33 CommentsFlowers of Evil / By Shinmaru /

Flowers of Evil 2 – Self-Destruction

flowers-of-evil-nakamura-smile

I’m going to choose a creepy Sawa face to lead off every post, aren’t I? Sawa Sawa.

There’s a lot of stock put into being special, unique. We’ll chase it by any means necessary, even if those means result in terrible pain. That’s what Takao’s actions scream out to me. It’s easy to forget with these actors and visual techniques, but we’re dealing with middle schoolers here. I can still faintly recall what it was like to be one; it wasn’t particularly fun. It wasn’t quite the emotional extreme displayed in Flowers of Evil, to say the least, but I can feel faint echoes of the experience. Shit, even now I occasionally remember dumb things I did at that age and cringe. Imagine being even a little contemplative and reflective back then? Yeesh. Then again, if I were reflective, maybe I wouldn’t have been such an idiot. (Yeah, right.)

Takao is what happens when you give a middle schooler self-awareness. He has the self-awareness to realize that what he’s doing is wrong and to feel shame about it, but he lacks the experience and resolve to make it right. Precious few are those who have the strength to stand up to a mob of mocking middle schoolers. He has the self-awareness to realize his town is a decaying dump, but he doesn’t have the knowledge needed to go beyond that himself yet. Takao holds himself to a higher standard, but the only way he can express that is by eating away at himself and lashing helplessly at others in his mind.

He wants to be different, but the only way he can find to achieve that is by hurting himself.

That’s not a great mindset to be in every day. It’s why I can feel empathy for him even though 1) He’s done something stupid and bad, 2) He’s wishy-washy and 3) He’s a pretentious doof. (To be fair, what well-read person at that age isn’t a pretentious doof? If you actually, legitimately get some of the greater works of literature at that age, then you’re either crazy or you’ve lived a hard ass life.) When Takao walks around saying that he’ll seek redemption even when he’s old and frail? It’s definitely extreme and silly (I doubt Saeki will remember this event nearly as long as Takao will), but it cuts a bit deep, too. For small crimes like this (as terrible and dumb as it is), the guilty party often clings to it far longer than the victim, in my experience.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I don’t think most people enjoy doing bad things. They feel scummy afterward. When they don’t know how to make it right, they balloon those events to ridiculous proportions and gnaw away at themselves. People can be pretty damn forgiving, but it’s easy to forget that in the fear of being judged, especially when that judgment extends beyond a single person. It’s quite fitting that in his desperation to be different — to separate himself from his peers — Takao has shown himself to be just like most people, which makes him all the more empathetic to me.

Obviously I’m not excusing what he does, because it’s super dumb. Takao even knows it’s dumb as he’s doing it, but he does it anyway, because human’s can be real dumb shits. I felt pretty awful for Saeki; the embarrassment of going in front of the class is probably far worse than actually having her gym clothes stolen.

flowers-of-evil-sawa-eyes

I’ve barely brought up Sawa in this post, because I’m honestly not sure what to make of her yet. Unlike Takao, her behavior strikes me as distinctively, purposefully unreal. It’s almost as if she’s the spiritual tormentor the world gives Takao as the punishment he thinks he deserves. “You really want to feel the guilt for doing this? Fine. Here you are.” Kids can be pretty cruel bullies, but Sawa’s bullying feels different than that to me so far.

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33 Comments

  1. Posted April 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    A lot of people do enjoy doing bad things. It’s a stress reliever among many facets, especially in relation to Nakamura’s actions when we delve into her backstory later. Ultimately, it’s an anime version of the prototypical contract with the devil, and I definitely agree. Kasuga’s characterization is fantastic, and it’s largely the phenomenal atmosphere that attests to this.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      True, obviously there are people who enjoy doing bad things. I do feel a bit better hoping that is not too sizable a portion of the population, though!

    • Erif
      Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      Breaking Bad. Case in point.

  2. Kuddlesworth
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    I have been reading the manga so far and have conclude on my personal opinion that the manga is a whole lot better. Not having that ugly looking animation is good enough but having a further progression in the story line is nice.

    • Shadow
      Posted April 13, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, the artstyle of the manga draws you in and you can’t stop. Despite the disturbing moments you can’t help but keep on reading it. Also because the artstyle is really good, you can understand the characters expressions and emotions far better than in the anime.

      And finally to add, the cute/innocents style of the manga is what makes you addicted to it. It’s just like Madoka, it looks cute, that’s why when the mindfucks happen, you go crazy.

      On the other hand, with this anime style, you can’t help but say…what a creepy character. Or laugh at moments where you didn’t in the manga. Seriously, this anime artstyle kills the deeper meaning of the series…

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted April 14, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

        Since when does an adaptation have to mean a straight up translation of the source material? If anything a direct transfer of the manga seems less heartfelt than attempting an alternative take on the proceedings; it might not be as well received but at least it isn’t ripping off each individual panel into a visual format. I’d rather a subpar deviation than an unnecessary clone.

        This isn’t trying to be the manga; I think that was made apparent from the opening scene. It’s a different visual style & a more direct approach to the characters. In order words, an adaptation. People need to deal with that. You might particularly like it or agree with the direction (tbh, from what little I’ve read I also probably prefer the manga’s approach), but constantly decrying it for something it isn’t necessarily trying to be is a tad obsessive. Sound familiar?

        It’s ok guys; it’s fine! The manga is right over there on the shelf, it isn’t going anywhere. Nor is the anime retroactively damaging it. It didn’t with series such as Full Metal Alchemist & it won’t here. No deep meaning is being lost from the art shift; that’s nothing but a rose-tinted appreciation of the source material blocking how you view anything else. Come to think of it, it’s funny how certain themes in the show act as mirrors to some of the controversy surrounding it. How unintentionally meta ^^.

