Aku No Hana

November 24, 2013

Imagine you have always lived a boring life. Nothing eventful. Nothing happening. Nothing out of the ordinary. You always hope for a better place and think the place you are in now is nothing but dull crap. You want to go away but you can’t. All you do is keep dreaming while continuing your mundane life in reality. What if there is this slight chance of doing something different? Will you take the risk? More importantly, what happens if a seemingly harmless spur of the moment slowly escalates into something beyond your control? What will you do? Will you try to get your life back in control or just embrace the craziness and go with the flow? This is the case for the male protagonist in Aku No Hana. A bookworm and loves to read and like any other boys his age, has a secret crush on a girl for a long time. His life takes a drastic change when he impulsively steals her gym clothes and a classmate of his happened to catch him in the act. Yup, you guessed it. Blackmail. For those who love psychological drama, you’d be in for a treat to see what this guy will do or not. It keeps you guessing. Will he? Will he not? Whatever he does will affect those around him and ultimately himself.

Episode 1
Takao Kasuga is just like any other normal kid. Goes to a normal high school. Hangs out with his guy friends. Admires the girl he likes from a distance, Nanako Saeki. Their eyes met. He looks away, embarrassed. Takes a test. His mind wanders into his own fantasy. Instead of walking home with his friends, he stops by the book shop. He loves to read. Back home, he reads his book and starts fantasizing its words with the girl he likes. Spell is broken when mommy tells him to go take bath. Next morning. Same routine. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Go to school. Teacher hands back their test papers. His friend Masakazu Yamada catches him reading his book and snatches it away. Teacher calls out Saeki and praises her for getting the highest score in class. Then when he calls Sawa Nakamura, he might have offended her by telling the class she is last place again. Zero points once more. Nakamura tells this piece of sh*t to shut up. Teacher gets mad. Wants to slap her. But had to hold back after seeing the evil glare in her eyes. He’ll see her in the staff room later. Kasuga walks back with his friends. They talk how crazy and scary she is. Yamada notes he won’t date her even if she is the last woman on Earth. Kasuga points out nobody would even want to date him. Yamada wonders what makes him different as he thinks they’re all the same. Kasuga says he reads books. He is into literature. So do girls dig such people? Ken Kojima then says he wants to date Saeki but badmouths her. This pisses Kasuga off and tells him to stop. They catch on he likes her. He gives an excuse to leave as he has forgotten something from school. Kasuga curses Kojima for that. He doesn’t know a thing about her. The good she’s done. She is his muse, his femme fatale and has liked her since last year. Kasuga returns to his desk to retrieve his book, Les Fleurs Du Mal (that’s French for Aku No Hana – Flower Of Evil). He sees Saeki’s small bag falling out from the shelf behind.

Episode 2
The bag contains Saeki’s gym clothes. His mind is saying no but his body is saying yes to take it. I guess the temptation is too great. He could have sniffed a lot longer had he not heard something coming. He panics, hides the clothes under his shirt and runs away. Next day, seeing Saeki is absent, he thinks this is a good opportunity to put it back. But then Saeki comes in with the teacher and she looks very distraught. The teacher announces somebody stole her gym clothes. Gasp. So Kasuga is feeling guilty like hell. He’s peddling his bicycle and shouting like a mad man. Till he comes across Nakamura. He wanted to go away but she asks him several questions especially about the strange book he reads (she sits behind him). Then she hops on his bicycle and wants him to take her beyond the hills. Why? Because she saw him stealing Saeki’s clothes and if he doesn’t do what he is told, she’ll tell on everyone. Guess what? Kasuga becomes a chicken and abandons his bicycle to run away by foot! Can you believe it?! Kasuga is so guilt ridden that his body action is so obvious. Even his parents can tell (I mean, how could he forget his bicycle?). Dad plays it cool seeing he knows he is going through puberty. In his room, Saeki starts going crazy. He is sure he didn’t steal them and just had the urge to take them home. Isn’t it taking things without permission amounting to stealing? He plans to confess and tell everybody before Nakamura could rat on him and give Saeki her clothes back. Why is he saying all this while putting his face in her clothes? Next day in school. Kasuga contemplates if he can do it or not. Time passes. He can’t. During gym, his friends talk about the sicko who stole Saeki’s clothes and it would be f*cking crazy if it should be among them. It’s right under your nose… In the end, Kasuga can’t summon the courage to confess. Nakamura then passes a message to meet her at the library. Don’t run away this time. First she asks him why he ran away before calling him cowardly nicknames. Kasuga explains his actions and what he planned to do. She is willing to forgive him and not tell anyone provided he forms a contract with her. Hey, I’m not watching some magical girl show, am I? In exchange for this forgiveness, he will lose something important. Suddenly Saeki appears. Seems Nakamura has called her here on a pretence that Kasuga had something to tell her. He freezes. Because of his pathetic hesitation, Nakamura pushes him and his face plunges right into Saeki’s boobs. She becomes upset and runs away. Now sh*t has hit the fan. And Nakamura totally enjoys seeing it. Want to write an essay about it?

