Posts Tagged ‘the wallflower’
When I started watching anime, I had hundreds, thousands, millions of titles to choose from and absolutely no idea where to start. I just remember having this mindset of “It’s from Japan which means it is made of win and awesome and goodness,” and wow did that bubble pop quickly. Since then I’ve picked up series from a variety of genres and while I still enjoy picking up a title randomly just to see if I’ll like it; I have noticed my tastes getting slowly refined now that I’ve entered the ‘way too many cartoons’ stage of my life. Now when I pick up a new series, I notice my tastes slowly trending towards moe and shoujo like K-ON and Kaichou wa Maid sama with occasional dips into action or comedy. I may enjoy series from other genres but these are the series that I can’t help but love.
Right now, I’m sharing a house with someone who is slowly starting to find her anime tastes. While she may not be a huge consumer of it, it’s not uncommon for her to call out to me randomly to ask me for an anime to watch. Unfortunately she’s still at the stage of whenever I do give her something to watch we end up in a rarely changing sequence of events: I give her a DVD box, mention what it is, she’ll look it over and then ask “But are there bishies in it?” Like I said, she’s still finding her tastes but this is how I got her to watch The Wallflower and Ouran High School Host Club so it’s a start.
The one time this plan backfired was last year when a military bishie series called 07-Ghost premiered. After watching a few episodes myself, I thought I had found the perfect series for her and pointed it out:
“Hey, I’ve been checking out this interesting new show that you’d like. It’s got bishounen coming out of every pore and they’re usually dressed up in some kind of uniform.”
“Hm, but would I like it?”
“What? I just named all of your primary criteria for a good anime in one long sentence.”
She never did end up watching the series but in the hindsight that was probably for the best. I’d like to think that it was her anime survival instincts protecting her (the otaku is strong in this one). That does remind me though; I should add Mirage of Blaze and Vampire Knight to my next convention shopping list.
It’s not the best work that Nabeshin has ever done but the second half of ‘The Wallflower’ at least keeps fans laughing until the end.
In the second half of ‘The Wallflower’, the boys are still working hard at making Sunako into a proper lady but there are still a ton of challenges to get past first. Right away, Ranmaru runs into problems when he is set up by his family to meet a potential wife, Tamao. Takanaga is having his own problems with Noi however which will lead to both fights between them and the ‘Masked Noi’ defending him in battle on Valentine’s Day. Sunako and Kyohei still have the exact same relationship, that is to say they fight nonstop over everything and Yuki is constantly deal with the fact that his charm lies in his boy Lolita looks.
If all of that weren’t enough to deal with the group will also deal with a haunted uninhabited island, more kidnappings, Sunako and Kyohei’s families and Auntie demanding that her niece be a presentable woman in time for a grand gala!
The contest being run on the blog has been extended to the end of the month and has brand new prizes up for grabs! The contest is simple really, all you have to go is jump over to the blog and take a look at the images of the new site mascot. Then submit a comment or send an email to email@example.com and you’re in the running to win the grand prize… ‘The Wallflower‘ Sets 1 and 2! That’s right, if your name is chosen as the winner you will receive both sets 1 and 2 as the grand prize!
For full rules and images, check out this blog entry.
I have just received confirmation that production has begun again on ‘The Wallflower‘. The first half of the series was released by ADV before the license was lost earlier this year due to Sojitz pulling out of their partnership with ADV. Tiffany Grant is handling the ADR script for the final three volumes though there is currently no information regarding future releases.
Closing out the first half of this series with four unrelated yet well told stories.
Four episodes on this volume with the first one closing out the murder mystery that the previous volume left on. Suspects are everywhere but when Sunako catches the eye of someone for getting too involved, the story finds some new life with Sunako playing the new victim role.
This is followed by the boys working on their latest challenge from auntie to raise Sunako’s math score or pay full rent. Sunako won’t even try though and Kyohei calls her out when he realizes how she’s chosen to deal with the kiss they shared while on vacation. While its subtle, there is some character development in this episode for fans of Kyohei and Sunako.
