Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First 6 Review: The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa

The Wallflower, Vol. 1 (The Wallflower, #1)Description: It’s a gorgeous, spacious mansion, and four handsome, fifteen-year-old friends are allowed to live in it for free! There’s only one condition–the boys must transform the owner’s wallflower niece into a lady befitting the palace in which they all live! How hard can it be?

Enter Sunako Nakahara, the agoraphobic, horror-movie-loving, pockmark-faced, frizzy-haired, fashion-illiterate recluse who tends to break into explosive nosebleeds whenever she sees anyone attractive. This project is going to take more than our four heroes ever expected: it needs a miracle!

Stats: YA Manga, On Going Series, English Series published by Del Ray and Kodansha USA 2004-Present.

The First 6: Volume 1-6 
Spoiler Free Review

The Wallflower, Vol. 6 (The Wallflower, #6)It's not always easy being beautiful, at least not for our boys. They are an attractive bunch and everywhere they go they have to deal with all the celebrity and insanity that comes along with it. On a daily basis they are sexually harassed, kidnapped, blackmailed, and stalked by both men and woman alike who just want to get a piece of them. Fortunately, they have found a safe place in Auntie's mansion home where they are all collectively given the opportunity to live rent-free under one condition. All Auntie wants is for her niece to find true love, but in order to do so she must be turned into a proper lady. If the boys can't pull off the makeover of the century they'll have to pay up their missed rent, which isn't an option.

Sunako, the budding lady in question, is not like most girls. She would rather hide away in her dark room watching graphic horror movies with her anatomical manican friends then deal with the real world. To make matter's worse, living with these handsome boys isn't exactly helping. Whenever she sees these "creature's of light" she suffers in the form of nose bleeds and violent outbursts. If the boys plan to transform Sunako into "young lady" they all have to help her get past her hang up on beauty as well as the rejection that made her this way before she can step out of her shell.
The Wallflower series is not like anything else I've seen on the manga market. In these first six volumes it's turning out to be absurd in every sense of the word. It's weird and wonderful interchangeably with a side of psycho situations trying to thwart our Sunako at every turn. If you don't like weird and crazy then this may not be for you. You got to be able to just go with it!

In these first six volumes there there isn't much of a continuous story line. Each chapter reads more as short story vinyettes, sometimes involving trying to make Sunako a lady, sometimes not. In each chapter we are introduced to some ridiculous set up and get to watch as the characters try to manage the situation. This format can be a bit hit or miss. When it hits it is fun and interesting to read. When it misses it takes a little bit of the steam out of the series.
The art art here is also stylisticly not something you normally see. The boys are prettier than the girls and the way their lips and eyes are drawn make them stand out in a big way. It took a lot for me to get used to the style, but after a while it's easy to see how the art plays into the themes in the manga itself. Sunako has this odd habit of existing in a chibi like form even when in the same panel the other characters are drawn normally. She appears not as one of the beautiful people we know she is, but as an "other".

However, not everything is sunshine and roses for me and The Wallflower series. After six volumes I'm getting a little bit bored with the repetitiveness of the storyline thus far. It's starting to feel like I'm reading filler stories and not anything to do with the actual plot or development of the characters. I was hoping for more depth by this point and we are so close to being there, but it's just not. The Wallflower is the sort of manga that I've found to be nice to read once in a while when I'm looking for something short, but not something I go out of my way to seek out.

 This series is incredibly easy to put down and forget about, but there is this underlying promise of something more that keeps me interested in it.                                  

I've watched and enjoyed both the anime adaptation "The Wallflower" and the Japanese drama "Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge". It's worth noting that you can watch all 25 episodes of the anime's English dub on the Funimation website for free and the drama is available with English subtitles on YT. From these previous experiences with the material I know I have an interest in this series, but I've just found the manga more difficult to get into. 

Presently the series is about to publish it's 31st volume in 2013. I'm willing to give it another 5 volumes before I make up my mind on it, but we'll see if I don't get distracted by something shiny before then.

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