Episode 3
Kasuga laments he wouldn’t be in this sh*t had none of this happened. Why is he holding up the bloomers while saying that? He leaves early for school because he wants to throw away the clothes. Ridding of evidence? This guy is so panicky he is acting so suspicious! It’s freaking funny for God’s sake. Because there are people everywhere, he can’t throw it away. Yeah, act more suspicious will you? Eventually he ends up at school and of all people he had to bump into is Nakamura. She wants him to meet her after school at the library. In class, the teacher tells everyone the description of the suspect who stole Saeki’s clothes. About 30, have glasses and long hair. Well, that doesn’t look like Kasuga, doesn’t he? At the library, Nakamura wants to read the essay about yesterday. He shows her the book he is reading, a compilation of poems and has this darkness feeling to it. She blows her top that she was looking forward to read his crazy ramblings. Kasuga also yells back he is not the deviant she thinks he is. He is going to burn the clothes but she stops him. Then she strips him naked! OMG! Is it that easy to strip him? Then she puts on Saeki’s clothes on him. Is it that easy to put it on? I mean, the way they’re struggling Nakamura makes it look easy. Nakamura reveals she has this dark gloomy feeling inside her that makes her want to spread it all to everyone in this world. She is a deviant like him and should be proud. After all, they’re bound by a contract. She wants them to spend more time after school together. And so he is forced to follow her and listen to her whatever stories. She tries forcing him to tell her since he didn’t write the essay (including some name calling insults of being a deviant). Since it’s getting dark, she leaves. Kasuga gets an earful from his mom for coming back late. He lies about hanging out with Yamada. Father once again is cool. He forgives his son but lets him know his actions is worrying his mother and to at least leave a message if he’s going to stay out late. Next day in class, Mayu Miyake screams in distraught. Her lunch money is missing. Everyone starts concluding somebody must have stole it after school. Yamada thinks it’s Nakamura but he backs down when Mayu’s friend, Ai Kinoshita gives him that don’t-give-me-that-sh*t stare. But everyone soon thinks it’s her because she is weird. But Kasuga knows it is not because she was hanging out with him. He can’t say it. When Nakamura walks in, Ai confronts her but was told to f*ck off. Ai accuses her that she saw her walking by here yesterday after school. Suddenly Kasuga blows his top to tell Ai off not to accuse people without proof. She thinks he likes Nakamura. Soon everybody starts whispering maybe they are like two peas in a pod. The misunderstanding grows deeper…

Episode 4
Kasuga regrets what he did. He should’ve just ignored everything. Just outside the toilet, he is surprised Saeki wants to talk to him. Gulp. She didn’t know he was that kind of guy. What kind of guy?! She admires how cool he was standing up for Nakamura and believes she didn’t do it too. Kasuga must be so happy that he starts crying. Or is it because of guilt? I guess there is still hope. While hanging out with Nakamura, she gets nasty asking him if he is hiding something (because he has that silly grin on his face). He says nothing and wouldn’t dare hide any secret (oh really?). Kasuga goes home and gets reprimanded by mommy again for being late but he is so happy that he just didn’t care. He stores Saeki’s clothes in a box, wraps it up and vows never to open it again. Why doesn’t he just throw them away? Kasuga happily waltzes to class but that dies out when he realizes his classmates are giving him a strange stare. Even Yamada is ignoring him. They’re observing how odd Kasuga and Nakamura are. He tries to ignore them by reading a book. Another pleasant surprise for him when Saeki breaks the ice by wishing him good morning. It’s like God is turning things to his favour because after school, he sees Saeki carrying boxes to the lab so he helps out. Thank God for this moment. They talk and he didn’t realize he asked her out this Sunday. So shock that he could have fallen down the stairs had Saeki not grab him. It looks like she’s hugging him from behind. She agrees. And then the nightmare begins. Because Nakamura sees them (she’s wondering why the bastard was late for their usual meet). It’s like God decided to screw up his life. She gives an evil grin and walks off. That night while planking on his room floor, Kasuga is thinking how sh*t it is going to be now that Nakamura knows about this. Looks like it’s going to get worse because she is seen outside his window and wants him to come down. She takes him for a walk and knows about the date. Surprisingly, she is happy and asks for the time and place. She wants him to meet her half an hour earlier and bring Saeki’s clothes. Because he refused, she slaps him! I didn’t know it was that hard that he had fallen to the ground! I guess it’s painful to a wimp. She tells him one more time. Do it or else. Come Sunday, Kasuga does as he is told (so much about keeping the clothes in wraps forever). Nakamura takes him into a female toilet and wants him to wear those clothes underneath. Kasuga refuses and thinks she is jealous and trying to ruin their date. Nakamura laughs it off and tells the sh*thead she just wants to see him so badly in it. She has decided to tear down all the walls around him. Now put on the damn clothes! By the time he finishes, Saeki has arrived. Kasuga takes her to a bookstore, knowing very well Nakamura is spying on them from a distance.

Episode 5
It should have been a fun first date but Kasuga can’t help think what Nakamura is up to. Maybe she doesn’t even have plans and acting on impulse. See that irritating girl hiding behind things like a ninja? Kasuga decides not to mind this and enjoy his date. At the bookstore, Kasuga rants away on his books. He doesn’t realize Saeki is lost. When she asks his favourite book, he shows her Aku No Hana by Baudelaire. It changed the way he looked at the world. He buys the book as her present. Nakamura is seen gesturing outside so Kasuga is forced to temporarily leave Saeki to see her in the alley. Does she sound like jealous of him having fun that she needs to remember he is a crazy deviant wearing her stolen clothes? She wants him to kiss her before the date ends. Because she knows he wants to do it. Resuming the date, Kasuga can’t pay attention to what Saeki is talking at the cafe. Because he knows Nakamura is watching them a few tables away. He’s so obvious that something is bugging him and not able to concentrate. So much so he sees visions of Saeki in her gym clothes. They sit together at the park moments before the date ends. Getting this kiss is on his mind. Saeki notes he is a strange one and hopes he could hang out with her again. Say what? Because Nakamura’s words are ringing in his head, he yells out he is not a deviant. Then he asks if Saeki would gladly enter into a platonic relationship with him. She agrees. Yeah. He is even surprised to hear that answer. Feeling like heaven, is he? They’re both so happy that they are getting emotional. Nakamura not happy… Suddenly… SUDDENLY! Nakamura pours a barrel of water over Kasuga and runs away!!! WTF???!!! We even get multiple replays of this from different angles! WTF indeed! It leaves him very soaked! Realizing Saeki will notice, he runs away wondering if he has been found out. It’s like Nakamura knows where he is going. So when they both meet in the alley, Kasuga thinks she’s just crazily cruel and despite she insisting he wanted to kiss her, he refutes he is that sort of person. Since he insists, she wants to see how this relationship works out and will cheer on him from the sidelines. She also won’t spill the beans about him being some f*cked up deviant who stole her gym clothes. Can he trust her? She assures she will make this work. Assuming Saeki doesn’t notice it.