In the series Christmas episode, the story takes a back seat as the audience watches a flashback episode. And as I’m sure many have wondered, this story will fill in all the blanks about how all the boys arrived at the mansion as tenants. This episode shows the series best use of satire thus far with the tragic plights of all the boys as they arrived into the mansion.
In the final episode of the volume, the first half finds its conclusion. In this episode, Yuki comes home with a mysterious basket of mushrooms that he acquired on his way home. Poisonous mushrooms to be exact. After Sunako accidently eats a bunch of them, the audience gets to see what would happen if Sunako really did become a real normal lady.
Good and the Bad
A constant complaint from me as I’ve gone through this series has been their lack of focus on the primary story. While it gets occasionally hinted at in a few episodes, the story of the boys turning Sunako into a proper lady has really yet to be really addressed. Instead more often than not, it’s simply just the boys whining about not wanting their rent to increase without much actually happening. And now we’re at the halfway point of the series.
In these four episodes, the issue mentioned isn’t really addressed much further beyond episode 13. Credit needs to be given though; the four episodes on this volume are entertaining.
As much as I want to be mad at this series for continuing to ignore the story that was laid out in the first moments of the first episode, the comedy wins me over. The writing in this series continues to take chances and have fun. As with previous volumes, the series continues to make great uses of breaking the fourth wall. In particular is a great line from Yuki in episode 10 that will have audience members laughing.
The staff in this series really paid attention to details in the writing as well. This is a series that any fan who watches it should definitely leave the subtitles on. It doesn’t matter if you listen to this series in the dub or original Japanese format; it is still a good idea to leave them on. One of the details that the writers really paid attention to was background dialogue. That dialogue that one character is sort of mumbling to themselves that no one really pays attention to. If you hadn’t figured it out already, Sunako is a perfect candidate for this type of humor. While not always laugh out loud funny, her dialogue contains more than a few jokes that the audience should try to catch.
The staff takes another big chance in episode 13 when they play the ‘what if’ game. What if Sunako really did become a full lady? And to illustrate this, the character design changes. From the short little featureless character that audiences have seen from the beginning to the full figured, tall beautiful lady that she’s supposed to become. The change proves to be quite the surreal experience and the reaction of the boys really plays out well.
Even if they didn’t pay attention to the story much on this volume, the audience can at least have some consolation in character development. In particular viewers should be really pleased with the development of auntie in episode 12. It was really interesting to see so much of her in one episode and finally see what she really means to the boys. The role she plays is far more interesting than I ever thought it would be.
During some of Ranmaru’s bishie scenes, there are some wonderfully composed themes playing. Very fitting for the scenes and they really set a nice trend for the rest of the series. The music in the series continues to fill the roles perfectly though they also continue to occasionally dip into the odd category to fill a joke.
Dub vs. Sub
This volume has some wonderful performances in the dub cast. Hannah Alcorn continues to provide wonderful performances as Sunako and the 180 she pulls in episode 13 was very well done. Also stepping up on this volume and really selling their jokes were Greg Ayres (Yuki) and Tiffany Grant (Auntie). These two really had to put their vocal chords through some rough sessions with the amount of screaming or cursing they had to do. Great performances from them.
Once again the extras are limited to clean opening animation, the on-air opening for episodes 1-13 and the clean closing animation.
This series manages to be entertaining and laugh out loud funny without addressing the story every volume. While this series continues to make me laugh, there is still concern that they are going to run out of time to introduce the story and get us through the second half effectively. Hopefully the close of this half is foreshadowing something good in the coming episodes. In the meantime though, this series is worth just sitting back and enjoying. The writing is sharp and its clever nature warrants continued viewing.
Final Grade: B-
The story is lacking but the characters are still keeping this series afloat.
