The Wallflower – Anime With A Gothic Heart

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Anime reviews: Four handsome boys are hired to turn a ‘dreary’ goth girl into a true lady… ‘The Wallflower’ is classic, darkly humorous ‘ugly duckling’ anime with a sprinkle of harajuku and scene.

Bats and black cats, skulls and B-grade horror is what this little girl is made of.

Sadly, as the first episode will tell you, she has been quite alone in her world until four beautiful men are forced into her gloomy view. The Wallflower, or Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge, is the ultimate ‘ugly-duckling’ anime of this century. Also known as Perfect Girl Evolution, the manga reportedly served as inspiration for New York designer Julie Haus’ spring 2009 line-up entitled “Not a Wallflower”. Not bad for an amazing anime that no one seems to have heard of since its debut nearly a decade ago. Even if there has ever been another laugh-out-loud goth comedy anime for edgy girls, this is certainly the mothership.

It features four “dreamy” boys, Kyouhei, Takenaga, Yukinojo, and Ranmaru who live together as roommates while attending school. Their landlady, Auntie Oba-san (who is more often called Landlady) makes a deal that will let them live rent-free in the glorious mansion they call home if they convert her niece Sunako Nakahara into a true lady.

The boys must transform this dreary goth – who looks not unlike a girl who just emerged from the well in a popular j-horror – into a perfect lady. Not an easy task. From Sunako’s horrific bedroom accented with anatomical dummies, to her uncontrollable nosebleeds, she is one pretty little gothling to be reckoned with. The tragedy is that she is largely misunderstood and veiled in the belief that she is hideous.

Creepy, yes. Hideous, no. In the still artwork of her that appears every episode or two in the anime and as full panels in the manga, she appears to be a perfectly beautiful young girl. Normally, she is drawn in a childlike chibi cartoon style to reflect her mood or attitude. This is a style that the other characters stoop to when dealing with the unruly Sunako or throwing their own tantrums, which happen often. Usually, these scenes are the root of the very dark humour that goes on in the mansion.

The four boys are perfectly gorgeous in the eyes of Sunako, her classmates and viewers. Drawn after teen idols and friends of the author, Tomoko Hayakawa, they better represent the good looking harajuku scene boys instead of the race-bending blonde pipsqueaks that invade other shojo and shonen anime.

The show is punctuated by several “rules” to becoming a lady. Some are only mockingly useful, most are downright backwards, but all make for a good laugh.

Sunako’s reaction to her environment is not unlike the reaction of any girl when thrust into a strange place. The only twist is that Sunako is the strange one, as most girls would be living up the dream of living with the four most popular and handsome boys in school. This is a jealousy that every girl within miles of them harbours, making for some interesting enemies!

Great parodies of not-very-good-looking fashion victims, The Loligoth Sisters, appear as her nemesis. In fact, they serve to make Sunako all the more appealing in her cheap running shoes, black pants and baggy t-shirt. Glimpses of her potential come out in some episodes, however, and Victorian goth finery reigns making her devilishly divine in the Halloween episode. She fights in some of the most beautiful ninja gear. or her baggy pants and shirt. but comes into her own, kicking ass and taking names!

No matter how hard anyone tries, she gravitates to the dark and dreary. Skulls win out over snow globes and bats win out over sparrows in this delightfully dark story. While her transformation may be so subtle, it is nearly negligible; Sunako reminds viewers that there is a certain beauty in being true to oneself, without definition.

The Del-Ray manga can be found in comic and book shops or at most larger libraries, as can the DVD episodes. The manga and anime storylines match up until the last few episodes, but it is intact word for word according to fans. The full flavour of The Wallflower is really caught in the anime as it is superbly drawn, voiced and coloured. Add great music, and we get the best anime for girls who desire more than frilly petticoats and love letters in their storylines.