Episode 6
When Kasuga enters class, he is surprised to see everyone around Saeki. Kojima saw them together yesterday. Saeki admits they were going out. It’s like ecstasy for the guys but the girls couldn’t understand how this angel could fall for a creep. Kasuga wished his happy days would go on but it was not meant to be. First he sees Nakamura and Saeki talking. What could this mean? Later when he walks home with her, she tells him she approached Nakamura so that they could be friends because she was always alone. She was happy when Nakamura told her she would cheer for them. Saeki hopes to build their relationship slowly. Kasuga is indeed happy to hear that and even dispels his inner demons of being a pervert who once stole her gym clothes. He will change to love her. It is really an odd scene when Saeki invites Nakamura to join them for lunch. Even Yamada joins in. The class is wondering what the heck is this never-seen-before combo. Suddenly Nakamura asks if Saeki would still love Kasuga if she finds out he is a deviant. Saeki asserts Kasuga is not that kind of person. You know, Kasuga can at least try to play cool instead of sweating his ass off. Nakamura passes a secret message to meet him at the library later. She tells him the reason why she befriended Saeki. So as to find out her true character. Kasuga doesn’t want to hear it but she forces him to listen that Saeki wants to have sex with him. At the same time, Saeki who was looking for Kasuga, sees them together and is shocked. Kasuga’s mind is wandering. Wondering if Saeki really does want to have sex with him. So much so, he can’t hear the teacher calling his name for attendance many times. Saeki is absent. Kasuga dismisses Nakamura’s words as trying to throw his conscious off when Ai approaches him. She wants to know what he has done to Saeki. Yesterday when she called, she was crying but wouldn’t say why. She hopes he is not the reason and hands him the printouts to be given to her. Kasuga is hesitating to ring her doorbell when he gets the fright of his life. It’s Nakamura! She thinks he is here to finally have sex with her. Although Kasuga vehemently refutes (albeit like a wimp), she throws it back to him that if he still claims she is insulting her, it means he is in it more than for the sex. She calls him the king of deviants and can see the f*cked up self hiding within him. She wishes him good luck, rings the doorbell for him and runs away. No chance for him to prepare.

Episode 7
Kasuga is greeted by Saeki’s mom who takes him to her room. She didn’t expect to see him. He tells her what Ai said and thought he could help. She wants him to sit next to him. Gulp. She asks what he thinks about building a slow relationship means. Because if he has something to hide, he should say it now. Everyone thinks she is strong but she is weak. When he confessed, she was very happy. So she started having doubts and just wants him to tell the truth about himself. Kasuga though his thoughts are cluttered only manage to say he isn’t hiding anything. Saeki believes him. She also says she started reading the book he bought her and will give him her thoughts once she finishes. Kasuga leaves but is a dejected kid at the park. Nakamura is before him. Kasuga feels he is a useless piece of sh*t for trampling on Saeki’s feelings. Nakamura agrees. He has added to his sins. Because of that, he begs to Nakamura he can only depend on her to tell Saeki he was the one who stole her gym clothes. Nakamura laughs out loud and then agrees to do it. She wants him to meet her at school at midnight and bring those clothes. Kasuga sneaks out when his parents are deep asleep. Nakamura brings him to their classroom. She wants him to write on the blackboard all the deviant things he did and the pervert he is. Well, he just dug his own grave when he asked her for help, didn’t he? Didn’t he think something like this would happen? Kasuga is worried others will find out so Nakamura blows her top not to be selfish. He had the guts to ask her to do the confession on his behalf. He’s got to be kidding himself, right? Kasuga asserts he wants to be normal so Nakamura feels disappointed he is the same like everyone. It’s so boring. She hopes everyone would just drop dead. She throws a tantrum and decides to end their contract. Don’t speak to her ever again. I don’t know what’s going on in his head because Kasuga decides to finally give in. Shouting like a crazy guy, he starts writing what Nakamura expects about the deviant on the blackboard. Is that it? He writing continues on the floor and starts painting streaks of black ink around while Nakamura dances in ecstasy. Is this what she’s looking for in her thrill? They even vandalized the tables and chairs!!! It’s like some war zone! I hope they had their fun. Nakamura certainly looked like she did.

