By Tomoko Hayakawa. Released in Japan as “Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Friend (“Betsufure”). Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.
In a welcome if slightly odd return, the Wallflower manga is back to individual volumes, after a brief omnibus format for the prior three. So we only get one volume of fun here, but it’s a very good one, giving the reader all the humor they need, and even a few romantic bones thrown. Be aware, though: they’re only bones. The series is still running and still not resolving.
The first chapter continues on from the end of 24, where Kyohei kissed Sunako at a party. Despite his insistence that it was merely a ruse to distract people, she’s in full-blown “darkness take this creature of the light” mode and curses him. Strangely enough, the curse seems to WORK – Kyohei feels increasingly ill, and we see (though others cannot) the creepy spirits of young girls attaching themselves to his back. This chapter manages to combine everything good about Wallflower. The spirits are genuinely creepy and unsettling, the explanation for who they really are is hilarious, and Sunako has to admit that she was wrong to curse him and stave off the spirits, in what becomes a very sexy scene. And then they’re both hospitalized. Of course.
In the next chapter it’s Halloween, and Noi has another one of her cunning plans, which somehow always seem to end up about as cunning as Baldrick’s. (This is, I think the 5th Halloween in the manga, showing that the series is very much not running in realistic time.) She shows Sunako this great fake tree with skeletons attached to it, and notes that it’s the prize in a competition. Of course, it’s a modelling competition. Sunako does her best, and seeing her as a goth loli babydoll is so jarring it almost becomes parody, but still lacks confidence in her looks. As always it’s Kyohei to the rescue, even in the hospital, but the resolution is not what Noi wanted at all…
Speaking of Noi, she then gets a focus chapter with the gang all going hunting for Matsutake mushrooms. After approximately 10-11 chapters with Noi feeling unworthy of being Takenaga’s girlfriend, we now have her worried about taking things farther. It’s actually a rather interesting reminder that of the seven main characters, only four are still virgins – clearly this is not a series aimed at otaku guys. :) Of course, the only male in that group is Takenaga, and he still wants to wait, especially after the gang eats some poison mushrooms, and Noi starts trying to seduce him with her sexy. “Not like this,” he says. All ends well, but those frustrated at the lack of romantic progress with Kyohei and Sunako can be equally frustrated that Takenaga and Noi are equally slow.
The last chapter is Christmas (again? wasn’t Christmas in the last volume?), and involves many of our favorite themes. Noi and Tamao (Ranmaru’s fiancee, who is rarely named in the manga itself) are trying to knit handmade gifts, but are thwarted by being a beginner (Noi) or having Ranmaru admit he hates handmade stuff (Tamao). Sunako doesn’t have their issues, but Kyohei is also depressed by all of this talk of handmade gifts, as it reminds him of his past with his mother – one that ended badly. And poor Yuki is just upset that he can’t get a hold of his girlfriend at all. Naturally, all is resolved in the end with Sunako’s help, and the final chapter ends with a big Christmas toast from all four couples (well, OK, Sunako is more surprised than toasting).
If you want another great volume of Wallflower antics, this will give it to you. it’s a lot of fun. If you want character development or resolution of anything, may I recommend a nice cup of tea instead?