Tag Archives: Aku no Hana

Rating My Old Reviews: Huh?

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations


For those who are not aware, Animated Observations recently received a rating system courtesy of yours truly. The reasons for this are multifaceted, but the primary one is that It allows me to summarize my overall feelings about an anime/manga/video game without taking away anything from the review itself. However, since this system was only implemented a couple of months ago, a lot of my older reviews are without a proper rating. So, I figured it would be fun to go back and give some of said reviews a numerical score.

Princess Jellyfish

Hard to believe that the show which has validated my recent revelations surrounding my gender Identity was something I only watched in the last six months or so. On top of that, it is easily one of my favorite series of all time, and so giving it a score is both satisfying and scary. This is because, while it is satisfying to recognize and promote what I consider to be a great piece of art, it also feels strange to give it something as permanent as a number. The possibility of its score changing in the future certainly exists, but for now, I can only give it the highest possible praise.


Beastars (Seasons One and Two)

Some of my hatred of this series in the past has come off a bit hyperbolic, mainly because of me, but in all honesty, I can only summon up so much hatred for it. Yeah, the plot is an absolute mess, the characters are painfully underdeveloped and the pacing feels like when getting stuck in an elevator multiple times while almost falling down every time it buckles. Yet, a really solid soundtrack filled with some of the smoothest jazz instrumentals I think I have ever heard along with Studio Orange’s amazing 3D animation work saves it some slack.



The Flowers of Evil

I only just realized while looking back at my posts that I never gave Aku no Hana a final full review, but it has been a hot minute since I have talked about the series, so I figured it would be worth doing so again. While definitely not a manga I would think about returning to all that often, it is one that I feel like most people should read if they have the ability to. It has some important commentary on a lot of current issues: mental health, the boundaries in relationships, where people derive happiness from, etc. While it can in a lot of scenarios come across as unnecessarily provocative and frankly degenerate, the message is far more important.


How do you all feel about this type of post? I am working on finishing a few other things at the moment, so normal reviews/content will hopefully be back soon. But, if you would like to see me go over series that I have done in the past, let me know.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Special thanks to our patron Jenn for being amazing as always

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!


Animated Observations Update #14: The Road to Fusion Fight 2 and Other Stuff from Last Month

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

As I am sure it has been for many of you as well, my last month was hectic. Not only did school start again, but most of my classes have already shifted online, and since I for one do not learn particularly well in an online environment, the adjustment period has been strenuous. Still, a lot of good stuff also happened in the last month. As I mentioned in my last post, I was able to get my first PC, and I have been slowly but surely catching up on my work load. With that being said, here is a quick update.

The Next “Fusion Fight” is Coming Soon!

For those unaware, during the month of July, along with the organization OWLS, I hosted a short story writing competition called “Fusion Fight,” in which writers were tasked with writing a short story in 500 words or less while combining at least two genres.

I had a great time hosting the event, and from what I could tell, those that entered it also had a good time. Given this information, I decided it would be a good idea host another such competition. Currently, I have not had time to come up with many details outside of the fact that it will be hosted during the month of October, and that it will be available to enter for one month. However, I have created a discord server for the competition that anyone who is interested in can join.

I plan on releasing the final details of the competition at the end of the month, when the competition begins.


Doing YouTube…Yeah, About That.

So…yeah, I honestly don’t really have a good excuse, for you folks or myself. I wanted to get into making YouTube videos this year, and i even bought I microphone back in march for that very purpose. However, my own laziness kind of caught up with me, and well, here we are.

Still, there is no time like the present, as the ever present and somewhat questionably assertive “they” always say. I have been thinking about what kind of content I would want to make on YouTube, but regardless of what it ends up being, I would definitely want it to be different than the blog content, so that you all have a reason to go there instead of here.

I might just spend the last few months of the year experimenting with different kinds of content, so let me know what kind of videos you all would like to see.

Getting Back to it!

I also recently started back as a columnist for another semester at The Daily Beacon, my college’s newspaper. My first article back is already up, so if you would like to go check it out, feel free to do so.

