Halloween is near and the costumes may not be limited to just that night for effect.
Story/Art: Tomoko Hayakawa
Translation/Adaptation: Andria Cheng
What They Say
Sunako and the handsome foursome cannot be stopped! Sunako dresses up as a pirate to get her aunt’s jewelry back! For Halloween, Sunako and the Princess host a horror party! And then, the Princess’ fiance Ranmaru gets close with Sunako in bed… How will Kyouhei react?
Content: (please note that content portions of review may contain spoilers):
The impossible quest that four gorgeous- but freeloading- boys are tasked with to turn their landlady’s very dark and (traditionally) unfeminine niece into a full-fledged lady of society continues in this tale of one girl who just wants to live her life as she desires and the Herculean task that the boys face of having to change her or pay their own rent.
The first story in this latest collection finds the four boys and Sunako joined at the hip in an attempt to help Sunako’s aunt find a new love which they hope will get her off their backs, if not completely than temporarily as her current relationship lull has her spending far more time at her mansion than is comfortable for any of her boarders as she also uses the proximity to push her whims on them. But is the new relationship they find for her going to pan out or is that the mysterious man who just entered her life far more interested in an aspect of her wealth than her? When the going gets tough though the entire group isn’t going to just sit around quietly and mope when there are high seas to be taken to in incredibly inane and over the top manner to recover the loot.
It isn’t just Sunako’s aunt who will get into the swing of things either as Sunako isn’t lacking in self consciousness of her preoccupations (if anything she probably has too much self consciousness) and new troubles appear when Tamao Kikunoi faces a bully she doesn’t recognize while Sunako’s attempt to distance herself from her friend to protect the Princess’ reputation hurts her friend far more than helps and so Sunako has to leap into action to try to undo the damage she caused. Her attempts to help her friend though cause some difficulties at home when the group tries to go further and limit the harm that her fiancé Ranmaru can do to her through his playboy ways and they forbid him to have any contact with any other girls that he might flirt with- but will Ranmaru be able to deal with going cold turkey from his addiction or will he turn on the only woman he does still have access to and create a whole new level of chaos in the house?
When the rampage grows will Sunako be forced to flee her home when an attempt to fix the damage gets to her in a way she thought she had gotten past, and if she does will Kyohei turn out to be the solution to the problem or will the act of trying to help merely add more fuel to the fire? In any event when the group at the mansion attempt to tackle even the simplest of problems fans know that the imagination, sparks and in this case even swords will fly when the decidedly not typical group tries to deal with what happens when their greatest the desires to just be left alone (and not pay rent) run up against an impossible task and when (somewhat sometimes) good intentions lead to less than always positive results.
Having not picked up a copy of The Wallflower in a while there was something comforting about returning to some old friends and being able to slip back into the world like an old favorite shirt and find that the characters that I so loved at one point are still there and still giving some of the same sort of over the top reaction to events that I loved at the onset of the title. There is something just wonderful about watching Sunako move at her own pace and enjoy her own pursuits and (mostly) not caring too much about it or what others think about her doing so but showing care for what she thinks may happen to others’ reputation for being around her as she attempts to live as she wishes which largely makes for a strong character with some really fun moments.
There is also a lot of entertainment to be found in the surrounding boys who are still attempting to weasel out of having to pay for lodging by undertaking a near impossible task that none of them really is committed to in principle yet the overhanging of greed still can be completely overwhelmed by a decency that they hold toward Sunako…no matter how far they may have to be pushed in a particular situation for it to finally be uncovered. There is just something fun to be found when at heart the characters are rather good and so the story can throw out some ideas that would not work as well in a more cynical title and which allow for some chances to be taken and more than a little liberty with reality -particularly its depictions- which helps the give the story its unique flavor and helps to really sell some of the more extreme actions and make these rather improbably events seem almost reasonable. For example when Ranmaru loses his mind because he is cut off from other women or the constant presence of the super deformed Sunako that helps really add impact to the moments where she is more active in events and takes a measure of charge or alternately when she is swept away by the moment yet still in “real” form.
That things are so familiar though isn’t all a win as the lack of change over the time I was not reading pretty much signals that there will be little change throughout the volume and while individual moments may be fantastic the realization that much of the events won’t carry through going forward robs them a bit of their power, much like the sitcom where every problem will be solved by the credit roll so that the next episode can start from almost the same place the current one started from. For the most part while this is something that I came to be familiar and alright with when I was picking the series up in the past, the re-introduction makes this situation feel a bit more blatant and in one’s face, though honestly by the end I was back to being comfortable with the flow of how events played out, perhaps because the remaining chapters after the first did grow off from each other to create a larger arc.
Where the volume did kind of stall though is in the first story as the idea of taking the group out and playing pirate -after a fashion- just felt like a bit too much of a stretch even for this title and a bit of like an indulgence to work in a design that the author liked but which just didn’t synch up all that well for some reason, maybe because the setup just made the events so inevitable- Perhaps it was the predictable nature of the “amazing new character” or the use of Sunako’s aunt in an almost pedestrian way but the tale just felt flat and that lead in made the following interconnected stories have to climb out of a bit of a hole to get started. Luckily once the volume moves past that first story many of the issues seem to flow away as the characters bounce of each other in a most entertaining way overall, and though a few of the characters are badly underused and a couple others feel like they are more plot device than natural the final product is one that once again will make fans of the series smile as they get moments of the completely bizarre as well as a touch of heart for the emotional payoff.
The normal chaos found in the series gets taken up a notch when Sunako’s aunt stops by and suddenly the pressures of her ultimatum aren’t just figuratively hanging over the cast’s heads and their attempts to pacify the aunt lead then on a mad capped. But things may get more personal (if at least as odd) when Sunako attempts to distance herself from her friend in a mistaken attempt to save the friend’s reputation that leads to a new type of danger when every action seems to lead to more and more outrageous results…and this time, Sunako may find that she has to flee the mansion to keep her sanity. With a plethora of action and drama to be found The Wallflower continues to burst forth in its pace though such frenetic strides may cause a bit of a stumble at times.
Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: February 12th, 2013