#THROWBACK: 'The Wallflower' goes against the classic romcom formula and challenges beauty standards
Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: November 04, 2021 at 18:48 PHT (GMT+8)
In 2021, we're lucky there is no such thing as not having enough anime. But sometimes, there is a mood. Yup, you guessed it. The nostalgic kind!
If you're craving for some tried and true anime from the 2000s, this article is for you! Today, we feature the comedy shoujo series Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge or mostly known as The Wallflower (Alternative title: Perfect Girl Evolution).
The series stars protagonist Sunako Nakahara who develops a serious inferiority complex after being called ugly by the first and only person to whom she confessed her love. Her trauma was so strong to the point where it resulted in a significant personality change. Now, she shuns all forms of beauty, both in herself and those around her. Despite her elegant, good looks that are acknowledged by the rest of the cast, she considers herself so unattractive to the point where she isolates herself in her room and indulges in macabre hobbies such as gory movies and anatomical dolls.
Concerned by her change for the worse, Sunako's aunt, Mine Nakahara, demands four, very handsome high school students to live in her mansion rent-free in exchange for transforming Sunako into the perfect lady. However, despite the four's efforts, Sunako shows no intention of changing and they eventually learn to appreciate her for who she is while still finding her beautiful.
Note: This review primarily focuses on the 25-episode anime series, with some mentions of the manga. Some minor spoilers ahead.
Viewers of The Wallflower will definitely appreciate this show for its high-tension, exaggerated comedy. Sunako portrays herself as every bit of the unconventional heroine. She's dark, gloomy, talks to her scary anatomical dolls, and gets nosebleeds whenever someone too attractive gives her attention. The show makes it clear to us that she is not lady-like at all.
But at the same time, she's also very lovable, and the four men (Kyouhei Takano, Takenaga Oda, Ranmaru Morii, and Yukinojo Toyama) recognize that too. They realize Sunako is quirky, low-key smart, good at household chores, and unafraid to speak her mind (after getting provoked, which Kyouhei does most often). While everyone tries to transform Sunako into the perfect lady, the cast and us viewers realize there's plenty to love about her just the way she is (in all her forms: chibi, ungroomed, and dressed up).
The bulk of the anime's episodes actually focus on bonding moments between the four men and Sunako, such as taking exams, celebrating holidays like Halloween, and learning about each other's personal issues. By the end of the series, we come to appreciate that they have developed legitimate bonds, and that the men aren't taking care of Sunako just to get away from paying the rent.
But while this anime focuses primarily on the comedy, we also admire it for tackling a serious, societal issue: beauty standards. Instead of ending the anime series with the expected "perfect lady evolution," we see Auntie Mine acknowledging that Sunako is already a bona fide woman, proud and unapologetic of who she is and doesn't need to rely on dresses or makeup to shine.
This 2006 show offered a refreshing breath of fresh air in an era where romantic, slice of life anime dominated the consciousness of anime fans. While the anime (and more so the manga) feature a developing attraction between Sunako and Kyouhei, the series prioritizes Sunako's growth, a balance of her refined lady side with her current, creepy adorable side. The show does a good job of portraying how psychologically damaging beauty standards can be without getting too dark, keeping fans riveted.
If you're in the mood for over-the-top comedy with some elements of horror, coupled by attractive men and women switching back and forth from refined full-body to frantic chibi illustrations, then this show is for you.
About 'The Wallflower'
The Wallflower is a comedy shoujo manga series written and illustrated by Tomoko Hayakawa. It was serialized from 2000 to 2015 in the Japanese magazine Bessatsu Friend (別冊フレンド), published by Kodansha. The series ended in January 2015 with 36 volumes.
Animation studio Nippon Animation adapted part of the manga series into a 25-episode anime that aired on TV Tokyo and TV Aichi from October 4, 2006, to March 28, 2007.
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