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.
Whenever people watch a film or show, regardless if it’s anime or not, they want to be enticed into a deep and complex world that is full of mystery and wonder that they can solve for the benefit of their own humanity. It seems as though Aku no Hana was meant to be something that was going to be the “change” some people were looking for in the wake of entertainment controlling the masses. But boy did it fail at doing that on almost all accounts.
To get this out of the way, no the animation is not horrible. It is flawed yes, but not to
the extent where it should be castrated out of someone’s psyche after viewing the first episode. For starters, the animation that the studio decided to use is called rotoscoping, a style of animation where people are filmed in live-action and animators draw over the film frame-by-frame. Considering that this is the first anime show to do this style of animation, how is the quality of the rotoscoping? Not too well that’s for sure. The lip-syncing is atrocious, the facial expressions are devoid of any expression and don’t fit well with the emotions that the characters are trying to convey, and given how low the budget was the animation isn’t very fluid in most places. Though with these flaws mentioned, the show isn’t necessarily unwatchable due to the animation being average so it gets a slight pass in this department.
With this in mind, however, the art design of the backgrounds in the show’s setting are truly spectacular to look at. How the buildings are drawn from every tiny detail of rust and grime in the more darker places of the town are something to behold. It fits very well with the tone the show was trying to capture and it’s effectiveness is fairly good. Another thing that also improves on Aku no Hana’s tone is the music. With it’s subtle ambient and minimalist influenced sound, it’s one of the most beautifully crafted scores that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
On a technical level, the show is mixed with good music and art but really average animation, but how does it compare to the narrative and writing? Not to well that’s for sure. For one, the characters and how they are written are not at all well developed or fully realized with any thing that is happening with the plot. To address this even further, the relationships between the protagonist named Kasuga with our two main heroines Nakamura and Saeki are as well put together as one could get from a highschooler’s attempt at writing a story such as this, a bad one at that. What makes these characters so bad in terms of a writing perspective is just how poorly paced it is in giving us a clear indication that Kasuga has a bond with either Nakamura and Saeki. With Kasuga and Nakamura, there is no chemistry whenever they are on screen they just play off as a couple of degenerate who spout out vapid angsty monologues towards one another.
Kasuga himself is not an enticing protagonist to be on-screen. Just because you make him this Holden Caulfield type of character where he is obsessed with a dark poetry book doesn’t make him have anymore depth than any other character in the show. Are we to sympathize with him just because he acts all pessimistic with the world around him with his pseudo-intellectual jargon? Not if it’s done with careful precision in Kasuga’s own archetype, which in reality is not the case whatsoever in Aku no Hana.
Nakamura and Saeki are two other characters that unfortunately are not spared in terms of mediocre character writing. The romantic development with Kasuga and Saeki is rushed to the point where we only get to see very few inclinations that they are a couple. We get two awkward dates and a moment where she invites him into his room. Not only that but Saeki’s reasons for liking Kasuga are not at all convincing to the slightest degree. With all of the things Kasuga did, or forced in this case, to Saeki’s property, any normal girl would easily never speak to him again but just because the writers want to keep the story going they’ll just have to hope that any person with a half a brain would buy into this. No explanation for Saeki’s reasoning for liking Kasuga, no nothing.
Then there’s Nakamura, Kasuga’s “sidekick” in the show. As you might predict, she is about as explained throughout the show as any of the other characters. This is, of course, the intention because Nakamura is something that we should be weary and suspicious about whether she’s evil or not. Once she forms a contract with Kasuga, the only thing we really get out of Nakamura is that she is nothing more than the show’s attempt at pouring out empty melodrama into the mix to make the plot try to seem too deep than what it already is. Her primary goal to the plot’s theme is never given any deep context other than the fact that she thinks the whole world is bullshit and it should be destroyed. Look, if you want to give me an existential angst plot device at least try to deliver a better explanation than just a one-dimensional written one. That way the character can be portrayed in a reasonably sympathetic light, unfortunately Nakamura just doesn’t cut out to be a deep convincing anti-hero with how poor the writing is.
While the tone of the show is solid, the atmosphere itself tries too hard to be frightening to the point where it almost does the opposite effect of what it was originally trying to impose. It happens whenever there is a faint rumbling noise in the background that’s supposed to resemble a heart beat that is hardly effective at all in establishing a mood or whenever the music starts to grow in it’s dynamics with a dark droning noise that is unsettling in a bad way. What’s funny is that some of the build up of the tone in some of the scenes are not necessary and fail to capture any fear at all. Once you do it multiple times throughout the course of the show it loses it’s momentum quickly and all your left with is just a empty white noise in the background.
It’s not often I get to talk about the actual “acting” rather than the voice acting in this show. The acting, while good in a few areas, is often overly dramatized and doesn’t reach to that level of greatness of any drama TV show that you could be watching right now. Actors constantly spout out their lines and try to carry out as much emotion as possible in scenes that don’t seem as though it was needed in the first place, such as one that involves a bathroom area.
Not to mention of the numerous plot holes that really drags down the plot as a whole from making it convincing to anyone watching. Normally plot holes can be forgiven if they are very small to where they are not noticeable to ruin the flow of the show, but with Aku no Hana there are so many coincidences that can easily be accounted for lazy writing such as no one noticing the blackboard writing being blocked out the day after the vandalism scene, any one could have easily deciphered what the saying was in two seconds flat.
In the short scheme of things, Aku no Hana is just a failed experiment that probably never should of been fully realized given to it’s source material. In all honesty, the original manga’s story is quite fascinating and if only they hired more competent writers to fill in the wide gap that crippled Aku no Hana’s chances of becoming a fascinating psychological drama. It wouldn’t be a shock to call this a “wasted opportunity” given how the creators were ballsy in making it with the rotoscope technique; it just goes to show when you want to do something “different”, you might want to focus more on your writing structure than your artistic integrity.
I normally don't write reviews, but because this series got so much hate, I felt obligated to say something. I thoroughly enjoyed this series for many reasons. First I'll address the elephant in the room that got this series so much hate: the art style. At first I couldn't stand the art style myself. I thought it was going to ruin the series the minute I saw it, but to my own surprise I was completely wrong. After getting into the story, I felt the art style fir the show perfectly. By not having cartoon-looking characters, it made the show much more believable that these
characters could possibly exist, which only makes the show even more troubling.
Next thing I want to address is the story. Right after the first episode, this show had me hooked. I found myself eager to watch the next episode right after the last. Even though it is not categorized as one, the first few episodes disturbed me more than any "horror" anime ever has. And don't even get me started on the creepy music when the end credits roll. Throughout the story, we see a boy who tries to be different from everyone else because he feels like he does not fit in anywhere. This made me feel like I was going to be faced with a boring protagonist and little to no character development. Once again, I was wrong. After Kasuga spends so much time with Nakamura, we get that hint that these two may slowly be falling for each other. I enjoy how the mood of the show changes along with the opening credits music throughout the series. At first, everything seems very troubling and eventually changes into a story of a boy who is trying to find himself. Because of Nakamura, he questions everything he has ever known, and even later admits he has been lying to himself for his entire life. Because of one girl, Kasuga's entire perception on life is changed and that is what I found so appealing about the story. I must admit, the last episode did kind of disappoint me and I'm really hoping for a part two. One of the only problems I had with this series was some of the dragging scenes. No, I do not want to watch a five-minute animation of Kasuga walking through the streets accompanied by sad music. Besides these minor problems, I really enjoyed this series and recommend to anyone who likes psychological anime.
Aku no Hana is by far the most controversial Anime of the Spring Season 2013, receiving by far the most hate and still having quite a big fan base that does like it. Which one of the two sides arguing against each other is right?
