52 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

While I appreciate the effort, Flowers of Evil is crap

lol aku no hana(I know Shinmaru blogged the whole show, but I want my say on this thing)

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.

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  1. TienesMilanesas
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    “The biggest problem of all is simply that it’s a goddamn boring anime to watch.”

    This. This so much. God damn I haven’t watched more than four episodes because of that and I actually like this kind of stuff. Aoi Bungaku, Mushishi, Lain, KnK, all slow things I liked and by god Aku no Hana puts me to sleep all the time.

  2. Ramiel
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Kinda have to agree with you a little bit, Scamp, even though I enjoyed the show for the most part, and looked forward to it week to week (albeit, less so as the show went on). One of my biggest complaints was that they dragged everything on far to long: shots, dialogues, scenes. A few of the episodes were awesome, but some were a whole lot of nothing happening.

    I personally liked the rotoscoping, mostly because it WAS different, and in some cases, was really effective in conveying emotion and body language. But there was also times when it was just plain lazy.

    I liked it as a whole, I just wish they had done more with it, as far as the story went.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Thing is it drew out every scene. When that happens, after a while it starts to lose its effect and just becomes boring.

  3. Killer Queen
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    To be honest, This show and the manga is mixed signals to me. One hand, I can see it as this attempt to show how impulsive teens can be and how they think they know everything and want to brag on how adult they are, and that is something to ponder on in itself. But on the other hand, the anime just pretty much hates you, the audience, and everything associated with the series and is not afraid to do it “for the impact” without reason, without any explanation, this series thinks you are all shit-eaters that no one wonders why you havent gone to Sade for advice.

    Also, as much as throughout this website I say a lot about Nakamura as if she is a psychology thesis, she personally annoys the fuck out of me because she is shown as a deep person who just wants to be understood, but all I get from her is pretty much a dumb cunt who bullies people to think like her. And her fans and maybe the author praise, glorify, and excuse her actions a lot because she is drawn adorably moe. Sorta like those fangirls who praise some psychopaths and criminals and brands them as misunderstood and deep, but really praising them because they are so hot and attractive? That sorta thing. If Nakamura is a character who we love to hate and who is pretty much made to be hated or disturbed by, its at least a better explanation than what I got now,”

    As much as I liked the rotoscope attempt, Its too plain and puts too much on the mundane to make the scenes pretentious, If they however make the anime’s style more like Waking Life, however, where its both visually interesting and unsettling…maybe I can give that a pass.

    Overall… I wish I can understand the anime…but the manga at least has the audacity to be a book to speed up mundane and unsettling scenes. And Characters are walking hipsters who need to be more complex than just this. Just saiyan.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I sort of see where you’re going with Nakamura. Throughout the series I more saw her as an external metaphor for Kasuga’s own inner desires, like the devil on his shoulder idea. Towards the end of the show they did start to strip that idea away, but by that stage I was sort of no longer caring about the show anyway.

  4. Coolwhip
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    As much as I agree with you the enjoyment factor was still there for me. Despite the animation and directing I was fascinated with the story at hand which was essentially about a student dealing with aspects of adolescence. On top of Kasuga’s initial cowardice, it can make for a very frustrating watch. I think what threw most off was the directing and animation which diluted the plot and cut the tension in half sometimes. The manga didn’t have to deal with any of that which made me so enthusiastic about the whole anime, which didn’t do the manga justice.

    And I don’t know what goes through one’s mind when they decide to end the series with a montage of things that make little sense and won’t be elaborated upon. Very disappointing.

    • Erif
      Posted July 21, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

      Won’t be elaborated upon? Did you not see the last bit at the end when it said “End of Part One”?

      I mean, those images were definitely segments from the second volume of the manga, don’t know why that’s so impossible to deduce.

      • Coolwhip
        Posted July 21, 2013 at 3:28 am | Permalink

        I read the manga so I know what happens and what those images were, but for those who haven’t read it can be very confusing. Some people thought it symbolized a future he could have and didn’t actually believe they were events that happen. And is a sequel green-lit? Those images won’t be explained in full unless there is another season which I’m doubtful of. The result being a clusterfuck of pictures.

        I don’t understand why anime feel the need to do this when it can never be absolutely sure of a sequel unless it does astoundingly well and it’s safe to say Aku no Hana didn’t.

