- Titles: Perfect Girl Evolution, The Seven Metamorphoses of Yamato Nadeshiko, The Wallflower
- Genre: Comedy, romance… kinda…
- Episodes: 25
- Studio: Nippon Animation
Nakahara Sunako has endured a terrible tragedy. One that has marked her deeply and completely changed the course of her life. Once, a guy she had a huge crush on called her ugly. And now she can barely stand to show her face in public let alone be seen in the company of the beautiful people. How will she ever grow into a proper and perfect young woman if she spends all of her time locked away by herself enjoying horror movies or talking to anatomical skeletons? That just won’t do. Thankfully, the Nakahara’s have some throwing around money, and Sunako’s loving aunt will make sure she gets the training that she needs to join proper society. And the plan is, to leave all the works to the four incredibly hot guys that live at her mansion in exchange for a break on their rent. What could go wrong? Four teenage boys certainly are the best possible teachers to mould a lost girl into womanhood. Right?
I don’t remember exactly how I heard about The Wallflower in the first place but it’s one of those titles that has been on my radar for a long time. An old-school slapstick comedy full of ridiculous premises and even more ridiculous characters? Sounds like a good time to me. Let’s get this show started!
The Wallflower aired in 2006 and I’ll be honest, I thought it was older. Maybe it’s the aspect ratio, as soon as I see those letterbox bars on the side of the screen, it might as well be in sepia tone. But it also looks like a production that has aged. The designs are old school and the colours are flat (but vibrant!). The backgrounds are super minimalistic.
In fact, speaking of minimalistic. The character designs are not my cup of tea but they certainly are a product of their time. And actually, I do find the girls quite pretty. However, I would say that the great majority of the time, like 80%, characters are actually shown in outline chibi form. And it’s kind of brilliant. The show gives the impression of (now dated) but pretty detailed and polished visuals when in fact most of it is easy to draw doodles. I imagine Nippon Animation saved a huge chunk of change of the production and the impression for the audience really doesn’t suffer as much as you would think. It’s noticeable obviously but it just feels like a comedic choice rather than a budget crunch.
I watch The Wallflower on Funimation as it was the only place I could get it, and only the English soundtrack is available. As such I can only talk for the English voice cast. I was good. Like I honestly think the actors did a good job. My beef is with the director. Sunako is made out to be a very slapstick character, more so than anyone else, and the performance matches. It’s sort of always on the same level and I found that it did get a bit tiresome after a while and didn’t work as well in certain scenes.
I really liked the OP. It’s completely nuts.
Story & Characters
At the end of the day, there were a lot of things I liked about The Wallflower and a few things I didn’t. But those negatives are present enough to make it difficult to recommend to everyone.
so let’s get the bad out of the way first. Like I said, Sunako is a one-note character and she is the main character. At times, I found her annoying which can be tough to take seeing as she’s the most present in the series. I’m not sure how to describe it. For those of you that have seen Demon Slayer, it’s a bit as if Zenitsu was the main character and he was always on. Always doing his over-the-top act. It’s a bit like that. Maybe not as bad but similar vibe.
The anime is more or less Slice of Life. Some arcs go on for more than one episode, but generally speaking, the casts move on from one little event to the next. And as such, some are episodes that are just a bit more boring. It gets a bit repetitive in execution which would be alleviated if you don’t binge it like I did.
And that’s about it. Otherwise, I would say the Wallflower actually makes some really interesting points about beauty and perception and the pressure women have to be seen in a certain way, and it does so in a fairly novel manner. But the negatives I named are difficult to ignore and I can see them ruining the experience for some viewers.
As for the stuff I liked, there is much more of it. The very basic theme of Th Wallflower is that true beauty is on the inside. And that’s a nice message. Sunako believes herself to be ugly because some guy told her she was and since then she has sort of receded within herself and turned into a total goth. That’s the best way I can describe it. She has the girl from the ring long hairstyle, likes creepy things and talks to a skeleton and an anatomical model.
Traditionally, I expected the guys around her to discover that she’s actually beautiful under all that hair and all fall in love with her. For everyone at school to be smitten by her transformation, and in time for Sunako herself to accept her beauty. That’s sort of how it goes, right? The “ugly” girl takes off her glasses and ponytail and wow, she was a supermodel all along!