Concluding “Aku no Hana.”

It has been a while in the making, but I finally finished Shuzo Oshimi’s “Aku no Hana” (The Flowers of Evil). I honestly can’t say enough how much I enjoyed the series, and I definitely want to check out more of Oshimi’s work. So, if you enjoyed the “Aku no Hana” series, be sure to stick around. It is highly likely I will be covering more of Oshimi’s work in the future.

Thanks for reading. What have you all been up to? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: Aku no Hana 11

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In the end, the boy lived on.
What was once his roller-coaster confidence barely making it up the hill
became a stable, boat-ride happiness, as he rode over his shallow fears.
His past became and ocean breeze: ever-present, but uncontrolling, 
and his flower of evil shriveled away in the salty water. 

Absolutely…incredible. From the first page to the last, I had no idea how the series was going to conclude or even if it would stay in the direction it was headed, and yet…I still came out of it enjoying nearly every second of it. Sure, there were parts that made very little sense, both in this volume and others, but there is still a lot of good to talk about. With that said, here are my final thoughts on the last volume of “Aku no Hana.”

Who is Sawa Nakamura?

After finding at her new house, and Tokiwa yelling to get Kasuga a chance to talk with her, the three meet on the beach at sunset. After having asked a series of questions about their time back then, and Nakamura basically responding with “Idk” to all of it, Kasuga becomes upset. Kasuga starts tackling her, at which point he tells her that he is “glad she is still around. Nakamura them tackles him back, but what looks like a violent outbreak turns out to be just the three of them goofing around on the beach, as Tokiwa gets dragged in as well.

Probably what is most striking about this final volume is high school Nakamura’s last line: “Don’t ever come back, you normal man.” There have been a lot of running themes throughout the series, including abuse, mental health, societal outcasts, etc. Why this line stand out, however, is because of the final chapter. It is shown that Nakamura’s perspective during their time in middle school, at least at one point, was that Kasuga was different, was like her. She was under the impression that the two had the same perception. However, it became obvious to her later on that this was not the case, and was like part of the reason she pushed him out of the fire, even if she says she “doesn’t remember.”

While I am on the topic of analyzing dialogue, I should also mention that this series has given me the impression that there is something being lost in translation. While I have been studying Japanese at my university, I do not yet have the amount of cultural knowledge and understanding to even begin to deduce what the missing context might be, so this is all just speculative.

Sawa Nakamura still remains a mystery. From her first appearance to her last, her warped view of the world seemingly has little grounded explanation, but ultimately, I think that comes from


The Ending.

If I were to honestly complain about one element of the story, even if its mainly in a very nitpicking manner, it would probably be the ending. For what its worth though, I do not even think it is a bad ending. However, I feel like the last two chapters lacked a lot of impact, for a couple of reasons.

The first is order. Having the flashback to Nakamura’s perception of middle school be the last chapter of the book felt a bit off, because it honestly does not tell anything that was not already heavily implied by Oshimi already. If he were going to add this chapter, which it is debatable as to whether or not its worth having to begin with, it feels like it should have been placed sometime right before Kasuga and Tokiwa and went to Nakamura’s new home.

Additionally, having Kasuga begin to write down his story when he wakes up from his extremely vivid dream would cement what appears to be the core theme of the series: that your past does not have to define you provided you are willing to conquer it.

Granted, I could definitely understand the view that having Nakamura’s perspective be the last chapter better fits with the overall tone, but it still feels pretty underwhelming.

A World Beyond the Past

It is over. Everything is now in the past, but not in a way that haunts Kasuga anymore. He has a girlfriend that loves him, a friend that supports him, and a future to look forward to. The second to last chapter reveals where he dreams of having a kid with Tokiwa, along with seeing a few other people from his hometown, including Saeki and her childhood best friend. After he wakes up, he decides to start writing down the events of his life, following the wishes of Tokiwa.