The first three episodes of this volume are stand alone stories with the boys (vaguely) attempting to turn Sunako into a woman. First, after Sunako gets sick for a week she comes out of it extremely depressed and no one can figure out why. What’s worse though is that while she’s sick, the boys manage to let the house become a complete mess leaving it up to Noi to clean the house and figure out why Sunako is so depressed.
This story is followed up by the arrival of the national executive gang leader who wishes to challenge Kyohei to a fight. This becomes even more complicated though when he lays eyes on Sunako and falls in love leading to a very bizarre love fight that doesn’t really exist. In episode seven, Kyohei is obsessed over having a hotpot dinner leading everyone to pitch in to get the ingredients which seems to be a lot harder than you would think.
The final episode of the volume starts a new story with Ranmaru getting an all expenses paid invitation for him and his friends to a hot spring from a mysterious woman named Sayuri. While there, Noi plots with Sunako to keep Kyohei busy while she attempts to get close to Takenaga. The episode ends on a cliffhanger though when the manager is mysteriously found dead.
Good and the Bad
This volume starts much like the first volume ended. The first three episodes are stand alone stories that really do little to advance the plot. Normally this is the portion when we get to see the most character development anyway so I didn’t think much of it at first. Getting further into these episodes though, I was amazed at how the character development thrown into these episodes is so thin and yet makes complete sense.
In the first episode alone, all four of the boys get a rather large dose of development when the audience learns that these characters really are mostly looks with little logic. Noi and Sunako get quite a bit of development themselves. Noi is pushed much further into the spotlight on this volume playing a much stronger supporting role as her relationship with Takenaga is moved ever so slowly forward.
The development of Sunako on this volume is also very well done if not a little slow once again. While the primary themes of the character remain the same throughout the volume, her relationship development with Kyohei is brought out in ways that the audience won’t see coming. Episode seven is a great example of this especially.
The comedy on this volume largely stays in the same comfort zone that it had established on volume one with a few notable exceptions; the most important of which is the severe decrease in over the top reaction jokes from the boys that fell with such a thud on the first volume. Also getting far less screen time on this volume are the Goth Loli quartet which again, proves to be a good move as the characters really hadn’t done much to win the audience over during the first volume.
Other running gags are kept throughout these volumes including the ‘Road to Womanhood’ beauty segments. Switching the joke during episode six to serve the boys though was a great move on this volume as while the joke hadn’t grown stale in the least, it added a great twist that kept the joke from even starting to grow old.
The biggest fault with this series so far is that while the primary plot has been introduced, the series has yet to really do anything with it. With only eight episodes completed, the audience couldn’t have expected much progress to have been made thus far but perhaps an episode or two that showed the boys actually making an effort towards their goal of making Sunako into a proper lady instead of just constantly worrying about their rent going up would have gone a long way.
As with the first volume of this series, the music in this volume remains over the top in just the right places. The power up theme during Noi’s scene in episode six was so cheesy yet appropriate. As well as Sunako’s cooking theme in episode seven. And the soft music playing during the dinner scene of episode eight and the hard rock ping pong theme of the last episode.
The sound quality remained strong throughout the volume with no drops in audio quality. The Japanese track still comes through a bit more clearly and even louder through my speakers but the English track is also strong.
Dub vs. Sub
The girls really shined on this volume with Hannah Alcorn and Jessica Boone really stepping up and putting out great performances as Sunako and Noi respectively. Also very strong on this volume is Josh Grelle as Kyohei. One performance that I was actually surprised to see fade into the background a little on this volume is Vic Mignogna as Takenaga. While Takenaga didn’t get as much screen time on this volume as in previous episodes, there were still plenty of scenes that one would really expect Vic to really shine, especially as the relationship between his character and Noi started to heat up. His performance isn’t bad at all and some great laughs came from his deliveries but when I look back at some of the highlights of this volume, his name isn’t the first one to come to mind.
More clean animations which is disappointing. I would love to hear some of the actors in this series give a commentary and share some their thoughts.
