Aku no Hana was originally a manga written by Oshimi Shuzo, named for a collection of poems from the French poet, Charles Baudelaire. The anime adaptation was written by Itami Aki.
It is a psychological drama. Its setting is so ordinary that we audience would not have noticed the malice inside the entangled relationships between characters. Really it is about a normal boy Kasuga who steals a pair of panties from the girl he has a crush on Saeki in the same class. The conflict comes when an eccentric girl Nakamura catches him doing that and begins threatening him. One simple mistake can transform into a series of domino chaos.
The animators adapts the technique of rotoscoping to make Aku no Hana as photo-realistic as possible. They would hire actors to portray the main characters and film them, then trace over the live action film to make the anime. It is like the movie screen is your canvas and you are painting on movies. This art style is a daring adaptation and less acknowledged. You either love it, hate it, or deal with it. The designs are a bit rough in early episodes, but gradually improve throughout the span of the series.
Critics attack this animation as perverted, advocating violence, rebellion, antisocial tendencies in teenagers’ feeble minded mentality. To me, I think we need to confront our innermost darkness. Sometimes, the more you repress the unconscious, unwanted behaviors, the demons would come and get you at unexpected times in your life. See, Kasuga’s living a boring life, just as most of us do. The more we repel seeing Kasuga drag out from his comfort zone and into some mysterious, sinister corruptions, the more we are against exploration into the unknown. Can we just admit that going to school and being teased by a bunch of classmates as shy is dumb? Can we just acknowledge we numb ourselves on pointless things simply because we have nothing else to occupy our minds?
What really explodes inside me when watching Aku no Hana is the characters’ raw blasts of emotions. Their sheer bliss mingles with the downfall of hopelessness and despair linger in my throat after finishing the entire series. I could relate to Kasuga in the sense that I like to read classic poetries too and is socially awkward(not a stalker though). Kasuga is not terrible, but he makes radical decisions and digs himself holes by escaping from his problems. Nakamura is so insecure and broken down and repels any other mindsets that deviant from her own’s. Saeki is blinded by her infatuation for Kasuga. The three main characters can be a pain in the ass to watch because of how naive they are. But they are the stage we have once been in or is struggling right now
This animation tackles tricky themes that every teenager must deal with(teenage angst, love triangles, melodramas) and houses some good writing, high culture and impressive intelligence. Even though the pacing is slow, I would just take it as building up tension and atmosphere(lol).
Aku no Hana is no way like Ano Hana, which begins and ends with a positive note of love in friendships persist over time and across life and death. It blatantly showcases how cynical the world can be and how hopeless we could really turn to at times. This animation mirrors the atrocity of life so perfectly that you might cringe even to say its name. Maybe one day, we too, can discard social rules and morals for a while and fall into a beautiful state of childlike forgetfulness, relieving ourselves from nothingness.