I think another big lesson here at the end of it all is that overcoming trauma does not have to be and individual act. It can be hard to face things or people who have hurt you, even more so when you haven’t seen them in a while. However, if you have someone there who is willing to stick it out with you, it is possible to get through a lot more than usual.

Alright, so I know I said in the volume 10 post that I would be doing a final wrap up of sorts, but, tbh, I am still not sure if that is something that needs to happen. I might just include a brief section in my update post later this week. Otherwise, thanks for reading. If you would like to finish the series with me, consider using my affiliate link below to get “Aku no Hana.”

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts Aku no Hana Volume 10

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

"A closet filled with bones is no place 
to build new memories," said the boy, no longer
able to hold his own closet closed. 
And so, he let it all out...

This week, in order to finish up with “Aku no Hana,” I’ll be doing a final two part, meaning Sunday we’ll dive into the final volume of the series. After that, I’ll post a sort of recap talking about the series a little more depth, as well as explaining my overall feelings. With that being said, man this week was a lot. What looked to be Kasuga’s opportunity to run away from his problems instead turned into his final stand against his dark past. Let’s get started.

A Return Home

At the beginning of the volume, Kasuga makes his way back home in order to see his grandfather for the last time. While at the hospital, Kasuga leaves his grandfather’s room in order to check his phone and clear his mind. However, by the time he comes back, his grandfather has already passed. Before Kasuga is able to leave the hospital, he is stopped by one of his cousins, who tells him he is the reason grandpa died, and all Kasuga can really do is apologize.

The scene mirrors a lot of the feeling of volume seven, where everyone finds out about what Kasuga and Nakamura did, and Kasuga and his parents go to apologize to the principal. However, the difference here is that Kasuga is not planning on running away. His apology here is not an excuse, its part of his vow to do better, and to become a changed person.

That being said, his cousin’s anger is understandable, given everything that happened. It probably caused his grandfather a lot of stress to see one of his grandsons going around acting insane, whether or not it was his fault. Still, getting blamed for someone’s death is pretty serious, and I think it only encourages Kasuga to face his past quicker.


Encountering Kinoshita

While at the funeral, Kasuga see’s Kinoshita, Saeki’s friend from middle school. When the two first meet, Kinoshita says “long time no see” in very obviously cold and unattached way. Before she leaves, Kasuga rushes over to apolgize, only for Kinoshita to invite him out later in the evening. The two meet at a family diner, and after Kinoshita leaves and comes back, Kasuga asks why she came to the funeral.

At first, it feels like there is supposed to be a lot more tension in the scene than there actually is. After all, Kasuga did ruin her best friend’s life, in a way. However, it becomes fairly the clear that most of the people involved in that situation long ago just want to forget and move on. This makes sense though, considering the fact that this is the first time Kinoshita is seeing Kasuga in over three years.

Kinoshita responds by telling him she does not know, and only came because she went with her mom. Despite how obvious this lie is, the story confirms it when she starts breaking down over losing her friend Saeki and being stuck in the same town for so long. Before she leaves Kasuga, Kinoshita gives him a parting gift: information on Nakamura’s whereabouts.

Another interesting contrast that comes through in the writing is the way that both Kasuga and those who left his hometown are considerably happier than those who stayed, and that his grandfather’s funeral, the event bringing him back to his hometown, is the thing that is making him sad. Now, obviously this is because its a funeral, but it still serves as a good representation of why Kasuga wants to cut ties so bad: because all his hometown brings him is misery.

The Truth Revealed

Eventually, Kasuga returns home, Nakamura’s location in hand. He gets back to his happy life with Tokiwa, and his friends, but he cannot enjoy it.

The day after he gets back, Tokiwa invites him back to her house and reveals her finished novel to Kasuga. Even though he is filled to joy by this, Kasuga turns down reading her novel, and instead tells her about his long and complicated past. At first, she is confused, telling Kasuga to leave, to which he says he won’t, and tells her that, despite knowing it is egotistical of him to do so, he still wanted to tell her about what happened in his hometown, so that he could move on and keep her in his life.