The comedy in this volume had me chuckling throughout but it wasn’t until the final episode of the volume that I really caught myself laughing out loud at the jokes. The characters remain strong though and while the story is taking a bit too really get moving, the series has kept me entertained enough to want to see more. Like right now. If you’re looking for a good comedy series, this is one that you’ll want to make sure gets added to your watch list.
Final Grade: B
Nabeshin strikes again!
Sunako is a cute girl but two years ago, she confessed a crush and was met with ‘I hate ugly girls.’ Since then she’s become convinced that she’s ugly, hiding herself away in the dark and filled her life with the macabre. As a teenager, she’s already become a social recluse.
Kyohei, Takenaga, Ranmaru and Yukinojo are four teenagers who are getting by on their looks, professional bishies as far as I can tell. They rent rooms out of a huge mansion and are quite happy with this. That is until the owner of the mansion (their landlord affectionately referred to as “Auntie”) tells them that her niece is coming to live in the mansion and she has a deal for them. If they can turn her niece into a proper lady while she’s off scouring the world for her one true love, all four of them get their living expenses paid for life. If they fail, their current rent triples.
The boys have their work cut out for them though. In the course of five episodes they will have to introduce Sunako back into high school which proves hard since Sunako gets a nose bleed every time she’s around a beautiful person (with reactions to Kyohei so bad that she plots to kill him before she ‘melts in his radiance’). Worse than that though, a host club that wants Kyohei to work for them won’t take no for an answer and go to some extreme lengths to get him.
After that the boys will take part in their school culture festival which is offering a prize of 500,000 yen to the best class booth. Kyohei opens a takoyaki stand while Sunako opens a haunted house. Finally the volume wraps up with Sunako being hired for a photo shoot by a world famous photographer. Of course it’s not until the shoot starts that the photographer realizes that he’s made a very wrong choice for his model.
Good and the Bad
To know me is to know that Shinichi Watanabe, aka “Nabeshin”, is my favorite anime director. Armed with that knowledge, you can imagine that finally getting to see this series was a nice little treat for me. Even that knowledge, I don’t think that there’s anyone (Nabeshin fan or not) who could give this series a free pass.
Right away, the opening animation sets the audience up properly. The opening theme is a soft ballad but the animation itself will catch the attention of all audience members. With its strong mix of goth, macabre icons and bishie imagery, the animation does a great job of preparing the audience for exactly what they should be expecting… which would be comedy that plays up those cultural subsets with absolutely no apologies in the process.
The comedy in this series is predictable. By a long mile really and anyone who has seen a handful of comedic anime will be able to see most of these jokes coming and having some of the more important gags delivered in this manner will kill them quickly.
Despite the predictability though, the comedy in this first volume absolutely works. Right after the first introduction between the boys and Sunako, audiences will see the boys head to a café and one of the first running gags of the series is laid out with the female staff members having typical bishie reactions. It’s weird since I saw this scene coming from a mile away but I just could not stop myself from laughing.
Not all of the comedy in this series is predictable though and some of it is downright surprising. One of the most interesting comedic devices used throughout this first volume is the use of onomatopoeia. It’s really rare for a comedy to use this form of comedy so heavily and even more rare for a series to do it well. The secret that this series has discovered is that by using the sound gags as extra zingers instead of punch lines, they can be used freely and use them freely they do.
A second running gag is also set up very quickly with each episode containing a bishie beauty tip. Each tip is inserted at random places within the episodes and has the boys giving tips on makeup, beauty and manners. This came across as a really nice touch but the series would have been much better served to have the tips placed at a static point in each episode. Every single one of the tips could easily have been written to serve as a great end piece for each episode or even a solid introduction. It’s a small complaint really since these tip scenes don’t really interrupt the pacing of the series, it’s just annoying to really be into an episode or scene and have it interrupted by one of these segments.
