English: Flowers of Evil
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 5, 2013 to Jun 30, 2013
24 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.181 (scored by 13313 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisKasuga Takao is a boy who loves reading books, particularly Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal. A girl at his school, Saeki Nanako, is his muse and his Venus, and he admires her from a distance. One day, he forgets his copy of Les Fleurs du Mal in the classroom and runs back alone to pick it up. In the classroom, he finds not only his book, but Saeki's gym uniform. On a mad impulse, he steals it.
Now everyone knows "some pervert" stole Saeki's uniform, and Kasuga is dying with shame and guilt. Furthermore, the weird, creepy, and friendless girl of the class, Nakamura, saw him take the uniform. Instead of revealing it was him, she recognizes his kindred deviant spirit and uses her knowledge to take control of his life. Will it be possible for Kasuga to get closer to Saeki, despite Nakamura's meddling and his dark secret? What exactly does Nakamura intend to do with him?
Related AnimeAdaptation: Aku no Hana
Characters & Voice Actors
"You piece of shit!" " Eat shit and die!" Nakamura constantly screams these words, or some variation of it. To whom, you ask? Mostly to Kasuga, the ever spineless and submissive male protagonist in the midst of puberty. To the audience as well, who silently watched Nakamura wither away in a boring, stagnant town, in which she chooses to embrace all that is depraved and immoral. Twisted, perverted, unnatural, yet oddly beautiful. Loathed by all who know her; loved by those who think they understand her. These are feelings towards Nakamura, or maybe befitting of the anime itself. It's awkward. It's dark. Frustrating at times, even. But more than anything, there is beauty beneath the decay, and yet decay lies underneath this beauty. This is Aku no Hana, a dark and perverse take on the classic adolescence story.
For some, Aku no Hana is the end product of artistic vision seldom experienced in the medium of anime. A masterpiece, some will say. For others, a hit-and-miss anime. Still others, a laughable steaming pile of excrement. My verdict? Somewhere in between the first two. Aku no Hana is a veritable master of atmosphere. A King among kings. The haunting and simplistic music, the morbid art filled with decay, the ever-present feeling of dread and perversion. An orgasm of the eyes and ears that can leave you limp and wheezing. Even HD quality video and my expensive headphone, amp and DAC system couldn't do the epxerience justice. Aku no Hana lies submersed in its own drooling pool of narcissism and sheer artistic ambition and vision. And it payed off--at least that's what I think.
Rotoscoping: the animation style of Aku no Hana. It's a daring and ambitious adaptation of the very plainly drawn manga of the same name and story. It expresses in animation what mere pen and paper can only dream of, and is, for just about everyone, the core contention everyone must deal with. It's virtually alien to anime. An animation style that few know and even less appreciate, relegated to the knowledge banks of movie nerds and hipsters. It defies all the clichés and identifiable traits Japanese animation has come to represent and likely ever will represent. It's anime only in the sense that was made in Japan. You either love it, hate it, or deal with it. In the beginning I struggled with the rotoscope. It's weird, I told myself. Why did they change the art style I was expecting, my second thought. Eventually, I accepted it for what it was and learned to deal with it, even appreciate. And now? I feel that it was a choice by the director to visualize the heart and soul that Aku no Hana seeks to tell, and I respect it. What that means? That's for you to try and understand after watching. You may or may not agree with me. Your choice.
Aku no Hana's inconsistencies? Ubiquitous. It's a daring vision that failed to strike an effective balance with the plot atmosphere, pacing, and characters. In a way, it drowned in the very narcissistic pool that birthed it. For the uninitiated, I'll say this: problems in character development dragged the story down and made me cringe. Progression and pacing suffered considerably. Arguably, it's slow progression was an aspect of the entire package, but for me it was an unnecessary burden. The art? Artistic vision, no matter how much you try to use it as a cover, cannot excuse or hide bad and sloppy art detail, of which there was plenty. One other point of contention is the ending. I'll just say that it cuts off at a point that there could be more story to tell. Is this a sign of a second season? Maybe. Maybe not. I see the ending as an artistic device. It's like a clairvoyant seeing the future but the prophecy of it not yet realized in reality. The prophecy of what's to come is more powerful than the actual occurrence of those events, to continue the logic. If you see it to the end, you'll know of what I speak.