She then rips up her novel and runs off down the street. Kasuga chases her down, hold her, and says he won’t let go. The two kiss, and Tokiwa vows to go see Nakamura with him.

This scene in particular is probably one of my favorites in the series so far. For starters, it again serves to contrast an earlier part of the story. Whereas Nakamura pushes Kasuga away, thus allowing herself to get caught before the two light themselves on fire, Tokiwa decides to stick with him, even after hearing about his past. On top of that, it serves as the final test as to whether or not he is series about facing his past. If Kasuga wanted to, he could have simply not told Tokiwa, and the two likely would have continued on, but he would never really be satisfied with himself.


Kasuga’s Final Boss

The two lovers spend the start of their spring looking for Nakamura. The information Kasuga got from Kinoshita mentioned that Nakamura was now living with her mom in a small town, working at an eatery. The two travel their by train, eventually arriving and finding the eatery relatively quickly. As the two sit down to eat and order their food, in walks the girl of the hour. After she gives Kasuga and Tokiwa their food, Kasuga reveals himself, only for Nakamura to give her sinister smile right at him, and then the volume ends.

The way Nakamura responds to seeing Kasuga after so long seems to imply a couple of things. One is that she has not really changed much personality wise. In fact the only thing different about her so far is her looks. The second is that she seems to be unaffected by the events of three years ago.

However, the key word hear is seems. Nakamura was hiding a lot of trauma herself, and ultimately ended up using Kasuga as an outlet for that pain, which is why Kasuga feels so conflicted about her even after all this time. It is entirely possible that the reality is much different.


Only time will tell when it comes to Nakamura’s character. However, in the meantime, I have to say that this volume was indeed amazing. The buildup and finishing of plot threads throughout the volume is incredible, and the ending with Kasuga finally meeting Nakamura after so long was executed tremendously.

Thank you all for reading. If you would like to read along with me, consider getting the series yourself on Bookwalker using my affiliate link below:

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: Aku no Hana Volume Nine

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Sometimes, its hard to tell if its really the eye that's calmer than the storm.
After all, when you've lived with so much noise for so long, silence can be scary. 
Then again, it can be hard to go back to the past you though you escaped,
especially when happiness you worked so hard for feels more fragile than glass.
I guess, maybe, the storm is safer sometimes.

“Change is scary” is a sentiment that even toddlers understand, despite not being able to verbalize it. Doing something new, whether getting a new job, marrying someone, buying a house, can be uncertain, and our brains are programmed to be cautious of the unknown. Today, I’ll be talking about “Aku no Hana” volume nine, where Kasuga arguably goes through the biggest change of the entire series.


There is a lot to say about Kasuga’s character, but the most notable thing is just how depressing he really is. Now, this is not meant as a knock against the story, quite the opposite, in fact, as Oshimi does a great job at portraying just how mentally unwell Kasuga really is.

While walking home on Christmas Eve, kasuga makes his way back to his apartment, only to arrive there and then turn around, walking towards Tokiwa’s house. While standing there Kasuga begins talking to his shadow, and it tells him that he is “weak” and “has always been dependent on others.” He then sees the ghost of Nakamura from his past, and a mansion much like the one in Tokiwa’s novel. From there, he vows to free Tokiwa from the ghosts that are haunting her, recognizing just how similar the two really are.

One frame that really exemplifies this well comes on page 65, where Kasuga looks up inside the mansion only to see two empty shells that look exactly like himself and Tokiwa. Not only does it add to the feel of the scene, which is incredibly horrifying from Kasuga’s perspective, but also serves as a nice symbol of how hollow they both feel, and also how they use fiction to hide away from the reality of their sadness.

He…did it? Huh…

Immediately following this horrific dream, Kasuga goes to Tokiwa’s work and confesses his love to her. After hearing his confession, Tokiwa tells Koji that she can no longer go out with him, and then proceeds to quit and leave with Kasuga.

