Aku no Hana Episode 2: A Guilty Conscience
“I am a flower of evil. No doubt about it.” -Takao Kasuga
Summary: Takao steals Nanako’s gym cloths in a fit of stupidity and confusion, which weights heavily on his conscience as he sees the effect his actions have. Plagued by guilt, Takao is approached by Nakamura, who reveals that she saw him take the gym cloths. Takao’s problems continue to multiply as he’s slowly caught in a web of sin.
Impressions: Aku no Hana continues to slowly and steadily build on the first episode as this week properly introduces us to Nakamura and “the event that sets everything in motion” aka Takao stealing Nanako’s gym cloths. You could kinda guess it was coming from the ending last week, and Takao almost manages to walk away from temptation, but that evil flower had already taken root and Takao is powerless from succumbing to his own desires. Half of the fun of the episode is seeing Takao struggle against himself. He avoids the fact that he did indeed steal the gym cloths, and is constantly trying to talk around the problem, saying things like “I just happened to take these home”. And even though he’s obviously feeling very guilty about the fact that he took these very personal articles of clothing, he can’t face telling Nanako, the teacher, or his classmates what he’s done for fear of being labeled a pervert. So things kinda spiral out of control for poor Takao, who’s struggling with accepting the fact that he’s
kind of a real creep. It goes a long way for showing us the type of character he is, and just how hypocritical people can sometimes be. Because for all of Takao’s talk about reading Baudelaire, and having a general holier than thou attitude towards everyone around him, he’s just as bad as those he views as nothing more than peasants.
Nakamura is almost the complete opposite. Right from the get-go she’s not one to mince words or say the things that people “expect” you to say. She’s manipulative, scary, and says exactly what needs to be said to get to the heart of the matter. Unlike Takao, she doesn’t seem to feel any guilt or remorse over it, and if her sometimes flat, dead eyes are a hint, I would be willing to bet that she doesn’t feel much of anything. Seeing her calling Takao out on stealing the gym cloths, and for being a coward, is great in a “wow, that’s not a girl I’d like to fuck with” kind of way. I think that they did a good job of having her seem almost harmless sometimes and then really pushing how frightening she can be as well.
So far the pace has been very slow, almost agonizingly so. I think that this is also done with a specific purpose in mind. Probably to make the viewer as uncomfortable as possible. I think it’s very clear by now that this isn’t going to be a show where a lot of things happen each episode, but rather one that moves at a snail’s pace (which is fine by me, but might not be everyone’s cup of tea). I think the animation was even more effective this episode, convey a kind of subtlety that I don’t really find to often in anime. One particular moment where this stood out to me is when Takao, panting from having run upstairs, is hovering over the cloths which are spread on his bead. There’s this look in his eyes of such desperation and uncertainty as he looks straight into the camera that I think, had it been done in any other way than how this anime is being done now, it would not have come close to being as emotional as it was. It’s not over-exaggerated to make it more dramatic or comedic, and while the despair that Takao feels is almost palpable because it’s so downplayed it’s just makes it all the more refreshing and out of the ordinary .
The audio, especially the rustling of the “flower of evil” continues to impress. The long eerie chords match the tone of the series and heighten the spooky atmosphere well so far, but just as important is the silence. Part of what makes Aku no Hana so different (aside from the art) is that it’s a very quiet show: by that I mean that there are a lot of very long times of relative silence. In contrast to many other anime of the season, where there’s lot of yelling and music etc. Aku no Hana stands apart on those terms as well. I will say that Takao’s VA needs to work on his screams a bit, as that part seemed to be lacking something (conviction maybe?) I think that that scene was maybe one of the only ones that fell a little flat to me, but mostly because the screaming was so pathetic and lame that I couldn’t really buy it as some kind of “letting out my rage at the world” thing. Anyway, now that are story is set up (for the most part) and our key characters have all met, I’m looking forward to how things go from here. With the “contract” between Takao and Nakamura in place, one can only suspect that things will rapidly go downhill from here. How will Nanako react to Takao’s face getting planted between her boobs? and just how hellish is Nakamura going to make Takao’s life? Will he ever be able to return the gym cloths and return to his normal but boring life? With two very good episodes under its belt, I’m hoping that Aku no Hana can indeed go the distance and prove that my faith in its greatness isn’t misplaced.
Final Thought: I have no idea what the actual episode titles are (or even where to go about finding them), since the show doesn’t have title cards or so for now I’m just going to stick to making them up. If/when I can find the titles, I can always come back and edit them in.