SHORT VERSION (Without spoilers)
LONG VERSION (With spoilers)
The art style of Aku no Hana could easily be discerned into 2 parts:
The contrast of those is one of the first things that occur by grabbing our attention in both hands and squeezing it. Even while looking so different and sometimes even like from other worlds, it holds the meaning of fulfillment – world has its structure and purpose (one or another), while people do not. The biggest change is that people created the world and gave it a purpose, but they never achieved the same for themselves. Human life is a cycle with times when influences from surroundings are bigger or smaller. And even when leaving the youth, most people cannot comprehend their own being. That’s why people aren’t that detailed or seen with power when comparing with the background (world). What we see is what people see: commonly perceived setting with a blank, unknown livelihood. And the rotoscoping technique creates intimacy of reality.
Both Opening / Ending and insert pieces carry a task to complete the atmosphere. The opening introduces us to what we‘ll have for the episode and Ending concludes everything we saw with an even darker note than the starting has given. Insert pieces do a great job of stirring the place, not letting it settle down.
One thing that really impressed me was the fact that anime has 4 (!) openings while taking 13 episodes. Openings are linked to the 3 main characters and one for the „Aku no Hana“ itself. They all convey their subtle being.
The actual story as a fabula could be told really easily. And if everything would be seen as fabula, then the actual plot would disappoint You. Teenager boy Takao Kasuga accidentally (or not so accidentally) steals Nanako Saeki‘s gym clothes, but one strange classmate Sawa Nakamura sees him and uses this as an opportunity for manipulation.
Some of the scenes looked stretched out, too long and, for some, boring. I could see them as an instrument for letting people to just sit and join the thoughts as every episode would present some new parts of unpleasantness. It‘s dark. It‘s strange. Characters are the ones who help. They‘re the nail that held the power to change this little offense into a huge mess. A huge, and, as it seemed, hopeless mess. But that mess is a good chaotic blast that should be appreciated.
The main and most important characters that changed the simple plot to the chaotic drama are:
- Takao Kasuga;
- Nanako Saeki;
- Sawa Nakamura.
Takao Kasuga is a simple teenager boy, but he is not comfortable with his own character, personality. The feeling of emptiness can‘t let him live a normal life. This is the reason teenager reads hardly understandable literature. One of it is Charles Baudelaire‘s “Les Fleurs du Mal” or “The Flowers of Evil” or “Aku no Hana”. The fake intelligent and mysteriously attractive persona was tried to create, but it failed. Acting differently than we are is nor easy, nor the right choice. Kasuga is also trying to fake himself into thinking that he is special and by that giving confidence in himself.
Nanako Saeki is Kasuga's classmate, a girl he has a crush on. One of the aspects of her personality is not simple or frequent. She has the power of seeking reasoning while trying to ignore the fact that actions and its sequences are unbearable for her mentally. Saeki has a goal to understand Kasuga. She has a specific view on reasons as “the ends justify the means”. The stuff that Kasuga did would be seen as perversion, but Saeki understands it as “a way to show love and seek for it”. That is why even after everything has happened, she still agrees to be in a relationship.
The problem with the said relationship is that it’s not depicted clearly; for most of the part, You wouldn’t even call them a pair. But there’s actually a reason to it. And it’s the third main character.
Sawa Nakamura is not a regular teenager who's blinded by youth. It’s really the opposite. Nakamura is portrayed as a rebel and a hooligan in some way. This girl hates the world and boredom. The city she lives seems too boring for her and all she wants is some new winds. Catching Katsuga in act presents her a new way of entertainment – use of human marionette. Nakamura scatters the tedium by using Kasuga and his love. She exchanges to not tell the secret for the permission to help Kasuga destroy his walls that traps himself.
Kasuga’s identity crisis easily gives everything into Nakamura’s hands. She only needs to play now. Nakamura uses the game of deviants. She hyperbolizes Kasuga’s wrong actions and puts him in a bigger and bigger hole that he’s digging. Girl calls him a deviant and by constantly translating this message, she convinces him more and more. She is confident that her puppet will always be with her and will follow her demands. What Nakamura was really trying to do, is to create Kasuga’s character as one that she could relate too. Nakamura reveals to be a deviant herself. And a fragile one.
Aku no Hana is full of symbolism. One of it is in the name – “The Flowers of Evil”. This poetry book is used for multiple purposes:
- It was controversial after the release, propagated ideas that couldn’t be approved at that time because of the conservative and structured society;
- It also was seen and is for some people still seen as hardly understandable.
One of the themes in that book is about the beauty of things that are not classified as beautiful by themselves but can create beauty in the whole. This is what Nakamura sought for some time. She manipulated Kasuga into doing not beautiful and even sinful things to see the reactions and sequences which were beautiful and inexpressible when looking through the prism of those ideas.
When thinking about the thoughts in the book that are really open-minded and sinful by many, deviants could be included too. And really the whole manipulation that was done by Nakamura. Nakamura looks like an alive version of the book more and more. She is the one that can’t be understood by Kasuga. And the boy can’t get understood by Saeki, who tries in every way. And Nakamura can’t understand, why Kasuga is falling away from her and does not follow her needs, but then again returns and never leaves, repeats the cycle. That incomprehensive view creates a weird connection which turns into a love triangle. Kasuga feels the attraction he can’t understand. He sees much more of himself in Nakamura then ever before and sees so less and less in Saeki.
So another idea would be that we are really influenced by other people and many times change without even noticing. That inability to create ourselves can always be used for manipulation and we should be aware of it. Faking yourself and your own interests, emotions, and love won’t get you far. You should be Yourself and live Your own life.
And the last but the most interesting idea is that evil is everywhere and it does not always give bad sequences. It’s not bad from itself, but from what we interpret as evil. And by that, even flowers are evil. We are all more or less evil and we are all living in the same world, but we should learn how to use every bad thing and transform it into good one. We have to face up the fact that everything is hard to understand and maybe not even morally good. Everything is still going now, but the cycle will end someday. Our youth or middle ages; flower’s growth or blossoming. It just needs to end well.
Just as I said at the start, You have everything You need to enjoy and understand the beauty of this anime from non-beautiful fragments. And I hope You will.