The whole scene feels like an out of body experience. After all, Kasuga spends the entirety of the series up until this point being unhappy, depressed and scared about both his future and his past. Seeing him finally work up the courage to put his own happiness first makes it feel like another dream that was going to be revealed at the end of the volume. Luckily, though, it was not.

Conquering Fear

The manga ends after a time skip to the end of Kasuga’s second year, with the two of them still happily together. Tokiwa mentions that it would be interesting to see Kasuga’s home town. Kasuga thinks it would just be boring. However, after his dad finds out that his brother is passing away, and needs to return back to Gunma, Kasuga decides that now is the time to face his fears.

What will be most interesting to see in these next two volumes is whether or not Kasuga runs into Sakamura, and whether or not that affects his mental state. After all, he’s incredibly happy about his life for the first time in a long time. Tokiwa is someone who genuinely cares for him, and his relationship with his parents seems to be getting much better. However, despite this manga’s already unpredictable nature, I am willing to bet that he will be much better off on the other end.


Whatever happens in the next volume, needless to say it is going to be interesting, at the very least. I hope you all will join me next week as I continue on to volume ten, where Kasuga presumably ends up back in his home town.

How did you feel about this week’s volume of “Aku no Hana?” Let me know in the comments.

If you would like to get this volume yourself and read along with me, feel free to use my affiliate link below:

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: Aku no Hana Volume Eight

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

To be lost, without an identity
To be haunted, by those from your past.
To be stranded, abandoned by those who are supposed to love you. 

A boy without a home, hiding behind the pages of books. 

It is getting harder and harder each week to introduce such an incredible series. Every volume goes in a completely different direction than the one before it, and yet “Aku no Hana” still works as a cohesive series. What it is buiding to is something I still genuinely do not know, as I have been avoiding any discussion of the series online or with friends. As for volume eight, though, here are my final thoughts.

The Hair!

One of my favorite things about reading a good series is finding the little pieces of symbolism that are often times hidden in plain sight, and I think Oshimi did a great job with this. For “Aku no Hana,” the most obvious mini-symbol are the characters’ hair. Oshimi uses Nakamura’s original hairstyle as a reminder of her presence even when she is not in the scene itself. One good example is when Saeki cut her hair right before she went over to Kasuga’s house in a last ditch effort to get him to change course. There, she had Nakamura’s hairstyle, which was both a tool used by Saeki to get his attention and a reminder of how important Nakamura is.

However, more recently, Kasuga also has his hair in Nakamura’s style. This serves as a symbol of Kasuga’s longing for her, and also how he still sees himself in her. On top of that, the hairstyle could also be seen as a reminder of Nakamura’s personality, being someone who always demanded the attention of others, and was not afraid to be loud and rebellious.

While the hair style itself is not a particularly technical element of the story, it is one of those small things that helps to really tie the overall narrative together, and adds a deeper layer even when there appears to be not much else going on.


Saeki’s Return

I honestly thought it would be a little bit later that either Saeki or Nakamura would get reintroduced, but it makes a lot of sense.

While walking home with Tokiwa and talking about her novel, the two pass by Saeki and her new boyfriend. The four talk for a bit, and then Kasuga and Saeki exchange contact info, only for Saeki to invite Kasuga out the same night. The two then go out for lunch the next day. The two start by having a normal conversation, but it quickly moves to the topic of their past. It becomes clear that the two of them are yet to be completely over the past.

One of the more interesting revelations during this conversation is that Kasuga has yet to try and contact Nakamura in any capacity. While it could be argued how much ability he has to actually get in contact with her, the reality is that Kasuga’s reluctance to find Nakamura is much more of a mental block than a physical one.

On the one hand, Kasuga obviously misses who he thinks is the one person he ever had a real connection with, maybe even the first real feeling of love. However, with those first feelings also came hardships and sadness. In many ways Nakamura ruined his life just as much as she might have made it better.

