Wallflower 21

Tomoko Hayakawa – Del Rey – 2009 – 24+ volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column at Manga Recon, so you can check out my review over there.

I liked it better than the previous volumes, but I still don’t like the series that much.  The art strikes me as quite lazy (the eyes!  they look like aliens when they’re not drawn in gag form!), and I’m just not a big fan of the humor.  The romance story in this volume was better, and I liked most of it even knowing it wasn’t actually going anywhere.  My biggest problem may just be that I want this series to be something it’s not.


Wallflower 20

Tomoko Hayakawa – Del Rey – 2009 – 23+ volumes

I reviewed this volume (as well as volume 19) for this week’s Manga Minis column at Manga Recon, so check out the review over there.

To be fair, volume 20 was a huge improvement over volume 19.  I thought it might not be, since the volume opened with a single page that featured a joke about the heroine’s cooking, a random person appearing for no reason with stick figures diving out of her way, and no detail drawn in whatsoever, but it got better from there.  The stories were at least far more amusing, and they didn’t all take place at the mansion, which made them better than the last volume by default.

But… when you’re 20 volumes into a series where the premise is that the main character likes creepy things, if the only jokes you make about the heroine are still all about how she likes creepy things… perhaps it’s time to develop the character more.

Speaking of character development… the shoujo moments in this volume were more frequent, but always completely underwhelming.  They weren’t even a letdown the same way that My Heavenly Hockey Club lets you down, because at least the boy really likes Hana, and sometimes you wonder if Hana doesn’t like the boy, too.  In The Wallflower, the boy only ever does anything romantic because he wants Sunako to cook for him.  Any romance implied from his actions is a complete mistake.  And Sunako has no interest in the boy, either, which is a real shame.

Bah.


Wallflower 19

Tomoko Hayakawa – Del Rey – 2009 – 23+ volumes

I’ve got two volumes of this series, which I’m writing up for the Manga Recon, but since I like to have entries for each volume, I’m going to write a review for this volume here, then link the review at Manga Recon for volume 20.

I knew there was a good reason I was avoiding this series.  It’s quite popular, but it’s really more of a humorous, episodic series than it is the shoujo romance-type thing I prefer.  It’s a lot like My Heavenly Hockey Club, I guess, except Hockey Club is way funnier and has better art.

I know I’m not missing out on anything.  I know the premise of the series, that four hot guys have to transform the horror-movie-loving, reclusive, shy Sunako into the “perfect girl,” or at least a girl who is somewhat presentable.  According to her aunt, she also wants Sunako to find true love as well.  The series seems to have paired Sunako off with Kyohei, one of the four guys.  Sort of.

The chapters are one-shots, and while it seems like Sunako learns something in each one, it also seems like the episodes aren’t compounding the knowledge.  And the jokes are things like… I don’t know, the boy who hates cleaning suddenly becoming a neat freak.  I thought the jokes were kind of lame, but I’ll give it a pass since it’s very possible that it would be much funnier if I knew just how much of a slob that boy is. Whatever.  In my head, I was comparing this to chapters of My Heavenly Hockey Club where Hana and company wake up with bears in their beds or are menaced by a persistent, swindling elderly couple.  Hockey Club also doesn’t have really distinct characters, but the chapters are unique enough and funny enough that I forgive it that.

The one thing that is absolutely inexcusable is the art.  I normally don’t comment on art, but I have to make an exception here.  For the most part, the entire manga is drawn in a super-deformed sort of comic style.  Characters are drawn “realistically” (ie like they would appear in any other shoujo manga) on close-ups of their face.  Sunako is almost never drawn “realistically.”  She’s drawn properly in maybe two or three panels per chapter.  Most of the time she doesn’t even have a face drawn in.  No detail goes into the art whatsoever, and even the close-ups of the face, or the “realistic” drawings of Sunako or anyone else barely have clothing suggested on their bodies.  From what I can tell, the four boys may as well be the same person, and three usually act as a mob as each chapter spotlights a single boy.  Except only two of the boys had stories in this volume, and honestly… they may as well have been one boy, because they weren’t all that different personality-wise (one is the “ladies’ man” and one is the “manly” boy) and they also look nearly identical.

Just… no.  No.  You fail, Wallflower.  I try to find the good in everything I read, and like I said, it’s possible that I would enjoy the character-based humor more if I’d been reading from the beginning… but I don’t think so.  The jokes are weak, and it seems like the plot, characters, and humor have not progressed since the first volume, where the basic premise was laid out.  There was a chapter here where it seemed like Sunako was hooking up with one of the boys, but that idea is quickly abandoned and never spoken of again.  I’m sure it’s come up more than once by now.  Maybe… maybe I’ll like it if I read another volume.


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