Story: The story of Aku no Hana takes place in Japan and revolves around Kasuga Takao, a quite normal boy, who goes to school, loves books (especially Baudelaire's "Aku no Hana") and has a crush on what is supposed to be the beauty of the class. One day he finds her sport clothes as he wants to get the book
he accidentally forgot in the classroom. He takes them out and hears a sound. In the hurry he just takes them and leaves quickly. Later on the psycho child of the class, being Nakamura Sawa tells him she saw him stealing the clothes. From then on she makes him do things that...well are kind of awkward. The whole story is really well executed and as far as I know follows the Manga quite well (didn't read it). It is really enjoyable to watch and it keeps unfolding in directions that the viewer doesn't expect to go to. It was a good story, but no masterpiece! 8/10
Characters: The characters are the shining point of the show. Even though the only ones that get any focus at all are the three main characters that everything revolves around, they are that good developed that that is no problem at all! Kasuga Takao seems to be one of the most normal students we've seen in a while in Anime. He likes books, has a crush on a girl and doesn't have any powers or things he is really good in. That is until he gets seen by Nakamura stealing the clothes and his life gets more and more messed up, just as his mind. Nakamura Sawa is a psycho. That's what everyone agrees upon. But it is a kind of psycho, that seems more pleasant than the "I'll kill you all" type, and rather is someone that is claims himself to be a deviant and searches for people that are the same as she is. Saeki Nanako is the girl Kasuga has a crush on. She is a kind and good looking girl. I am not gonna talk a lot about her since I'd just end up spoiling. One must be said: The characters aren't likable at all! It is hard to really like them, but that is the point the series wants you to be in. It's a point were you can look down on the show from a spot a lot higher, which makes every single character a lot more human and makes their built up incredibly well done. 10/10
Art: Well....the first thing that comes to your mind while watching Aku no Hana is the character design, which looks to say it in a polite way different. It is not a bad thing to make them look this way, since it is just another point that makes you feel more distant to the characters. The point were the art fails is the animation itself. The characters suffer from either to much movement at the same time and you just can't seem to concentrate because the characters look as if they would tremble without a reason or they don't move at all. The amount of still screens in this show is incredibly high and makes the show feel as if it was something based on an incredibly low budget, which it probably is. Later on the Animation gets a lot better but still not good enough to make up for what they did within the first episodes, which makes the enjoyment go down by far and the hate level rise in the same way. 4/10
Sound: The Soundtrack of Aku no Hana is incredibly simple. It mostly consists of tones getting louder and louder which creates a suspense that really fits the show as something dark and awkward. Aku no Hana has one of the most memorable endings ever created. A song only sung by a computer voice singing about the flowers of evil definitely is really creepy and fits the whole show really well. Just as the 4 Openings do. Every single one of them is weird in it's own way but still it fits the show so well that by now I really enjoy hearing them on their own. The voice acting is nothing that really stands out. While it definitely is not horrible, it is nothing I do love. 8/10
Enjoyment: I have no idea how to score this...honestly! This show is nothing you will enjoy! However it is something that makes you want to shut down your browser and never open it again. At parts I couldn't watch an episode in a single sitting, but had to constantly pause it to calm down a bit, since my nerves were blank, but this is what makes this show so good! 9/10
Aku no Hana is not a show everyone will enjoy, that is for sure. It is hard to watch and if you aren't into thrillers or that kind of stuff you really should stay away from this, but if you like them or if it even interests you a little, go watch this and make your own picture of it.
This is not an anime for the fainthearted. It is the single most disturbing piece of fiction I have ever been witness to, and rightly deserves to be named a psychological horror.
But this is not an easy anime to watch, as it is broken and incoherent at times. What you can expect is a lot of cringe worthy moments which build an incredible tension that borders on fetishism. The protagonist is placed in a position of utter despair contrasted with sheer bliss. He goes from one to the other at a moments notice, further adding to the tension we are witness to.
The drawing and animation style is difficult to adapt to at first. However, it is perhaps the primary reason to watch this incredible anime. The simple lines and faded colors are inherent to the surrealist style which this anime pays homage to. The animation allows the unease of the story to truly materialize and overwhelm the audience. It is the only animation style fitting for this great work, and should not deter viewers from watching it.
The story is difficult to follow at times, and may seem stagnant at others. However this is done with the very specific purpose of disorienting those who watch the anime. You experience the anime as a whole, the story is merely a tool used to alter the experience the viewer is subject to. The story manages to do what it was intended for beautifully.
The characters have incredible depth. Each character is crafted as a riddle which refuses to be solved. They each have fetishes, perversions, imperfections, and desires. Few animes can claim to fully explore the psychological depth of their characters.
This is an incredible anime, but it is truly painful to watch. I wanted to rip my hair out, tear at my skin and gouge my own eyes out. The anime has such a profound affect on the viewer that they cannot but help constantly feeling uneasy. And this feeling continuously builds, never letting up. If at any point it lets up, that is merely to betray you moments later with a feeling that is much much worse.
TLDR; Don't watch it if you can't appreciate a masterpiece. This is not some silly plot driven flowery anime that does nothing to explore its characters. This is dark and real. If you decide to pick it up, push through a little bit at a time. Otherwise you will be overwhelmed and scared to continue.
OVERALL-realistic plot, art and characters where everything is comprehensible, fitting music during the anime, unusual but cool end-theme
what does it make interesting? the realism combined with good characters, which make you experience intense emotions
STORY-I have to say that as far as I've seen it, the story is very good. It shows in a realistic scenario how a simple, impulsive action can bring one in a very ugly situation. There is an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness throughout the whole anime and you can basically feel the emotions of the characters.
ART-Well, the Art. What to say about it. It definitely is unusual. I wouldn't say that
it's bad, but I'm sure it's not everyone's taste. There are not many typical anime characteristics and it is, like the plot, very realistic. Sometimes it even looks like a movie and not an anime. But I think, that this style is appropriate considering the story. It just fits.
CHARACTERS-As I already mentioned in the Story-part, you can feel their emotions, which makes it easier to find a connection with the characters. I personally think the character development is good, so far. With every episode you get to know them a little better. But also here, they go with the rest of the anime, realistic. No totally unexpected reactions or behaviour. Till now there are many clichés. However not Anime-clichés but real world-clichés.
SOUND-I like the opening and the end-theme. The end-theme is some electronic bad ass voice, which would probably creep you out if you listened too long to it. The rest of the music fits the anime, it supports the atmosphere. Nothing special, though.
ENJOYMENT-I think this is a matter of opinion. Since the story is realistic, it's somehow like the real life and not everything turns out well. So if you want to watch an Anime with an intense and realistic slice-of-life plot, you will enjoy this one.
"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 budding 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 and
cringe-worthy at times. But more than anything, there is beauty beneath the decayed surface, and yet decay equally lies underneath this beauty. This is Aku no Hana, a dark and perverse take on the classic adolescence story.
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? Straddling the lines of masterclass and tragically missed opportunity. Aku no Hana is a veritable master of atmosphere. A King among kings. The haunting and minimalistic music, the morbid yet excruciatingly detailed art filled with decay, the omnipresent 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 does not give the experience justice. Aku no Hana lies submersing and drowning in its own pool of narcissism and sheer artistic ambition and vision. I say: C'est magnifique!
Rotoscoping: the animation style of Aku no Hana. It's a daring and ambitious adaptation of an otherwise very plainly and standardly 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 source of this series's extreme scrutiny. It's virtually alien to anime. An animation style that few know of 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. Tired of big eyes and panty shots? Want realism? Be careful of what you wish for. 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.
Aku no Hana's inconsistencies? It's a daring vision that, within the confines of a 13 episode series, struggles to strike an effective balance with the atmosphere, story pacing, and character progression. In a way, it drowns in the very narcissistic pool that birthed it. Story progression and pacing suffers considerably. Arguably, its slow progression is an aspect of the entire artistic package, but for me it's an unnecessary burden. The art? Background art aside, the character line art would fade as distance increased. Missing anatomy. It's hard to distinguish whether the art is sublime and infused with meaning, a flaw of rotoscope, or a result of rushed deadlines. One other point of contention is the ending. It cuts off at a point that there should 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. Or, perhaps equally so, a selfish art project not given enough time, money, and resources. 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 is deliberate and is meant to coalesce with the holistic message that Aku no Hana visually and aurally represents: the darkness and depravity that society shuns and refuses to embrace. It is the final evolutionary state of a work that pen, paper, and manga panels could only ever dream of expressing. 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 the pile of Japanese anime for eons; art for art's sake, for better or worse. Yet in the shadow of the many highlights of the series, enough maddening errors of omission (continuing the story) and art and production problems exist to detract from the experience. It has the atmospheric ambition mirroring the famous Coppola move Apocalypse Now. The execution, however, has enough pitfalls that it mimics the fumbling of an awkward teenager. I will say this: if it had ended in the right place, this production of Aku no Hana would be among the greatest works of sublime and self-worshiping art to have ever come from Japan. But, alas, not quite so. 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 watch 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 to you, not mine.
Disclaimer: At the time of the review's writing, there has been no official word for 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.
Aku no Hana's been the Spring season's most controversial title among anime fans and a great deal of that has to do with the anime's choice of animation style coming in the form of rotoscoping. I might as well address this issue before remarking on other aspects of the anime. Rotoscoping's been a controversial style of animation for years. While the style allows for one to animate more lifelike characters and movements, there are acclaimed animators that don't consider it a legitimate form of animation since live-action shots are animated over in order to accomplish the style and such animators think it kills creativity in
the medium. Personally, I think rotoscoping made for an excellent fit for Aku no Hana considering the mundane story it depicts with Kasuga's ordeals with Nakamura and Saeki. The style helps to better depict the dull routines of everyday life seen through Kasuga's eyes and allows the viewer to become immersed in the experience with him. The style also helps enhance a number of the title's uncomfortable moments with Kasuga and Nakamura's interactions. Going for a more conventional style of animation would have killed much of the effect this series would have to immerse the viewer in its story.