Saeki’s accusation still rings somewhat true, that Kasuga merely used Nakamura as a way to escape his own emptiness and depression. Now, Kasuga wants to start again, but first he has to deal with his feelings about the past. He can not get to attached to


Tokiwa is another reminder for Kasuga of Nakamura. Not only does she have that very similar hairstyle, the two also look incredibly similar more generally speaking. More importantly though, Tokiwa can be seen as representative of Kasuga’s internal struggle. She is both a reminder of his past, as well as a gateway to a new normal.

I said a few lines ago that things will get complicated if Kasuga acts on his feelings for her, but I think that part is pretty obvious. What will happen after that is a bigger mystery, one that I can confidently say I do not have the answer to.


The end of the series is fast approaching. In just three more volumes I will finally reach the end of this series, and yet it still has kept its charm and mystery throughout these first eight volume, which is a testament to just how good “Aku no Hana” really is. Their really is a density of meaning hidden throughout the series that reveals more and more each time I read it, which is part of why it has become so much fun to write about. I hope you all will join me next week when I continue on to volume nine.

How do you all feel about this volume? Let me know in the comments. If you want to follow along with me, feel free to use the link below to buy this volume:

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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.

The Seperation

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

Tokiwa, Aya

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.


Kasuga’s Future

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.

If you want to follow along with me, or really get any kind of light novel/manga in e-book format, feel free to use my affiliate link for Bookwalker and help me out. It would be greatly appreciated.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Animated Observations Update #13: “Aku no Hana” and “Fusion Fight”: An Exciting month!

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Ok, so, tbh, I tried coming up with some kind of witty intro for this update, but all I could really think of is just how excited I am about everything that’s happened this last month, so let’s just get into it.

Reading “Aku no Hana” and Loving it

A little while ago, I went on twitter and asked for manga recommendations. This was right after I finished”The Golden Sheep,” and I really wanted something else to read.

After asking for recommendations, the wonderful human Leth of Lethargic Ramblings recommended “The Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana).” I was pretty skeptical at first, having only the anime’s reputation as baseline for what to expect. However, I decided to take a leap of faith, and six volumes later I am definitely a fan.

Thanks again to Leth for recommending it, It truly is an incredibly interesting and deep story despite having such a weird premise. I would encourage everyone to read it, and also to go follow Lethargic Ramblings. As for me, I have been covering my journey reading the series on this blog. If you would like to follow along you can start here.


“Fusion Fight” is Almost Done!

The month long short story competition “Fusion Fight” is almost over.

When I devised this competition with the help of Lyn I was not really sure what to expect, since this was my first time ever hosting an event like this. Still, despite this being the first time hosting a flash fiction contest, It went surprisingly well. There were a few hick-ups getting it off the ground, but in the end “Fusion Fight” managed to get eight awesome entries.

The top 3 will be announced on August 2nd. I would also like to take this time to thank everyone one more time for participating and making this the success that it was. While I cannot say anything definitely at the moment, I would love to make this a regular event for the community. Once I have further details, I will be sure to release them here as well as on my various social media.

Not Watching as Much Anime

Lately I have fallen into another period where my drive to watch a ton of anime simply is not there anymore. It is hard to say why this is the case, but if I had to guess it would probably just be burnout. I have really been watching almost nothing but anime for the past year and a half, as the last non-anime media I actively kept up with was “The Walking Dead,” and even that I have not watched in some time.

As for what this means for this blog, probably not much. I will still continue to cover the things that I’m watching, there just might not be as much anime specific content for the next little while, i.e. episode reactions, final thoughts on different anime, etc.

Thank you all so much for reading and keeping up with Animated Observations.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: Aku no Hana Volume Six

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“Aku no Hana” as a series has only continued to impress me as time goes on. It has a fantastic albeit simplistic art style, wonderful pacing and suspense building, and characters that have legitimately left me guessing for the past 3 volumes now. It is a thriller in all the right ways, not only building up dramatic moments, but also subtly introducing a number of philosophical and political concepts in a way that makes the story worth thinking about. With that being said, here are my final thoughts on volume six.

