Impression – Aku no Hana, Episode 02

fat1365771989688Aku no Hana makes me squirm for two reasons.

|A Guilty Conscience|

The first is the extremely uncomfortable atmosphere it manages to evoke in nearly every scene. Whether it’s the quiet ambiance of the soundtrack, the constant beads of sweat on our woeful protagonist’s face, or the strange art style, I’m always dreading to find out what will happen next. And I’ve begun reading the manga, so I already know what should happen next. If this show gets one thing right, it’s creating a tense feeling of despair the longer you watch.

We finally see the event that sets off the chain of misfortune, as Kasuga impulsively steals Saeki’s gym clothes and takes them home with him. Why did he take them? Even he can’t explain, though I can guess it has to do with some dark inner desire and his infatuation with Saeki as his “muse” in life. He spends the following day sweating bullets when the entire class finds out that someone stole Saeki’s clothes. As he contemplates fleeing the town, he runs into the creepy red-head Nakamura, who reveals that she witnessed him steal the gym clothes.

Up until this point, I was completely hooked on the fact that Kasuga is digging himself into a pit of despair over his shame and guilt. Being the misunderstood teenager he already is, it’s not surprise that he is afraid of being forever labeled a sexual deviant if his actions were ever found out. It’s not an easy situation to talk your way out, and no matter what angle you look at it from, the fact that Kasuga stole a girl’s dirty sweaty gym clothes and didn’t tell anyone about it for more than a day is very suspicious. Even Bill Clinton couldn’t talk himself out of that one.

But lo and behold, the much-criticized animation quickly diverted my attention as we see Kasuga flee from Nakamura in one of the silliest scenes I’ve ever seen. His yell is almost comical, the jump cuts are jarring, and the animation just isn’t smooth at all. Which brings me to my second reason for feeling squeamish: the animation is feeling more and more like a distraction. I was tolerant in the beginning, thinking that the producers made a bold choice in choosing such an unusual art style. But yet, it calls too much attention to itself thanks to a lack of character detail and jerky movements. People in the show tend to morph into blobs of pale colors the farther away they get from the screen, and the level of detail is so bad that the backgrounds look like they had more effort put into them.

In the end, Kasuga can’t bring himself to tell Saeki the truth as he simply cannot muster the courage and risk ever being close to her. Sensing his weakness, Nakamura decides to form a contract with him, which requires that he do whatever she wants him to do or else she tells everyone the truth. Seeing high school kids blackmailing each other is always so heartwarming, don’t you think? Of course, for those of you who read the manga, you know that things get very twisted very quickly.

As far as I can tell, the anime is following the manga pretty closely. The first two episodes actually only manage to cover about the first two chapters of the manga, though the first episode really stretched out the events by presenting filler of Kasuga in his everyday routine. Now that the main setup is over with, the real psychological torture begins. I’ve read ahead a bit to see what happens next, and already I am dreading to see how it will play out in the anime. Nakamura is just getting started, and her bold attempts to push Kasuga’s limits are going to get interesting, if not downright awful. I’m still extremely worried about the animation however, as it’s starting to get to distracting. I don’t know what’s more painful to watch: the mounting psychological trauma on Kasuga or having to look at the characters.

Lingering thoughts:

  • What the hell am I looking at?

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One response to “Impression – Aku no Hana, Episode 02

  1. In contrast to all the criticisms, I love the art. The conventional anime style is getting boring. So few have the desire to be bold, different, and unique. This style holds a lot of realism without turning to overly expensive, highly detailed(and possibly monotonous) animation, or taking the plunge into CG. Here, we’re getting minimalism in animation!
    If I were given the choice between this animation style and the lazy animation we got from Bleach, Shippuden, and One Piece, I’d take this any day.

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