Backgrounds are depicted to be photo-realistic with realistic details and color that are quite pleasing on the eyes. Character designs are just as realistic with believable facial details on characters that make them actually look Japanese instead of the typical doe-eyed, rainbow-color hair designs of conventional Japanese animated titles. The designs are a bit rough in early episodes, but gradually improve throughout the span of the series. The animation, though, is a bit of a mixed bag. It's clear the makers of Aku no Hana are working with a TV budget as there are points where character designs are rendered still in movement, particularly during classroom scenes. However in major moments of the series involving Kasuga and the two girls, movement is quite fluid and there aren't too many instances of this leading to degradation of quality from the rotoscoped characters.
Moving on to the title's story, Aku no Hana is prominently focused on Kasuga's interactions with Nakamura and Saeki pushing his fragile teen mind to the breaking point. The kid behaves much like any teen would at his age as he tries fitting in with friends, yet is feeling out of place with what society considers "normal" as he retreats to reading books. The series is pretty much a psychological drama that gets into Kasuga's head as he thinks about his interactions with the two girls, each representing a different world that he considers to be out of his grasp with Nakamura being the deviant outcast and Saeki being the popular girl of the class he has a crush on. The former plays enough of a big role in messing with Kasuga's head when she believes him to be a fellow deviant like herself and pushing him to do twisted acts involving Saeki after Kasuga steals her gym clothes in the title's second episode. I don't come across many recent titles that offer this level of depth in exploring the mental condition of a teenage boy getting ripped apart mentally by two girls his age. Only issue I have with the plot is that it looks like the series lacks a proper ending with the abrupt way it concluded and dropping hints that things would get worst for Kasuga in his present situation, likely teasing viewers for a possible second season.
Another major element of this series that was also somewhat controversial was its pacing and atmosphere. Aku no Hana devotes a good amount of time in some episodes to focus on the mood and atmosphere of a scene, mainly during major moments of the show or whenever Kasuga is in thought over whatever predicament he gets caught up in with Saeki or Nakamura. For the most part, the pacing and focus on atmosphere work rather well as they help enhance the discomfort and fear going through Kasuga's head as he contemplates things and shows how disconnected he is from "normal" people. However, the series usually gets in the bad habit of getting too focused on its atmosphere as it can unnecessarily focus on scenery shots for several minutes at a time at points and cause progression of the anime's plot to drag.
The music for Aku no Hana does very well at sticking out and flowing with the mood of the series. Its use in the series is minimalist, yet consists of haunting and tense insert tracks that go along well with the uncomfortable and mundane mood prevalent throughout the show's run. The OP and ED tracks are just as haunting with twisted lyrics accompanying the title's several OP songs meant to convey the mentalities of its main cast throughout Aku no Hana's run.
Overall, Aku no Hana is quite easily my favorite title of the Spring season for being bold enough to be completely different in how it conveyed its story and overall presentation. Some elements of its approach on presentation have their issues, but they don't completely hurt the experience of exploring the complicated and twisted world of adolescence seen through Kasuga's eyes. Not to mention that the slow pacing, focus on atmosphere and rotoscoped animation won't be for everyone. But if you're looking for something that is completely out of the ordinary for an anime series, Aku no Hana would be a definite watch for you.
In most cases the manga for a story is better than the anime. What most people don't realize is how difficult it is to interpret a manga into an anime and still stay true to the story. Scenery in a manga doesn't translate very well into anime and most readers of manga could care less about how long it takes them to read a chapter.
Aku no Hana has received a lot of mixed ratings due to its slow pace and long annoying scenery shots. Most people comment about the rotoscoped animation or the fact that the characters don't have big
eyes and colorful hair. I think most people have a hard time watching this anime because it highlights just how much boredom effects our daily lives. Humans tend to mentally dwell on pointless things simply because we have nothing else with which to occupy our minds. Maybe this anime is a very good portrayal of what many people suffer with on a day to day basis. After reading the manga and then watching the anime, I am content to accept the theory that the director wanted as little glamour or fan service as possible in order to stay true to the story.
Many reviews wrongly comment on how deeply disturbing this anime is. It isn't, not really. I'm going to go out on a limb here and consider that most of the people who use this site have never had the ardent pressure of conforming to society the way Japanese teenagers do. Sure, we have our morals and the golden rule, but a few documentaries and some research about Japan should really shed some light on how mentally draining it can be to suppress your individualism at an early age. So why do many consider it to be something so psychologically deep when many of us enjoy our free spirit and unique behavior? The best way to hide something is in plain sight, where everyone sees it so much that they grow tired of it and just excuse the thing as a regular occurrence.
Maybe you have personally shelved something in your life or kept it under wraps for fear of what others might think or say about you. Continuously throughout the anime there are classmates teasing Kasuga for being shy or reclusive. They tease him even though he goes to so many lengths to conceal his inner thoughts. Those who have read "Ningen Shikkaku" will notice that there are similarities in behavior for the young version of the protagonist in the novel and Kasuga. Where the protagonist in Ningen Shikkaku tends to be a class clown in order to disguise the empty feeling inside him, Kasuga tends to go with the flow and agree passively with everyone. I brought up Ningen Shikkaku simply because it is mentioned (or rather read in class) in the manga; so obviously the mangaka was influenced by this book.
The anime does a decent job of revealing the human component which the manga leaves to imagination. So, if you are looking for an anime with moe characters or special powers in a fantasy land, this is not the work of fiction for you. However, if you want to experience something that might be floating on the surface of your own conscience, this might be a story to which you can relate.
Aku no Hana was originally a manga written by Oshimi Shuzo, named for a collection of poems from the French poet, Charles Baudelaire. The anime adaptation was written by Itami Aki. It's a psychological drama, which is a genre I like when handled well. Of course, it's usually not. The adaptation was handled by Zexcs. The only anime I've seen that they were involved in have been Mushi-shi and My-Hime. Which is somewhat encouraging, but there were other studios responsible for the major aspects of those anime. So I have no conception as to what a work they're primarily working on might be like. I
won't lie, it's a bit refreshing to go into something with no idea what to expect. Let's look at Aku no Hana.
We start Aku no Hana with our protagonist, Kasuga, stealing the gym clothes of the girl he likes. Isn't it just a treat to have a protagonist lose any likability they could have had the first time they do anything with story relevance? It's not the very first thing that happens, but it is the first important thing that happens. This anime loves to waste your time with long, drug out scenes in which nothing is accomplished. Presumably, to try to build atmosphere, but that only works when you actually do something. That's one of the biggest problems with the series, very little that happens is relevant. Back to the "plot," and I use the term loosely. Kasuga's perverted stalker behaviour is observed by a girl named Nakamura. She agrees to keep it a secret, if Kasuga will make a contract with her. At its core, this is a story about deviance, which fits the title since Baudelaire believed that art and morality had to be kept separate and many of the poems in his collection were considered deviant. Six of them even being banned from publication after their initial release until 1949, almost a century after the initial volume was released. The issue with this theme, as used in this series, is that there are virtually no consequences for the deviant behaviours. The worse thing that happens is that Kasuga gets a talking to. Because this is a magical city where consequence is something that happens to other people. This level of disconnect from reality is an absolutely unforgivable problem in a series that professes to be psychological. Speaking of psychological elements, those are done extraordinarily poorly. Aku no Hana mistakes moving at a ridiculously slow pace, putting in music that's supposed to be creepy, and still shots of scenery for psychological depth. Slow pacing, creepy music and still shots could all work in a true psychological piece, but they need something to work off of and Aku no Hana doesn't have that integral piece. As such, they're just stupid.
Moving on to the characters, there are really only three who merit mention since the rest can be described in simple terms like "Kasuga's mom" or "that guy with the funny eyebrows" and don't have anything going on beyond a few scenes in which they may or may not do something that's supposed to be important. The first is Kasuga. He's a whiny little pervert who likes to make excuses for his bad behaviour and has very little depth whatsoever. He reminds me of Shinji Ikari. Then we have Saeki, Shinji's... I mean Kasuga's crush. At first she seems like the typical "out of reach" girl. It's only when we spend some time with her character that we realise she's actually one of the dumbest characters in all of fiction, in addition to her general lack of personality. She makes DBZ's Goku look like a genius. I'm surprised she managed to reach secondary school without Darwinising herself. Finally, we have Nakamura. Our self-proclaimed deviant and blackmailer. There's not much to her except being loud and insulting. She's the only character I don't hate. Because, if nothing else, she insults everyone I can't stand.
The animation in this is terrible. Characters frequently lose their facial features because... the artists suck with perspective. The movements are jerky. The mouths don't even come close to natural movements during dialogue scenes. A lot of the slow movements and frozen images might be better explained by lazy artists than attempts at atmosphere since these scenes enable them to do minimal amounts of work and they clearly aren't doing well in those scenes that require actual animation.