Episode 8
Like the oddballs they are, the duo walk out slowly hand in hand. Like they’ve just realized from the aftermath of the greatest trashing party. Thing is, they played this scene for 5.5 minutes!!! Kasuga got the guts to even wonder what will happen when everybody finds out. Well, don’t you know? YOU’LL BE IN SH*T!!! Of course Nakamura looks forward to it because it’s you who’s going to be in real sh*t! After they part, Kasuga can’t sleep for the rest of the morning and goes to school as usual. And then he feels like chickening out when he thinks everybody will start calling him a deviant and such. Should have thought about that, buddy. Till he meets Saeki halfway and they walk to school together. They hear a commotion in the classroom and everyone is devastated to see the vandalism. Worse, Saeki’s friends point out her stolen gym clothes in the centre. They think the perverted stalker must have struck again. I don’t know whether Yamada is scared of amazed because he thinks this is freaking cool. Kasuga realizes nobody knows it is him because the ink covered his name on the blackboard. However Saeki sees the Aku No Hana drawing on the floor. Could she have guessed the culprit? An emergency assembly is held in the hall and for the students’ safety, school is closed for the day. Kasuga is vomiting outside. Can’t take it, eh? Nakamura sees him and feels so good. She hasn’t felt like this in ages especially the look of their classmates’ faces. She tells him he should stand proud. Suddenly Saeki turns up. Her eyes look different. Eerie silence. Eerie glaring. Kasuga wants to break up. Before he can run away like the coward he is, Saeki stops him and asks… The flower pattern on the floor. It’s like from the book he bought her. She guesses it is him who vandalized the classroom and the one who stole her gym clothes.

Episode 9
Even if it was him, she won’t break up. Does he hate her? No, right? She hopes he would rethink his decision. Kasuga goes home like a zombie. He cannot understand why Saeki won’t hate him (does he really want that?). Next day, Kasuga is absent from class. Saeki confronts Nakamura if she knew this from the start. Nakamura tells her the truth. Including how she told him Saeki is hard up for sex and she wanted to be friends because she had spare time. Asking her relationship with him, Nakamura says they made a contract. He promised to let her break down the walls that hide his deviant self. Saeki still doesn’t believe Kasuga is a deviant but to Nakamura, no matter how you look at it, he is a crazy deviant and the town’s biggest. Saeki goes to visit Kasuga this time but that kid tells his mom not to let her see him because he isn’t ready. Wuss. If it’s like that, she shouts from outside his window. She apologizes she doesn’t understand him. She is okay with the gym clothes incident and is in fact happy because it shows he likes her. Oh, really?! In real life many would have killed the bastard. But what she is sad about is that he never told her. So please, tell her and not to Nakamura. She hopes he will return to school tomorrow and will be waiting. Kasuga’s mother returns to his room holding his dirty clothes in her hands. She wants an explanation if he was the culprit behind this. Kasuga dashes out of the house and runs wherever his feet take him. He ends up at the riverbed and Nakamura happen to be sitting there. So they’re just sitting there wasting time. Yeah, even Nakamura wants him to tell her something funny. How can he? Oh well. His entirely life is one big joke, eh? Kasuga feels he has nowhere to go now since he has been discovered. Home, school and not even Saeki. They see Kasuga’s mom going around town looking for her son. I’m not surprised when Nakamura mocks her how she looks like an idiot but Kasuga just stood there and said nothing! You mean he accepted that?! WTF?! What the hell man! Nakamura wonders if he would like to go beyond the hills. How? Remember the bicycle he ditched? Yeah. She has been keeping it. There’s no reason to stay in this stupid sh*t hole anymore. Kasuga wonders if she will stay with him. She puts it this way. He is going to stay with her. I guess this guy must be so desperate that he isn’t thinking. As Saeki walks back, she sees Kasuga’s mom anxiously asking the people if they have seen her son who has run away. She fears the worst.

Episode 10
Kasuga peddles to the hills. He thought this town is boring, so are its people. He wanted to travel. Nakamura is not amused with his sh*t and tells him to peddle. Despite he’s the one doing all the work, she still complains about him being slow. It’s uphill… They take shelter by the roadside when the rain begins. And it’s starting to pour. No money for food either. This sucks. Kasuga wonders how the people down there can live ordinary lives and they’re up here. Nakamura’s answer is simple. Because they’re deviants. He thanks her for dragging him along. Suddenly Saeki passes by. Earlier she called Nakamura’s house but her father picked up and said his daughter wasn’t home yet. Then she went out on pretence to buy stationery. She luckily talked to a roadside stall guy who saw them passing by because there weren’t many people in this area who ride a bicycle. Now the rainy drama starts. Obviously we expect Saeki to get mad. However she apologizes for driving Kasuga to a wall. She read Aku No Hana so many times but couldn’t understand. She wants him to tell her why he likes this book so much and what’s going on in his mind. Please don’t run away. Why does he always run to Nakamura? Nakamura says she is going to the other side and Kasuga is coming along with her (I hope there is no ulterior meaning in that). When Saeki asks if he loves Nakamura, Saeki snaps. Because Saeki wants to know what is in his head so bad, Nakamura strips Kasuga down. Again, so easy to strip him? She tells her everything about how this deviant was wearing her gym clothes when he confessed and loved it. However Saeki doesn’t care. If he did it because he loved her, it’s okay. But she wants him to at least tell her so she’ll accept him. Kasuga apologizes to Saeki and that’s when Nakamura has had it. She tells him he can stay in this stupid town and die. She’ll go to the other side herself. This stupid guy wants to go after her?! After all Saeki has said, he is going after her?! It took a lot of courage for Saeki to stop him. Is she not good enough for him? He didn’t mean to run after her. Oh. Than what was that all about? It’s right for Nakamura to call him pathetic.

