Aku no Hana Anime Review
Studio: Zexcs (Mushi-Shi, Diabolik Lovers, Fortune Arterial)
Genres: Psychological thriller, drama, romance (?)
Director: Hiroshi Nagahama
Writer: Shuzo Oshimi
With the popularity of shounens, there are many shows within any new season that are completely and utterly ignored. Approximately 3-5 shows get the attention of the season, with the rest being left behind as dregs for someone to pick up from a garbage bin and amuse themselves with. Quite a few hidden masterpieces have been developed from this habitual method of watching anime, therefore not amassing the popularity in which they deserve. This theory of mainstream popularity can also be applied to anime which try to be different and more obscure. Some succeed in catching the public eye like Bakemonogatari, whilst others are disregarded for their outwards appearance and aesthetics. Aku No Hana is exactly that, a misunderstood show which no-one gave the time of day, which is really unfortunate considering how good it truly is.
Aku no Hana Plot
The premise for Aku No Hana is fairly basic to follow. A young man in middle school by the name of Takao Kasuga, a bookworm by all regards, leads a fairly normal life. Obsessed by his obscure and fascinating literature, he has observed their meanings and interpretations, immersing their message within his own life. Like most middle school students, he has a crush on the smartest, prettiest girl on the class by the name of Nanako Saeki. He never had the courage to go after her and ask her out, so he merely observed her from a distance, pondering whether or not he should pursue a relationship with her. All his observing, though, is short lived. After leaving his most treasured book, ‘The Flowers Of Evil’ by Charles Baudelaire, at school, coincidence or fate decided to allow Saeki’s gym bag to fall from the classroom shelf, spilling its contents onto the floor. Upon Kasuga’s inspection, it appeared to be her gym cloths. Whilst an internal debate ensues about how he should proceed, a loud noise startled him, causing him to stuff the gym cloths down his shirt and retreat to the safety of his home. Guilt burdened his mind as he pondered the repercussions of owning up to this act and whether or not he was spotted. Thankfully, no one saw what had happened, although additional turmoil is added after a distressed Saeki announces to the class that her cloths were stolen. Kasuga felt guilty, but he knew he was in the clear, right? Wrong. It turns out that Sawa Nakamura had seen Kasuga fleeing from the school, gym clothes bundled beneath his shirt. This sociopathic freak believes that Kasuga is a deviant from the mindless masses of generic society, and forms a contract with him. His secret theft would remain secret so long as she could break down his fragile psyche in order to expose a true deviant.
Although the premise of the show is rather basic, the moral conflict, psychological deconstruction and the perspective of the world is really unique and fascinating. The 3 main characters are the only ones of significance, but their interactions and actions are what make this show brilliant. The conflicting natures of Nakamura and Kasuga makes it really compelling to watch more as Kasuga unwillingly goes along with her madness, his crime looming over him like a badge of shame. Between his psychological destruction, Nakamura’s pure madness and Saeki’s unknown motives and desires, the show truly is amazing in the way it handles character interactions and deconstructions. The show uses many elements to reinforce character interactions and crucial moments of dialogue or key segments of the show, utilising tension as an emotional reinforcement to keep its audience on its seat. That being said, the tension is presented through silence and walking, which honestly can be a bit of a kick in the balls for a casual watcher, and it does eventually get over-extended, making it seem more pointless than it actually is.
Aku no Hana Characters
Takao Kasuga is a middle school student and one of the three conjoined protagonists of this show. That being said, the world is shown through his perspective and his inner thoughts, turmoils and desires are expressed through internal monologues, dreams and even the music from the ending theme, with the instruments within it reflecting his psychological state. He isn’t a strong character, and is rather fragile and secretive in nature, allowing him to be bullied into ‘Deviant’ acts by Nakamura as the show progresses. That being said, he doesn’t remain that way for the entire duration of the show. His innate morality and psychological state gradually shift into one of a darker nature as the show progresses, allowing the audience to witness his changing perspective of the world, himself and life as he knows it.
The crazy, sociopathic Sawa Nakamura is a brilliant antagonist, simultaneously holding the role of protagonist in her own unique way. She is revealed to be extremely twisted in nature, almost able to be labelled as clinically insane. She has a rather warped and skewed perspective of the world, seeing everyone in it as rotten and pathetic. She relishes tormenting Kasuga and is infatuated by the idea of breaking down his psychological walls and forcing her morbid ambition of escaping that town into his mind.
Kasuga’s crush and one of the three conjoined protagonists of this show. Although externally she is seen as the model student and the perfect child, it is revealed that Saeki has one weakness: she becomes obsessively attached to anyone that pays her true attention, leading to a deep, unrelenting infatuation with Kasuga. This, although revealed, isn’t deconstructed nearly as much as Kasuga’s psychological metamorphosis, but is referenced and expanded upon nonetheless.
Aku no Hana Animation
The animation for Aku No Hana was extremely debated upon, which contributed to its less than glorious reception within the western anime world. With the almost broken rotoscoping being heavily debated on, the one thing that is clear is its intention. Most anime have a generic form of storytelling, in which the animation will serve as a barrier between real life and the anime itself, allowing the audience to differentiate from reality and fiction. Aku No Hana attempts to break down these barriers, and although it did so rather poorly, it was merely an experiment and in some aspects it did succeed. There are crucial moments in the show were the animation just skyrockets in quality, predominantly during a period in episode 7 and 12, not going to spoil anything, but it truly is remarkable.
Aku no Hana Soundtrack
The Aku No Hana soundtrack is really strange. Rather than proper musical compositions, it appears to be based around static noises and sounds that add to the atmosphere juxtaposed to acting as its own form of music. That being said, the opening and ending were both played brilliantly. There were 4 openings, 3 of which were the spiritual representations of the 3 characters, whilst the 4th is revealed to be someone else. Perhaps the Flowers of Evil themselves? As for the ending, it allows the audience to once again immerse themselves in Kasuga’s emotions, with the different instruments from the deep bass guitar to the light wind instruments revealing his turmoil and emotions, almost reflecting on what occurs during each episode.
Opinion and Verdict
Although I believe it to be rather amazing, there are definitely flaws and issues within the show that need to be addressed, the largest of which is its probability for continuation. The last episode not only concluded the show but acted as a precursor to future events. The manga will still continue and I read it eagerly, but one can only hope that a second season will conclude the show, as it truly deserves it. Aku No Hana is definitely not for everyone, but nevertheless, is a brilliant show that was unfortunately overlooked. Accumulating my thoughts, I give Aku No Hana an 8 out of 10. I recommend it for a more mature audience who is willing to watch it alone. It isn’t an experience to be shared, but rather a subjective and individual interpretation. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day.
– IB (Internet Bear)