The Beginning of the End

The story of “Aku no Hana” has officially reached its halfway point, it looks as though everything is coming crashing down, for Kasuga, Nakamura, and Saeki. At the beginning of the volume, Kasuga has not seen Nakamura for over a week. At this point, while sitting in his room alone, wondering what will become of him and Nakamura, police officers show up looking to ask questions. Kasuga, wanting to protect himself, says he knows nothing, at which point the officers leave.

It is clear at this point that Kasuga is commited to both the vague idea of “the other side” and, much more importantly, Nakamura. We will come back to this.

Kasuga Confronting His Parents

Later in the night, after the police leave, Kasuga attempts to leave his house despite being grounded by his parents. His dad catches him, which leads to the first ever time that Kasuga ever really confronts his dad.

One thing that I missed in my analysis early on was the sort of respectability politics embodied by his parents, and how Kasuga’s initial love of books was passed down to him by his dad, more specifically his love of “The Flowers of Evil.” In this way, Kasuga’s parents are the normalcy and order that Kasuga hopes to escape through Nakamura and “the other side.”

Throughout the volume, Kasuga’s mom constantly wonders what it is she did wrong, why Kasuga turned out the way he did. However, something interesting gets mentioned when


They go to the principal.

After being confronted by Saeki’s friends Ai, Kasuga finally decides to fess up, going to the principal’s office with his parents. While there, he and his parents discuss why exactly he did the things he did.

Almost immediately after learning about Kasuga’s involvement with Nakamura, the principal suggests that Kasuga was manipulated by her into doing the horrible things he did. Given the information that’s been revealed up until this point, the relationship between the two of them does seem really especially manipulative on Nakamura’s end. It is easy to forget that she was the one who blackmailed him in the first place.

However, from Kasuga’s perspective, Nakamura genuinely cares for him and is trying to get him out of a terrible situation, living with a bunch of “shit bugs.” We will come back to this as well.

Saeki’s Final Stand

In one last attempt to keep him from ending up with Nakamura, Saeki visits Kasuga while he is grounded. The two go up to his room and Saeki tells him to turn himself in with almost zero hesitation. Of course, Kasuga gets angry, saying that Saeki does not know what she is talking about. She responds, though, by saying that when the two were holding each other close Nakamura was trembling.

This of course creates a certain level of doubt in Kasuga. After all, if Nakamura really is not who he thought she is, that what is he to do? It ends up not being enough, but as it turns out, what Saeki said was true.

Also of note in this scene is that Saeki has cut her hair to be much shorter. While this might be insignificant, it could be representative of her trying to be more like Nakamura in order to get Kasuga’s attention.


The Big Reveal

Remember how I said in the last post that while everyone is guilty of a lot, Nakamura is certainly guilty of the most? As it turns out, there is a reason.

In the second to last chapter, Nakamura breaks into Kasuga’s home and the two escape. They ride off on Kasuga’s bike and enter an abandoned building, upon which she has him take off his clothes, and then tells him that she would peel off the rest of his skin. After going at him violently, she then collapses on top of him, saying that “shit bugs” and “the other side” are not real because ” ’cause no matter where I go, I can’t get rid of me.”

This scene, along with the last chapter, heavily imply that Nakamura has some kind of mental illness, whether that be depression, anxiety, etc, and that she has not been able to get any kind of help for it. This would explain her angry outbursts and obsession with making others feel bad, because she is largely insecure about herself. It is also outright stated that the two plan on killing themselves together in front of the people at the festival.


There is a lot going on in this volume. The battle for Kasuga is more than lost at this point, with Nakamura having his full, undivided attention. Moreover, Kasuga has made the decision to stick with Nakamura even if it means ruining there future. The two have become a sort of Bonnie and Clyde-esk pair who are willing to risk it all for the sake of each others happiness… at least that is what I would like to think.

The reality is probably much different. Only time will tell, though, so be sure to tune in next week as well when we go over volume seven.

How did you all feel about this volume? Let me know in the comments.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: Aku no Hana Volume Five

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In rebuilding bridges,
we sometimes forget that past fires
can be reignited just as easily.
In a small town, the fires burn so much brighter.

