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The Wallflower – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 26, 2009 by  



“Hilarious, freakish and stylishly cool!  ‘The Wallflower – The Complete Series’ is an entertaining anime series that will please bishonen anime fans and also the J-Rock fans!  Definitely recommended!”

 

Image courtesy of © Tomoko Hayakawa – Kodansha/Yamanade Project.  All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Wallflower (Yamatonadeshiko Shichihenge) – The Complete Series

DURATION: 25 Episodes (625 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: NTSC, Region 1, Japanese and English audio, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: September 1, 2009

Originally Created by Tomoko Hayakawa

Directed by Shinichi Watanabe

Series Composition/Screenplay by Haruka

Music by Hiromi Mizutani, Yasuharu Takanashi

Character Design by Yasuko Hakuma

Art Director by Yumi Kudou

Chief Animation Director by Yasuko Sakuma

Mechanical Design: Tetsuro Aoki

Sound Director: Hiroyuki Hayase

Director of Photography: Jun-Ichi Takeda

Produced by Jun Togawa, Shinsaku Hatta, Takashi Watanabe

Anime Production: Nippon Animation

Featuring the following voice talent:

Hirofumi Nojima/Chris Patton as Ranmaru Morii

Showtaro Morikubo/Josh Grelle as Kyohei Takano

Tomokazu Sugita/Vic Mignogna as Takenaga Oda

Yukiko Takaguchi/Hannah Alcorn as Sunako Nakahara

Yuuya Yamauchi/Greg Ayres as Yukinojoh Tohyama

Mai Nakahara/Jessica Boone as Noi Kasahara

Norihisa Mori/Matt Greenfield as Hiroshi

Yuka Komatsu/Tiffany Grant as Sunako’s Aunt

It’s the Ultimate Hostile Makeover

After years of sponging off a fabulously wealthy older woman, four beautiful high school boys are about to face the challenge of their lives: turn their benefactor’s incredibly awkward niece into an alluring young lady or start paying rent! How hard could it be? Only practically impossible.

Her name is Sunako, and she’s the ugly duckling of doom. She’s a little psycho, a lot paranoid, and totally neurotic. Her turn-ons include long walks in the dark, gory movies, and anatomical dummies. At the top of her list of turn-offs is anything and everything beautiful – especially people! That certainly poses a problem for our quartet of handsome heroes, but if they hope to continue living the good life, they won’t give up until their wilting wallflower finally blooms.

From the director of “Excel Saga” comes the anime “THE WALLFLOWER”  aka “Yamatonadeshiko Shichihenge” which will satisfy every Bishonen/J-Rock fan out there.

The popular 25-episode anime is based on the manga series by Hayakawa Tomoko and serialized in “Bessatsu Friend” in Japan and by Del Rey Manga in the US and was originally released through ADV Films has its complete collection released on DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

The story revolves around 4 guys – the dark haired Oda Takenaga, the short hair blonde Toyama Yuki, the red head flirt Morii Ranmaru and the leader of the group, the tough but handsome blonde Kyohei Takano.

The four men are pretty boys that the girls gush over and happen to live in a lavish mansion courtesy of the Landlady who has given the men a mission.  The goal is to make the Landlady’s niece, Sunako, to an elegant lady. If they managed to, they get free rent. If they don’t, they will have to pay three times the amount to live there.

Of course, the guys want to make sure they succeed and feel that there should be no problem… that is until they meet Sunako. A girl who doesn’t dress all that well. She wears a stained sweatshirt, amoeba-like design dress and bad tennis shoes. Her bangs are so long that it covers the face and she happens to be scary.  In fact, she’s so creepy that her friends are two anatomy demonstration dummies and a skeleton.

Why Sunako is like this stems from a past guy that she liked and told her straight out that he would never date someone so ugly.  Being devastated, she has regressed for years and lives in her bedroom and pretty much has succumb to the darkness.

So, Sunako has become a recluse and totally into the weirdest things and her best friend is Hiroshi, anatomic model used to show the guts and innards of a human being. Adding to her creepiness, she digs really dark and scary things and she can’t take how these radiant guys are trying to make her beautiful. In fact, she gets creepy thoughts of how to kill the guys but even the thought of them gives her a nosebleed.

