The Wallflower Volumes 22, 23, & 24

By Tomoko Hayakawa. Released in Japan in 3 separate volumes as “Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Friend (“Betsufure”). Released in North America by Del Rey.

If you go to the popular wiki site TV Tropes, and look up the entry for The Wallflower, you’ll note a common theme from the editors of the page. All of them are frustrated with the manga’s lack of romantic progress, and regard it as a deep, crippling flaw. The entries for ‘Oblivious to Love’ and ‘Everyone Can See It’ burn with a radiant fury at the author of this manga for continuing to toddle along with her goofy comedy without letting Sunako and Kyohei grow to be the perfect couple they’re meant to be. In the previous volume, the author admitted in the endnotes that her editor was also annoyed with her for dragging things on, and confesses that she can’t actually write romance.

Now, to be fair, this is not entirely unwarranted. At 24 volumes in North America, and still running in Japan, this is one of the longest shoujo series still being published. That’s a big investment for something with little to no romantic payoff. And yes, if you read this manga waiting for Sunako and Kyohei to get together, you should really give up and stop; that or move on to Kimi ni Todoke, which explores many of the same themes, albeit with less bishie guys.

But if, like me, you love the sheer goofy comedy of The Wallflower, seeing the main characters overreact to the slightest provocation, seeing Sunako vary wildly between her superdeformed normal self and the pretty girl she clearly is when inspired to be, and above all watching the rest of the cast also get intensely angry at Kyohei and Sunako for JUST NOT GETTING IT, then this is three almost perfect volumes in one big omnibus. All of what makes this title fun is here.

In non-Sunako and Kyohei news, the beta couples basically each get one chapter, which isn’t much for a three-volume series but then they aren’t the stars. Noi once again desires to be closer to Takenaga-kun, even if it kills her, and almost manages to ruin things simply by trying too hard. Meanwhile, in one of the funniest (and raciest) chapters, Ranmaru’s father, sick of his womanizing, decides to sexually exhaust him so that he’ll grow sick of it. He does this by throwing piles of females at him, to the point where he has to sexually satisfy AN ENTIRE HAREM. Naturally, his fiancee Tamao shows up right when he’s ready to collapse in her arms, which is good, as this is clearly the one girl Ranmaru DOESN’T want to just sleep with and not care about.

Heck, we even get a glimpse of Yuki’s much mentioned but rarely seen girlfriend, who wants to spend Christmas with him in a hotel but is despairing of her ‘chubby belly’. Yuki, who despite being the youngest and most childlike of the four male leads can bishie it up just as well as any of them, is quick to reassure her that it doesn’t matter to him at all. They then, it is implied, actually spend the night together at the hotel. Go Yuki!

Sunako and Kyohei, meanwhile, are themselves. They’re exactly what you expect by now: Kyohei is grumbly and moody, only caring about Sunako when he sees her under attack or in distress. Of course, this being a shoujo manga, that happens a lot. Meanwhile, Sunako is getting more and more shots of her looking ‘normal’ as the series goes on, though she still defaults to the SD-mode. She’s even getting slightly better when Kyohei kisses her (as he’s forced to do at a party to show that she’s better than the snobby girls mocking her), still gushing blood from the nose but recovering far more quickly.

The sexiest chapter is probably the one titled ‘Merry Fuckin’ Xmas Night’ (and big kudos to Del Rey for keeping the original Japanese title). This one has the aforementioned Yuki love hotel plot, and also gives brief shots of Takenagi/Noi and Ranmaru/Tamao. Left to their own devices, Sunako and Kyohei thus proceed to get drunk on champagne. There is a brief moment where Sunako decides she’s going to seduce Kyohei, producing some incredibly hot art. Then, of course, they slip into goofy drunk mode, and karaoke instead. No resolution for you!

The advent of Kimi ni Todoke, which has all the romance that The Wallflower lacks, as well as a similar premise of a ‘scary’ girl coming out of her shell, makes me worry that the fandom for this manga will simply shift over to its more popular Shueisha cousin. And to be honest, Kimi ni Todoke *is* a better manga. If you read The Wallflower waiting for the point when Kyohei and Sunako finally get together… drop it, seriously. If, on the other hand, you read it for the humor and sexy art, this omnibus gives you more of what you love. I’m uncertain if Kodansha USA will pick this up – an omnibus release hints at sliding sales – but 25 only came out in Japan a few months ago anyway, so it has mostly ‘caught up’. Recommended for people with a high tolerance for frustration.