Even among anime fans there are only a couple of directors of Japanese
animation who are well known. Of course Hayao Miyazaki, known as
the Disney of Japanese animation, is the most famous anime director but
if pressed to name another one the most popular answer would likely be
Shinichi Watanabe. The hand behind hilarious Excel Saga and
almost equally funny Nerima Daikon Brothers, Watanabe often inserts
himself as a character into his shows, something that only adds to the
wackiness of the programs. So when I heard that Shinichi directed
another comedy The Wallflower, and that FUNimation was releasing
the show in two half-series sets (another of the shows they acquired from
ADV,) I was stoked. My excitement was short-lived however as the
program wasn't as funny, unique, or zany as I was hoping.
Takenaga Oda, Yukinojo Toyama, Ranmaru Morii, and Kyohei Takano are
four young and very attractive men live in a palatial mansion owned by
a jet-setting woman. One day the lady calls the boys together and
offers them a proposition: she'll let them live in the mansion rent-free
if they can transform her niece, Sunako Nakahara into a proper lady.
If they can't she's going to triple their rent.
When Sunako shows up, the boys realize that they have a tough job ahead
of them. Two years ago Sunako confessed her love to a boy who replied
"I don't like ugly girls." Since then she's rejected everything beautiful
and attractive. Letting herself go and even refusing to look in a
mirror, Sunako dresses as a goth with long bangs, has horrible skin, and
collects dead animals preserved in jars and watches ultra-gory slasher
films. On top of that, she has no interest in becoming a lady and
fights the quartet of handsome boys every step of the way.
The premise for this show sounded pretty good, and the first couple
of episodes were interesting. I especially liked the reaction Sunako
received from the other girls at school; she was shunned for her horrid
dress and demeanor and then envied because she lived with the four cutest
guys in school. The fact that Sunako gets nose bleeds (a sign of
sexual frustration in Japanese culture) when the boys talked to her was
also funny, but things never progressed after that.
The show quickly falls into a fairly routine formula. The boys
come up with some plan to convince Sunako's aunt that they are making progress,
and things backfire. Alternatively they hatch a scheme to earn or
win a large sum of money to pay the rent, which also backfires. After
a while the shows start to meld into one another and at times I had trouble
remembering if I had watched an episode since the plots are all so similar.
There are a few chuckles in every episode, but they recycle a lot of
jokes and as the series went on I found myself being less and less amused.
The characters never really develop or change, which isn't so bad in an
anime, but the main plot never progresses either. That makes for
a rather repetitive show.
The worst aspect of the show, and the thing that really did it in for
me was the animation style. This show is really ugly a lot of the
time. They cut a lot of corners in some scenes to make the program
cheaper, which happens a lot in anime, but in this show one of the things
they do is make background characters little more than stick figures.
This is really irritating and detracts from the story a lot.
Take a look at some of the screen captures included with this review to
get an idea.
The first 13 episodes of the show are presented on two DVDs which each
come in a thinpak case. These cases are housed in a colorful slipcase.
The disc offers viewers the choice of the original Japanese audio track
in stereo or an English DD 5.1 dub. I listened to various episodes
with each audio track and they were both solid. The English voice
actors did a good job with only one supporting character having an irritating
high-pitched voice. I tended to prefer the Japanese track, but not
by much. The quality was similar on both tracks, with no common audio
problems being evident. The mix itself was pretty sedate with the
voices firmly anchored on the screen for most of the show. There
wasn't much use made of the soundstage, but that's not too surprising given
the nature of the show.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks pretty good, which shouldn't come
as a surprise since this series was made in 2006. The lines are generally
tight and the colors are solid. On the digital side things also look
pretty good. There is a little aliasing here and there, and a tiny
bit of posterization, but these are hardly worth mentioning.
There wasn't much in the way of extras. The standard clean opening
and closing is included, as well as a series of trailers, but that's it.
While there are some funny moments to this show, they are too few and
far between. After the first few episodes set up the premise the
rest of the series just seems to repeat the same stories, though they do
vary slightly. Added to this is some really ugly animation for backgrounds
and extraneous characters. That's really too bad since the program
did show some promise. As it is, this would be a good rental.