The main characters of “The Wallflower” are:

  • Sunako Nakahara – The creepy girl who has lived in darkness after being told by a guy she liked that he doesn’t go for ugly girls.  Since then, she has let herself go in darkness until her aunt has four radiant guys who will live with her to change her.  Her best friends are anatomical dummies and a skeleton.  She is often shown as this short creepy girl but there are times when her beautiful side is shown and she is as tall as the other guys.  Talented in cooking but has low self-esteem and is anti-social.
  • Kyouhei Takano – The leader of the guys.  Most popular, most attractive, most athletic and great at fighting and getting attention for his looks. And loves Sunako’s cooking and is often the person who has reached out to Sunako, even kissing her.   The blonde member of the group.
  • Takenaga Oda – Serious and intelligent and seems to be unphased by Sunako at times.  Despite coming from a wealthy family, the pressure from his family has him living away from them and with the other guys.  Has a relationship (which he has a hard time admitting to) with Noi. The black haired member of the group.
  • Ranmaru Morii – The playboy. Comes from a family of wealthy hotel owners and loves older women.  Tries to use his charm to help Sunako.  The red-haired member of the group.
  • Yukinojo “Yuki” Toyama – The youngest of the guys.  Kind-hearted and always willing to help Sunako.  But because he looks like effeminate, he hates that, especially when people think of him as a girl or weak.  The short-haired blonde member of the group.
  • Naie “Noi” Kasahara – The often sixth member of the group.  The most popular/beautiful girl in school who is in love with Takenga Oda and believes that she is his girlfriend.  Because Takenaga is trying to help Sunako, she does the same and is always willing to help and defend Sunako and is seen trying to help the guys.

“The Wallflower – The Complete Series” features 25 episodes on 5 DVD’s.  Here are the following episodes with spoiler-less summaries:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – A Ray of Light in the Darkness – The introduction of the characters and the four bishounen who must train their landlady’s niece.
  • EPISODE 2 – Pull Down the Iron Curtain! – The guys try to give Sunako a makeover.
  • EPISODE 3 – Oh, My Sweet Dark Youth – Four men try to recruit Kyohei in working at a host club.
  • EPISODE 4 – Sunako, You’re Up! – Sunako’s class recruit her to make a haunted house for a school festival.
  • EPISODE 5 – The Beautiful One’s Banquet – A popular photographer of models wants Sunako to be a model for his next photo shoot.
  • EPISODE 6 – Dreamy Halloween – Sunako misses Halloween and is depressed.
  • EPISODE 7 – I Am Number One – A gang boss falls for Sunako and wants her to be his woman.

DISC 2

  • EPISODE 8 – Winter Wonderland – The guys get a job at a fancy restaurant after wondering if they are taking advantage of Sunako’s cooking for them.
  • EPISODE 9 – Rising Steam, Splattered Blood & The Rain of Love at the Hot Spring – Part 1 – Kyohei and Sunako share a moment together.
  • EPISODE 10 – Rising Steam, Splattered Blood & The Rain of Love at the Hot Spring – Part 2 – A hot springs manger has been attacked and Sunako wants to snoop around the crime scene.
  • EPISODE 11 – I’m Up To My Kisser in Study Materials – Sunako is failing in math and thus the guys tutor her.
  • EPISODE 12 – Oh, My Sweet Home! – The group spend their first Christmas together.
  • EPISODE 13 – Oui, Monsieur! – Something happens to Sunako after she eats a mushroom.

DISC 3

  • EPISODE 14 – Sleeping Well-Bred Beauty – Ranmaru’s parents have him arranged to a rich woman.
  • EPISODE 15 – Pirates of the Tres Bien –  Sunako and the guys are invited to an island which may have treasure.
  • EPISODE 16 – Dream Comes True – It’s time for the Mori High School Sports Festival.
  • EPISODE 17 – Girls Bravo!! – Noi, Ranmaru’s fiancee and Sunago go to a spa.
  • EPISODE 18 – Dream/Mutual Love – The guys want Sunako to wear a dress.
  • EPISODE 19 – Battletastic Valentine – It’s Valentine’s Day!  How will the group celebrate the day.

