Aku no Hana: A Quick Take

Deep Space
One of several cinematic shots in this episode.

A young man copes with everyday life and his raging hormones through the books of a 19th century French poet in the first episode of Aku no Hana. This may be one of the harder shows to put down a plot synopsis for the first episode of a show. Mainly, the only plot events were Takao’s crush on Nanako being uncovered by his friends and Sawa calling the teacher a piece of shit. As such this was mainly an atmospheric episode.

That, I believe, gets to the problem that many viewers have had with this show. It is far more cinematic than most anything you see in televised anime. The brief moments of Takao losing himself in the books are accompanied by his own isolation from the world. As a visual, it worked well to capture how he perceived the world at those moments, but its one of those moments that takes time to capture.

That timing was captured well by the music direction which was absolutely top notch in episode. It was absolutely minimalist throughout, but really captured the oppressive and sometimes romantic nature of these situations in school well.

Of course, I can’t use this as an opportunity to avoid the giant pink elephant in the room. The character designs are rotoscoped, and as such have a real life feel to them. The end result is that there are no bishoujo characters here, and even among Takao’s friends there is a guy with a thin uni-brow. By the standards of anime, these would definitely be in the tier of ugly. I guess this is where it starts getting into the territory of why I personally watch anime over any other form of visual media. The truth is that I actually don’t care. An entertaining story that is done with stick figures or puppets on sticks is much more valuable to me than an anime movie that took 5 years to make or $300 million movie that I found boring. Basically, I may like watching anime, but I don’t watch anime specifically because it looks like anime. That’s about as clear as I can make that argument. Anyway, enough about me and back to the story.

This is a fairly typical descent into hell type story. The temptation of seeing the gym clothes of the girl he likes will be much too powerful for Saeki to resist obviously and Sawa will catch him on it. What happens next will be interesting in how it’s portrayed in the next few episodes. Nothing in this episode made me think that it would be in anyway a boring journey.

Reasons to Continue Watching: Cinematic visuals and a very dark story of adolescence
Reasons to Drop: It looks pretty ugly and not much is happening

My Verdict: I picked this as my best show of the season going in, and though the MAL rating on this is epically shit, the same is true of Sengoku Collection. Of course I’m going to continue this.