Saeki tells her off she has no idea what she felt and went through. She was very happy and Kasuga made her sparkle. She starts crying. Kasuga also starts breaking down. So Nakamura throws him the ultimatum. Is he coming? Or is he staying? And don’t f*ck with her expectations. Now it’s Kasuga’s turn to explain after all that one-two liners of indecisiveness. When he read Aku No Hana and books of other authors, he felt empty. He doesn’t understand Aku No Hana and liked to imagine himself reading it and pretended not to know who he is. He worships Saeki as his angel so it is impossible for him to be facing her in flesh and blood. He can’t be normal or love like a normal being but states he is not a pervert. I don’t know if he’s contradicting himself but if you’re not normal, you’re a deviant, right? He also says he is the worst piece of sh*t because he has nothing and not the kind of person Nakamura wants him to be. That’s why he can’t choose either one of them. He doesn’t have the right. Hey pal, this right of not choosing a girl is only reserved for male leads of a harem anime. Saeki drops the book and I guess she ‘understands’. She’s already had it. I understand too. After trying to rationalize and giving this idiot a chance, this is all he can say? Don’t waste your time, girl. Nakamura tramples and tears the book apart, throwing it back at his face. How do you like that? She too is emotionally upset. See the lesson? If you can’t choose either one of them, you’re going to end up hurting both and this looks bad. Had he chosen one, he would’ve made one happy and the other sad, at least one was happy but now nobody is. Bad end. Tragic end. The police pull up and realize they have found Saeki (her parents reported her as missing). When they want the kids to give their statement back at the station, Nakamura dashes away. The policeman went after her and she’s screaming and resisting arrest.

Episode 11
When Kasuga returned home, he didn’t say a word. His mom was breaking down. She can’t take this anymore and blames herself for raising him wrongly. His father was still cool. He told his son not to make mommy sad and to reflect on his actions. They are going to go to apologize to Saeki and Nakamura’s family as what he did was serious. A month has passed and although Kasuga normally attends school. It feels he is like a zombie. Nakamura is still worst, defying and insulting the teacher. It’s a good thing they don’t raise their hand and just let her be. But would the latter be the right choice? Ai confronts Kasuga and is furious he neglected Saeki for a month although Saeki is okay with it. She still doesn’t know about the real stalker and wants him to take better care of her. Kasuga thinks Saeki deserves somebody better than her so Saeki understands, thanks him for everything and they break up. They shake hands and part, leaving Ai very much shocked and confused. Even back home, Kasuga is so soft spoken and overly polite with his parents (they didn’t say much, especially his mom), it is just creepy. He holes up in his room thinking this is for the best. Now he can die alone. For the next 5 freaking minutes, we see Kasuga walking aimlessly like a zombie! Dragging his feet around town in the dead of the night. He picks up the pace when he sees Nakamura sitting. She sounded disappointed that she believed he would tear down his walls and follow her beyond the hill. She leaves and calls him a liar. And it’s all just his dream. Kasuga then gets worked up and starts messing his room, breaking that lovely picture of Baudelaire. He understands why Nakamura was angry at him because he disappointed her. Although Saeki can live a happy life without him, but how is Nakamura going to live alone? That’s his concern? She had it a lot harder than him and still believed the empty shell he is. He is going to write it all down and won’t leave her alone.

Episode 12
I don’t know how many pages he wrote because it’s morning. In class, Saeko is interacting normally with her friends like how it was. Nakamura completely ignores Kasuga. When class is over, Ai confronts Yamada and Kojima to ask what is happening to Kasuga. They don’t really know. Some friends they are. Kojima only notices he has stopped reading recently. After school, Kasuga goes after Nakajima. She still ignores him. He has written an essay for her but is not interested. He reads it aloud and runs along with her who is trying to flee this deviant. He apologizes for that night on the hill. He was selfish, thinking about himself. He will do all he can to be a real deviant and won’t leave her alone because if he does, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life. Nakamura probably didn’t care because she could’ve got hit by a car. She didn’t. Not even bat an eyelid and dashed forward. Kasuga almost got hit but thankfully (or not) he didn’t. But he lost her. So he rushes back home just to get her address and rushes back to her place. Outside her doorstep, he meets her father. He apologizes for everything but he seems like a nice chap and doesn’t mind. He invites Kasuga in since his daughter isn’t back yet (she’s bumming around and staring into infinity like a zombie). He notes Kasuga is Nakamura’s first friend to visit. Father wants to know what he thinks of his daughter. He has a hard time understanding her. Only insults come out from her mouth, comes back very late and never listens to him. As for her mom, they were divorced when Nakamura was 5 years old. Kasuga thinks they are friends. He too doesn’t know what she is thinking. That’s why he wants to know her. Father seems happy to hear that and notes he is serious. He invites him to stay for dinner and will call his parents to let them know (obviously the first thing they would think is if their son is causing mischief once more). When Kasuga excuses himself to the toilet, he sees Nakamura’s room. He knows it’s her room because there’s a big sign that says “Don’t Enter! You piece of sh*t!”. Yup. That’s her alright. Kasuga is like the cat and you know what curiosity is going to do to it, right? He turns the knob and opens the door…

Episode 13
What does he spy with his little eye? Hmm… Looks like a normal room. Nothing special. But he can smell her scent lingering. Don’t tell me this is another deviant side of his. Nakamura’s notebook in her drawer caught his attention. He picks it up and read. The first few pages contains doodles and scribbles how everything in this town is boring and nothing but sh*t. She viewed herself as a deviant. Her writing seems to light up when she has finally found an equal deviant and can’t want to make a contract. The rest of the entries are about her observations on Kasuga and what they did. His date with Saeki and turning the classroom into a big mess. She felt great then. But that’s where the entry stops. After many blank pages, a short note at the end that she is sad she couldn’t go over to the other side of the hill. Seriously. This dude is crying for her? Just then, Nakamura comes back. Rather, she barges back into her room. She tells Kasuga to get the f*ck out but snatches away her notebook and runs away. Kasuga goes after her till he finally catches her. He wants to go over the hill with her. But she is not amused sh*t. She continues to insult him the sh*thead he is and tells him to stay in this empty world. It feels like the remainder of the episode is a recap of Nakamura’s important scenes with Kasuga. And then suddenly what I believe scenes of the future! It’s a mess. A cacophony. There’s hell. There’s chaos. There’s insanity. There’s profanity (more sh*thead, I guess). There’s tears. There’s blood! It’s really confusing and screwed up! With a confident voice now, Kasuga tells her to make a contract with him and crawl out of this den. End of part 1?! WTF???!!!