DISC 4

  • EPISODE 20 – Love Trial – Someone has kidnapped Hiroshi.
  • EPISODE 21 – The Sepia Memories – Sunako’s father comes to visit her.
  • EPISODE 22 – A Prince in Sheep’s Clothing – Kyohei and Sunako are kidnapped.
  • EPISODE 23 – The Eye of the Storm Comes Home – Kyohei returns to his home and meets with his mother.
  • EPISODE 24 – The Eye of the Storm Strays – After a confrontation with Sunako, Kyohei leaves.
  • EPISODE 25 – The Road to Womanhood – In the final episode, the landlady comes back home to see if the guys have changed Sunako.

VIDEO & AUDIO QUALITY:

“The Wallflower” is presented in 4:3 format.  The animation is pretty cool as it goes back and forth from serious to something humorous. For example, with Sunako, when she has this creep side to her, she’s shown as a girl with no eyes, but then sometimes shown as a girl with beautiful eyes and then when she goes crazy over seeing Kyohei, she gets these “Crayon Shin Chan” looking eyes.

Another example shows the guys when they are creeped out about Sunako, they turn into white pale figures like ghosts. It’s a very interesting take on how the series showcases the main characters in different situations.

I watched the series both in English and Japanese and both voice work are very cool and like both equally the same. The English dub is in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and the Japanese audio track is in stereo. But both soundtracks are well done.  And it’s one of the few anime series where I absolutely loved the English dialogue much more than the Japanese.  Mainly because the English vocal talent give each character its own identity and Hannah Alcorn does a great Sunako!

Subtitles are only in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wallflower – The Complete Series” comes with only the textless opening and ending animation plus FUNimation trailers.

All in all, I found “THE WALLFLOWER” to be stylishly vibrant, hilarious, stylishly cool and unique.

The characters are quite interesting and are different from the swashbuckling, adventurous Final Fantasy-esque pretty boys and I want to make it clear right away that this is not a gay anime.  “The Wallflower” is an interesting take on the bishonen/J-Rock stylish guys.  It’s actually interesting because the high school, the girls are just so crazy over these guys and they just can’t figure out why they hang out with such a creepy girl.  It’s hilarious to see how the guys react to Sunako but how caring they are towards her.  And of course, how she behaves around them.

One of the coolest things about this anime is that the creator, Hayakawa Tomoko is a fan of J-Rock artist Kiyoharu (formerly of the band KUROYUME) and Kiyoharu sings the opening and ending theme for the series. As a fan of Japanese rock music and as a guy who happens to dig the style, I felt it was very cool to see an anime like this. It’s very different and unique and quite humorous to watch because I have friends who are “pretty boys” who always try to remake their girlfriends or friends in general and try to make them stylish.

All in all, “THE WALLFLOWER” is not an anime that tries to showcase a quirkiness or take a dramatic turn ala “Hana Yori no Dango”.  If anything, the anime series is more on the humorous side and rarely becomes a drama.  If anything, the series focuses on trying to help Sunako and we learn more about these five characters over the course of the series.

As mentioned, the series is well-acted and both English and Japanese audio tracks are well done.  The English audio track is very good and again, this is coming from a guy who tends to prefer watching anime in Japanese.   I absolutely dig the character designs and the animation and again, definitely one of those rare anime series out there.

So, I’m stoked to see something unique and different. Not sure if the casual anime fan, especially the guys would dig an anime about pretty boys and them trying their best to help out a creepy girl (who is not exactly creepy and when you see her normal, Sunako’s actually quite cute and you realize how much of those negative thoughts are just in her head). But I think those who are used to watching bishonen men or fan of J-Rock or visual kei may take a high interest in an anime like “The Wallflower”.  It’s actually a very entertaining series and for the most part, an entertaining and solid anime series!

Overall, “The Wallflower” is an anime series that is definitely worth recommending!

 

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