The Wallflower Vol. 9 (Del Rey)

wallflower9headerA tale of light versus dark, and the endless struggle of one aunt obsessed with beauty against a niece bent on a life in darkness.



192 Pages B&W; $10.95

(W / A: Tomoko Hayakawa)


With lines like "I just want to live alone in the darkness" and "abandon your femininity," how could Tomoko Hayakawa not expect to impress readers with this tale of four boys who attempt to transform Sunako, an ugly gothling, into a respectable, Barbie-loving young lady? What might've been an interesting spin on the traditional Cinderella fairy tale instead turns out to be nothing more than a bad joke carried on far too long, and, unfortunately for Hayakawa, The Wallflower probably has little appeal beyond its teen-goth target audience.


The deal is pretty simple: Four boys live in a house rent-free in exchange for their time and talents. What follows is a series of unfortunate encounters with the young Sunako brought about by her respectable aunt. Kyohei, a "creature of light," and Sunako get roped into spending a night together in a guarded room complete with security and a vibrating bed. The idea: Make Sunako a woman. Unfortunately, Sunako is not entirely too keen on giving up her chastity, and as can be expected, hijinks ensue. Not the greatest formula for a story, and certainly not helped by the fact that Sunako continually advocates the surrender of femininity (tossing makeup, breaking mirrors, etc), yet always seems to appear like a pretty, pretty princess–albeit a goth one–when she's not a faceless chibi skulking around.


Still, the story is not entirely unentertaining, with much of the interest coming from the artwork. Certain scenes are beautifully detailed, such as the cultic gathering of members of Kyohei's hometown, and that Giger-esque throne that Sunako admires (and readers probably will as well). There are plenty of chibi scenes for those hooked on the cute factor, and enough androgynous man-on-goth moments to please the horny teenager in all of us. Of course the boys are all pretty, and nobody who is supposed to be ugly really is.


While there are certainly some redeemable moments from Sunako, who continually questions beauty and offers an alternative to traditional femininity, overall, the story remains light with little-to-no transition into a true feministic representation. Sunako is a character that secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, seems to want to be that princess she's fighting so hard to avoid. It doesn't really require a genius to see where the story is going, and if you're down with the goths (or I suppose they'd be emo kids these days) and cute almost-girls-but-not-quite boys, then this is definitely the story for you.

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