Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Something hilariously creepy this way comes.
There are a number of original, funny and thoroughly enjoyable anime series out there that does what it sets out to do and then there’s Part 1 of The Wallflower, Complete Collection. Being vaguely familiar with its source material, I knew what to expect but I didn’t think I was going to really like it until the first episode. The first part of this Complete Collection package comes with 13 episodes, a fitting number for one of the main characters that makes this one seriously funny anime.
The Wallflower introduces us to four of the most beautiful young men to grace a High school and the fact that they live together in a mansion/boarding house drives the girls even crazier. Then Auntie, their wild landlord, makes the boys an offer way too good to pass up. Ranmaru, Yukinojo, Takenaga and the gorgeous Kyohei are tasked with making Auntie’s niece, Sunako, a “proper lady” in exchange for free rent. If they fail, they not only have to pay the rent but it would also be doubled! How hard could it be to turn a girl into a lady? Well, they’ve never met a girl quite like Sunako Nakahara.
When Sunako arrives, the boys realize that their dreams of living rent-free are shattered to pieces. You see, Sunako actually turns out to just as creepy as that pale ghost girl in “The Ring” or “The Grudge.” A long while back, Sunako professed her love to a boy only to have her crush call her ugly. Since then, she’s become a pale figure that prefers to stay in the dark while watching horror and slasher films in the comfort of her own gothic-styled room. Too terrified to talk to her, the boys force themselves to at least make an effort no matter how impossible the task appears. Of course, she doesn’t make it easy seeing as the sight of beautiful people make her nose gush out blood like a fountain. This is a girl whose idea of a sweet dream is frolicking in the darkness with her creepy medical dummy, Hiroshi, and Jason Voorhees of the “Friday the 13” slasher films.
Oh, but slowly but surely the boys find themselves trying to help Sunako such as cutting the hair away from her face and helping prepare her for the new semester in the local High school. Immediately scaring all who meet her except for a pretty girl named Noi who has a massive crush on Takenaga, Sunako finds school a horrifying place filled with way too many pretty faces. When Sunako finally comes out of her room, the boys find out that she cooks delicious meals and actually does have a pretty face that has been neglected from years of having her hair in her face. Unfortunately, the fact that she lives under the same roof as Kyohei makes Sunako the target of four oddball sisters, a group of Ganguro girls and the Photography Club that wants a picture of her.
What we also find out is that Sunako is an amazing fighter who beats up not only the Ganguro girls but also some thugs that kidnapped Kyohei to force him to work in their boss’ Host club. It is then that the boys realize that Sunako can actually look pretty when she wants to and even the boys look good in drag as they attempt to infiltrate the club where their friend is a captive. A running gag in the show is that Yukinojo looks a little too good in drag since he’s the more girly of the pretty boys. In fact, he wins a prize in another episode when their school holds a cultural faire.
The best of the thirteen episodes, however, revolves around Sunako and her increasingly insane personality that gets worst than before living with the four boys. As the series progresses, Sunako’s animation changes from a scary wisp of girl to a pretty Goth girl to a super deformed Hobbit-like representation of her that makes each scene with her even more comical. Watching the boys cry in fear as Sunako sulks around for missing Halloween (her favorite holiday) or become the target of affection for a Yakuza boss who ends up enraging her when the boss’ henchmen kidnaps her favorite medical dummy by accident. She even becomes the subject of a famous photographer that spotted a picture of her when she beat up a guy that attacked Kyohei during the cultural festival.
Things begin to change for the anti-social girl when the boys trick her into coming along to a trip to the hot springs when all she really wanted to do was watch horror movies and polish her favorite skull. Instead, she finds herself gleefully looking into an attempted murder case and then – to her horror – accidentally kissing Kyohei during a frantic ping-pong game. The kiss ends up haunting Sunako and turning her more twisted until an incident with some mushrooms turns her into a docile and lovely lady with a fetish for maid outfits.
Very few romance/comedy series hit the mark with its jokes and zaniness but The Wallflower manages to pull it off beautifully. Part of the reason is that Sunako Nakahara is just so wonderfully unique and really out there that you just can’t help but like her morbid style and nearly insane cackle. Another reason is that the animation is wonderfully fluid and follows its own style that makes the munchkin-like appearance of Sunako when she’s lost in her own dark world so darn funny especially when the other characters look so normal when they interact with her. The English dub cast also does a great job, especially Greg Ayres who voices Yukinojo.
What we have here in The Wallflower is a series that – like its protagonist – isn’t afraid of being itself even when its being truly off-beat. In essence, this is one of the most hysterically funny romance/comedy series you’ll find this year and if this is but the first part of the Complete Collection set then we cannot wait for Part 2. If you’re looking for a twisted, funny and amusing series then buy this one right away.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Four gorgeous young guys accept to turn the creepiest (yet hysterically amusing) girl in town named Sunako and turn her into a real lady. We follow these frightened young lads as they slowly but surely get Sunako out of her protective, anti-social bubble and help her realize that there’s more to a person than just their appearance.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
While the backgrounds are not as wonderfully detailed as the characters or the fun visual effects, the series more than makes up for it with its own unique style. It’s downright hilarious when they super deform Sunako and even more funny when they plaster the beautifully detailed faces of the gorgeous guys with super deformed bodies.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The Japanese voices are good fun but I have to say the English dub cast does a marvelous job of bringing these characters to life as well as handling the well-written dialogue perfectly. The opening and closing theme by Kiyoharu isn’t bad at all.
There are some trailers here and you can see the opening and closing animations without the credits but that’s all there is to the extras.
The Wallflower is one of those fantastically off-the-wall and absolutely zany anime series and you will absolutely adore every second of it. Half the fun of this series is watching the prettiest boys of the anime fall to pieces as they aid one of the creepiest girls living with them. This isn’t an “Ugly Duckling” story as much as it is a story about accepting who you are and that makes this a real winner.