In talking about “Aku no Hana” up to this point, I largely focused on what the “other side” and Kasuga’s journey have meant from a philosophical perspective. However, in doing so, I seem to have ignored the very obvious sexual themes that have been present since the first volume. While Kasuga may confused about his identity, a big part of that identity thus far has been his attraction to Saeki and Nakamura, and his confusion about who to choose.

Nakamura and “The Other Side”

While I do still think my interpretations from before are perfectly valid and make a lot of sense given the story of “Aku no Hana,” the large amount of focus on sexual themes give “the other side” a much more obvious meaning: having sex. In many cultures, not just ones found in the western hemisphere, sex is often looked down upon as sinful or morally incorrect.

While this has certainly become less common over time, it is still fairly common in a lot of rural areas, especially in the U.S.. This is often because these areas are less educated about issues involving sex, which results in less accepting attitudes. Admittedly, I am not hyper aware of the specific feelings of rural Japanese people towards sex, but it would not surprise me to find out there are negative attitudes about it.

This sort of interpretation would also better explain why Nakamura was so angry at Kasuga’s relationship with Saeki, and why she had asked him if they had done it so early on in their relationship.


Saeki’s Revenge

Near the middle of the volume, Saeki’s friend Ai confronts her about Kasuga, saying that rather than being in love with him, she is simply in love with the idea of love, and only went out with him because he was the first to ask. Saeki’s reaction to this is, to say the least, negative. However, there appears to have been at least a grain of truth in that criticism, as Saeki is unable to respond in any concrete way, choosing instead to simply ride away on her bike.

The saying “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” also becomes extremely relevant here, as much like Kasuga seems to run away from his own lack of identity and confusion about his feelings, Saeki seems to do the same with Ai. Rather than dealing with the idea that maybe she did only like Kasuga because he showed interest in her, she instead doubles down on these feelings, meeting Kasuga in his base by the river.

She then asks if he and Nakamura have had sex, mirroring the scene from earlier in volume two. Saeki then forces herself onto Kasuga, kissing him and trying to take off his clothes. Kasuga then pushes her off, telling Saeki that he loves Nakamura, confirming the doubts she had been having since very early on. Later on, she then follows through on her threat of burning down the fort.

Abuse and Sexual Assault

Its become evident that while nobody among the three main characters is totally innocent, Kasuga seems to be getting the worst of it. For starters, he is continually abused by Nakamura, even when trying his hardest to make her happy. A good example of this happens near the end of this volume, when the two run away from the police officers for a second time, but Nakamura seems wholly uninterested in Kasuga’s well being. She simply walks off, leaving him crying and confused.

While Saeki’s intentions were to make Kasuga feel accepted and welcome, in reality, her attempt to have sex with him likely caused more feelings of confusion and anger, and ultimately leaving him even more lonely than before.

From the Ashes…

The last thing worth touching on for this volume is actually the last scene. Much like volume four, the final page of this volume is dripping with a lot of meaning. When the firefighters come to investigate the river after putting out the flames, underneath Nakamura’s chair one of the firefighters find her plan book, filled with all of the things she and Kasuga have done up until this point.

The chair here represents Nakamura’s seemingly normal if not slightly damaged exterior, vulgar but not out of the ordinary, whereas underneath that exterior lies a chaotic hatred of those around her, one in which she has also tangled Kasuga into. Her connection to Kasuga is further enforced by the flower that appears on the cover of “The Flowers of Evil,” the book that was originally the symbol of his identity.

What is arguably more interesting though is what the discovery of Nakamura’s journal means for her and Kasuga.


“Aku no Hana” is slowly and steadily becoming one of my favorite series. While I honestly can’t put much stock in that opinion given how little manga I have actually read, it is without a doubt one of the more thought-provoking things I have read in a while. The fact that I am not even halfway through the series is pretty exciting. Be sure to check in next week when I go over volume six.

How do you guys feel about volume five? Let me know in the comments below?

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!