Tag Archives: The Flowers of Evil

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.

Kasuga

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.

Conclusion

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

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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.

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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.

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.

Conclusion

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

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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.

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“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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

“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

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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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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 Three

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In the end, there was no pleasure.
A boy split between the normal and the distant.
He tried to cross over, but his indecision left him stuck.

Aku no Hana is a weird series. I know at this point that might as well be the equivalent of saying “grass is green” or “the sky is blue,” but its worth reiterating since its story and characters seem to purposefully operate within that idea. Even despite the strange situation the main character Kasuga faces, it never seems to deviate from this question of normal. Anyway, here are my final thoughts.

A New Understanding of Nakamura

I recently realized that analysis of the series so far might be a bit off. Up until this point I assumed ill-intent from the character of Nakamura, used her criticism of normal as a way to write her off as jealous of freedom, when it is in fact Nakamura herself who seems to be the vanguard of such freedom, or at least that is how it seems now.

It is clear that, despite the things she has done up until this point, Oshimi wants us to view Nakamura as a sort of force for good. Rather than being a representation of the more conservative elements of society, Nakamura is in fact the more open and liberal one, someone whose ultimate goal could be interpreted as freeing herself, and by circumstance Kasuga, from the ways of old.

The only thing that stands for certain about her though is that she is indeed an agent of chaos, one who seeks to disrupt and escape life as she knows it. One might say she is…absurd.

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“Aku no Hana” and Absurdism

The bountiful references to 20th-century french authors reminded me a lot of Albert Camus, the French author, journalist and philosopher who wrote on the idea of the Absurd. Simply put, The absurd is defined as “the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe.”

Kasuga is a character who is undoubtedly dealing with the Absurd. For all of the series thus far, Kasuga has tried to find meaning in living out his life in his small town. However, even despite trying to hide behind the intellect of others, Kasuga has failed to find a good reason as to why his existence has any meaning. He even admits this near the middle of the third volume, where he describes himself as “empty.”

Near the end of the manga, Kasuga is confronted with a choice: continue to the other side of the mountain with Nakamura, or go back home to his meaningless life with Saeki. Ultimately, though, he fails to make a decision, and because of this the three of them are caught by the police and are brought back home. Kasuga not only fails to make a decision but by effect fails to confront the Absurd. He is currently still stuck looking for meaning because he knows how hollow is really is.

Saeki and the Denial of Meaninglessness

When Saeki meets the two runaways on the mountain in the rain, she confronts the two of them, asking why Kasuga always seems to end up with her. Nakamura goes on her usual spiel, calling him a “shitbug” and a “pervert.” After that, Saeki tries to get him to come back, telling him that she does not care about what other people think, and that she is OK with the way Kasuga is. Saeki, though, also seems to cling to a sense of normal that Nakamura simply does not care for. As a result, she ends up clinging to him as a way of projecting her need for meaning, despite there not being any for Kasuga.

Good Pacing…I Think

One thing that stands out Oshimi’s work is just how much he knows how to pace a story. Each major reveal in the series feels like it has an adequate buildup, and not like he was rushed for time and just through something completely out. Each chapter thus far feels as though it has served a purpose to the wider story, which is more than I can say for some series even shorter than Aku no Hana.

Also, I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but the way the chapters are compiled make it so that each huge climax comes at the very end. While this may seem a bit repetitive, and probably is so tbh, it also makes the end of each volume feel like a real reward.

Conclusion

“Aku no Hana” does not seem to care about holding any punches. Its exploration of the absurd seems to be going full stop with no breaks. While it seems likely the characters will take some time to reflect in the next volume, that will likely come with some self-discovery, or at least I think it will. It really is hard to say given the series’ unpredictable nature. I hope you’ll join me next week as we continue on in this intriguing series.


How do you all feel about the series so far? 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

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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 Two

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

In this small town, 
secrets live and die among only a select few.
The egos of many are so frail they need a paperweight.
Fantasy sometimes becomes so powerful that the ground 
dissapears under the veil of night.

“Aku no Hana” is without a doubt one of the stranger series I have read/watched. In a lot of ways, it feels like I should hate it, and yet the more I read the more I can’t help but get absorbed into the madness of it all. Apart from the first chapter, the second volume was almost nothing like I expected it to be. There are so many unknown variables, the biggest one being Nakamura, that it sometimes feels like the series is doing a 360 just to add a layer of confusion. Anyway, here are my final thoughts.

And the Story Continues

It was not enough for Nakamura to simply make Kasuga’s life miserable, nor is it likely that it will ever be enough, and as a result, she continues to make him feel the weight of his guilt. In this volume alone she nearly reveals Saeki’s clothes by pooring water on Kasuga while he’s on a date, becomes friends with Saeki as a way of making Kasuga worry, suggests to Kasuga that Saeki wants to have sex with him, and in the fairly infamous scene, forces him to write out all of the things he has done across their homeroom.

Meanwhile, Kasuga attempts to live his life normally while forming a relationship with Saeki. However, Nakamura’s antics cause him so much stress that right after he and Saeki begin dating, he says that he “hasn’t felt this free in years.” The relationship between Kasuga and Nakamura on its own already brings out a lot of tension, but when you add in the implications on Kasuga’s life on top of it, it becomes clear just how deep that tension really runs.

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Nakamura

I mentioned in my last post about “Aku no Hana” that Nakamura as a character seems to be representative of something more, of a society that only wishes to shame others for deviating from a designated cultural norm. The second volume provides another big piece of evidence for this.

In the classroom scene at the end of the volume, as Nakamura attempts to run away and calls Kasuga a coward, she mentions how society is obsessed with sex. However, instead of coming off as a serious criticism, it seems to come more from a place of jealously. In this scene, Nakamura represents a more conservative element of society that hates the emotional freedom that comes from modern society, not for any principled reason, but rather because those same elements lacked that freedom when they were younger.

Even more generally though, Nakamura could also be seen as representing the lack of freedom people had to pursue their own interests when they were younger, and the need to control others because of it. The message still feels a little weird coming from a series with the subject matter that it has, but nonetheless is still an important one.

Kasuga

On the other side of this interaction is Kasuga, who, after being manipulated by Nakamura, finally rebels, at least in a way. To keep Nakamura in the classroom, he does what she says, writing out his moral failures on not only the chalkboard but across the entire classroom, leaving it covered in black ink and descriptions of his endeavors. In a way, by fully admitting to the things he’s done, mainly stealing Saeki’s gym clothes, he is freed from her manipulation and can go on living without having to worry about what others think.

Still, part of me believes ultimately that this is actually what Nakamura wanted all along. By getting Kasuga to admit his guilt in a big display of passion, she can make him feel even worse, knowing full well that the shame will come rushing back as he falls from high of rebellion.

By the way, I guess I should take some time just to say that whenever I write these Final Thoughts posts on individual volumes, I never read ahead, so all of this is speculation, meaning everyone is totally free to make fun of me in the comments for how wrong I am provided there are no spoilers. So, have fun with that.

Conclusion

While I honestly thought this volume’s pace was going to be a lot worse, I am very happy about how wrong I was. the show just continues to build and build, allowing the reader to dive deeper into the madness and then feel the climax near the end. All of it is extremely well written, and on top of all the suspense, author Shuzo Oshimi forces people to contend with some pretty uncomfortable ideas. It is honestly hard to say where the series will go from here, but I am excited to continue, so be sure to come back next week as we dive in further.


Hope you all enjoyed the little poem at the beginning. I’m trying to make my posts a little more flavorful/personal, so I hope that added something more interesting. What do you all think of Aku no Hana? 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

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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 One

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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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