But that’s subverted big time. Through a series of crazy shenanigans, the guys do find out that Sunako is a conventionally pretty girl on the first episode and that’s kind of it. They are gorgeous guys who are constantly surrounded by pretty girls so one more doesn’t really change anything. They just tell her that she’s not ugly and go on with their lives. The people at school and in the city still think she’s creepy because her personality hasn’t changed at all and that’s what was weirding them out. And no one falls in love with her suddenly. Eventually, like at the end of the series, one of the guys seems to have gotten some feelings for her but that’s it. The rest like her as a friend, and in a way that feels like a bigger success.
I loved that. Her physical appearance really didn’t change much in her life. And it goes beyond that, it quickly becomes clear that no one actually cared about her looks in the first place, except for Sunako herself. Which means that a haircut and fancy dress also don’t magically turn her into the lovely and demure young lady her aunt wants her to become. Because it’s about attitude, mindset and action. I think it’s a really cool message and it was delivered in a tongue-in-cheek way, reinforced through the events of the series but never actually said out loud.
I also really appreciated that they gave Sunako’s “trauma” the proper weight. At least in my opinion. It is appreciated by all the characters in the show that telling a young lady that just confessed to you that you are not interested because she’s ugly is a jerk move and it could have some pretty bad ramifications on a person’s self-esteem. And everyone understands why Sunako took it badly and why it’s still a sore point for her. But they also think that she’s going overboard with it and that there are some aspects of her personality that aren’t all that attractive. It could have been something she learns from and her failure to do so made the whole situation worse for her.
I’ve talked a lot about Sunako and that’s because, when all is said and done, it is her story. All the guys around her are plot characters. They have their own arcs and do get some development. It’s not like they are not real characters. So if you have a favourite, you will get a chance to get to know them. But the main theme of the show really stays with Sunako. The boys get to develop the secondary theme which is how society perceives beauty. Explorations of privilege, both monetary and the privilege granted to attractive people. And that’s interesting as well. They are not as deeply explored in the series though so you don’t get that much of a clear idea of what The Wallflower is trying to say on that subject. The closest to a clear message is how Kyohei’s entire life seems to have been ruined by his good looks and the expectations that put on him.
I should say, the guys have some kind of out there backstories and suffer from ridiculous pretty people problems. It makes them seem much less relatable than they could be. But I didn’t hate that. I thought it was rather funny for the most part.
Before I wrap this up though, I have to rant a bit. This is nothing against the show itself but it probably had an effect on what I took away from it, especially with regards to Kyohei. As I mentioned, I was watching it on Funimation. I don’t think I can get Hulu here. This forced me to watch the dub, which was fine, but it also meant that episodes 13, 14 and 24 were just not there. The videos are missing from Funimation’s library and that’s that. The series is episodic enough that I could skip them and not be totally lost in what was happening but, episode 24 was basically the conclusion to Kyohei’s entire character arc and was gearing up to be one of the most emotionally cathartic episodes of the show. It really sucked that it wasn’t there. I supposed I could have stopped everything and tried to find it online in a less than legal capacity but I shouldn’t have to. If you were planning on watching the series on Funimation, be warned that it’s incomplete. Grrrrr!
With all that said, I think I end up with a net positive. The Wallflower isn’t a revelation but I enjoyed it for what it was. The characters were a little weak, for this meant that the series as a whole had diminishing returns the more it advanced. However, I do like a lot of the messages. Your looks will only make you pretty for an instant but your mind and soul will keep you beautiful forever. External validation can only take you so far and don’t be a jerk to people who confess to you!
You might like this anime if:
Classic Shoujo and slapstick humour. Randomly missing episodes.
My favourite character:
There’s an actual Wallflower cocktail!
- Every time a girl gets a nosebleed – take a sip
- Every time the boys cause a scene by being beautiful – take a sip
- Every time anyone has a spiritual experience – meditate
- Every time Sunako saves the day – cheer
- Every time Mine is there – raise your glass
- Every time Josephine makes an appearance – take a sip
- Every time Sunako plans murder – take a sip
- Every time Yuki ends up in drag – cute
- Every time Ranmaru is being a mansl… promiscuous – take a sip
- Every time Kyohei comes to the rescue – take a sip
- Every time we hear about “The Road to Womanhood” – take a sip
- Every time Sunako beats down a punk – take a sip
- Every time the boys are useless at housework – roll your eyes
- Every time we see the goth girls fan club – meh
- Every time Oda and Noi are being lovey-dovey – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.