The Perks of Reading the Wallflower

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No, this post isn’t about one of my favorite novels; instead I have decided to discuss a series that I spent about 10 years of my life reading. The Wallflower (Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge) follows the story of horror- and gore-loving Sunako and her quest to become a lady with the help of her four handsome housemates. These housemates are allowed to live in Sunako’s aunt’s huge mansion rent-free but only on the condition that they turn the “freak” Sunako into a “proper lady.”

When I was a 2edgy4you-ugly-duckling in middle school this series really clicked with me. I was, and to some extent still am, an unattractive recluse with “weird hobbies” much like Sunako. The fairytale of 4 handsome men working to make someone who was considered a freak into a beautiful lady was certainly too good to be true. What middle-schooler isn’t infatuated with the idea of attractive individuals helping them become someone who is desirable?

Certainly there were aspects of the series that helped me in odd ways. One quote I will never forget is Sunako saying “if you don’t look in the mirror, you don’t have to compare yourself to everyone else.” As an overweight, disabled individual, this was an idea that propelled me through body image issues and an eating disorder. With the idea in mind that by not looking at myself, I didn’t have to see how ugly I was in comparison to others, I seemed to stabilize in some ways. Even now, I find myself avoiding looking in the mirror save when I do makeup.

Despite this one aspect, I can’t really say that there are any true perks to reading this series. Unfortunately, the series is very “wash, rinse, repeat”. The only true progress between Sunako and her potential love interest, Kyouhei, happens when spiritual possessions or love potions are involved. After one or the other comes to their senses, the reset button is hit, all progress is lost and the two go back to fighting with one another. This goes on for 36 volumes.

At the time that I had caught up to the American release, I began reading the series online out of impatience. The English production was very slow as was the rate the manga was coming out in Japan. At some point, it seemed as though the final chapter was never getting translated by anyone online so I recently checked out the final volume from my local library. To my surprise – I had already read the ending! I was in shock; the ending was so inconclusive and felt like yet another chapter break for the series. It is honestly depressing to see that 15 years of Hayakawa’s life was devoted to such an inconclusive ending, especially considering the working conditions of most manga-ka.

To be fair, Hayakawa stated early on that this series was her first attempt at romance and she was awful at writing it. Despite the interesting and creative ideas behind some chapters, the ending of the series falls so short that I can honestly say I enjoyed the ending of Bleach more!

Tite Kubo didn’t die for this – okay, well he isn’t dead. But he managed to accomplish more in 15 years than Hayakawa for sure. Certainly this can be accredited to being on a weekly release schedule for Bleach unlike Wallflower. Nonetheless, Wallflower is a 36 volume-waste-of-time that I cannot recommend to anyone in good conscience.

Despite the beautiful and unique art and the adorable pictures of Hayakawa’s Scottish Fold – I can honestly say that I am happy to have closed this chapter in my life, at long last.

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