Catch me on the latest Dead As Hell Horror Podcast Where I go on about a favourite horror anime, Another.
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Today we are going to talk about The Wallflower. Some may consider it horror, some may not. It really is for horror fans by horror fans. And even more interestingly, it revolves around a female horror fan. Now she’s no booth babe, quite the opposite. You’d be hard pressed to get her anywhere near a booth actually. She’s unkempt, she’s a loner, she’s even a little scary herself. And for the most part, she wants to stay that way. Those who know me could say that I like this because I’m a lot like her.
So, it’s more of a josei anime, it’s for girls. Male and female relationships are highlighted more often and the boys are illustrated in a way to appeal to the female gaze. I for one appreciate that. Having some nice looking guys–and more than one–in an anime is very welcome. The guys are similar in physique to the guys you would see in the anime ‘Swimming’, which I’ll never ever review on this show even if those boys bled out their ears and cracked their skulls open on a daily basis. I’ll also never cover Moonphase because even though it is about a vampire it is way to moe and way too girly. Not that I don’t put on my kitty cat ears, go paws-up and watch some Moonphase from time to time, I just won’t be talking about it on ReAnimeTion.
First things first. I’ve been catching up on my Tokyo Ghoul. There were a few episodes where things were lagging, it wasn’t quite as bloody, and we are getting into the story line, relationships between the other ghouls and their histories and offspring. I was getting a little bit tired of the storyline already. And then episode 8 happened and turned that all around. The story was starting to take over from the gory excitement and horror aspect. That’s never bad if the story is compelling, for example, with Death Note. There is a lot of story line and background – there is not a lot of horror happening with action or gore – but it is extremely compelling with the mystery and characters. Tokyo Ghoul just hasn’t steeped with me yet, and the pacing changed. For the past two episodes, things were getting a little too quick and you weren’t getting as involved in the story they were kind of shoving down your throat.
In episode 8 Kaneki gets his mask, which is great because any time spent with Uta is time well spent in my point of view. And we learn a little more about the quinque, the weapons used by the doves, which seem to be recycled kagune. Of course, aside from Kaneki donning his mask finally, and opening the mouth of his mask to feed, seeing him fight one of the doves is probably my favourite scene. Though it starts out a little weak, it gets pretty brutal pretty quick. Another interesting thing with Tokyo Ghoul this time around, is the use of a musical piece that seems really closely based on Carmina Bruana, the O Fortuna movement. You’ll remember that in the opening episode, where Kaneki is talking to his friend Hide in the café, there is a song that is very similar to the title theme in Nekromantik. One Sick Puppy talked about this film on another episode of Dead As Hell, so if you missed that, take a pause, go back to the Nekromantik episode and take a listen because it is one of my favourites. I also reviewed this on The Mortuary forums for their House of Psychotic Women tie-in.
Now back to Wallflower. It is the story of four boys that live in a mansion alongside a girl named Sunako. Now, Sunako was pushed into their foursome living arrangement by her aunt who is their landlord. She has Sunako living there under the arrangement that the boys are going to turn her into a lady. If they fail their rent will triple. If they succeed in turning her into a lady, they get their rent for free. It’s a beautiful mansion so you can sort of understand how these four winsome, willful high school boys want to get rent for free in a mansion in the centre of Tokyo.
Sunako is a hard case though. Like I said, she is unkempt and watches horror movies. You have to see the first episode and I highly recommend watching it even if you don’t like the sound of this anime. It’s not blood spattering everywhere and it’s not horror proper, but I’d have to say if you aren’t hooked by the first episode it’s a highly entertaining watch weather you get through the whole season or not.
