The struggle to turn Sunako into a lady continues as we get more family members involved.
What They Say
We're halfway through the series and the boys have barely made a dent in Sunako's impenetrable shield of unattractiveness. They KNOW there's a beautiful girl in there someplace; she's just not going to come out without a fight!
Still, there are hints of hope. After all, Sunako HAS inexplicably managed to bond with Noi, the most beautiful girl in the school, despite the fact that the latter has kidnapped her one or two times. And, maybe... just maybe... the guys are starting to get a little feeling as to what it's like for people who're not a beautiful as they are... Well, a little teeny tiny bit perhaps.
It's almost as if Auntie ways really trying to change ALL of them by bringing them together... or more likely, it's all just an incredible coincidence!
Contains episodes 14-25.
The bilingual presentation for this release is pretty solid, particularly for the English side of things. The original Japanese stereo mix is done at 192 kbps and comes across well during the show though it doesn't exactly extend itself in any way. It's a good full sounding forward mix that doesn't have much in the way of depth and directionality but it serves the material well. The English 5.1 mix, done at 448 kbps, adds quite well to the original mix by providing more depth and placement to the dialogue as well as simply being louder. Some of this can be matched in the Japanese just by the volume control, but overall the English mix is quite solid and works well with the material without coming across as fake. We didn't have any problems in terms of dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.
Originally airing in late 2006 and early 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The release is essentially the same in terms of quality as we saw from ADV Films as the authoring is done by them for this set. The twelve episodes are split across two volumes in a 6/6 format. The one word that can really describe this show in terms of its video quality is inconsistent. A good number of scenes are done intentionally noisy to showcase the horror aspect of it, but there is a good deal of noise in many other scenes as well that you wouldn't think there would be. And it's not a constant either as there are many scenes that are bright, vibrant and pleasantly colorful without all the noise. The bitrates for the release are pretty good which points more towards a source issue, or directors’ intent, that in the end can be pretty distracting at times if you're used to looking for it or it stands out in general. Outside of the noise, there are some instances of lines moving about during some of the pans and zooms but that's about it. Cross coloration is non-existent and colors tend to look solid when the noise isn't introduced, intentionally or not.
The second part of the Wallflower release mirrors the other FUNimation two disc thinpak release with the thin slipcover but it keeps to the same design that ADV Films had used for their single volume releases. The slipcover has a great piece of artwork that has Noi, Takenaga and Ranmaru in very detailed outfits with lots of flowers around them. It’s very refined and definitely fits that pretty boy image and Noi helps to offset that a bit with sophisticated beauty. The back of the slipcover is a bit darker and sillier as it brings in the macabre in the shots but also the weirdly funny way it all looks with the small bodied moments. The summary runs through the basics of what to expect and it’s all laid out pretty nicely.
The two thinpaks inside are also rather nicely done. The first volume uses the artwork of just Yuki with a dark red background and mirrors the same kind of logo. The second volume takes Takenaga from the front cover which gives him a chance to stand alone. The back of the thinpaks are kept very simple with just the episodes listing against a murky black and red background. The reverse sides bring in some artwork from the various volumes that haven’t been used on this release otherwise. No show related inserts are included.
The menu design for this certainly fits with part of the show as it uses the image front of the mansion set at night. The central area is given over to a rundown of the episodes for selection, which is done in a font that’s a bit hard to read since it’s small and the episode titles are long. The bottom portion is darkened out so that the extras and other navigation pieces can be found here, all set to some of the hard rock instrumental music that permeates the show at times. The layout is decent and easy to move around in, though I think they could have found a better font to fit with this design. Submenus load quickly and we had no issues with our player presets as the disc read everything correctly as just about every ADV Films release seems to do.
The only extras included are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If there is any kind of show that I really hate in this particular format, it’s comedies. I may have said it elsewhere but it’s worth saying again; reviewing comedies in marathon form that don’t have any really big stories to them can be wearing. Watching twelve episodes of Wallflower over the course of two days drains a good deal of the comedy out of it I think. So much happens over it in terms of humor that when you sit back and reflect on it, it really does come across in a bit of a blur.
