding the four male leads. They look like every woman's bishounen dream, with big, soulful eyes, wavy locks of hair and a smile that makes your heart roll over in your chest and wish for one in real life.
Then there is Sunako.
When Sunako is depicted as an actual woman, you see just how beautiful she really can be. Otherwise, she is represented by a faceloss blob with stick-straight black hair. This, combined with her surly personality, did not do a lot to endear me to the character. I understand why Hayakawa has chosen to do this with Sunako - it matches her level of self-esteem. It's a bit startling to see next to the elegantly-drawn pictures and really heightens the impact of having this black sheep around. But it's not a style I care for.
A solid translation is provided here with some distinctly Japanese references changed to American ones to bridge the language gap. Things like yen are kept in tact, and any culture changes are explained in the liner notes.
Content (may contain spoilers):
This volume contains a series of standalone stories that progresses the story from the year 1999 to 2000.
The first is a very amusing tale surrounding the school festival. Kyohei manages to talk the others into pitching in with Sunako's classroom display of a haunted house in an effort to win 500,000 yen. It's funny to see the guys be chased around, Kyohei manage to knock most of them aside, then see them succeed together and win the money. But the twist comes at the very end, when Kyohei manages to lose it all in one fell swoop. It's a timeless gimmick, but one that still had me laughing.
We then proceed to Christmas and New Year's. The first story has Sunako wanting to spend the holiday alone, but is accosted by a serial rapist. Kyohei manages to save her from the rapist, but once Sunako learns how many women he's violated, let's just say she doesn't need a man's help after that. The New Year's story is teased on the back cover of the book and centers around the guys discovering a subbasement and a ghost that has possessed Sunako.
The final story is the best and leaves the volume on a cliffhanger. Ranmaru has fallen for the wife of an innkeeper, who invites the entire group to spend some time at the hot springs. They go off with Takenaga's girlfriend, Noi, and Noi manages to bribe Sunako into keeping Kyohei busy so she could attempt to be alone with Takenaga. Sunako wins the bribe and a bet with Kyohei so she could go home alone, but the last train has gone out and she decides to stay at the inn. She and Kyohei notice Takenaga running off, right as a cry goes out that the inn owner has been murdered.
The Wallflower is a series that I continue to have mixed feelings about. It's not one that I can handle in one sitting and was forced to break it up into two. Everything from the art to the characters has me really liking parts of it and really hating it. Mainly the parts I dislike center around Sunako and the art that's used to depict her most of the time. I want to slap some sense into her. But the parts I really do like center around the four buys. There's one point where Yukinojo gets shoved into wearing a woman's gown and his girlfriend sees him that is hilarious.
One of the things that I do like about the series is that the guys now genuinely care for Sunako and they don't appear to be using her. They're pretty boys, but they're not shallow when it comes to her and are fiercely loyal. I'm also liking the dynamic between Sunako and Kyohei and how he's slowly loosening her up some. It's those elements that keep me in the series because overall, The Wallflower is really an excellent story. Now if only Sunako would just get an attitude adjustment...
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
Orientation: Right to Left