I can say this much: the music, art style, pacing, symbolism, all of it was deliberate and meant to coalesce with the holistic message and image Aku no Hana visually and aurally represents: the darkness and depravity that society refuses to embrace and shuns. It is the final evolutionary state of a work that pen and paper could only ever dream of expressing. An ideal and vision realized. Kasuga's dark and twisted story of adolescence, of budding sexual tension, and of crossing the boundaries of morality, is a special one that stands out among anime, for better or worse. Yet in the shadow of the many high points of the series, enough maddening errors of omission and problems exist to detract from the experience. It has the atmospheric ambition mirroring the famous Coppola move Apocalypse Now. The execution, however, is mired with pitfalls that mimics the dumb fumblings of an awkward teenager. A masterpiece, a disaster and dirty stain among anime, or maybe just plain okay and nothing special besides looking really, really weird. Your mileage may vary. Here's some parting words: just try it. Seriously. And if you're still meandering about it, try it out for Nakamura, at the very least. If not, you may very well be a shithead---her words, not mine.
Score: 7.8 (rounds to an 8)
Disagree? Comments? Wondering about my review criteria? Check my profile page and leave a comment. And check my notes regarding other reviews where I address errors, add additional notes, etc.
(Disclaimer: At the time of the review's writing, there has been no official word as to whether there will be a second season. This review assumes that there will not be a second season. If there is a second season, I have no intention of writing another review that includes the first season or a review of the second season alone; this is a stand-alone review project for the Aku no Hana animation project.)
DISCLAIMER: FOR THE SAKE OF THIS REVIEW I WILL BE OPERATING UNDER THE ASSUMTION THAT THERE IS AN UPCOMING SECOND SEASON. The anime said there would be a part two and I’ll trust that for now. If there is no season two then I'd have problems with the conclusion and the score would have to be lowered. But the anime created interest in the manga, they haven't exhausted the budget, they previewed pt. 2 scenes that they've supposedly finished, some of the most powerful scenes have yet to come, etc. At this point, it seems very safe to assume there will be a second season even if the anime sales haven't been great.
Ah, adaptions. The bane of all manga readers. Understandably, this is simultaneously claimed to be one of the best and worst anime adaptions there is. It has attracted much criticism and ridicule due to the huge change in character design, but this change was actually approved by the mangaka and I would tend to agree with him that it was good stylistic choice.
For some reason, fans think all anime characters, besides the comic relief ones, must be attractive. They can’t take ugly characters seriously or treat them like humans, but they have no problem falling in love with cute bug-eyed alien creatures. That’s superficial to a disgusting degree.
The characters are often ugly, but why does that matter? Do you hate all movies with unattractive actors? Not all actresses look like supermodels, nor do the vast majority of women, so why should all anime characters be beautiful? I actually didn't like how, in the manga, Nakamura was meant to be ugly or plain, but the mangaka drew her attractive. It's like the manga version of "Hollywood Homely." When I read the manga, I was kind of annoyed that something like that tried to evoke a masterpiece like "Les Fleurs Du Mals." In the anime, I wasn't offended by the reference, and it heightened my appreciation instead.
Aku no Hana is a work about descent into decadence, libertinism, and the meaning of freedom; mental and physical. Should the characters really be moe? Is it really important that their eyes cover half of their face? This adaption took advantage of all of the manga's squandered potential. This is exactly what a good adaption does, rather than following in every folly of its predecessor.
One thing that should be noted about the realistic nature of the character’s faces is sometimes they look better than others. Like a real person, some of the screenshots will make a character look ugly and some will make a character look normal, although normal is ugly by anime standards. The point is that you shouldn’t assume all the characters are ugly based on a couple unflattering screenshots. They’re not poorly designed, they’re real.
I love the collision between realism and minimalism in the character designs, additionally contrasting with the fact that the city is one of the most realistic I've seen in anime; kind of emphasizing the insignificance of humanity more subtly than the manga ever did. It should be noted that the fact that the city seems to be "decaying" or in poor shape is a reference to a major theme of Les Fleurs du Mal. This animation captures the atmosphere really well and if it was done differently it would have flopped thematically. It had an interesting and creative artistic direction that had a clear purpose to it.
There is much of symbolism and depth to the art, just as there is in the general plot, and it is arguably the best aspect of the show. The animation seemed a bit choppy at times, but the art was generally flawless.
The atmosphere created by the art was enhanced by the incredible OST. The first OP perfectly captured Kasuga’s character, the second OP Nakamura’s, the third Saeki’s, and the fourth was like a victory lap that captured the very essence of the anime. The BGM complimented and accented the atmosphere perfectly while the ED always kicked in with genius timing, changing subtly as the series progresses, culminating in it playing for half of the finale and a new ED coming on at the end. The ED is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard. All in all I’d say this is the one of the best and most fitting anime OSTs out there. It certainly has to be the only OST I’ve heard that’s influenced the atmosphere of a series and my opinion of it to this extent.
The plot seems a bit generic in the description, but unlike similarly premised titles, it is not a hentai or a comedy and it plays out very differently. The show is more about presentation than plot, but the plot is still engaging, unpredictable, and unique.