There are some good actors in this. Both Hikasa Yoko and Ise Mariya are very skilled. Although you wouldn't know it to hear them in this. Since the series has a general problem with characters being either over or under-acted. This is a psychological series. There's no room for subtlety of emotion here... Wait, what? the creepy music gets tiresome. It could have worked if they'd used it only when relevant instead of using it constantly. They even us it when it's just a shot of people walking.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. Expect no yuri.
Aku no Hana fails to deliver any actual psychological elements, resorting instead to one and two-dimensional characters who are sure to annoy you. The series both looks and sounds bad and very little happens that results in any kind of consequence and nothing happens that results in character growth. It's unworthy of sharing a title with Baudelaire's work. As such, I'm going to just refer to it as Cheese Steak Suppository. Cheese Steak Suppository gets a 2/10. As either a psychological work or a drama, it fails on every conceivable level. I'm going to re-watch Perfect Blue and get some real psychological content.
Confronted with this dark-realistic and melancholic Japan, i find myself somewhat comfortable and flowing. Pacing on the impulses that the story gives, it feels irresistible to try not to break through Kasuga's soliloquy and Nakamura's obsession.
So far the story fulfills the void in which we seem to fall and the music emphasizes it amazingly well.
the animation is, in my opinion, superb! though you may find a new depiction world in these lines and colors, one mirroring nearly reality, and many people will not be able to embrace it.
The characters definitely catch your eyes being something you see day after day. Erupting their emotions from a
sweet smile and a brief moment of happiness, to a downfall in hopelessness and despair; to the very bottom when you feel like you're a piece of shit. Overall, i believe you can find a part of yourself in this anime, and i do have high hopes for Aku no Hana!
The psychological genre is my favorite genre in anime. I love the emotions characters show as they go through the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of the story. Unlike many people who hate the “real life” backgrounds and scenery or the fact that the characters are “ugly”, the thing I hate most about this show is the lack of emotion shown by the characters which I have come to love from similar psychological stories.
I started Aku no Hana shortly after the season ended not knowing what to expect and with no idea whether I would hate it or love it. I had been
putting it off after seeing the art style and how it varied from the manga that I had greatly enjoyed. I also thought I knew exactly where this season would end but damn was I wrong. Instead of ending it at a place where the manga changes pace and I thought left a perfect spot for the season to end, they slowed down the pace and made it so that the climax of the story will probably come around the fourth or fifth episode of the second season.
Story – 6/10
It kind of pains me to give this story such a low score. I would have dropped this show after the first episode or so had I not read the manga and known how much better the plot gets. However, the plot gets really good shortly after where this relatively uneventful season ends.
The story of Aku no Hana begins with a bored-out-of-his-mind middle school boy named Kasuga Takao. The town he lives in is surrounded by mountains on all sides, and is cut off from the rest of the world. Kasuga loves reading books and his favorite is “Flowers of Evil” (Aku no Hana in Japanese) by Charles Baudelaire. He even has a picture of Baudelaire in his bedroom and carries a copy of the book with him everywhere he goes. One day, he forgets the book at school and goes back to get it. When he does, he finds the gym uniform of his crush, Saeki Nanako, lying next to the lockers at the back of their classroom. Kasuga picks up and the clothes and smells them, and, startled by a sound behind him, gets scared and takes the uniform home with him. Kasuga decides to just put the uniform back the next day and avoid any problems, but things become difficult once he finds out that the loner in his class, Nakamura Sawa, saw him steal Saeki’s uniform. In addition, Saeki and everyone else is freaking out over the event. From there, Nakamura uses the knowledge of what Kasuga has done to force him into a contract and use him to have some fun in this boring town town full of boring people.
As much as I love the plot of the manga, the anime is just too slow paced. What could have had the climax of the manga (so far) at its end, instead decided to waste time on slow scenes and put off the real story for later. This show tries to build up tension too much, but fails in the end with a strange ending that forces a second season.
Art – 3/10
As I mentioned, I do not dislike the backgrounds that use rotoscoping (tracing over real life images and making it look animated). The one place where there is an intersection and there is a mirror that they use to split up Kasuga and his friends I thought was a very nice touch that showed how distant he was from everyone else.
While I don’t really like the designs that people consider “ugly,” it’s still not what ruined the show for me. What I dislike is the lack of emotion they portray. Despite sounding distraught or maniacal (for Nakamura) at times, the characters faces never show more blushing, tears, and sweat. Compared to something like “Higurashi” which shows emotions to the extreme, their faces are just boring. I just could not get attached to emotional scenes when I kept looking at the characters’ faces and seeing the same expression I had seen in regular scenes. Even real life people show more emotions than these characters, which is not something I can say for almost any other anime.
Another thing I disliked was how characters only gained faces after they were large enough and how faces gradually appeared on them as they moved “towards the camera.” This also detracted from the emotions of characters showed. It wasn’t a problem for background characters, but it was for the main three and Kasuga’s parents. One time Kasuga’s mother is supposed to look distressed and crying but she (as well as Kasuga’s father) has no face and instead is just sitting there for about half a minute before it lets you see her do anything to show that she is feeling distressed.
Sound – 4/10
There’s not much music in this show. While the piano tones do set up a good mood, there’s not much variety in the soundtrack. The one song that has one piano note every so often is about the only one I really noticed, and I’m not sure if there were any songs other than that and the ED. I don’t usually mention ending or opening songs, but this one starts prior to the end credits in every episode and is occasionally played during scenes. I really do not like the ending. It’s a creepy, computer generated voice that isn’t really even singing. I think it would work okay for a science fiction-horror but not for Aku no Hana.
Character – 3/10
Well, I didn’t even like Kasuga in the manga until after where the anime ends (right after where I thought it was going to end actually). Still, between the strange character designs, the lack of emotion they show, Kasuga’s fairly annoying VA (who kind of had to be annoying to fit the role), and just the lack of anything that really happens to develop the characters during these 13 episodes, I do not like main character cast. The background characters all blend together and with their strange designs, all look kind of similar (except for one of Kasuga’s friends with curly hair). Since the real interesting character development happens later than where the anime stops, there’s really nothing much to say.
I kept hoping it would improve and become more like the manga I love, but it was just an uneventful, disappointing season in the end. I would recommend the manga over the anime if you want to experience the real emotion of the story and to not have the story cut off shortly before the climax. If you want something similar (but better) you could also try reading Chikan Otoko, Sundome, or Onani Master Kurosawa.
Well, frankly best psychological anime I have seen in years, though I am not a big watcher of the kind. I am out of words really, because anime tells so much I feel like telling any feeling, any detail would be a spoiler. I will attempt to summarize what I have seen in this anime that makes it different from the other stuff out there. Then I will try to touch more specific issuses like story, art etc.
What makes it different overall?
First things first, this anime is NOT for enjoying your leisure time; because they use visual imagery both as the narrator of the story
and as the element that establishes the overall atmosphere, meaning you need to effectively concentrate on what the visuals tell you. For example, lighting of a room will tell about the character much more than his/her conversations. Most of the time you can see how the characters feel just by looking at their faces.
Secondly, this is NOT an anime you would want to watch in one go. Just like a good meal, you have to eat it slowly, bit by bit. Overall slow pace itself is obviously designed for this purpose.
Thirdly, what we have here belongs to the order of poetry, unlike most of the other anime which belong to the order of I would say novel, or compilation of stories. The title "Flowers of Evil" is already announcing such order, yet it is important to keep that in mind throughout the entire series.
Now let's pass on the more specific details:
Well story is pretty simple actually. It takes place in a Japanese school in modern times. Broadly speaking, we see the change or the inability to change of Kasugi through his relation to Sawa and Saeki. But it is almost impossible to identify what the genre of the story is clearly; because they put so much emotion to it. It is as if looking at a simple object like a pen through a microscope. Thus seeing every coherent detail makes harder to identify clearly the genre of the story. Yet it does its job, which just like any other psychological work, is the depiction of characters. Let's say story in here is just an excuse for presenting the characters.
Great. Some may like it, others may not. I loved it. Reality in drawing adds a lot to the reality of emotion. And as I said in the beginning the story and the characters are depicted with visuals not with dialogues. It is hard to describe it with words but I hope in your life, you have seen a scene, a frame in reality which is so poetic that it immediately evokes certain feelings. The art in this anime is designed for recreating that feeling. Visuals are filled with so much meaning that they are naturally poetic, which is also difficult to be in a completely fictitious environment. The art is, if I may call it justly, cathartic.
