Wallflower Vol. #2 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Wallflower

Wallflower Vol. #2 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     March 20, 2008
Release Date: March 04, 2008


Wallflower Vol. #2 (also w/box)
© ADV Films


What They Say
Relationships are like asylums.. you have to be committed to them!

The battle to turn Sunako into a lady has reached an uneasy impasse, and while Sunako's still not "pretty," the boys are still alive! Unfortunately, God and nature just don't know when to leave well enough alone, so they pour kerosene on the fire in the form of a lovesick gang-boss, a forgotten holiday and a trip to a hot springs! If that's not enough to get somebody killed, there's undoubtedly more trouble on the way, because when four beautiful boys try to makeover the ugly duckling of doom, someone's going to take a swan dive! The insanity continues in the show that says while you may always hurt the one you love, there's no rule against inflicting a lot of collateral damage to those you marginally dislike as well - THE WALLFLOWER, Lesson 2!


The Review!
The wackiness continues as the boys adjust to living with Sunako and as she becomes even more exposed to the hated Creatures of Light.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2006 and early 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. 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.

Packaging:
While the first volume was an interesting mixture of pretty boys and dark foreboding things, this one plays it the other way so that the guys get a bit of eye candy. Albeit rather creepy eye candy as Sunako is done up in a great gothic Lolita outfit while some very afraid people are in the background. While the designs for the boys on the first volume were somewhat off putting, Sunako looks positively great here and certainly a good way to sucker in a few new buyers. The logo uses a variation of what Del Rey does with their manga version but it avoids listing the original series name. The back cover is fairly dark in order to play up the horror aspect and it features a number of small shots that show off the variety of the show better. The summary runs through the basics and the center section runs through the episode numbers and extras included. The rest is made up of the bilingual production credits and a good if minimal technical grid. No insert is included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this certainly fits with part of the show as it uses the image from the front cover of the mansion and Sunako in her death form with the scythe. Expanded out a bit, it fills up the screen nicely and you can certainly see more detail in it here. The bottom portion is darkened out so that the episode selection 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.

Extras:
The extras are pretty interesting this time if you're into how the show originally aired. The home video version release used standard opening and closing sequences for each episode which is what we get during the actual episode presentation. When it aired however, they used different opening sequences which is basically just clips from the episodes with the credits on top of that. What is surprising is that it's only one opening which means they used clips from the early part of the show for the entire thing. That version is provided here as well as clean versions of the other opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Going into the first volume of Wallflower, I was unsure of just how well it would be done since comedies can be so hit or miss. Even worse was that uncertainly about the character designs for the guys since there's been so much bad said about them, especially the lips for some like Kyohei. While that set of episodes took a bit to get going, once the small bodied version of Sunako came to life more frequently and the series finally hit its stride, it became all good. This set of episodes is essentially more of the same, which is good and bad depending on what you want out of the show.

I want to laugh.

And these episodes certainly accomplished that while also expanding the characters just a little bit. Wallflower is designed to be humorous by putting the characters into contrasting situations that alternately freak everyone out. Sunako's obsession with the dark side of things is something that gets to everyone and there are plenty of obvious gags to work with there. The flip side that isn't explored too often is that of how the boys with their "bright" lives affects her and freaks her out. When you have introverted characters who like spending time by themselves, you don't see them go as far and as odd as Sunako does. When she gets a chance to get away from everyone by taking a bath, the small bodied image of her hanging over the tub and just enjoying the solitude is amusing, sad and scary at the same time because of how it's presented.

Much like in the manga, I cannot help but to adore Sunako, especially when she's in that small bodied mode. Her take on life and going after what she wants is just infectious with its laughter. When she realizes that she missed Halloween because she was sick, it isn't hard to understand why she's so distraught and depressed. She seems to even curl up more within herself. The guys haven't a clue how to deal with this, or with the way all the housework appears to be piling up, so they end up bringing Noi into the mix to help out. Noi is the only woman to really connect with Sunako in any way and when the two of them get into this tiny mode, it just brings smiles, particularly since they're so different with their expressions. The physical comedy side of it just clicks very well for me since it's not something you see a lot with shows that are licensed here.

Sunako isn't all doom and gloom though which is where some of the appeal comes in since her interests and hobbies give her such joy. When "normal" people see her interests, and her devotion to them, it isn't a surprise that they're creeped out by it. Yet it's that kind of interest that's so heartwarming and endearing, such as when she takes all her life sized items out like Hiroshi and sets them up on lounge chairs so she can properly clean and dry them. Of course, she does that when a couple of ruffians are about to kidnap her for the gang boss that's fallen in love with her and that just freaks them out completely. The short story that deals with the boss is amusing since it's one of the first times we've seen someone take one look at Sunako and fall in love, something that nobody else seems to be able to wrap their minds around.

With Wallflower being so involved in situational comedy, and little focus on actually getting Sunako to be ladylike for this volume, it can be hit or miss as to whether particular story ideas work. What doesn't work for me with the show is pretty small and simple and it's those "Road to Womanhood" segments that are used in each episode with Nabeshin's dancing around the logo piece. It feels like such a break in the flow of the story that it throws it off. Plus they aren't all that amusing either. What does work is just about every story for this volume. Sunako's dealing with having missed Halloween is very cute and it works nicely to have the guys start thinking about her more - eventually. My favorite story is the one that as Kyohei having a strong desire to do hotpot so he can be the "hotpot despot" and sit under a kotatsu with everyone. His boyish ways with it are very amusing but it's also seeing him and Sunako going food shopping together and the reactions of everyone out there. Plus, Sunako can make a mean kotatsu.

If there was a surprise with this set of episodes, it was that Noi is becoming more interesting than I remember her being from the manga. Noi's interest in Takenaga falls along the lines of a traditional anime girl who will do whatever she has to in order to get closer to the guy she likes. She's also the one that's pretty well respected among the other girls and can pull rank enough to get away with it even amongst all the infighting. She starts to spend a lot more time with all the guys in these episodes and even starts to bond with Sunako a bit since she can see using her as a way to get closer to Sunako. But even with that, Noi doesn't come across as a bad person or someone really using Sunako for it, but rather just a simple reality of the situation. She may be a bit too perky and upbeat at times but she does seem like an ideal match for the usually serious Takenaga.

In Summary:
Wallflower simply manages to hit up my comedic needs just about perfectly. With the exception of one segment of the show, each episode on this volume had me either smiling or laughing out loud at what was going on. I love the character designs, the weirdness and the interactions that come up as the story of feminizing Sunako slowly occurs. Each of the guys is still less than clearly defined at this point but they're still amusing and becoming more comfortable as the stories deal with each of them. Wallflower certainly won't be for everyone - and I didn't think it would be for me when I first sampled the manga - but new experiences like this are things that make watching anime so much fun. Wallflower is a hit for us here.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,On-Air Openings

Review Equipment
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.

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