I sure bet this finale wasn’t divisive at all.
Man, that was … something. I’m still sorting out how I felt about the whole thing. I was definitely into it at the beginning as Kasuga looked through Nakamura’s room. It’s really about as visually interesting as the creators could have made it. Dutch angle is a pretty obvious way to go, but the line of sight tricked me into thinking we were looking at the room through Kasuga’s eyes as he entered, so him entering from the side adds a subtle bit of visual weirdness to the start of the scene. Then you’ve got the little details throughout the room. I chuckled a bit at the shot of the two outfits Nakamura has worn during the series. We’re basically seeing her entire wardrobe there. Look, I thought it was amusing, OK?
I do wish the show hadn’t gone out of its way to point out the holes in the wall. I actually didn’t notice them at first, because my eyes were drawn to Kasuga, but it’s a detail most people would probably see eventually. Then you’d get the whole thought process of, “Wait, are those holes in the wall … ?” and you’d be left to wonder in what state Nakamura did that. Before she met Kasuga? After? I think leaving it for the viewer to discover in a more subtle way makes it more unnerving, because it’s really the one detail in the room that makes it abnormal. Really, Nakamura is out of the house so much that I doubt she uses the room for more than a place to crash at night and get dressed in the morning, or to do the occasional scribble in her journal.
Ah, yes, the journal. So simple and heartbreaking in its own way. It’s actually a jarring reminder that these are middle schoolers we’re watching. (And not high schoolers, as I’ve seen people occasionally refer to them.) This seems like (and is) a simplistic way of humanizing Nakamura, but that’s really the point. Despite the intensity of her emotions and the unique way in which she acts on them, she is at her core quite a young person. She expresses herself simply and directly, so the emotions on the page are more raw and bare.
Then Nakamura tells Kasuga to take a fuckin’ hike in a creepy way. Yikes!
After that is where my feelings get more mixed. The extended series of flashbacks indicate yet again that Kasuga believes he has regressed, which is why he walks backward through scenes we’ve already seen and concludes the flashbacks with a picture of himself as a child. He wanted to separate himself from the drudgery of the town, to become some unique and with worth, and found that he couldn’t quite do it. But now with a little more self-awareness, he wants to give this another go and see where it takes him. And … that’s where the flash-forward comes in. Honestly, this is a bit weird and confusing to me, because I don’t know what happens beyond this point, so the only context I had for what I saw was what little I could parse. From Kasuga’s point of view, though, perhaps he is thinking about what could come from this? Going against the “normal” course of life is often chaotic, confusing and difficult, and maybe Kasuga took a deep look inside himself to see if he still had the will to stand by Nakamura. Could he stand up to an imagined future of terror and confusion?
That’s the way I see it, anyway. If that’s the intention, it doesn’t totally work for me because I’m not quite invested enough in Kasuga for that to have a genuine emotional impact. (Or, at least, the kind of emotional impact you use to bring a series/arc to a close, because I’m not a total unfeeling monster.) The idea is nice, but what’s shown holds very little meaning for me, so beyond making a connection to Kasuga’s desire to reform his bond with Nakamura and wondering along with everyone else what this means for a second season, I was mostly ambivalent about that part. It’s a somewhat interesting approach, at least.
Here we are at the end. I didn’t totally buy the conclusion, but I did appreciate the effort, and it doesn’t really taint my enjoyment of the previous episodes too much. I did appreciate Flowers of Evil more as a twisted dark comedy than as emotional drama, but the slower, more atmospheric moments did work for me most of the time. I enjoyed seeing the series try a bunch of things anime doesn’t do all that often, for good or for ill. But, really, the main thing is I’m just into anything that is Adolescence as Madhouse. I’d like to see a second season of this.