Bishie humor is plentiful in this volume and once again, while some of the gags pulled out are quite predictable from the set up; some of them are just downright hilarious. It takes nine minutes for this series to insert a fan service scene. It’s a shower scene if you were really curious. Thankfully it’s kept very short though and while it ended up just coming across as a gratuitous fan service gag, once again the series manages to pull it off due to how short they kept the gag.
The cast of characters here is what really makes this series work the best. The boys and Sunako are really strong characters to support the episodes on. While they aren’t exactly the deepest characters you’ll ever come across and their development is very slow, they are written in a way that really helps the jokes get over with the audience. It’s almost embarrassing to admit but after I got through the first episode and started heading into the second, the idea of supporting and secondary characters hadn’t even entered my mind and actually caught me off guard when I remembered that new characters still needed to be introduced.
If the primary cast of characters is strong though, the weaknesses must be very visible elsewhere and they are. With the boys still in high school, there is opportunity aplenty for the staff to come up with interesting characters to help keep the pacing moving and in some cases they succeed. Noi is certainly one of the standout supporting characters. As the token “pretty girl” of the series, the staff did a great job of setting up her overly bubbly personality and then writing her as the character that the boys don’t want anything to do with.
Other supporting characters are going to need some more time for audiences to get used to though. The quartet of goth loli’s came across quite badly in the first couple of episodes that they were featured due to very weak character design. A second group, the immoral gangaro girls, also manages to come across as poorly designed. If all of these characters had a bit stronger introduction though, their jokes would have come across much more smoothly and generated much bigger laughs from the audience.
Besides the Japanese track, the English track manages to get some great jokes in itself. ADF Director Matt Greenfield is credited as the ADR writer for these first five episodes and some of the inside jokes used really shows this. Late in the volume, audience members will hear Kyohei asked a question by one of the other bishies and replies “I can neither confirm nor deny.” Cute. While the joke will go over the head of many audience members who don’t follow anime news regularly, the ones that do get it will have to smirk at that one.
Attacking from all fronts, the series also dips into the field of musical gags including the playing of soft choral music whenever Kyohei enters the room to have a talk with Sunako. The joke was predictable but audience members will still get a laugh from it just due to some great reaction shots from Sunako.
The audio quality on the volume remains strong throughout with no real issues coming up that could be noticed.
Dub vs. Sub
Starting with the dub cast, the primary cast has yet to show any sort of weak links within their performances. Chris Patton (Ranmaru), Greg Ayres (Yuki), Josh Grelle (Kyohei) and Vic Mignogna (Takenaga) really throw themselves into these roles and the chemistry between the four is evident right away. While they fall prey to some of the forced dialogue (such as the above mentioned introduction scene), all four of these actors do a great job with the roles. Greg Ayres especially gets to throw myself into another whiny role with Yuki and does it with a flair that no one else at ADV could’ve managed.
Hannah Alcorn as Sunako will take some getting used to for audience members. All throughout the first couple of episodes, its obvious that she has trouble with finding the character but it takes less than half the volume for her to slip quietly and comfortably into the role at which point she absolutely owns it.
In the supporting cast, Tiffany Grant (Auntie) and Jessica Boone (Noi) also do a great job with their characters. Tiffany Grant does another great job with the flamboyant and quite eccentric “Auntie” character breaking out a voice that is unlike anything I’ve heard from her in recent memory.
On the other side, Showtaro Morikubo does a great job with the role of Kyohei really taking the lead amongst the primary cast. The lines he delivers really get the gags across strongly and had me laughing quite a bit.
Clean animations and the original on air opening animation for episodes 1-13. With 26 episodes though, I can only hope that there are going to be plenty of other extras along the way.
With this opening volume, the series really sets up well. While the audience has a solid idea of where this series is ultimately trying to go, the road that they have chosen to get to that destination is a bit less clear. The cast and characters are strong though and the gags really find a way to get across well enough to make for some very happy viewing. If you’re a fan of comedic anime, the first episodes of this series are something to go out of you way to see.
Final Grade: A