The second half of Wallflower, which runs for twelve episodes, does have a few neat things in it that help to give it a bit more cohesiveness. The first half of the series was introducing the cast of characters and exposing their wackiness and dealing with Sunako’s creepy factor. She provides a great deal of the material that causes things to happen, but we also get the individual stories for the four young men as well as their first meeting. Thrown into that mix is Noi and her relationship with Takenaga which adds a nice little twist to it all. The story structure was certainly familiar and predictable, but it brought in the wacky aspects from the manga with Nabeshin’s trademark zaniness as well. Even upon re-watching the series, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit since it is all good simple fun with a huge dose of the macabre.
A good deal of this half does deal in the same kind of comedy as it also works towards fostering the slow and steady relationship between Sunako and Kyohei. You have the gang going off to an island paradise at the Auntie’s request only to discover that there’s a pirate ghost there that’s possessing the gang. You have a really big episode revolving around Valentine’s Day which is fun as the guys hide out a lot while avoiding the girls and Sunako is all about trying to get all their chocolate for herself. There’s even an episode where Sunako gets a big dose of acne because of her eating habits and she’s forced into a skin care health spa retreat with Noi which is priceless simply because people are poking and prodding her. There’s a lot of the macabre material mixed in and even poor Hiroshi gets kidnapped. Kidnappings continue to be pretty regular here. Essentially, if you liked the silly factor from the first set, you’ll get a lot more of it here.
There are two things that help to make this second set stand out a bit more overall. The first is that they do introduce a new character that sticks around for more than an episode. Ranmaru finds himself being set up by his parents to meet a young woman from a wealthy family named Tamao. He’s against this completely since he wants to just experience life and not be tied down so he enlists the help of the others to sabotage it. Tamao is a rather predictable character, but she ends up falling in with the group over time, but not quite to the level of Noi. She does bring in the element of another rich girl but with softer approach and backing it up with a huge stick. I liked Tamao since she puts Ranmaru on a different footing and added something fun to the dynamic, especially when it comes to dealing with Sunako as they get to know each other.
The other thing that worked really well is that we do get to know the parents a bit more of a few of the characters as well as extended family. Ranmaru’s parents get a bit of attention when the meeting is setup and they’re fun to watch for what little they’re around. A good deal of time however is given over to Sunako’s parents who end up getting involved when her father finds out about Kyohei and thinks it’s more serious than it is. The background on the father/daughter relationship is really nice and getting to see her mother for a bit is illuminating. There’s a lot up in the air as to how this family came to be the way they are but what they do go into really does give you a better feel for things. Some of the background stuff is far too cute when it comes to the bear and to the way Sunako is with her father.
Even comedy series do try to change things up for the dramatic when they get closer to the end. The final two episodes here do just that as they have Kyohei and Sunako ending up at his house after a kidnapping issue and we get to meet his parents. In a way, you can understand where they’re coming from with the problems that come because of Kyohei’s appearance, but it’s an attitude that goes too far. You can see why Kyohei avoids going home and the entire situation boils over with everyone trying to get to see him and do something with him. Sunako gets pushed past her limits a bit with all of this because she doesn’t like to see Kyohei treated like this, but even she doesn’t think too clearly and ends up hurting him even worse than his parents. The drama ensues as the fate of the status quo is in jeopardy.
The quality of the series seems to be on par with the first half, which surely must frustrate some fans. The series definitely have a certain look to it when it comes to the characters and it’s easy to see how off-putting it would be for some folks. I personally really like the character designs (though I could do with less of the Goth-Loli girls and the Road to Womanhood segments) and I’m an absolute fan of how Sunako is done in her diminutive form. The kind of physical comedy like this with the character designs is very appealing and was one of the big draws for me in the manga as well. And it makes the big “beautiful” scenes with Sunako all the more enjoyable and striking.
I’ve been a fan of the manga since the start and I rather enjoyed the anime interpretation overall once it got going. There are things that don’t feel quite as right in this version and I have to chalk it up to Nabeshin’s interpretation of the show. By and large though he captured what I found to be enjoyable about the manga and gave it a life with fun actors and a quirky sense of humor. What was key for me was that the guys had to stand out and Sunako had to really work with the macabre and her diminutive form. Thankfully, I think they got both of those aspects right and everything flowed well from there. It’s not a comedy that will be for everyone, nor one that I recommend watching in one sitting, but for those that do get it they’ll love it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.