The characters were among the stronger points. Kasuga’s development was the entire point of the show (it appears to be a bildungsroman) and it was very well done. Under the guidance of Nakamura (a great character in her own right) we see him go from a mindless puppet who can only spout out the thoughts of others, but longs to be unique, to a free individual. At first he can only express himself in Baudelaire poems, poems he clearly doesn’t really understand, but looks down on others for not getting although he doesn’t really want anyone else to read them either. This whole concept infuriates Nakamura and she tries to “break down his walls.” Later, even in the classroom scene, he’s just writing what Nakamura says. It isn’t until he faces the prospect of losing her that he really manages to form a thought of his own, in an incredible scene and finale episode.
Nakamura helps him, and seems to treat him like dirt, but she also needs him. Her character is very interesting and the changes to how the audience views her over time were well done. Saeki is a foil to her character and there are many parallels and contrasts between them, both subtle and overt. She wants to understand Kasuga, but she can’t. She would accept him no matter how he is. Some of her character developments towards the end and alluded to in the preview/flash-forward were very unexpected and her character is as complex as any. All of the side characters are also interesting and serve their purpose well.
Enjoyment would be the hardest category to score. I enjoyed it more like I would enjoy a horror movie than a thriller, romance, or comedy. My eyes were not glued to the screen and sometimes it was hard to watch. I couldn't take it in more than one episode at a time, which is a testament to how powerful the atmosphere is. The whole thing was slow paced and tense and chock-full of second-hand embarrassment and humiliation. You really feel for the characters, and as they are dejected for most of the anime, you will be too.
This anime is arguably the best of its season and the best in years, but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. If you appreciate the decadent literary movement, if you thought the manga could be better, if you aren’t bothered by unattractive characters, if you’re looking for something different or more realistic, or if you are just open minded then this anime is for you. read more
Different is better. As soon as something comes along that isn't a harem and/or doesn't have generic moeblob character design, BEST ANIME OF THE SEASON! For better or worse, this is ALWAYS how it goes. In the case of Tatami it's highly regarded across the board since there wasn't any manga artwork to disregard for the purposes of ART. Aku Hana is FAR more of a love/hate series; people familiar with the source material generally disliking it and people unfamiliar often labeling it as the best anime of the season.
The approach of both series is, simply put, style over substance... and cheap over expensive. Aku Hana had real people/locations rotoscoped. Tatami often used real stuff as backgrounds and/or flashed through images of real things, with artsy/unfinished drawings of the characters themselves. Aku Hana's stylistic selling point, rotoscoping aside, was turning one panel transitions into repetitive eight minute walks. Tatami's was repeating the same episode over and over, with the same characters playing the same roles and there being no character growth in any of those episodes.
Any and all failings relating to substance should be overlooked with these two. Half an episode dedicating purely to walking is more important than pacing. Likewise, the same events playing out with minor differences matters not when it moves the soul with an idea. If you don't approach these two with that mindset, disappointment awaits.
There is one key difference between the two: for Tatami you'll want the pause button handy if you have any hope of being able to read all of the subtitles. For Aku Hana, it's the opposite: you'll want the fast-forward button at the ready whenever anyone starts walking. An ironic difference, for sure.
Both are extremely unique anime with a non-traditional art style. They stray away from most of the cliches out there and stand out among the never-ending supply of moe anime that come out every year.
Opening Theme#1: "Aku no Hana -Kasuga Takao- (惡の華 -春日高男-)" by Uchujin (with guest vocalist Mariko Goto) (eps 1-3)
#2: "Aku no Hana -Nakamura Sawa- (惡の華 -仲村佐和-)" by Uchujin (with guest vocalist Noko) (eps 4-6)
#3: "Aku no Hana -Saeki Nanako- (惡の華 -菜々子佐伯-)" by Uchujin (with guest vocalist Shiho Nanba) (eps 7-9)
#4: "Aku no Hana -Gunma-ken, Kiryu-shi- (惡の華 -群馬県桐生市-)" by Uchujin (eps 11-13)
Ending Theme#1: "Hana -a last flower- (花 -a last flower-)" by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (eps 1-4, 6, 9, 11-12)
#2: "Hana -a last flower- ver.Z (花 -a last flower- ver.Z)" by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (ep 5, 10)
#3: "Hana (花)" by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (ep 7)
#4: "Hana -a last flower- ver.X (花 -a last flower- ver.X)" by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (ep 8)
Which fansubbers do you like the best? Click + to approve of their subs for this show. Click - if you don't think they did such a great job.
Related ClubsYandere & Yangire, Sol's Worst Anime, Aku no Hana FC, Unusual animation style, Harsh Raters Club, Unusual is Better, A Small Cult, ★ Лучший аниме проект в сети - AniMedia.TV ★, Realistic Anime, Artsy, Yandere, The Official Book Club
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