      • Erif
        Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        Well I didn’t read the manga and I can say there really isn’t much confusion. Sure you can have a bunch of different interpretations of what that final scene but just the fact that they’ve announced a second season should clear up any doubt of what it is. It doesn’t actually matter if the next season comes into existence or not.

        And if it doesn’t, then that’s even better, because at least we got a glimpse into things to come. It would have been mighty abrupt to end the show with Kasuga’s final words.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        End of part one my hole, this will never get a second season. That’s what’s irritating about this. It ends promising they’ll tell the actual story later, which they could have done with this series if they had just hurried the fuck up

  5. clipeuh
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    To me, Flower of Evil is about the confusion of adolescence and the way selfish people like Kasuga deal with it. He clings onto books as a way to make himself feel superior to those around him even though he’s just as immature as the others. Same thing with Nakamura and her games. They’re trying to approach adolescence from the perspective of an adult (as opposed to the other kids in the class who act just like kids) yet they have absolutely no clue what adult life really is. The “boring” shots as you call them are just a way to put things into perspective to me. We get caught up into their antics and start rooting for one or the other only to go back to normal boring life for the rest of the episode. Their drama doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s done really well with the last episode when Kasuga enters Nakamura’s room. We get this real dramatic shot of the door at the end of ep 12 making us think that something truly terrible was lying on the other side. Yet all that he finds is a notebook where Nakamura writes her childish thoughts and angst. She’s not a monster, she’s just a kid. Just a dumb confused kid. The flash-forward at the end only emphasizes that. This big seemingly complex dramatic stuff can be just condensed into a montage because it doesn’t matter anymore. Their point has been made.

    In a way, it’s criticizing the idealization of high school life that the Japanese have. High school is a deeply confusing embarrassing mess where people make mistakes, try to find who they are and learn to interact with each other. Yet anime presents it as this awesome experience where everyone’s always a-ok and drama is limited to romance. It’s always about whether you get the girl or not. Real high school life isn’t at all about that.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Which I sort of get, but you then run into the problem that you have successfully presented boring teenagers as boring. Telling the world that paint drying is boring is fine, but showing a video demonstrating how boring paint drying is will still be a terribly boring video.

  6. Erif
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t disagree with you more. :/

  7. Posted July 21, 2013 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    Vandalizing the classroom. Confrontation on the mountain road. The lonely walk through the field of flowers of evil. For all the times this show struggled with pacing, visual design, and direction, it smashed a few scenes out of the park that are so uncommonly striking, deeply penetrating, and genuinely grasping the heights and valleys of chaotic human emotion that, in this medium, they entirely validate this show for me.

    If you want faux-intelligent snappy dialogue and cheesecake gifs, there’s a 3rd season of Monogatari for you. But don’t mistake Flowers of Evil for common entertainment. This is a labor of love, yet I doubt it’s supposed to be well liked. It takes risks that often fail, but are well worth taking nonetheless. As I’ve said elsewhere, it proudly displays the intestinal muck and gory details of a lonely, trapped adolescence most media don’t dare approach. And I’ll take as many risk-taking and sincerely honest pieces of art in anime as I can get.

    • Posted July 21, 2013 at 5:03 am | Permalink

      My way of thinking regarding risk-taking anime is this: a risk-taker gets an anime recognized. A risk-taker that succeeds is really good. A risk-taker that doesn’t succeed is used as a punching bag for its life (oh hi thar Fractale, even though the number of risks it took were mostly false), but at least we’ll still remember it for a while, even if it’s for a “how not to do it” guide. Unlike Robotics;Notes, which took no real risks and was so inoffensively bland that no one even remembers it exists despite many people watching it and it ending only four or so months ago.

      Anyways, whilst I admit to over glorifying Flowers once I finished it initally, it was still the only Spring anime series I thoroughly enjoyed. Not sure if it would rank higher or lower than Garden of Words for me at this point though, but I’ll figure that out once I get to ranking the 2013 stuff.

    • Amion
      Posted July 21, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      But the show’s approach ultimately leads nowhere, among other reasons, thanks to adapting an incomplete source material and not having the balls to come up with an original ending that…actually takes a worthwhile risk. It leaves one wondering “…is that all?” and the lame teasers for unanimated material do not help.

      • Maxlous
        Posted July 21, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Why should AnH be heavily penalized for that? Most manga adaptations suffer under a similar position. And why create a half-baked ending when it’s already out there being made? At least they make no bones about it. I think they deliberately found a logical closing point to leave it open for those curious to follow through. Part of an adaptation’s job is to boost manga sales, which this reportedly did. The risk wasn’t in telling a complete narrative, it was the delivery.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Because every other manga adaptation is also criticised for that? Also because without that the story feels hopelessly incomplete which is aggravated further by having the ending be that clipshow of “here’s what you’ll never see”

      • Maxlous
        Posted July 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        It’s a gigantic cock-tease for the manga, yes, and a great one at that. But it also works as a visual orgy that describes the escalating mental synapse between Nakamura and Kasuga. There are other (visceral) ways to respond to directorial decisions than purely literal.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Because, you know, I was really asking Flowers of Evil to emulate the Monogatari series more -_-

      Also hitting it home with, by my count, maybe 3 scenes in the entire 13 episodes is not a good batting count, no matter how good those scenes are. And for all the risks it takes, they aren’t pulled off. That’s why they’re called risks you know.

  8. Nazaren
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed watching it week to week, for the most part. Things were gloriously tense at almost all times, and I was able to tolerate the lingering shots of everything, and the slow pacing. Although I didn’t like the 9-minute piano walking segments as much as other people. It’s similar to “endless eight” in my opinion: we get it, now move on.

    Looking back, however, it’s not a series I would ever watch again. Delving into the minds of bored and disillusioned middle-schoolers is novel, but ultimately it’s boring and trite as fuck, because they’re middle-schoolers. Rotoscoping absolutely shined during some scenes, but not so much so that it made the other 97% of terrible scenes worth it.

    Simply the idea of rotoscoping this seemed to make it more of an artistic statement than an actual experiment, so I can’t see how they expected a sequel to be in the pipe… which more than ruins an already iffy finale.

  9. Stef
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    This is more of a rant than an actual critique, Scamp. While I don’t dismiss everything you write about in this post, it really is just you snapping at the tangible details of why you don’t like the show in a very unstructured manner.

    I am planning the re-watch the show, and am thus reserving my opinion, which is partly why I don’t attack your arguments directly. But I think that my point that you don’t exactly know why you don’t like Flowers of Evil and are therefore hanging on the obvious elements to explain it is really showing. The very way you criticize is flawed, not the arguments themselves.

    This is not a view of the bigger picture that points out the fundamental ways the show didn’t work for you, but pointing out the obvious without further elaboration: pacing, music, general boringness, rotoscoping, casting and acting, and an argument(?) about themes that makes no sense. All of these are disjointed details that all depend on whether you liked them or not, and not if they work for what the show wants to do with them.

    Please Scamp, ask yourself these questions: Why is the show doing these things? What function do they serve? Do these things work within the context of the show? I think you’ll be closer to the fundamental way you didn’t like the series.

    • Cirith
      Posted July 21, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Conceited much?^^ (Mainly the last paragraph.)

    • Posted July 22, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

      Please, Stef, ask yourself this question: did you actually read what Scamp was saying, or do you just like making completely useless points and congratulating yourself over how “objective” you are?

      Because I’m pretty sure he answered every single one of those questions already and explained exactly why he didn’t like the things the show was doing, even if the things it was doing made sense with what the show was trying to accomplish.

      I think if you figure out how to ready properly, you’ll be closer to the fundamental reason why you didn’t understand this review.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Because the obvious are the reasons I don’t like it? Your critique of my critique is dumb. The first half of this review is more bigger picture. The second half is more nitty gritty picking apart how the directing is done, and the final bit sums up why I don’t like the show. Not sure what else you’re looking for

  10. Posted July 21, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    You hit the marks very well why this rotoscoping is bad. The fanboys kept using the same argument whenever someone called the art quality shit. “Go back to your moe anime, dammit, you can’t see the beauty and the artistic quality in this.” Oh, Helllloo? I can’t see what’s so beauty in these shit. Even in rotoscoped state, it’s very clear that these people are in no way middle schoolers. Those bodies! Those thighs! Those butts! Those facial features! This is like watching a bad tv drama where teenagers are played by old men because they can’t find proper actors.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I will say, I did like the one guy whose hand never left his chin.

    • Killer Queen
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      YES. THAT. Another problem with the series for me is the actors behind rotoscopes… They simply did not put younger actors on there! Middle school I know its about early teens and all, but the people in the rotoscope are about High school and College Level, hell… They look like Adults! Unless its on purpose and its just Kasuga reliving his old days like a memory… But then again.