When the visuals are this much strong, the only thing left for the sound is not to kill the visuals and support it. This is exactly what sound does in this anime. It carries the visuals to the next level by creating the reality of the overall atmosphere. The credits music “Last Flower” by its form and content is a concentration of the story of the anime meaning if you compress the entire series into a song, you will probably get something like “Last Flower”. It is sadly weird.
I have never seen more real characters in anime, they are almost more real than the characters of some of the regular movies I have watched. We see three major axis on which the characters are built. One is ferocity towards the mediocrity of the town and its people. Two would be confounding lust with love, a typical trait for teens. Third is lack of courage, thus doing everything on impulse and trying not to face its consequences. Besides these foundations, we can also see the consequences of these foundations on the characters. A clear example would be the repetitions made by Sawa like “Boring boring boring”. These repetitions indicate a small autism which is a product of being shut out of the society which she lives in. Thus her ferocity towards the mediocrity of the town and its people, a trait which determines the nearly all of her actions, is based on her isolation from the society which manifest itself as a small autism indicated by such repetitions. There are other examples for other characters but I will not give them here, because I do not want ruin the fun of understanding such connections.
I enjoyed the show because it has been a while since I've seen such genuine stuff. But this show is not designed for enjoyment.
As someone who did not read the manga, I feel like the show attained its purpose which was the portrayal of the characters for the 1 part. If the show ends here, I am OK with that because once you understand that the events are solely for the exposition of the characters, not much of an event is needed after you understood the characters. The possible next season will show us either how they change or how they stay the same, and the options to what they will change into are pretty limited, so in all cases what happens in the next season is not really important in terms of plot, because the general purpose of the plot is already designated, but the thing that will be important for the next season is the art for sure. Now that we can see where everything is going, what matters is how they are going to portray it. This firm establishement gained by an "ouverture" should be the purpose of every first season. That is why overall I give 10 to this anime. I recommend it not only to watchers but to the producers as well. As a first season, it has function, style, uniqueness, a key combination for establishing anything great.
When it comes to the latest and greatest TV shows, sometimes I feel - as Nakamura would put it - like I'm "drowning in a sea of shit".
My 10/10 rating is ultimately based on this show's potential. Ah, what could have been. It's obvious from the final episode that the creators had every intention to make a second season. Based on the manga, the second season would have been earth-shattering. This first season was just laying the foundation for all that excitement - and what a great job it did!
Let me say, the flack this show gets totally goes over my head. Poor adaptation? Are
you kidding me? This anime is about a million times better than the manga. Where the manga feels half-baked, this season did not shy away from or sugar-coat it's themes of isolation and boredom. And where the manga art does zero justice to it's dark and "alternative" themes, the anime is art is edgy and, yes, very "alternative". Why do people hate the animation so much? It's not cute because it's not supposed to be. I don't believe it's supposed to feel overly polished, either. The realistic proportions and movements of all the characters makes scenes that felt camp in the manga feel believably tense in the anime. And Nakamura's actress is just brilliant. I do agree with other fans, though, that the single best part of this season was the soundtrack. The ending theme has to be my favorite anime ending to date. And the rotating opening themes are super cool for expanding on one character at a time. The quiet background noise for sure also adds an interesting layer to Kasuga's day-to-day boredoms and almost an outer-body attitude to the mess that he is creating.
I have to say, this whole show is a brilliant character study. Kasuga, who prides himself on being "different" for reading classic poetry yet doesn't want to be called a deviant. Nakamura, who's sick of people like him wearing masks, yet deeply troubled and lonely because while she has a hunch that plenty of people share her views, none of them can admit to it. And even Saeki, who finally proves she's not just an angel or muse for Kasuga, but another lying "shit-face" tired of playing the part she's been assigned. I like the characters here much more than I EVER did in the manga. Interesting, since scene-by-scene it's very faithful to the manga. The animation, acting, and music really does make that big of a difference. It feels like a brand new story.
Finally, poor pacing? Okay, this complaint drives me crazy. Because obviously you're crazy to say such a thing. The pacing in this show is so, so, so consistent. That's more than I can say about the pacing for most anime. Consistency is the single most important aspect of pacing, and it takes effort to achieve. Yeah, this show is slow. Maybe that's not your style. But at least it was intentional. Everything about this show is very intentional, if experimental, and done with care and purpose. This show has vision. It's okay if you don't like it's vision or angle, but don't dare put it in the ranks of other thoughtless, forgettable shows. The director did say he wanted this show to make a strong impression, even if that impression is a bad one. I guess I shouldn't be so upset this show gets so much hate, because as they say, the opposite of love is not hate - it's indifference. Bad publicity is good publicity?
Still upset about this show's poor ratings. Forever pissed that we didn't get a second season.
People who flame this anime without even giving it a try are the kind of people Kasuga and Nakamura hate - boring people glued inside a comfort zone. Such experimental and creative anime should be celebrated and encouraged. I'd much rather watch a show that takes risks, even if some of those risks fall flat, than one with a dime-a-dozen formulaic plot and style. Take Nakamura's advice and embrace the deviant inside of you. Embrace the risque, embrace the abnormal. Embrace this show. And shows like it. Hopefully, next time something this unique rolls out, people will give it a chance and give it a second season.
Teenage angst, love triangles, and melodrama are all really tacky aspects for a series to handle, but if there’s one series that does a near impeccable job handling these aspects, it’s Aku no Hana.
The pacing is slow. It’s really, really, really slow, but it works. It works brilliantly. It was a little jarring at first with how slow events were taking place, but then it became clear that this show just would have never worked if it paced itself faster. Aku no Hana takes its time building up the atmosphere, beautifully fleshing out the characters and bringing them to life. Aku no Hana doesn’t like
to make scenes snappy, instead it takes as much time as it wants drawing them out.
While watching Aku no Hana, I didn’t feel like I was watching ordinary anime anymore, but real life events unfolding right in front of my eyes. I felt like I was actually a passerby standing right in the scene, observing everything that was going on. I wasn’t in my room anymore, I was there. That’s how immersed I was with the whole experience.
And an ugly experience it was. A beautifully ugly experience.
Aku no Hana never once showcases the beauty of human nature, society or the world we live in. It doesn’t even end on a hopeful note. Aku no Hana throws you out of your comfort zone and blatantly tells you how cruel and cynical our world can really be at times, that sometimes there really is no hope.
Aku no Hana achieves this bleak theme with the main cast who no longer feel merely as characters, but as actual human beings. They’re fantastically well-acted and far from likeable in a believable way. Kasuga isn’t a terrible person, but he makes rash decisions and digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole by running away from his problems. Nakamura is so insecure and broken down inside, that she instills this narrow mindset where people are either deviants or not. Saeki is foolish and completely driven by her infatuation for Kasuga.
By the end, all three characters wore me down so much that I was yelling at their naivety and ultimately putting my face in the palms of my hands, but not because the decisions they made were poorly written and delivered, but quite the opposite. Every character mirrors reality perfectly, so much that’s it’s almost terrifying.
Aku no Hana screwed with my perspective on life the same brilliant way Aoi Bungaku and Welcome to the NHK did as I watched it. But alas, there are just a few flaws with the series. Yes, it was a little uneventful at first, the series ends on a major cliffhanger, but more importantly the series just became so abrasively dark that I eventually grimaced through the final episodes.
Do I recommend?: Aku no Hana is a rare anime that captures the atrocious side of life perfectly, but it’s hard for me to recommend a series like this. The fact that the show is so downright cynical will turn people away as well as the incredibly slow pacing. If you like dark psychological drama, give this one a chance and see for yourself.
Zexcs has probably done the most bold thing of the season by animating Shuuzou Oshimis manga, Aku no Hana.
Apparently the manga was quite popular in advance and many people were looking forward to the adaptation. Yet after the first episode an uproar of many angry fans has shaken the industry. People were pissed and the show suddenly went to the lowest rated TV series on MAL.
I on the other hand finished the episode and it left quite a good impression on me. After I went to the forums I saw the gigantic flame war and was confused. Why are people so mad?
The answer lies in
rotoscoping. A technique, were you take live action footage and draw over it so it looks like an animated show. Shows like Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly, or Mind Game all use this Technique, as well as many other shows.
Without questioning whether it is good or bad, I ask a different question. If Aku no Hana is based on live action footage with real actors, can it be considered an anime? I think yes, though it is in this weird middle ground between live action drama and anime.
Disregarding whether or not it is an anime, I ask a second question, is it good?
Aku no Hana takes place in a small town in the middle of nowhere in japan. Takao Kasuga is a middle school student who is interested in literature, especially into Baudelaire’s work, Aku no Hana.
He is also in love with one of his class mates, Nanako Saeki, who is his “muse” and source of inspiration.
One day he forgets his book in class and picks It up after everyone left, as he spots Saekis gym cloths and steals it on impulse. He feels guilt and shame and tries to bring it back but the antisocial loner, Sawa Nakamura saw him steal the gym clothing and now controls his life, trying to turn him into a deviant.
