Aku no Hana Episode 3: Bound by Contract
“Aren’t you an honest-to-God deviant, Kasuga?!” -Sawa Nakamura
Summary: Forced by Nakamura into Saeki’s gym cloths, Kasuga finds himself blackmailed into spending even more time with his tormentor. Strangely though, when Nakamura is accused of stealing money Kasuga finds himself standing up for her.
Impressions: Things go from marginally bad to horrible for Kasuga in this episode, and while I do feel a tiny bit bad for him, a bigger (more awful) part of me is enjoying watching how much worse he’s making the situation for himself. Call it a little bit of Schadenfreude. Things are escalating rather quickly as Nakamura starts to strip Kasuga (pun intended) down to his “true” deviant self.
After deciding that maybe the best course of action is to get rid of the evidence, Kasuga tries to dump the stolen gym cloths in the trash. Running through the same scenery that just two episodes ago was presented to us as his mundane route to school, Kasuga is now haunted by people who he thinks will see him and turn him in. There’s something really off about the whole thing, as the people who Kasuga runs into appear normal but also have an air of the strange surrounding them. A young girl playing ball with two older men, a woman with a huge mole with hairs on the side of her nose, a strange woman with facial hair that acts like a robot. It’s things that you subconsciously pick up on, but don’t really actively see unless you watch it rather closely. And so far Aku no Hana has been nothing if not a study in active viewing. Much of Kasuga’s terror and anxiety is not “told” to us as the viewer but rather shown in his face and actions. Many of the shot of the scenery or the town at first seem normal, but when viewed closely, much of what we see is infected by rust and appears worn down and dying. Kasuga fails to rid himself of the gym cloths, and is confronted by Nakamura before he can even get to class. Demanding that he met her in the library, Kasuga’s just not having a good day so far.
Of course the library scene is where things really get disturbing. After failing to turn in his “homework” (an essay assigned to him by Nakamura about how it felt to have his face pushed into Saeki’s chest) Nakamura loses it. It’s impressive in its level of insanity. Seeing Nakamura strip Kasuga and force him into Saeki’s gym cloths is…fucked up to say the least. There’s no shying away of just how wrong of a situation it is and it’s in-your-face about showing the viewer that this isn’t some cute little trope. It puts Kasuga, who up until then hadn’t done anything super perverted with the cloths, in an even worse position having now had them on his naked body. Nakamura for the first time also starts to show how much of a disturbed individual she really is. She actually thinks that Kasuga should be happy to have formed a contract with her that will allow him to be the true deviant that he is (aside from the whole “I’m going to strip you naked and then force you into these girl’s gym cloths you stole” thing.) There is something very dark lurking inside Nakamura if her wish for everyone in the world to turn into shit-crawling maggots is any indication. And everything seems to point towards her uncovering that darkness within Kasuga as well, now that she has sunk her claws into him.
With little choice but to do her bidding, Kasuga is now caught in a situation that is worse than it was before. He’s now forced to spend even more time with Nakamura, who blackmails him into hanging out with her after school. They certainly make for an odd couple, as Nakamura seems to just talk without really caring much if Kasuga is even listening or not. Not that she really listens to him either, as he clearly doesn’t want to be there. The whole hand sniffing thing was just strange. I did like that when Nakamura started to get worked up about over calling Kasuga a pervert and pulling on his face, she started to change color a little, giving her an even more demonic appearance. I think so far the anime has done a swell job of having her expressions change from this almost aroused face when she’s harassing Kasuga in the library to a face that is pure bat-shit crazy. It’s frightening and great to watch at the same time.
As our lead in to next episode, things wrap up with the discovery that another girl from Kasuga’s school class has had her lunch money stolen. Suspicious quickly falls on Nakamura, whose strange behavior and anti-social attitude make her an easy target. After being insulted by Nakamura, one of the girls even makes up a blatant lie about seeing Nakamura after class. Now, Kasuga knows that Nakamura didn’t do it, because they were together the whole time, but he’s unwilling to say as much in fear of having his strange relationship revealed to the class. But even knowing that, Kasuga still does something very out of character for him: he actually sticks up for Nakamura, which causes an uproar throughout the classroom. Because these are your typical students, they immediately jump to the conclusion that Kasuga must have a crush on Nakamura if he’s willing to stick his neck out for her. This puts Kasuga between a rock and a hard place; he can either reject the idea that he likes Nakamura, which might draw her wrath later, or he can just let his classmates think what they want, losing what little friends he had and opening himself up to being picked on while up until know he’s been rather invisible to everyone. Either way things are starting to look more than bleak for Kasuga, and I’m certainly looking forward to how much more depraved things are going to get.
Final Thought Real Talk with Nakamura: