Final Thoughts: Aku no Hana Volume Seven
Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations
Different stage, same dance. A performance fit only for myself, with an audience who doesn't know what acting is. That is, until I met this girl. She reminded me of someone I danced for in a different life. Now, I don't know what to do.
Between getting ready to go back to school and hosting my first ever online writing competition, It has been a stressful last week and a half to say the least. However, despite its story being almost anything but, “Aku no Hana” has very much become a tool of relaxation. Time and time again I think I have solved its mystery when it fact I come away with more questions. This is even more true in volume seven, where the small town of “shitbugs” has become a city filled with new opportunity. Here are my final thoughts.
In a final act of defiance against their small town and all those who inhabit it, Kasuga and Nakamura attempt to burn themselves alive. However, at the last second, Nakamura pushes Kasuga out of the way and attempts to only burn herself, causing both of them to be caught.
In the last volume, Kasuga’s principal brought up the fact that he might be being manipulated by Nakamura. Of course, Kasuga firmly rejected this, choosing only to see the good in her that simply needed saving.
There is certainly a gray line to be found here. While it is definitely true that, at least initially, Kasuga was being manipulated into many of the actions he performed, it is also possible that some of the feelings he developed for Nakamura were genuine, or at least were motivated by something other than just her manipulation. Still, it is hard to entirely remove the Stockholm Syndrome element.
Regardless of those facts, though, it is clear that Kasuga longs for Nakamura, even despite wanting to start over again. It is a good thing he meets
I have done a ton of psycho-analyzing of both the characters and author of “Aku no Hana,” not because everything necessarily has to be, but more because I think it helps to understand what this story is about. There have been a lot of themes in this story, from abuse to manipulation, what it means to exist outside of societal expectations, and even dealing with a lack of identity, all stemming centrally from the relationship of Kasuga and Nakamura.
The introduction of Tokiwa represents a shift in Kasuga’s attitude towards himself. In the beginning of the story, Kasuga’s love of books actually represents a lack of self-identity, not because he did not like to read, but because what he chose to read was indicative of the projection of self-worth that was not there. His identity was, in fact, passed down to him by his father, who also simultaneously pushed a level of expectation on Kasuga.
Tokiwa, instead, offers him and avenue through which to rediscover his original love of books. Rather than forcing on him any high expectations, she simply gives him a book to borrow and allows him to have fun.
One other thing worth contrasting here is the way in which Kasuga first enters Nakamura’s home vs Tokiwa’s. Entering someone’s home, in literary terms, represents a willingness to let someone into one’s life, a formalization of a relationship, if you will. In Nakamura’s case, Kasuga had to be invited inside by her dad, while she was not even there. However, Tokiwa felt more than comfortable inviting him over, and even let Kasuga into her room almost without hesitation.
It is clear based on just this difference alone that Nakamura was trying to keep Kasuga out, or rather at a distance, while Tokiwa is more than willing to accept him into her life.
It is not entirely clear where the story is going from here. Much like the the rest of the story so far, the future is always blurry, which makes sense.
Still, despite what is clearly the collapse of his home life, with his father becoming an unabashed drunk and his mom seemingly unable to due anything about it, Kasuga appears to be more or less stabilizing. What at the beginning of the volume was a foreign land has now become his new home.
The world around Kasuga has gone bleak, at least for the current moment. Tokiwa has offered him a glimmer of hope, even if it means likely having to deal with Tokiwa’s boyfriend in the process. Whether or not his relationship with Tokiwa works out is likely the key to his happiness moving forward. Join me next week when we find out what happens.
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