Though it is set in a normal middle school it takes a more dark approach than most other school based anime, and right from the start focuses on drama and tension instead of romance and comedy. It’s interesting and comparatively unique as a school anime and quite fresh especially in light of all the more cute and fun shows that normally air.
The show is extremely slow paced. I haven’t read the manga but many people complained it covers only a little of it so I guess it is much slower than the manga version.
Yet I have no problem with the slow pacing as it creates immense atmosphere you don’t see that often anymore. There are sometimes scenes of people walking or just background lasting several minutes with very minimalistic ambient music in the background. It’s quite daring to do this, in nowadays more fast paced oriented anime world and I liked it quite a bit. It reminded me of some scenes in Serial Experiments Lain, Texhnolyze and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
If you are not a fan of slow pacing though I think you will not like it for that.
The Events and interactions are all quite simple though, you have Kasuga being controlled by Nakamura the entire time. They mostly talk and sometimes do things. It revolves mostly just around the 3 main characters and side characters just spice it up, but are never directly involved in the events.
Though it’s not super interesting. The things that happen revolve around normal first love/dating events plus Nakamuras devilish twists to those. It gives the overall story a good amount of tension and you always wonder “how in the world will this end well?”.
Speaking of how it will end well. The things that happened were also quite realistic, nothing internally destroyed the logic of the show, though you sometimes asked yourself how stupid Kasuga is, yet everything that happens makes sense within the personalities and world. There are no visible plotholes or desu ex machina, consequences are real, though not always as you expect them to be.
Sadly the show ends in a preview for a possible second season. I will most likely watch it when it comes out because it picks up where the buildup left.
Aku no Hana had some of the most realistic written characters I’ve ever seen in an anime. Maybe it comes from the fact they were actors, but it’s also the things they say, the way they react and the world around them. There are no silly school archetypes, no moe girl, no tsundere, no slapstick or fanservice as in other shows that revolve around school.
Takao Kasuga, is somewhat an outsider. He thinks of himself as better than others, though is introverted. He has a massive sense of righteousness and romanticizes not only Saeki but also his literature and the fact that he feels so different.
Yet he is easy to manipulate, emotionally unstable and is drawn to the wrong decisions. No really he is that guy in a horror movie who opens the door to the monster and gets killed and you are screaming “NO NO NOT THAT DOOR YOU IDIOT WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU GONNA GET KILLED!”.
It was pretty frustrating to watch him stumble from one bad decision to the next, especially when Nakamura takes over his life and he is to weak minded to fight back. There are several occasions he could have gotten out of the mess he was in. Burry Saekis clothing in the ground, throw them in a river, burn them down. But he never did. He only once tried to get rid of them but was too hysterical to do so.
His naïve sense of right and wrong is also extremely annoying but at the same time interesting. He is insecure and has a low self-esteem but hides behind his supposed intellectualism and books.
Sawa Nakamura is the crazy girl from Takaos class. She is offensive, insulting and acts how she likes. She is manipulative and overall I would call her a true sociopath. She is not intelligent but very charismatic. She was just as unlikable as Takao though. I hated her and her attitude and emotional instability. If I was Takao I would not have given her any attention and probably blamed the stolen underwear on her.
Yet she is one of the more interesting characters in anime history. Her evil nature and playful destructive behavior is sometimes quite entertaining. She also is the driving force for all the drama in the show, as she puts Takao into worse situations the more they spend time together.
My biggest problem though is that is never explained why she is such a “crazy bitch”. She comes from a relatively normal household, grew up without a mother and just her father who seems like a nice guy as well as her grandmother who also is very nice. It kinda feels sketchy and she is just crazy so the story has a crazy person.
You know Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki, she was also insane, but at least it was explained why she was insane, while Nakamura is apparently just insane.
Saeki is the class’ most popular girl. Kasuga loves her but at first he is invisible for him. Later when he stands up for Nakamura she adores his brave protection of her and seeks him out. Her character is also hard to understand. She later finds out about what Kasuga did but still likes him nonetheless.
Apparently she hates her sheltered perfect life and sees Kasuga as an interesting boy. Also she explains how she never had any male friends before and Kasuga seems to be the first interesting male she came into contact with.
The rest of the side characters are just extra and I don’t feel the need to go into them as they are almost unimportant for anything that happens.
Overall the main characters of Aku no Hana are very realistic and have a deep intertwined relationship. From this the entire plot and drama derives and makes the show interesting. Even though none of them is likable (at least for me) but their characters are interesting enough to watch.
Art and Animation
I will try to make it brief.
I liked the artstyle of Aku no Hana. The rotoscope was special and different. We might argue about the quality of it and how it makes the show less of an anime and how the characters are not cute and all.
But fact is, if Aku no Hana would have had a traditional artstyle with traditional character designs like those in the manga, it would have been less interesting as it is now. It’s good that a season has a black sheep that goes against the norm so it doesn’t stagnate and becomes the same shit we’ve seen a million times before. And I reward differentness.
Also the backgrounds are fucking beautiful looking. They are highly detailed (probably because they are based on real life) and add to the immersion and atmosphere.
The sometimes used evil flowers also add to the slightly surreal nature of the show and were a great addition effect wise.
In the end I enjoyed the art of Aku no Hana as it was something that I don’t see often and it made the show more interesting. Sure it doesn’t look perfect and beautiful like other school anime do, but it fits the more mature and dark tone of the show much better.
I can’t really call it voiceacting in Aku no Hana as they actually had their own voice. So I will just call it acting.
And it was great. The actors did a fantastic job, they had a great variety of emotions and gave the personalities of their characters great impact.
The openings were all pretty weird and had this ironic tone. They didn’t fit music wise but lyrics wise and I think it was intentional. I couldn’t like them but give credit for their dementia feel.
The ending song on the other hand is great. I don’t know what the song is called right now but you can find it and give it a listen, it’s very avant-garde and the first time this song kicked in in the first episode I was almost blown away. Definitely my favorite song of the season.
The rest of the soundtrack was also great. It was mostly atmospheric ambient. Some might find it boring but it hit my nerve and I will get my hands on it soon. It makes the show much more gloomy and atmospheric and helps the dark themes.
It’s hard to say how much I enjoyed Aku no Hana. It was a very exhausting show to watch. The tension and stupidity of the characters made me cringe but also look for more. As I said about Kasuga it was like watching a horror movie in which the characters always did the wrong things. It pisses you off but you want to see how it all ends.
Overall though I think it is one of the best show of the season and that’s thanks to the fact of how daring it is.
Art and Animation 6/10
Artstyle +1 (rotoscope is different and special)
Quality -1 (the execution was pretty bad though)
Background +1 (Fantastic backgrounds)
Character Designs 0 (They are real humans what do you expect them too be designed after?)
Visual Effects 0 (sometimes the flowers of evil but rarely used)
Voice Acting +1 (for overall good acting)
Opening and Ending 0(the ending was great, the openings weird)
Soundtrack +1 (Gloomy and Atmospheric)
Sound Effects 0 (Nothing notable)
Story or Content 4/10
Premise and Setting 0 (It's still just a school drama...)
Pacing 0 (Slow but increased the feeling of dread)
Complexity 0 (simple story, simple world, interesting themes though!)
Plausibility 0 (internally coherent but will make you facepalm at how stupid the MC is)
Conclusion -1 (no real end...)
Personality +1 (some of the most realistic and excentric people you've ever seen in an anime)
Behavior and Chemistry +1 (Kasuga and Nakamura create great tension)
Development and Progression +1 (Kasuga slowly becomes a worse human being and removes his sense of righteousness)
Motivation and Backdrop 0 (not everything was well explained, though the motivations are not out of no where)
Likability -1 (argh those people piss me off!)
Art and Animation +1 (I like different)
Sound +1 (great soundtrack)
Story and Content 0 (interesting but hard to watch)
Characters 0 (interesting but fucking idiots)
Value +1 (special anime and went into MAL history and probably everywhere else as well)
Aku no Hana is not for everyone. It is tough to watch, has some of the most annoying characters and an off putting artstyle.
If you are looking for something that sticks out of the normal then please go ahead and watch it. It's not a master piece and has many flaws. But at least it is ignoring what is popular and makes its own thing which I respect deeply.
I appreciate anime trying something a little different when it's appropriate. Flowers of Evil is a pretty good example of the kind of manga you should be doing this with. A teenage boy idolises a pretty girl in his class but then gets roped into stealing her gym clothes by nothing more than his own secret desire to defile her. It's a reactionary piece to trends in popular culture that references a 19th century poem which was also a reactionary piece to trends in poetry and art at the time. The mangaka didn't want a straight adaptation of his work, and only accepted when the
director of Mushishi Hiroshi Nagahama came along with his radical idea. His adaptation was a reactionary piece to the response people who saw Flowers of Evil as, to put it in the words of the original author, "Nakamura unf unf".
