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It seemed like, back when it aired in the spring of 2013, almost everyone was talking about “Aku no Hana.” Most of this was because of the series’ terrible rotoscoping and frankly horrid animation. Studio Zexcs definitely dropped the ball on that one. However, that was not the only reason people were seriously talking about it. “Aku no Hana” also presents within its story a pretty interesting theme, one that focuses on what really counts as perversion.
What is Perversion?
For those unaware, “Aku no Hana.” focuses on Takao Kasuga, a middle school boy with a love for books and bad grades. One day, after everyone goes home from school, Takao finds himself alone in his classroom, and notices the gym clothes of his crush Nanako Saeki. In a moment of non-existent self-control, Takao rushes home with Nanako’s clothes under his shirt. After doing this, he is approached by Sawa Nakamura, who tells Takao that she saw him take Nanako’s clothes. From their, Sawa continues to blackmail him.
The story and the message of “Aku no Hana” are actually pretty simple. It is easy to look at others as weird or different because their interests or “lifestyle choices” are different from the norm. From that perspective Takao is not actually that bad of a person. Ultimately, what he did was fairly minor, although still pretty creepy, caused very little material harm. Still, much in the same way that a story like “Lolita” tries to paint its main character Humbert as more sympathetic, it feels weird to do the same with a character like Takao, even if he is just a middle school kid.
Perversion and the Real World
Sorry, lol, but if you somehow expected this to be apolitical, then welcome you must be new to this blog. Hi there.
Despite “Aku no Hana’s” story not being the best argument for its message, its message is important. Many minority groups have been affected by describing their lives as “perverted” or “an abomination in the eyes of god.” One good example of this is interracial couples. Up until the mid to late 90’s, the majority of people in the U.S. actually dissaproved of marriage between a black and white couples. While this fact alone is not all that surprising given U.S. history on race, it is worth noting that many of the arguments against interracial marriage were from religious groups that called it a perversion.
The same holds true for members of the LGBTQ community and especially trans individuals. Even 2020, where not only has marriage for LGBTQ individuals been guaranteed under the law but also now job security has as well, many among fundamentalist religious people still think that the existence of these people is, in fact, a perversion of gods image, despite the fact that being gay or trans is completely natural.
Ok, That’s Cool, But is it Good?
Well…tbh, yeah. While the message is, to say the least, a bit of a miss-match for the content, there is no denying the allure of a story like “Aku no Hana.” It is a tragedy that not only draws people in with its strange and yet surprisingly deep set-up, but continues to escalate even within the first volume. From chapter’s one to six the story gets more and more intense as the pressure builds on Takao’s conscious, slowly sprouting from a seed to a fully grown flower of evil.
…and the Characters?
Of all of the characters that have been introduced so far, Sawa Nakamura is by far the most interesting. She is introduced as an outcast, someone with no friends who is mainly content to just bully people, especially Takao. Her motives in all this, aside from just seeing the whole world burn, are unclear. However, she also seems to be more than just a sadistic bully. Sawa also seems to representative of society, one which wants to see those whom they deem perverted to suffer, which fits nicely with the manga’s theme.
Takao is, well, he’s there. Aside from being someone entirely interesting in his own right, he serves as the classic tragic hero, who lives only to fall, or something poetic like that I guess. It does make sense though, as Kasuga seems to be much more self-aware then the average manga protagonist. That self-awareness does make him more interesting, though, as he seems almost to aware of his inevitable downfall as he must constantly contend with Sawa or risk his secret getting out.
Finally, the Art
Unlike its anime counterpart, “Aku no Hana’s” manga actually looks really good. Even if I had not read it in the author’s notes, I would have assumed the locations were based on specific real world places and not just some imagined middle school area.
The character designs, although a bit plain, are unique enough to stand out, and in that way arguably match the tone of story, which gives the manga as a whole a more cohesive feel.
The flower that appears on the cover of Baudelaire’s “The Flowers of Evil” that is spread throughout the first volume is also a nice touch that not only further ties together specific characters, like Takao and Sawa, but gives the series a strong symbol which can represent a number of things, including sin, evil, perversion, etc.
Overall, this is a series I am really happy I started. Despite its morally ambiguous content, the entertainment value is more than enough to keep someone going. Plus, for what it is worth, the message is an important one that I think is worth paying attention to. Couple that with some fantastic artwork and incredibly deep characters, and “Aku no Hana” becomes a manga not worth ignoring.
Have you all read “Aku no Hana?” What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.
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