      In fact, if around younger teens actually do this, I can actually appreciate the anime more for its authenticity to the manga. Also, it would be like Gummo or Me and You and Everyone we Know in a way where even younger kids can be unsettlingly disturbing without the supernatural aspects. One reason why Nakamura was effectively disturbing in the manga was because she was a young teen!

  11. Pari
    Posted July 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink


    I guess I’d agree with you in the sense that it didn’t really know which themes to focus on, and sort of ended up developing none of them in any depth. But you could also argue that it’s up to the viewer to interpret & develop their own ideas, because there is *just about* enough material there to analyse. Personally, I’d have liked a tad more substance. I think how much you want Flowers of Evil (or works in general) to reveal is very subjective, and maybe that’s why you didn’t like it…? I’m just guessing, because I don’t think your post really got to the heart of why you didn’t like it.

    Also on the defilement vs. purity thing. I THINK it’s trying to say that sexual/dirty thoughts in adolescence is normal/not something to be frightened of. Nakumara could be seen as a personification of Kasuga’s repressed/sexual thoughts and fantasies that he’s ashamed of (e.g. She suggests that Saiki wants to have sex with him, perhaps because Kasuga secretly wants that to be the case?). Yet Nakumara is seen to have a normal bedroom, thus implying that dirty thoughts are normal? Idk I think I’m just bullshitting at this point.

    Well, at least the anime makes you think, so in that regard it succeeded. It’d probably make a great arthouse film that people at Cannes or Sundance praise endlessly. But I will say the finale was pretty underwhelming.

    • Posted July 22, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      “I THINK it’s trying to say that sexual/dirty thoughts in adolescence is normal/not something to be frightened of.”

      Yeah, initially that seemed like what is was going to be going for, but Nakamura is arguably way more screwed up than Kasuga.

      Like, she is putting him through psychological torture.

      So if Nakamura is supposed to be the one to show how normal these things are, then I really don’t wanna know what this director’s idea of normalcy is.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I do agree that it did give you a lot of things to be subjective about whatever the meaning of it was supposed to be, and that’s largely why I stuck with it right through to the end. I enjoyed trying to work out what it was trying to say and coming up with my own theories. However, as I said in the review, the more I picked at it, the more it fell apart and all my theories started to fall apart.

      Perhaps I was just grasping at wrong straws all along?

  12. Posted July 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I also wasn’t buying the “It’s not boring, it’s a satire on how society is boring!” idea. That’s like saying Oreimo’s a parody of bad moe shows instead of a legitimately bad moe show. The show had a lot of thought, but it was so shoved in its own prostate that the presentation seemed pretentious and full of itself. Felt like the director was going, “Hey look at these movies like The 400 Blows and Au revoir les enfants!” and copied the superficial aspects while not realizing what made these movies good in the first place.

    • Pusswookie
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      Yeah, what people need to realize about parody is that imitating trendy shit while occasionally pointing out that it is, in fact, shit, and shouting “look at this yuji everylead falling in love with his token Tsundere imouto, aren’t we IRONIC?!” isn’t actually a substitute for being genuinely self-aware and still leaves you with a great big pile of shit.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t say its satire. Social commentary maybe. But I agree with the heart of your point that presenting life as boring is just as boring even when you’re making a point with that

  13. DarkEnergy
    Posted July 22, 2013 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Hey Scamp,

    I know this might be too much to ask, but could you put silly captions on every image? I miss those days. Kthxbye.

    Anyways, I’m glad I never watched Flowers of Evil and I have no intention to do so.

    On an unrelated note, R.O.D the TV is a great show and you should watch it. I am willing to debate this fact with anyone.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Too much effort to keep coming up with funny things. So I save them for the monthly post

    • lmm
      Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      RoD the TV is not a good show. It had a few good episodes but became formulaic and such overarching plot as there was was too weird to relate to, undermining the characterisation, while at the same time not being interesting enough to sustain the show on its own.

      Flower of Evil otoh I never found boring, which I think is the main thrust of Scamp’s complaint? Yes, not a lot of plot happens, but it’s so moody, has such a distinctive aesthetic, that it always held my attention.

      • DarkEnergy
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        How is the show formulaic? Each episode is extremely different, whether it’s episode 5’s castle infiltration, episode 9’s random nudity and hyper-violence, or episode 11’s massive plot twist, there is tons of variety. What is “weird to relate to” about the overarching plot? They’re trying to protect each other, reunite with a long-lost friend, stop the bad guys, and save the world. The character’s are likable, unique, and do actually develop throughout the course of the show. How often do you have a book author as the main character of an action series?