I can see what they were going for with this adaptation. It shoves back in the face of the people who saw, in what was supposed to be a story about our creepy desires to defile the ideals we hold to be pure, an overly elaborate piece of NTR erotic fiction. These are real people, not the idols that you fetishise. It's supposed to heighten the sense of unease we get over the actions the characters take in this elaborate piece of NTR erotic fiction. At least, that's what I think it's supposed to be doing. It's certainly what a lot of the early chatter around this show suggested it was trying to be. Problem is that this was not only poorly implemented, but also seemed to have fuck all to do with the main theme of the actual story Flowers of Evil was telling.
Tell me Flowers of Evil, what are you supposed to be about? Is it about the mind-numbing mundanity of everyday life and screaming to get out, or is it about wanting to defile the things you hold pure? Because one half of the series focuses on one of those themes and the second half on the other. You could argue the two are connected, but then you'd be wrong. The directing likes to spend forever showing a decaying town and characters walking really slowly along streets with the only background music being a man randomly hitting a piano key every 10 seconds. I guess this is supposed to show how friggen boring everyday life is, although that's the director deliberately making his show boring and tedious to watch to make an artistic statement, for which I would like to kindly ask him to please take his head out of his own backside.
The second half of the story tries to focus more on trying to escape this mundanity, but this mundanity is presented as a crappy thing. The idolisation of purity is presented as a more careful balance between whether purity or defilement is the way to go. There's one attempt made in the entire show to marry these two scenes in an absolutely amazing scene at the end of episode 7 where the two characters destroy a classroom in a giant obvious metaphor for sex. But the series seemed to blow its load in that episode and after that spent its time piddling away doing next to nothing. Then again, before that scene, the show spent most of its time piddling away doing next to nothing. At least then it was novel and I could kid myself this was going to lead to something. Spoiler warning (although this isn't really a spoiler at all) no it doesn't go anywhere. Instead the show ends on a fucking montage of all the things that happen later in the manga that will never get animated because this show was never going to get a sequel and was pathetically stupid of the creators to even think that it would.
The biggest problem of all is simply that it's a goddamn boring anime to watch. Once the novelty wears off, and it will, you come to the realisation that only one thing happens per episode. No really, only one thing happens in each episode. The rest is padded with shots of people walking and the main character panicking. The camera liked to linger on the town falling apart, which I think was supposed to tie into this idea of the town being decaying and boring. But the show also lingered on Nakamura, lingered on the main character, heck it even lingered on the picture of the poet the main character kept in his room. This rendered the entire directing choice of lingering on anything completely pointless and only served to drag out the episode even further, which on reflection probably was the only point. The main character...also talks...like this...most of...the time...taking...deep breaths...between every....other word....he says. It's supposed to show his panicked mind, but I couldn't take it seriously after a while and just started hearing the kid from Malcolm in the Middle in the wheelchair with the missing lung.
Also I'm just going to say it: The rotoscoping looks dumb. I'm not a fan of this animation technique even when it's done well, but here it has characters spazzing out when they move and that curious way faces aren't drawn in when they're too far away from the camera but as they get closer the faces get drawn in as though we're on a crappy video game system and the textures only just loaded in. They got people in their 30's to play these middle school kids so it's way more difficult to swallow their middle-school stupidity when you can clearly see they don't look 14. Sometimes it's able to capture these wonderful moments of expression on their faces, particularly the joy on Nakamura's face during the classroom destruction scene, but most of the time their features look like they're are drooping off their face like they're made of plasticine and they've been out in the sun for too long.
I do appreciate the effort, and at the time I did enjoy picking Flowers of Evil apart to get at its juicy core themes. Unfortunately the more it went on and the more I picked at it, the more it started to come apart for me. There's evidently fuck-all enjoyment you can get from it on a surface level, and it was clearly asking to be picked apart for its themes. I like that it got weird moe fans all angry over their beautiful manga waifu longer being pretty, but stripping the sexuality away from a story that was precisely about dealing with sexual urges diminishes the point of the story in retrospect. All in all I'd class the whole thing as a failed experiment. An interesting experiment certainly, albeit one that is very boring to actually watch.
Either the worst eyesore you have ever witnessed in your entire life, or your salvation from a miserable existence without ever having witnessed this gracious account of a teenage boy's descent into evil. In the "Reviews" section of this fairly revolutionary-wise visual presentation, those are the only two kinds of reviews you will ever find. In the "Ratings" section, however, you will find a wide range of different people, who have either enjoyed, endured, or dropped this newly classic saga of adolescence. Those traitors! How could they have rated Aku no Hana as anything BUT a 9.0 or higher?! How could they have not savored
the decadent scenes of Kasuga-kun walking through grass for basically half of one entire episode?! How could they have not delighted in the cliffhanger at the end of the series?! All of these little nuisances serve only to truly please the true fans of Aku no Hana. Yes, I am referring to masochists such as myself, who were taken aback by the god-tier skill and passion that was put forth into making each episode painful, and were constantly asking for more by the end of each episode. Let us unite and spread the good word amongst the deviants!
Anyways, on to the review. Please note that the actual novel, Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, does not play as big a role as you might have thought. Sorry for the disappointment, folks.
STORY l 10 l
In this particular anime, we start off by being introduced to Kasuga-kun, our beloved protagonist for this series, and the dull setting that he is immersed in. Basically, he lives in a tranquil, quiet town, where nothing commercial/big has reached. The buildings are soft and crumbling, and the shrubbery and trees softly melt into the clear, distant sky, setting the perfect mood for absolute chaos to bloom. Kasuga-kun is a junior high student, and is walking to school, when suddenly, BAM! nothing out of the ordinary happens at all. Anyways, in his class, Kasuga-kun is almost a complete loner, save for the geeks that he has attracted. Most of his classmates view him as weirdo, who is obsessed with books (Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, in particular); and it turns out that he is. It turns out that we get to listen in on almost every single thought that enters his mind, narrated in the voice of Morgan Free- Ueda, Shinichirou, I mean. Anyways, he's obsessed about this one girl named Saeki, Nanako, who just so happens to be one of his classmates. He literally acknowledges her as his reason to live, and seriously worships her accordingly. Despite this, he hesitates to check her out during P.E., as the other guys do (Good Guy Kasuga-kun). Too bad Saeki quite literally does not acknowledge him at all. Another important character to take note of here is Nakamura, Sawa. Alright; now, the actual story is set in motion when Kasuga forgets his copy of Les Fleurs du Mal at school. When he comes back to retrieve it, he is greeted by Saeki's bag of goodies (her bag of gym clothes), and upon an impulse, he grabs it, and runs like hell, the bag in one hand and his book in the other. Little does our Kasuga-kun know, though, that a certain girl (Nakamura) was loitering afterschool, and caught a glimpse of a certain someone stealing another certain someone's clothes. Oh, boy.
ART l 9 l
Now, despite how everyone was complaining about "rotoscoping", a technique of animation which they probably picked up from this anime page's forums, have no idea about the ethics of it, and have been tossing it around like monkeys with their own feces, I'd like to state otherwise. Although it's verily painful at first glimpse, it's simply beautiful once you get used to it, and it'll grow on you. Anyways, onto the concept of rotoscoping, and its ethics in being used in anime. Rotoscoping is basically an ancient form of art, with evidence of its use in any type of animation being as early as 1915. It is quite literally, the art of drawing over recorded material; just drawing anything at all is incredibly hard, so you should get off the animators' backs when you criticize any type of animation. Also, for those who have claimed that rotoscoping was used in this instance because there wasn't enough funding, let me tell you why that is bull feces. Instead of simply animating out of scratch and having voice actors create their magic, so much more was financed in renting a place to film, having a film crew, also having animators, and paying extra for actors who would fit the role, and work twice as hard as simple voice actors. If this was too long, and you didn't read it, then it can be summed up with: Anyone who criticizes animation should just go do it themselves.
SOUND l 9 l
Aku no Hana has one of the most beautiful original soundtracks my ears have ever been witness too; and I've even listened to Yoko Kanno's works. You have Uchujin's already well-established works with different vocalists doing the opening songs, and ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY's simply genius song, "Hana -a last flower-", fit one of the anime's most important themes about evil blooming like flowers. Aside from the OST, the background sounds to several settings within the anime are done masterfully, effectively simulating the exact same feel as though it were a picture. That is, assuming they didn't just use the clean-cut background sounds from the footage that they had recorded. If so, then anyone may correct me on that point. Also, the actors had done a wonderful job of voicing who they were meant to act as.
