Anime Reviews

In the Mouth of Madness: Aku no Hana

There’s a beautiful scene at the end of episode seven of Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil.) Finally overcome with the guilt of stealing Saeki’s gym clothes, Kasuga asks Nakamura to help him confess and in the dead of night they head to their classroom to do just that. She forces him to write his confession on the blackboard but along the way something snaps in them both and they fucking trash the classroom instead. Paint and chalk goes everywhere, desks are overturned and they lay there in the middle of it all, exhausted and happy. It’s a moment of total anarchy, like a flash of lightning, equal parts beautiful and scary, and the anime captures it wonderfully.

Kasuga smiling: Aku no Hana
Nakamura revelling: Aku no Hana
It’s a rare expression of honesty from them both. For the first time in this story, we see an honest smile from Kasuga. He isn’t hiding anything any more. We also see contentment in the face of Nakamura. She wants nothing more than to see this town burn, and for that evening, at least, they are doing what they’ve always wanted to without giving two shits for the consequences. It’s their way of communicating their utter contempt for anything and everyone. To see such passion from them both is undeniably moving.
It’s also scary for many of the same reasons. It’s a destructive act of rebellion against the society that forces them to be there and while it’s amazing to see them finally doing something so honest and impulsive, they have edged ever closer to the void, a place of pure chaos, which can’t be a good thing.
Over this weekend, I’ve started reading the late Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, which is a short fantasy novel set in a far off future where the sun is dimming and mankind has relapsed into an age of swords and sorcery. In one chapter, we meet T’sais, a women created by the magician Pandelume. She’s perfect in every regard except for one: she was designed, by mistake, without the ability to recognise beauty and therefore, comes to loathe everything. Her wonderful story aside, she reminds me a lot of Nakamura.
I don’t think there’s any denying that Kasuga is a realistic teenager. Every class will have its misanthropic outsiders, people who live too much within their own warped minds. Aku no Hana is about pushing these deluded minds to the very brink of sanity and showing their elitism for what it is: a dead-end. That amazing scene at the end of episode seven is what the end of that particular rainbow looks like: nothing but oblivion, but it’s as far as he should go, because deep down there’s still some love in his heart. He still wants to be close to someone.
Kasuga & Nakamura in the aftermath of destruction: Aku no Hana
Nakamura, though, feels a lot more artificial. Like T’sais, she was created without a sense of beauty and knows only hate. T’sais comes to realise that her hatred was born not in others but in herself, but Nakamura’s simply too arrogant to recognise that. We rarely see her at home and never see her conflicted. I have no idea what’s going through her head at any one time. The truth is that she’s completely alien to me, the original flower of evil, immoral to the core. Her lack of empathy drives this story and makes it such an involving experience, but she’s an artificial, broken person, make no mistake, and the path she’s leading Kasuga down can only end in madness.

12 replies on “In the Mouth of Madness: Aku no Hana”

There are still 4 episodes left. Could the show really end without a major Nakamura revelation?
By the way thanks for the blog, I love the writing. ( and I wouldn’t have discovered Aku No Hane or a number of other awesome anime without it)

Ah, thanks for posting this! I’ve gotten a few episodes behind on this show but I just finished this episode and I have to say that last scene was incredible! I’ll definitely need to rewatch it. Thanks for posting and inspiring me to catch up with this one again!

On the verge of chaos? No, I don’t think so.
If chaos was what they wanted, they’d walk out the door, pick a direction, and keep wanting.
No, no one wants chaos. What they want is order. What they want is to walk in the morning, see everyone’s shocked faces, and then watch them put the pieces back together.
They want to be taught why these lives they don’t value are valuable. They want to see what drives people make life this way. They want someone to teach them how to value their worthless lives.
And no one ever will.
Because no one can.

I found this scene to be the point where Kasuga hit rock bottom in his helplessness. I started noticing how he began to look at Nakamura as a friend, the only friend he had, when she was far from it. He is such a wimp, and so much so that he is too blind to see how much of a fool he is for her. So, in this scene, when he asked her to help him, we witness just how scared he can be to let her go, and when they started trashing the classroom I felt as though the whole time he was acting out of frustration that was embedded in him by Nakamura; he wasn’t vandalizing the place because he was sick & tired of himself for being a depressed person or stealing Saeki’s clothes, rather he was being Nakamura’s puppet, to the fullest potential.
Thank you so much for blogging. Your writing is impeccable.

Actually, Nakamura is also looking for a friend, I think. She doesn’t want to let the tenderness of her emotions show, but the reason she wants to get Kasuga to acknowledge his contempt for other people and that he knows that mostly everyone else is stupid is that she wants to “save” him from living his life settling for such stupidity and be friends with him, because he’s among the only people who can see others for how stupid and insignificant they are, though he’s been denying it all his life, sort of. Essentially, Nakamura wants Kasuga to let out and acknowledge and accept all his frustration at the stupidity and emptiness of others, and be together with her as best friends because they understand each other. That’s why she has him trash the place. She’s dancing around because she thinks she’s finally gotten him to acknowledge and fully accept his emotions, which are like hers, so now neither of them are alone. That’s why she was so happy, not because she found someone who she can manipulate (though being able to convince him of things would make her happy because it’d let her teach him to understand certain things).

Just wanted to say that it’s always a pleasure to read other’s interpretations of Aku no Hana. There’s nothing I can add to your comments, Brainwright and complex, but thanks for adding them to the post.

I only just discovered this blog and consequently this anime and thus I feel I must truly thank you. Keep up the good work.

Just want to say thanks for the mention to The Dying Earth, which I otherwise would not have discovered.
Now I have more vocabulary to refer to someone with no appreciation of beauty and loathes everything and everyone in sight; it is called the “T’sais syndrome”.

In that case, I’m really glad that I could introduce you to The Dying Earth! Since writing this post, I’ve read all four books in the series and I must say that Vance’s prose is a joy to behold, all the way through to the “Morreion” story of Rhialto the Marvellous (Vance’s last contribution to the series,) which ends with an undying magician saved after aeons trapped on a planet at the edge of the universe. More than anything else, I love the poetic, beautiful style of writing.

Nakamura doesn’t know just hatred. She’s actually as human as can be. She doesn’t want to let the tenderness of her true emotions and intentions show, but she wants to “save” Kasuga from settling for living his life among such stupidity and emptiness. She plans to save him by having him acknowledge and accept his ability to see others as worthless and stupid. She wants him to let out his frustration at everyone else’s stupidity because, if he lets it out, he’s no longer denying himself the truth and he can go after the fulfillment he wants in life (to not be alone and to be understood and accepted by someone who’ll be his best friend). She wants him fully aware of his correctness so they can both be friends and understand each other and not be alone again. She just can’t bring herself to explain this more clearly in words because she’d feel too weak and she’d prefer Kasuga to realize all this on his own.

That’s why she’s dancing around when he trashes the place; she thinks she’s finally gotten him to acknowledge his thoughts and accept them and let them out. She thinks he understands himself (and therefore her, because they have the same view of the world, though Kasuga’s a bit more passive and forgiving at the moment) and that they won’t have to be alone in the “sea of shit-bugs” anymore. She’s ecstatic to have finally saved him (or so she thinks she has).

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