        My list is here if you’re interested: http://myanimelist.net/animelist/DarkEnergy

  14. Yajirobe
    Posted July 22, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    The story revels in the trappings of adolescence, self disillusionment and escapism, proposing the act of shedding our self-consciousness as the way out.

    If it comes across pretentious and petulant, that is because it frames reality from the perspective of Kasuga, who uses the Flowers of Evil to anchor himself in a town he feels dissonant towards. Nakamura becomes the machination for Kasuga in escaping his mundane and sheltered existence and a bridge to self discovery through violent and sexual acts.

    Anyway, I’m reading the manga now.

  15. fathomlessblue
    Posted July 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Funnily enough, the manga/anime Flowers of Evil constantly reminded me of was Mysterious Girlfriend X. Despite having nearly polar opposite opening themes, with Flowers focusing of the dangerous obsession over purity vs accepting natural biological impulses, while MGX was more puritanical about pre-marital behaviour (although, oddly, both focused on fetishes), they both fell into the trap of having unique and challenging concepts, but being unable to capitalise on them in any meaningful way. Both had a largely one-note cast, with most of the in-depth analysis in AnH coming from viewer speculation, rather than the actions of the characters themselves. Nobody evolves or changes, things just get worse. By the end, both series are little more than an endless spiral repeating the same things, just with the stakes slowly increasing. Enthusiasm for a core idea just isn’t enough to create something special if the rest of the product is empty of substance. I learned that lesson with Tsuritama.

    Turning the series into a mood piece was a bold and interesting idea, and I initially thought it worked quite well. Constantly focusing on the same sights and people, to show the town’s slow decay and Kasuga’s listlessness worked brilliantly… or it did during the first 3-4 episodes. That’s the thing with mood pieces; you can make a great movie or ova in that style, but it takes exceptional talent to carry off such a feat over the course of 13+ episodes, something which Flowers clearly lacked. Like Kadian mentioned, there were still the odd creatively beautiful scene to keep me watching, but mostly the director lacked the craft to successfully transfer his ideas to the screen.

    From conversations, it seems like the most ardent supporters are those with an inherently personal connection to the characters and the misery and confusion that often comes with puberty. As such, I’ve started likening Flowers of Evil to sort an anti-Makoto Shinkai work. One focuses on heightened nostalgia and emotions people want to, rather than actually, have felt, while the other is of a genuine, but unsettling connection, yet both are essentially emotional drugs that hook people through psychological reaction, rather than actual merits. Not that I’m saying Flowers is irredeemable or that its supporters are suckers, but in this case the technical deficiencies and lack of any overriding message have pretty killed any enthusiasm I once had to delve any further into the franchise.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      To the final point: Yo, Watamote is way fucking better at that anyway

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted July 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I thought about mentioning that, but there was enough name-dropping in my comment as it was. We’ll see if Watamote can carry an entire season with that approach. I already kinda wish it was only an 12 minute size show.

      • Posted July 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        @fathomlessblue A bunch of people have told me that there’s nothing to Watamote besides “girl narrates her sad miserable life”, which I find tiresome. The whole thing feels like it wants to be Daria (which I think is better than any anime ever as you probably guessed by my avatar and such), but it had no idea what makes Daria such a good show and what kept it fresh during it’s 65-episode/2-movie run.

        Still, the moments where the main girl actually interacts with people are pretty good, so there’s enough in it for me to stick around. Besides, it’s about time Silver Link did something good for once in their miserable existence.

  16. shytende
    Posted July 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, even though I ended up hating MGX for its absolutely unlikable characters, the link is easy to draw.

    This show also reminds me of Watamote. Both can hit extremely close to home for many. This is a double-edge sword obviously…

    I think absolutely nobody can defend the rotoscopy. The main miss was the characters expression for me. In the final episode, you can’t say if Nakamura is joking or honnestly angry, It kinda kill the mood.