CHARACTER l 8 l
Character. The lowest point of 8 in my rating. I might be mistaken in judging these characters, but what the hell. Alright, first, we have our first main character, Kasuga-kun. At first, we are shown that he is a vigilant bookworm, with a passionate love/desire for Saeki. With time, his character quite literally withers into an emo teenager who actually does repeat "I'm empty!" several times in a certain episode. By the end, though, you become witness to the beautiful emergence of Kasuga-kun out of a symbolic cocoon; anything more would spoil the entire anime for you guys. Next up, we have Nakamura-san, who is, instead of Saeki, the next most important character in this anime. All throughout the anime, basically, you can sum up Nakamura-san as an absolute bad-ass angel of chaos, who seeks nothing but a companion for the end of the world (symbolically); or, if you're a normal person, then a crazy, red-haired demon. Also, by the end, you are shown more of what had motivated her to do the things that she had done. Next, is Saeki-san, the next important character within this story. She is basically an angel from heaven, a blessing for her friends and family, and a sight for sore eyes if you're an abstinent male. Kasuga-kun has completely fallen for her, and with this honest emotion, she can't help but feel it mutual. It's a relatively short relationship, though, so celebrate Kasuga-kun's luck with brevity! Anyways, later on, Kasuga-kun is put between a rock and a hard place, when he absolutely must decide between two of the lovely ladies. You must watch it in order to find out what happens next!
ENJOYMENT l 10 l
Every Saturday/Sunday/Monday (whenever it was available to me from ggsubs), I would sit dutifully in my chair and watch Aku no Hana in perfect silence, absorbing all that I could from it. I honestly enjoyed this anime a lot, because again, I am quite the masochist. This anime will fulfill anyone looking for chaotically pristine drama, and will destroy anyone who isn't looking for salvation within this anime. I very much recommend this anime to anyone who is looking for something to marathon when you have nothing else to do, because there literally is no other way to watch it but in a marathon (unless you were stuck in purgatory, waiting each week for the newest episode to be subbed, like I, and many of my brothers in the Spring of 2013 anime season). I might have enjoyed it quite a bit due to the fact that it sort-of mirrors my adolescence a bit. Oh well, whatever.
OVERALL l 9 l
Alright, I'm not gonna be a tyrant here and absolutely make everyone who bore through my review watch it, but just watch it, if you have even the slightest interest in it.
Aku no Hana is the sort of anime that makes you feel nasty inside, but you still feel like you have to know what happens next - like looking at gore for the first time, it's real and it scares you, but you're so curious as to how it looks, that you keep exposing yourself to it.
Now, Aku no Hana's plot thus far can be noted as impressive. The continuity of themes and information is all there. If you start watching this anime sometime after the 1st episode, I guarantee you won't know what's going on. It is also well paced, making sure that the
events in the episode are substantial enough to deviate from the "filler" label, and leave the viewer wanting to see the next episode. Aku no Hana does this in a unique way as well, usually ending episodes with a scene that could qualify as the episode's true climax.
Art was dope, nuff' said. Aku no Hana uses realistic, truly humanoid depictions of characters without seeming pretentious. Mannerisms and speech are very richly pronounced. The scenery is awesome, not too particle-based Heaven's Lost Property cartoony awesomeness, but detailed, almost freehand landscapes and features. When you see the way they show the water in a river, you'll know.
The soundtrack for Aku no Hana isn't anything too amazing, but for the series and its intended purpose of scaring the shi-- I mean establishing a rather darker mood, the music works. Aku no Hana opens up with not necessarily brighter, but more up-tempo and instrumental music pieces with very well written lyrics. The episodes tend to contain moon-setters as opposed to signature themes with replay value. Monotone humming for scenes with great tension, that type of deal. At the close of every episode, they transition into the abstract ending song by playing the vocal part by itself behind dialogue, then letting the instrumentation drop in. It's a great fit for the ending scenes especially, and if you watch, you'll get it.
The characters were well developed across the board. I think Kasuga, our protagonist's purpose was made very clear. Typical conflicted teenager met with stimulus he's not built to sustain yet making poor decisions and later having to face them. Though, his monologues are usually rich with foreshadowing and poetic allusions, making them twice as intense. And of course, Nakamura, the backwards red-headed antagonist of the story, as well as maiden Saeki, are developed quite well.
I gave Enjoyment a low rating, cuz frankly I don't really "enjoy" the anime, but I can appreciate it. Like a good horror/psychological piece, I don't particularly enjoy watching it as it frightens me/disturbs me, but I can give it ups and downs towards its production. It will definitely stick with you on a negative note, but you'll keep coming back simply because it's as interesting as a believable ghost story.
Overall, Aku no Hana is a well made series thus far and frankly I encourage those who haven't started it yet and like a little bit of strange, eerie tension to compliment their dark nights alone at home, to watch it.
Flowers of Evil is a coming of age story that borrows its title from the very famous volume of poems by Charles Baudelaire. This was based on a successful manga and directed by the same guy that did Mushishi. These elements seem like they would combine to make an absolute masterpiece of universal acclaim...unfortunately that isn't quite what happened.
When the original mangaka, Shuzo Oshimi, talked to director Hiroshi Nagahama, they had some creative differences that in my opinion adversely affected the anime. Nagahama felt that the story was very personal and realistic, so it would lend itself more towards a stage production or perhaps a
TV miniseries. However, Oshimi was insistent that it be turned into a successful anime, so Nagahama decided to compromise by using rotoscope animation to give it a more realistic feel. In case you were unaware, rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films and TV shows. An excellent example of Rotoscope animation done right would be the year 2000 film Titan AE. Incidentally, this was also the film that almost single-handedly ended the use of rotoscoping in big budget animated films in the West. Despite a solid script by Joss Whedon and fun characters, it struggled to find an audience and lost a LOT of money at the box office, becoming one of biggest bombs in Hollywood history! This is because good rotoscoping is an INSANELY expensive process and after Fox Animation Studios went bankrupt as a result of Titan AE bombing, it was seen as far too risky vs. cheaper and less labor intensive CGI animation. It is possible to use rotoscoping on a small budget, but it will look UNGODLY horrible like Adult Swim's "Tom Goes to the Mayor". If you know anything about Japanese film and television, you are well aware that the Japanese generally don't believe in having sky high budgets. The decision to use rotoscope on a highly limited budget was the single largest flaw with this anime. Fans accepted that Mushishi moved at a snail's pace because it had beautiful art and animation. If it looked like Tom Goes to the Mayor, it simply wouldn't have the same critical acclaim that it does!
Story and characters:
The main character is named Takao Kasuga and he is a socially isolated teen in a small town that likes to read classic poetry and feels isolated from his rural, working class peers. He is sort of like a less abrasive version of Holden Caulfield if I had to compare him to anyone. Takao especially loves Baudelaire and constantly bemoans the fact that none of his peers like French literature. Meh, if he wanted to know what isolation feels like he should try being a Russian literature fan in the deep south United States! Takao has a crush on a pretty girl (it is difficult to tell with the puke inducing animation) named Saeki and considers her to be his "muse". One day, Kasuga decides to impulsively steal Saeki's gym clothes and bring them home, but he is caught by the class stalker and social outcast named Nakamura. Kasuga feels extreme, crippling guilt over stealing the underwear and allows himself to be blackmailed by Nakamura and forced to do outrageous deeds in order to prevent Saeki from learning the truth. The problem is that the plot often seems like a comedy, but plays itself extremely straight faced and serious! Kasuga's guilt over stealing panties and acting like he just murdered his own family is so melodramatic and absurd that it is impossible to take seriously! Imagine taking the famous painting "Ivan the Terrible and his Son Ivan" and replacing the corpse of his murdered son with a pair of ladies underwear!" Look into his horrified, tormented eyes and feel his pain!!! This anime expects you to observe such a painting thoughtfully and NOT laugh your ass off, which is asking a lot! The other major problem is that the romance between Kasuga and his blackmailer Nakamura is telegraphed from the 2nd episode, and yet at no point does she EVER become remotely likeable or sympathetic!
I mentioned in the production section pretty much everything I wanted to say about the art. Basically, it isn't just bad, it is an absolute effrontery to your senses.
There really isn't much of a soundtrack to speak of. Occasionally an atonal and unsettling theme will play, but mostly it uses silence. Once again, the silence worked in Mushishi because there was pretty art to look at and allowed the viewer to become absorbed. When your art is an absolute abortion, the strategic use of silence doesn't work effectively!
Flowers of Evil is an anime with a LOT of problems in my opinion, but that doesn't make it a horrible anime. This was a highly ambitious project that tackled real themes that teenagers must deal with and has some instances of good writing, high culture, and impressive intelligence. The main character at times can be sympathetic and if this were a well directed stage play that perhaps toned down the panty stealing "played straight" melodrama, it would be at least very respectable if not loveable. It turned out kind of a mess, but I DO award points for effort and I think a 6/10 rating is honestly pretty fair for this one.