Aku no Hana (惡の華, Evil’s Flower) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Shūzō Oshimi. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine. The story follows a middle school student named Takao Kasuga who’s forced into a “contract” by fellow student Sawa Nakamura, after being caught stealing the gym clothes of his crush Nanako Saeki, and the series of events afterwards that follow these three characters. The title of the manga comes from Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. The manga received a nomination at the fifth Manga Taishō. An anime television series adaptation of the manga, produced by Zexcs, aired in Japan between April and June 2013. The anime was animated using rotoscoping techniques, causing some controversy among fans of the manga.
Aku no Hana is prominently focused on Kasuga’s interactions with Nakamura and Saeki pushing his fragile teen mind to the breaking point. The kid behaves much like any teen would at his age as he tries fitting in with friends, yet is feeling out of place with what society considers “normal” as he retreats to reading books. The series is pretty much a psychological drama that gets into Kasuga’s head as he thinks about his interactions with the two girls, each representing a different world that he considers to be out of his grasp with Nakamura being the deviant outcast and Saeki being the popular girl of the class he has a crush on. The former plays enough of a big role in messing with Kasuga’s head when she believes him to be a fellow deviant like herself and pushing him to do twisted acts involving Saeki after Kasuga steals her gym clothes in the title’s second episode. I don’t come across many recent titles that offer this level of depth in exploring the mental condition of a teenage boy getting ripped apart mentally by two girls his age. Only issue I have with the plot is that it looks like the series lacks a proper ending with the abrupt way it concluded and dropping hints that things would get worst for Kasuga in his present situation, likely teasing viewers for a possible second season.
Aku no Hana is quite easily my favorite title of the Spring season for being bold enough to be completely different in how it conveyed its story and overall presentation. Some elements of its approach on presentation have their issues, but they don’t completely hurt the experience of exploring the complicated and twisted world of adolescence seen through Kasuga’s eyes. Not to mention that the slow pacing, focus on atmosphere and rotoscoped animation won’t be for everyone. But if you’re looking for something that is completely out of the ordinary for an anime series, Aku no Hana would be a definite watch for you.
#1: “Aku no Hana -Kasuga Takao- (惡の華 -春日高男-)” by Uchujin (with guest vocalist Noko) (eps 1-3)
#2: “Aku no Hana -Nakamura Sawa- (惡の華 -仲村佐和-)” by Uchujin (with guest vocalist Mariko Goto) (eps 4-6)
#3: “Aku no Hana -Saeki Nanako- (惡の華 -菜々子佐伯-)” by Uchujin (with guest vocalist Shiho Nanba) (eps 7-9)
#4: “Aku no Hana -Gunma-ken, Kiryu-shi- (惡の華 -群馬県桐生市-)” by Uchujin (eps 11-13)
#1: “Hana -a last flower- (花 -a last flower-)” by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (eps 1-4, 6, 9, 11-12)
#2: “Hana -a last flower- ver.Z (花 -a last flower- ver.Z)” by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (ep 5, 10)
#3: “Hana (花)” by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (ep 7)
#4: “Hana -a last flower- ver.X (花 -a last flower- ver.X)” by ASA-CHANG & JUNRAY (ep 8)
Aku no Hana OP Theme: Uchujin – Aku no Hana
Aku no Hana Original ED Album – Jun Ray Song Chang
Aku no Hana Original Soundtrack “L’hymne du mal”: Aku no Sanka
Aku no Hana Drama CD “Les Bourgeons de mal”: Aku no Tsubomi
Aku no Hana Concept E.P. “Aku no Kafu”
Aku no Hana Bonus CD: Kusomushi Radio (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)