Spiralling Madness…
Let me get this off my chest first. The first gripe in which many people have watching this anime is the drawing and art of the characters! Yes, this is the biggest thing and the most obvious when you watch this series. To put it in one word: Hideous! Honestly, that is what I felt at first but even after the anime ends, I still have a hard time accepting it although I am used to it. The drawing of the characters as bad as Windy Tales or Mahou Tsukai Ni Taisetsu Na Koto: Natsu No Sora because they didn’t put much detail in them! Especially the faces. Sometimes it is just one blank space. It’s like the art department got lazy and couldn’t care less to complete it and just left it as it is for the final production. It is so obvious to the point that it makes you cringe and makes you wonder if the producers hate doing this series. It makes you wonder if they hate it so much that they want us to feel disgust and screw up this series by not putting enough effort in the drawing. Initially, because of the lacking art, the characters are somewhat ‘ugly’ since they don’t look like your typical anime type of characters.

I thought this was how the manga that this series was based on was like. To my surprise, the manga’s characters looks much better!!! Many times better!!! They have this cute and anime-like look and touch, something that we all are familiar with! Despite Nakamura being somewhat rotten, at least the manga version of her looks prettier. Unlike her in this animated version, she looks like a frog! Serious! I thought she might do a ribbit any time with that expression. Kasuga is not bad looking himself in the manga but in the TV series, he looks like a loser! And I believe Saeki is your typical pretty bishoujo, which is what she is on paper but here she looks chubbier. And Yamada? I thought what the hell Art Garfunkel was doing in this anime! So can you blame me for thinking that the producers of this series is trying to sabotage or being absolutely sloppy? And there are some minor characters that look freakily odd. There is one female classmate that looks like a guy! I thought she is some male who loves to tie braids! What a manly look. Then there’s that bookstore owner Kasuga took Saeki to on their first date. His moustache was standing up so much so it resembled a duck’s bill! No kidding! Finally there was a lady resident who has a moustache!!! WTF?! Unless it is some shading or drawing error, then I’m pretty sure such characters do look weird.

However accusing them of such unrefined art means only ignorance on my part. I later found out there is a reason why the artwork turned out like that. You see, this anime was done via rotoscoping. It is a filming technique whereby a live action version is filmed and then the film is traced by hand. Frame by frame! Gosh, this has got to be a very pain staking process. Because of that, the drawing and art style of this anime is very close to realism. You can see some sort of realism in the artwork and not anime-like. I guess this is a reason why the person who voiced Kasuga looks somewhat similar to the seiyuu himself! Holy cow! Yeah… That sharp chin… He also acted and voiced his character. But I was wonder why Nakamura and Saeki didn’t pretty look much like their seiyuu counterparts since they are voiced by considerably popular seiyuus, Mariya Ise and Youko Hikasa respectively. Simple. That’s because somebody else played their live action version and they just provided the voice. So it’s a mix of realism and unrefined art that is the main controversy of this series. Some like it but many (like yours truly) don’t. So real and yet so raw, you happen to notice the mole dots on the character’s face and can’t help feel sometimes you want to play connect the dots. Really. But I think there is a good point in making this series looking such a way. It’s for realism too. If the art of the characters were anime-like, I believe there wouldn’t have been much impact on the psychological drama that this anime relies heavily on. Many would have scoffed off as some anime without feeling its realism. Thus in that sense with such artwork, you can just feel the insanity, the drama and everything that comes with it.

As the characters are already badly drawn, the use of rotoscope has made the animation somewhat jerky and rough too. For example when Kasuga ditched his bicycle and run like there’s tomorrow. It looked so jerky that it was freaking funny! It is not smooth but they did try their best not to make it so jerky that viewers would end up having motion sickness every time the episode ends. Or worse, start vomiting in the middle of it. But it’s still obvious. I guess tracing over film is pretty hard thing to do and doing so isn’t exactly perfect. Although I respect them in using such a method to make this series having a unique and refreshing feel from the ubiquitous standard anime style, ultimately I still prefer my animes with wide eyed characters and sparkle in their smile. Can’t beat the conventional way, eh? However the ‘bad art’ is only restricted to the characters. As for the background and sceneries, they are quite nicely well done. So much so that some of them can be passed off as real. So neatly done that if you notice and keep your eyes peeled, you can even the realistic reflection on the television screen or the wooden board. Therefore I concluded if you have had enough of watching low quality character art, just switch your eyes to the scenery. They give you much more eye candy satisfaction.

Now pushing the art and animation aside, I would like to say that the story is quite interesting and gripping. No doubt that the story is moving at a very slow paced but to me, the series keeps me interested in knowing further what is going to happen. How will Kasuga get out of this? What sh*t is he going to get into next? I recommend people who aren’t into this psychological drama to also watch this. But as usual, the ending had to spoil it all. First the art and now this crappy ending. Maybe that’s how it ended in the manga. At least for this chapter since the manga is still on-going. They teased us with what could be potential scenes for another season but so far, I have not heard if there is going to be a sequel or not. If there is going to be one, I would love to keep watching this. Since I can’t contain my curiosity, I went to check a little on Wikipedia and found out there is indeed a continuation in the manga but a time skip. The main characters are leading separate lives, Kasuga meets someone who is as equally as interested in the literature world as him and Nakamura has been missing. No word of what happened to her. So it might mean that when the TV series ended, the chapter of this part in the manga also ended. It is unsure of what Kasuga or Nakamura did during the time skip. I could be wrong since I didn’t read the manga and is just speculating.

