Well today I actually feel bereft, every once in a while you find such a great show that you don’t want it to end, you even put off watching those last episodes while obsessively needing to watch them. This is The Wallflowers effect (aka Yamato Nadeshiko), I went in with a preconception of it being your typical otome style romance with 4 guys chasing after the one ‘odd’ girl but jeez was I wrong.
First of all at its heart this anime is all about the comedy, romance definitely is featured but has been told to sit in the back seat along with common sense. The Wallflower is about a girl named Sunako, she has crippling self-worth issues after she confessed her love to a boy in middle school who told her that he hated ugly girls, from then on she refused to even look in a mirror and retreated into her own world. Her rich auntie has a huge mansion in which she has allowed four beautiful young men to live with her as landlord, she makes a deal with them that she will allow them to live rent free in her beautiful mansion as long as they turn Sunako into a lady by the time she returns from her round the world trip if they fail the rent is tripled!
Of course they accept thinking with their combined skills as bishonen it will be simple. However when Sunako arrives they realise that she is actually crazy, well more that she has odd tastes. Sunako is into horror, gore, ghosts and anything creepy and horrific on top of the fact she refuses to change her appearance in any way seeing it as pointless. She is also hyper aware of how pretty people are so proceeds to nosebleed everywhere any time one of the guys (or beautiful girls) tries to talk to her seriously, labelling them ‘creatures of light’. With rent looming the guys try all sorts of methods to make her more lady like but I found as the anime went on they became less inclined to change her, liking her for who she is and that’s a theme running through out.
So before I talk about all the other great (and not so great) aspects of this anime, I’ll give a rundown of the characters.
Sunako is shy and introverted to the max, her happiest moments are spent watching banned explicit horrors with her anatomical mannequins, despite this she is also extremely athletic and a good fighter and pretty smart. She does however get a nosebleed any time someone beautiful is near or does something nice for her. Overall though she is a kind and gentle person who just needs some patience.
Kyohei is the most beautiful man on the planet, seriously you have never seen men and women go crazy over someone like this guy, this treatment has made him aggressive, arrogant and violent. You do genuinely feel sympathy for the guy as people never leave him alone, he is the one who pushes Sunako the most, not in terms of being a lady but for her to stop running away from her problems.
The other three guys are; Ranmaru, the resident playboy, Takenaga who is basically the stereotype of a Japanese man so calm, collected and embarrassed in romantic situations and Yuki the cute one but not sickeningly so, I’d actually put him as the most normal out of all of them. These three are much more gentle with Sunako however if she is being unfair they do call her out on it. I should also mention that Kyohei is the only one who shows romantic interest in her, with the others acting as friends and mentors, which is a refreshing change.
The girls also need an honorary mention as they are actually well written, we have Noi who is in love with Takenaga and he reciprocates so they are basically dating and Sunako’s aunt. She’s the type of woman to drive a race car into her own house and jump out a helicopter to startle the guys so automatically hilarious and awesome, before shooting off again in a really impractical manner.
What I love about this anime is the way it treats its themes, for starters Sunako is never depicted as a perfect nice person, she is called out multiple times for thinking that good-looking people have it easy and don’t make an effort as well as the fact she is clearly unhappy with her appearance rather than this just being who she is. This makes her changes throughout the anime much more emotional and significant. Her relationship with Noi is also done sweetly, Noi being the most popular girl in school is never afraid to stand up for Sunako and give her the right push when needed. Noi also gets to have a relationship with Takenaga kicking the tired otome logic of only the heroine can have the menfolk! They even kiss and do couple things and it isn’t made out to be the most intense thing in the world like in other anime.
Sunako’s relationships with the guys is also done well, they are petrified when they see the things that she likes and are a little afraid of her at times but they never stop caring about her and try their best to help and support her. The only thing I would have liked more of is a little more romance between her and Kyohei, you get the feeling that Sunako is a breath of fresh air for him as although his appearance does cause her to nosebleed she stands up to him and doesn’t fawn all over him and omg it’s just so sweet T^T
Now there are a few negative things I found and in the interest of fairness I do have to state them… as well as the fact that my love for something is as toxic as my hate. First of all after about the second episode Sunako is depicted as a chibi like 90% of the time, this is very cute and adds humor but she has such a beautiful design I wished I could have seen more of it, it only reappears when she is being courageous or cool.
There is also a segment about a minute long in the middle of each episode called the guide to womanhood where the guys talk about manners or something relevant to what is going on which yeah keeps with the theme but it really should have been kept to the end of the episode as it breaks the flow of the plot during, in later episodes in pops up multiple times and although they have humor in mind it’s just annoying.
Another feature of every episode is a group of four gothic lolita style girls, they are after the four guys but never get far acting as a sort of weird ass fan club, they have minimal comedy value for me so were just annoying when they showed up. I also noted they were drawn ‘ugly’ which for an anime all about inner beauty and not judging appearance seems a little hypocritical.
These are all just petty nitpicks, the plot is solid and the characterisation and themes are done very well. I was a little iffy about the art style at first as it seemed weird for everyone to have such huge lips as normally anime only emphasises lips on women or when lipstick is involved but actually the style grew on me and I didn’t even notice after a few episodes (also Sunako is still so pretty *o*).
Where this anime shines is in its sense of humor, it is very self aware and even breaks the forth wall at times with characters lamenting that there are so many kidnappings in this show. It’s something you really need to watch to get what I mean but it is able to go quirky without being ridiculous.
I would really recommend this anime to people who love slice of life, comedy and romance. It does have the feeling of ‘we wanted to make an anime before the manga was finished’ about it, but at least I can read the manga for more romantic action, it really is heartwarming and a little different from other romances I’ve watched so well worth a look at.