        Listen, I’m not saying you have to embrace the stylistic & directorial changes if you have legitimate issues with them in the context of the anime itself: that would be completely wrongheaded. Nor is it bad to compare with the manga over how aspects differed. However, if you truly just can’t get over the fact that the Aku no Hana anime is presented differently to its manga, then perhaps it’s better to stop watching. It isn’t going to change, so you’re just going to get increasingly agitated & negative, spoiling the show both for you & the people trying to enjoy it on its own merits.

        Tl;dr: HBO’s Game of Thrones is the worst thing ever!

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        I really don’t have an opinion on this right now since I’ve barely read any of the manga. I will say, though, that I do appreciate attempts to switch things up a bit.

  3. Posted April 14, 2013 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    Give Nakamura more budget and she’ll look like the titan that killed Eren’s mom.

  4. Kristen
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    What struck me as odd was that everyone in class assumed the culprit was a pervert. Why is it not brought up that a girl jealous of Saeki stole them from her? Is it because Nakamura would be the first girl questioned, and no one wants to piss her off? Or are perverts just more interesting than petty jealousy?

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      Well, they’re hormone-driven kids, so something related to sex is the first thing that would come to mind, I think.

  5. Nazaren
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Initially, I was turned off by the rotoscoping, and I still wish it was a bit more detailed and emotive… but damn am I glad I put on my serious spectacles and gave it a chance.

    Having not read the manga, the atmosphere is amazing, and Nakamura is so disturbingly gleeful, I don’t know what to expect.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      Everyone has said that it gets way more screwed up from here, so I’m ready for anything!

  6. Rait
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    This whole episode reminded me of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
    That paranoia of getting caught and an inner split between confessing and hiding really went towards similar direction.

    I absoultely love this anime right now.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      If only I were well-read enough to share in this feeling. :(

  7. gedata
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    This episode did not fail to make me cringe, the MC is so damn awkward. He sets up all these walls around himself, only to be shoved right through them by Nakamura, right into Saeki’s breasts. So awkward. Too. Much. Pasta.

    I like it.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I was cringing quite a bit the whole time, haha.

  8. gedata
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    i.imgur.com/p4dq6iP.jpg

  9. Killer Queen
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Is this me or am I sensing “Kill Your Boyfriend” vibes on this one?

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Grant Morrison’s more lucid though.

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

        Maybe I should give this a read! Only Grant Morrison I’ve read before is Arkham Asylum.

  10. Kagamihime
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    The atmosphere for this episode was built up pretty well up until the bicycle scene where he started to spaz and ran as if there were skips in the video frames. Putting that aside, I thought it was pretty damn stupid that Takao was holding the gym bag RIGHT in front of Saeki , her name and class number and all. Yet she didn’t even glance at it when it fell. I read the manga, but can’t remember that happening so if that was the choice of the studio then I have to say that was a weird way to handle that.

    • Nazaren
      Posted April 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, the visible-bag thing bugged the hell outta me, too. Just because he’s thinking of confessing doesn’t mean he was to wear it like a badge of shame… put the bag in another bag! His friends and Saeki have zero awareness, apparently…

      I liked the running/skipping scene though. Thought it was a nice touch of comedy right when it was needed.

    • Kagamihime
      Posted April 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      The thing about that frame skipping was that it succeeded in getting a laugh out of me, but I wasn’t 100% sure if that was even the intended purpose or if it was just laziness. It was so weird and it came so unexpectedly during what seemed like a serious scene.

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

        In my experience, that sort of trick is usually deliberate. To me, it underlines how silly and powerless he is in that moment, while also being a bit funny.

  11. gedata
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I personally don’t suscribe to the idea that if an adaptation takes another approach, it’s magnitudes inferior. I personally couldn’t get into the anime fo Monster since it soulessly mimmics the style of the manga, down to the last panel. I like to see artistic liberties being taken in adaptations, it’s one of the reasons why David Productions take on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was such a pleasure. That said, I can understand why folks who like the manga for Aku no Hana would be so appalled, I mean I’ve seen adaptations ruined by censorship, fillers and filler endings, or bad pacing, but rotoscoping is, well, something else.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      In general, I do like seeing adaptations with a bit more verve behind them, even if I’m unfamiliar with the source material. It doesn’t have to be huge changes, but anything that enhances the transition from one medium to the other is more than welcome to me.

  12. sandberm
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    I think Sawa is testing Takao. Unlike a sophisticated blackmailer, she doesn’t know what this secret is worth to him yet. She didn’t expose him after he ran from her in the bike scene and her deadpan response tells me she thought there would be more negotiation or pleading. I can’t tell if she likes Takao and is gleeful at the thought of having an excuse to be with him, or if she’s just a sadistic nutjob. It will be interesting to see how far she takes it and what his breaking point will be.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

      The scary thought is, what if it’s both?

  13. Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I’ve pondered writing a comparison post between this and Onani Master Kurosawa, precisely because the formation of the contract is where the comparisons end. With rather visceral consequences for Kasuga, I might add.

    I’m personally not fond of the manga because it comes off as a bit too ridiculous to look at thanks to the moe character design. Nakamura is meant to be a rotton character to the core. Keeping the manga designs and having the audience going “Nakamura unf unf” kind of defeats that purpose. Hell, if you look reeeaaaaally hard there’s things to like about anime!Nakamura’s visage too.

  14. basbas
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    From the spoilers I know, I’m wrong, but this episode gave me a feeling like Sawa is trying to help MC. Right after he thought he wanted to run away, she asks him to take her beyond the hill, which is a natural border of the town. She also gives him opportunity to set things straight with Saeki without any witness. If MC wasn’t such a coward, the series could end just right there, thanks to Sawa.

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