The voice acting is also not anime-like. Because Shinichirou Ueda who is the seiyuu and actor for Kasuga, this is his debut. In a sense, there is a rookie feel to it unlike veteran seiyuus. Because of that, he sounds very real. His shaky voice, his wimpy voice, his normal voice. Like any boy kid you can relate to next door. Even Mariya Ise and Youko Hikasa too didn’t sound like they were anime-like characters. It’s not that I could recognize Youko Hikasa but each time I try to think about it that this is the girl who voiced Mio from K-ON!, Erica in Campione and Rias from High School DxD, I just can’t seem to recognize it is her. Is it because the realism of the art affects the voice as well? Mariya Ise who has voiced well known characters such as Levy from Fairy Tail, Stocking from Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt and Riko from Hidan No Aria, doesn’t really sound anime-like either. Maybe sometimes but not all the time. Especially at times when she starts screaming her head off! It was so real and frightening that I thought my monitor was going to crack! So crazy her shriek when she breaks down, being frustrated or gets upset that I thought I might suffer a heart attack and that she might just pop out of the screen and insult me! A very good job to her for really bringing out such craziness in Nakamura.

I don’t really know what to make out of Kasuga. All I know he is one confused kid. He doesn’t truly know what he wants. He isn’t perfect but the way I see it, he is descending deeper into madness. His life is falling apart just because of whether he wants to be a deviant or not. I really don’t understand that either, why he wanted to become a deviant so much. Maybe it’s not that he wants to become one. It’s that he realized Nakamura is lonely and wants to be with her. That’s why I find it real strange that this guy who once adored Saeki, even made the first move to ask her out and go steady with her, suddenly is that same bastard who breaks up with her. You can see the way he struggles with Nakamura whenever she imposes on him. Although he is weak and eventually gives in to pressure, there was that part in him that wanted Saeki. I was so certain he loved her. He even said he will change for love. Look how much change he has become. Even worse. So after all the influence from Nakamura, he starts taking an interest in her and neglects Saeki. WTF. I suppose when he already got his hands on his angel so easily, there’s no more challenge. It was better when he was admiring from afar, huh? What an emotional roller coaster ride he put her, himself and everyone else along.

He’s on his way to earn a reputation as a problem kid. Blame puberty? Blame himself is more like it. But society is partly to blame. If you think about it, the reason why he acts so (aside Nakamura’s influence) is out of desperation. Why else would he be doing it if he is so scared if people find out that he is a deviant? Imagine how his classmates would treat him had they known he was the real culprit. In the end, he doesn’t care for all that anymore and just wants to be with Nakamura. He doesn’t seem to join his Yamada and Kojima pals anymore when he starts getting obsessed with Nakamura. Besides, it still bugs me why he still keeps Saeki’s clothes after so long. He could have just thrown them away and if not lie to Nakamura he had done so. Thus this shows that maybe there is some truth in Nakamura’s words in him being a deviant who likes to smell and rub his skin against Saeki’s clothes. His inability to keep calm is a dead giveaway and perhaps the reason why Nakamura can read him like a book and tell whether he has something to hide or not. Not because Nakamura is some witch with some sort of mind reading powers (like I hoped it would be. Dang). At least this proves Kasuga isn’t a liar but he has a hard time putting his thoughts into words. Notice how often he had to dismiss what Saeki or Nakamura thinks but can’t explain it well to counter that? Despite there’s the irony that he reads a lot. Unless you tell me he was just pretending to read all this time.

His father is perhaps the coolest character in the series. He doesn’t reprimand his son and is quite an understanding man. He knows his son is going through puberty so there is no need to scold or yell at him because he’s such a big kid already. He’s the kind of father that every kid would love to have. And yet, Kasuga is spiralling towards become a problem kid. I don’t know if he has guided Kasuga or maybe it’s because from what we see he is a nice fellow. What I mean in that sense is that he doesn’t pay much attention to him and left him to his own device that’s why Kasuga went astray. So the price to be paid for such is like spare the rod spoil the child? Kasuga’s mom isn’t that bad either. Like every other mother, she is concerned about her child. She just lacks to cool composure her husband has.

I also don’t know what to think of Nakamura. It is hard to understand what is going inside her head and understand what she wants. Despite all the insults she throws at Kasuga, could it be that she actually likes him? I’m just speculating that putting up that tough girl attitude is just to hide her solitude and loneliness. After all, wasn’t it the reason why she took an interest in Kasuga (as stated in her notebook) because she views him a deviant just like her. Even though she says she wants to go to the other side of the hill and that everything in this damn town is boring, I’m asking why is she still here. If what she said was true (from her point of view), shouldn’t she have left a long time ago? What is it that is keeping her here? Probably Kasuga is the reason why she won’t go over yet but before she met him, shouldn’t she have done so? She can curse this town and people all that she wants but her inability to take action shows that she’s just the same like everyone else. Besides, she has been a problem kid ever since. She doesn’t respect her classmates, her teachers and even her own father. Every time she opens her mouth, some sort of expletive is heard. So why bother stick around or even go to school? She bums around as she wishes and could have just gone over to the other side of the hill. Far or not, who cares? It’s not like she loves this sh*t place anyway. That’s why I’m baffled. Just like Kasuga, what is it that she truly wants. And I hope when she says she wants to go beyond the hills, it doesn’t mean something to do with life and death.

