Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Wallflower 1: Yamatonadeshiko Shichihenge
$10.95, Del Rey, 224 pages (October 12, 2004)

This comedic series follows 4 teenage boys, who are the cutest, most popular guys in school. When they get a chance to live in an incredible mansion for free they are ecstatic. The only one condition being that they must turn the owner's niece into a proper lady.

How much of a problem could that be for the four coolest guys on the planet? Well they've never met a girl like Sunako Nakahara before. After an experience as a young girl, where a boy she liked called her ugly. She's given up on beauty, feminity and the outside world in general. She likes horror movies, has pimples, frizzy-hair, no fashion sense, and has huge nosebleeds whenever she gets excited.

As the boys try to bring her out of her shell, as a reader I found myself attracted to her stubborn independence. While the reasons she's withdrawn into herself are a bit tragic, I got a sense that she likes who she is and what she does.

So seeing the boys efforts to change who she is can be an interesting parallel to how people always try to get others to join in what they like. Not really taking into account the virtues of individuality and letting others like what they want.

This is a title fraught with inconsistency and repetition though. The jokes as the boys try and fail over and over to get Sunako to change aren't really different enough to not get old as you read more. There is also the feeling that what Sunako wants to do isn't right, even though she seems perfectly happy doing it.

Which sort of sends and odd message I thought. Yes she probably does need to get out a little more, but showing her interests and entire behavior as wrong seems to go across the line a bit. Though near the end that starts to perhaps change, when she kicks the ass of people who do one of her friends wrong.

This title could be interesting as it progresses and gets past the world building phase. Yet it needs to do so fast, or I can't see readers sticking around long for the same joke over and over. Unless they are going for the traditional superhero comic audience who does seem to want the same gross thing over and over again.

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