This is the look your waifu gives you at the end of every day.
This series is very good at a great many things, but there’s one thing in particular it excels at: that perfect cutting moment of awkwardness leading to horrified laughter. There’s much rawness and emotion in this episode, but it’s the very end that hit me most deeply. During Saeki and Kasuga’s argument, Nakamura remarks on how pathetic everything is. It is a horrible stroke of irony, then, that she’s center stage in the final pathetic moment of the episode: After Kasuga refuses to choose sides and reveals his nothingness, Nakamura can do nothing but be intensely disappointed and attempt to run away from the police when they arrive to round the kids up. That scream when she trips and is taken in by the cop? Horrifying. Even Nakamura is not immune to the stifling nature of this everytown.
I’m usually loathe to use another screenshot so quickly, but Jesus, the awkwardness of this ride combined with the ED. It’s just too fucking much. It’s like the opposite of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure — it’s a crushing march toward doom. It is remarkable how leaden with doom and thrill most events in Flowers of Evil are when what these kids are actually doing is rather unremarkable. Such is the power of a presentation that understands how huge these events are to people who have experienced very little in their lives. For most people at that age, the town they live in is their entire world. I know I knew town I lived in front and back, but outside of that? Everything might as well have been a different planet. The world beyond, so different and full of magic . . . and me never able to get there. Now I can drive and fly and ride the train wherever I want because I am An Adult! Hoorah!
And, heh, don’t think I didn’t notice that Saeki/clean and Nakamura/dirty imagery, you cheeky little show, you. Saeki, though . . . it’s more clear by the episode that she represents how weird and fucked up this pure, clean view of romance is. It’s totally OK for Kasuga to take Saeki’s gym clothes if he does it for TRUE LOVE~~~~ It’s probably for the best that this whole thing falls apart so that Saeki can look back on this after a decade and be like, “Wow, did I actually think that?? Kids are dumb.” Then again, with three episodes remain, I somehow doubt that everything will be peachy keen and squeaky clean from here on out. This is a humiliating event for everyone involved, and because this is a small town, rumors will no doubt spread like wildfire. The fallout at school will be something to see, that’s for sure.
Going back to this scene, though, I’m cool with the decision to toss away all manner of subtlety in favor of full-on emotional rawness. Stripping Kasuga down to his core is a rather obvious metaphor, but how else could this tug of war conclude when Nakamura has been tearing down Kasuga’s walls this entire time? It is only when stripped of any social pretense that Kasuga can admit that he is not the person either Saeki or Nakamura wants. He reads Baudelaire but doesn’t truly understand him (unsurprising considering his age and actions throughout the series), and neither is he someone with the strength to rebel in total against society. Kasuga is just a dopey, ordinary boy in denial that he is ordinary, which, ironically enough, makes him all the more ordinary.
Ordinary isn’t what Nakamura wants; the kind of ordinary Kasuga represents isn’t what Saeki wants. Poor kid just can’t win.