From the get go Sunako will remind you of someone crawling out of the well in ‘Ring’. She’s all black hair, pale face, dark eyes, and she is coming at them through a bush looking like a monster herself. Within moments she is sequestered into her room with her horror films on repeat with the volume too loud, and horror memorabilia on the wall. She has a medical skeleton as one of her closest friends alongside two anatomy mannequins, that are her closest confidants that live in her room with her. And that is about all she does is spend time talking with her anatomical dummies and looking at her medical specimens in her dark, dark room. Of course there is a fair share of blood. She gets nosebleeds very often, especially when she is talking to the radiant creatures; which is what she calls the boys or any good looking boy that happens to be way too close to her. She has a lot of trouble around the radiant creatures. She is also a great cook and it is one of her skills that she does share with people around her although it is very bloody. If you can imagine this girl who looks like she crawled fresh form the well in her dark room with her medical dummies and specimens, and you hand her a knife and ask her to chop up fresh dead things. It’s maniacal, quite macabre, and a very entertaining scene. Especially for someone who might be mistaken for a girl just like Sunako. You’ll see a little of yourself in Sunako, especially when she has a vile grin and is covered in blood and chopping up meat. It is not without homage to the horror genre as far as the films she is watching. It has little goth throwbacks like her petting pumpkins and befriending spiders. Many episodes revolve around things like haunted houses. There’s Halloween episodes, a ghost pirate island episode, so there are horror elements within every single episode. So there is something there for horror fans in every single one.
You are able to commiserate with her wanting to be left alone not made into a lady, and just go watch horror films. One of the biggest insights to Sunako is that she was told that she was ugly two years before coming to live with the four radiant creatures by a boy that she liked, so she really believed that she is ugly. Because of the animation styles used in this anime it’s hard to tell what she really looks like. There are quite a few stills where she is made to be a very beautiful long haired fair skinned maiden, but most of the time you see her in a chibi [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chibi_(term)] form. Where it is impossible to tell what she looks like aside from a pouting or stomping kid, or a gleeful little kid that is dressed as a tiny grim reaper and petting a pumpkin or whatever.
So it is hard to tell what she is supposed to look like. In the first episode though, you sort of see the different aspects of her. You see her in chibi form, you see her covered in flour where they think she is extremely beautiful than the flour is washed off – you have to see it to understand what I mean – and you see that he skin isn’t taken care of, and her hair is over her eyes and face so it’s hard to see what she looks like. She does walk with a stooped posture, so she doesn’t hold herself like a beautiful girl. Later on, you see that she is extremely beautiful. A very attractive girl with a very attractive soul, and is full of honour. The honour actually comes into play with a lot of the messages that are anti-bullying. Sunako was bullied and continues to be bullied, and rejects these bullies very violently. Violently to the point of unleashing her ninja sword skills. She does pull out a sword many times and she does kick ass with it. There is blood involved with some of these battles. It’s nice that it flip this on its head. She was bullied, she pushes society away, she is a horror fan so she has something to cling to. It is interesting that most of the sexual harassment is doled out on one of the guys she lives with. It isn’t a pivotal plot point, but it is pivotal to his character makeup. It really feeds a dynamic between him a Suanko. She is this bullied person who feels absolutely not sexual and projects absolutely not one ounce of sexual energy, where he is exxxtremely sexual to the point that it debilitates his lifestyle. They become very close friends as a very interesting aspect to the story line. Aside from little things like the hearts of pigs she keeps in her room and stuff that as horror fans we would find cool. Like the skeleton that she talks to.
There are a lot of girls stalking her roommets, which is kind of hilarious. It’s not guys fawning over hot anime girls this time its legions upon legions of normal looking anime girls fawning over these four poor unfortunate men. The ‘Goth Loli’ sisters are another aspect of the goth/horror culture (maybe) where they are creepy in their own way without being horrific. It’s kind of horrific the way they stalk these boys though. Her father seems to be almost demonic. Almost like satanic. He is so strict and so traditionally Japanese, but he is so afraid of what’s going on in her room. “Medical specimens, skeletons, spattered blood, horror movies, he hates it so much he faints,” Is how Sunako describes why her and her father don’t get along.
So, The Wallflower streams in it’s entirety on Funimation. You can also order their Super Awesome Value Edition for about 24 bucks. One of my favourite horror type animes. Not horror in that it is based on a ghost story or a murder or killing and there isn’t blood spattering. There is blood every episode, but it is usually coming out of someone’s nose. Or out of a fish. Fairly innocent compared to some of the horror we are going to cover in upcoming episodes like the infectious body horror ‘Pupa’. Then of course I will come back and talk about Tokyo Ghoul as I catch up on it. That has to be one of the bloodiest and most fun fascinating anime I’ve seen in a long time. Next we will be talking about ‘Another’ which is a great series I’ve had the pleasure of catching up on. It was recommended to be several times by several people and two asked if I am covering it for the podcast; Yes, indeed. It is deliciously bloody and wonderfully haunted.
If you have any questions, input, or suggested anime to watch please leave a note here, and thanks for listening!