At first I thought if she came from a broken family, I would at least understand a little why she acted in such a way. No doubt she has divorced parents, her father is an equally nice man. If I could say, the same understanding guy Kasuga’s father is. He wants to understand his daughter but she wouldn’t let him. If he is a drunkard or gambler and abuses her daughter then I would comprehend her character but he is such a loving father figure from what I see. Maybe he neglects her? From what I understand he doesn’t. If you were him, what would you do? The only solution that won’t result in some war zone is to leave her alone and pray hard she would come to her senses. So what caused Nakamura to become such a delinquent? She doesn’t mix around so it’s safe to say for now that she won’t be in bad company. Even if she starts insulting others, it is a good thing that they don’t raise a hand back at her. They manage to restrain themselves from using violence. I think it’s good since you don’t want to compound the problem any further. Since everybody knows Nakamura is just plain weird, they know it’s best not to cross her path and let her be.

Saeki is a very understanding character and I’m sure those who become her boyfriend would be one lucky guy. To me, Kasuga was stupid enough to throw away that chance. She was willing to give him a chance to start anew. Many girls would have just dump their guy if they ever find out such indecent act. I’m not sure if Saeki’s reaction and thinking would have been different had Kasuga confessed before this madness spiralled out of control. But Saeki was cool. She believes in love. And yet Kasuga betrayed her on that part. Despite all the pleas for him to return and have another chance to start anew, Kasuga still hesitate and looked towards Nakamura. Do you think it not hurts inside in Saeki’s shoes? That’s why when they broke up, I thought it was for Saeki’s good. She doesn’t need a creep like him. Even Kasuga himself said he wasn’t worthy. I wished he realized sooner enough rather than ending up hurting her. But in the end, Saeki was cool enough to maintain her composure. See how nice and rare such girls are? Kasuga you bastard! Otakus like me can’t even get a decent girlfriend and you just easily cast away yours?!

The other minor supporting characters are rather okay and the most amusing one is Yamada. How should I put him? He is the kind of buddy friend that perhaps every guy group would have. Maybe it is just me because he is naturally funny and a joker. You should look at the way he talks and interacts with Kasuga and his group of friends. Because of that, there is some sort of realism you can relate to for his character, albeit just a minor one. There’s something odd I find about Kojima. He has this tendency to put his hand below his chin. Does it make him look smarter since it gives the impression that he is ‘thinking’? He also always has that smirk on his face. Happy guy, isn’t he? Ai is a good friend to Saeki and cares about her but there is only so much she can do and care for her friend. That’s why I don’t blame her if she really hates Kasuga for ditching angelic Saeki for deviant Nakamura. You know what they say about the bird of the same feathers. With the creepy eyeball flower of Aku No Hana in the anime, I thought there would be some sort of supernatural power coming into play. Just seeing the way those ‘thin hair’ quivering is enough to give me the creeps. Alas, it was just something of our imagination and only appearing as something harmless in Kasuga’s dream.

I thought there were a few opening themes since it changes every 3 episodes. Then I found out it is actually the same song by Uchujin but different versions of it and sung by a guest vocalist. The opening theme is the same name as this series and mainly the versions are named according to the main characters and reflect them. Kasuga’s rock version may have lyrics that call himself a piece of sh*t but the most amusing one is Nakamura’s version. It has sh*t insults and negativity that makes you think the girl is going mad. Although the song starts out as carnival-like, the singer is more like screaming instead of singing towards the end. Just crazy. While Saeki’s version sounds like pop rock, the Gunma-ken Kiryu-shi version starts off sounding like a circus fairytale (feels like Alice in Wonderland?) before descending into its rock form. The ending theme is the weirdest of them all. Dubbed Hana -a last flower- by ASA-CHANG and Junray, what you hear is a combo voice of a child and a man singing. Heck, I don’t think they’re really singing but just talking with some synthesizer and computerized effects. It’s like either the voices are trying to match to the organ tune in the background or vice versa. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s really odd but that’s what makes it unique. There are also a few versions of it but I couldn’t really tell the difference. The animation for the opening theme has got to be the most unimaginative and boring (there’s that word again) ever made. I guess it can’t be help seeing the pace of this show, you don’t want to add all those anime-like opening animations to spoil it and ruin the realism. Just put something plain and simple. And boring. The ending animation is like that too but just a black screen and the credits scrolling up.

What actually defines a deviant? If everybody in this world did the oddest thing and the most deviant, then it wouldn’t be called a deviant anymore and would turn out into a norm. How you perceive somebody as a deviant also depends very much on your influence and beliefs. Therefore I conclude that everybody is a deviant in their own way and that is what makes us unique and interesting. This entire world is one big screwed up place so no matter where you run or go, it will be the same. Just in a different form and way. I have criticized so much on Kasuga and Nakamura for the fine mess they got into but I should be careful too. Because in some ways I can relate Kasuga to myself (being an introvert and all) and putting myself in his shoes, I don’t think I would have handled it differently either. Maybe worse. It’s easy to watch and criticize others but when it is you who is doing it, it is a different ball game. This series is a good example of how a mountain is made out of a molehill. One small thing leads to another. The more you lie, the harder you find to cover it up and keep up with it. It’s simple. Don’t do things that you do not want to regret later on in your life. But if you’re thinking about risking a boring uneventful life versus some ‘(mis)adventure’ of a lifetime, the choice is always yours. In the end, everybody is still somewhat a deviant and some piece of sh*t. Because life has got you screwed up ever since the day you were born. Haha!

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