    Another anime I may compare it too is Sayonara Ztsubou Sensei, for it’s experimentation side, and for his mocking of his audience. Though while SZS didn’t took itself too seriously and was trying to search another way of making anime, Flower of Evil’s creator hates their audience and more important hates anime.
    That’s one of the main point of this show : a giant F you to the Anime world and it’s audience. The perfect Anti-Anime. That show made so much effort to be the hardest to watch (and managed to still be more watchable than Valvrave, or fucking R;N…*sigh*).
    That was interresting, and I’m glad this show was made, but I can’t say how much this show will hold at the end of the year. Too much negativity, pretention and provocation…

    • Posted July 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Probably the best reason why I enjoyed this show more than any other in 2013, except for PSYCHO-PASS or Shinsekai Yori.

      I enjoyed the dialectical relationship between Nakamura and Saeki in regards to Kasuga:

      Saeki thought Kasuga was unique, i.e., intelligent beyond his peers, and being loved by a unique person made her feel unique as well.

      Nakamura hoped Kasgua was a true deviant, and by being with a deviant she could accept her own deviancy.

      Hence the disappointment of both with Kasuga’s confessions of mediocrity. In turn they, too, were disappointed with their own mediocrity.

      That is the bottom line of the show – the mediocrity of failed ambitions or ideals. Which, doubtless, in turn reflects on anime in general – a gigantic morass of mediocrity.

  17. abyssion29
    Posted July 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t think that it’s themes were as deep, I just thought that it was a sort of Eva for the high school slice of life genre and the background music, design and rotoscope were geared towards that. I mean most of the stuff they do is typical of high school animes shenanigans but because of the atmosphere provided by the stuff I mentioned, we don’t react as ‘oh typical high school stuff, how cute’ but more like ‘lolwut?’. It’s like the director was turning typical tropes upside down and saying ‘really? This kind of shit interest you?’

    That doesn’t excuse for its crap pacing though. For every awesomely directed episode there are three more episode of nothing happening (episode 8 and the lastone was the worst), and I can’t really defend it because there’s no reason to do that.

    If only for the effort and originality it will probably be one of my top animes for the year (if fall fails to deliver)and a memorable one but I definitely would not watch it again or recommend it.

  18. Kevin Faultner
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow, you should see Carl “I can’t review an anime without taking the stick outta my ass to save my life”Kimlinger’s review of this turd on AnimeNewsNetwork; An overall A+ rating with extra A+’s to art and animation.


    • Maxlous
      Posted July 24, 2013 at 1:09 am | Permalink

      I like the show a lot, but I too think he was overzealous and generous in his A+ scoring for animation. I’d give it a B+ at best(despite some occasionally great sequences).

      But on the other hand I’m tired of the constant rallying cry against this show and anyone who thought it meritorious. People calling it ‘turd’ and ‘crap’ aren’t worth listening to.

      • Kevin Faultner
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 3:12 am | Permalink

        Well, I guess you shouldn’t listen to me, then. As I said on my Twitter, “this show is self-indulgent, pretentious garbage. How else can you take something where the creator insults his audience at the end of every episode?”

        I love the manga, but the anime is nothing more than an exercise in how to make a show bomb harder than Pearl Harbor and trying to make your audience feel responsible. (To quote one end-of-episode segment: “How would you like it if I rotoscoped YOU?”)

      • Maxlous
        Posted July 24, 2013 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        As much as I agree with some of his AnH praise, I share your sentiment that Carl Kimlinger’s writing style is ostentatious.

        I don’t think you’re meant to take those endcard “insults” as any more than the writer jokingly emulating Nakamura’s ‘shitbug’ attitude. As well as a bit of sarcasm towards the childish “kill it with fire” reactionsim the show received when it first aired.

        Flowers is a fairly straightforward dismissal of juvenile pretension and egoism. Specially when Kasuga outs how empty he really is to the girls after they psychologically tear him down through expectation. OROBOROS elaborates on this above. The directing frames the show from Kasuga’s perspective and as such may come across self-indulgent. But as a mood piece it aims to realistically capture Kasuga’s melancholy and mundanity (both sympathetically and critically). Nakamura being an external agent who occasionally warps his senses – that comical skipping sequence if you recall, the dream as well. I was actually hoping they would have done more with this abstraction wise.

        But ultimately I think this show has more in common with art than conventional entertainment in that your level of appreciation depends on what you bring to it. The antithesis of face value entertainment you’d derive from something like Shounen or Comedy anime.

  19. Inushinde
    Posted July 24, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Next you’re going to tell me that you didn’t like Guilty Crown.

    • Yajirobe
      Posted July 24, 2013 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Or that it was a masterpiece?

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