Aku no Hana (惡の華) is a manga and anime series. The manga began on September 9, 2009 in Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine and is currently being published by Vertical in North America. The anime began on April 5, 2013, airing on Animax, Tokyo MX, TVS, Chiba TV, tvk, GTV, SUN-TV, and KBS in Japan as part of the Spring 2013 anime season. The anime was licensed by Sentai Filmworks on April 19, 2013.
Kasuga Takao is a boy who loves reading books, particularly Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal. A girl at his school, Saeki Nanako, is his muse and his Venus, and he admires her from a distance. One day, he forgets his copy of Les Fleurs du Mal in the classroom and runs back alone to pick it up. In the classroom, he finds not only his book, but Saeki's gym uniform. On a mad impulse, he steals it.
Now everyone knows "some pervert" stole Saeki's uniform, and Kasuga is dying with shame and guilt. Furthermore, the weird, creepy, and friendless girl of the class, Nakamura, saw him take the uniform. Instead of revealing it was him, she recognizes his kindred deviant spirit and uses her knowledge to take control of his life. Will it be possible for Kasuga to get closer to Saeki, despite Nakamura's meddling and his dark secret? What exactly does Nakamura intend to do with him?
Our lives are cycles of objectively meaningless rehearsals. We start the day and carry out its motions and repeat the pattern and behavior dictated by our societal rules and surrounding culture. The typical classroom scene of the start of the manga is as boring and predictable as the reality it portrays. The reader may realise that this is the nature of an apparent shounen manga, but the characters within have no idea of the meaningless mundaneity they are confined to.
Nakamura sees through the facade and at least is aware of the emptiness of all existence. Furthermore, the she sees how people around her act with contempt to others not knowing they are mere ink stains on a page bound to a predestined future. They do not even realise the true nature of the world and their lives yet open their mouths to let out what they believe is wisdom or charisma. What actually flies out is nothing but idiocy, hypocracy and absurdity, words/actions with the sole purpose of perpetuating the societal norms/expectations. The students talk about girls they would have sex with but will never perform the act or go beyond this and the adults try to maintain a society where nothing disturbing happens. Everyone is encased in a thick layer of bullshit.
She catches a glimpse of a genuine expression of desire, an act that breaks the mold of this world's expected train of events. Wasn't this a platonic shounen slice of life manga? Takao rubs his nose over this pretense and breaks though the layers of social conditioning if only briefly and performs an act true to himself and aberrant to the script. Nakamura sees a sign of companionship and an alternative existence-"the otherside."
It takes Takao a long time to truly open his eyes and see through the world and himself. He knows the genuine and right thing to do is to confess his deed. But the societal rules prevent him from doing so. In fact the shounen now romantic slice of life manga tries as hard as Nakamura to keep him from derailing the script. Without Nakamura's constant reminders to Takao that he is faking the truth, the manga would have turned into a lovey dovey romantic slice of life after Saeki reciprocated Takaos feelings. Nakamura would have lost to the artificial plague that is her town and become swallowed up. The constant reminder of how Takao is not living a genuine life eventually makes him realise what it really means to live honestly and unbounded, and how hollow he and the world has been up until that rainy night at the border between the town and "the other side." Once he realises the truth, he sees the profound loneliness of the only other person alive in the world and falls in love with Nakamura.
Saeki never sees through her scripted role as the romantic slice of life co-protagonist and after losing her owed partner Takao (who has now seen through the script and refutes it, realising his feelings for Saeki is an engineered troup), tries to understand but never achieves enlightenment. She clings to the scripted belief that they should be together not knowing this belief is a societal cliche rather than born of genuine circumstances.
The honeymoon of the 2 "flowers of evil" is short lived. 2 people with the mind of a reader cannot live genuinely in a shounen romantic slice of life manga. Nietzsche cannot live genuinely in contemporary japan, let alone conduct acts in attempts to remind his surroundings of the absurdity of it all by scattering stolen panties everywhere and get away with it. Worst still, the realisation of the absurdity of the world leads to the realisation that the life they are leading are no better. Nakamura knows the hollowness of the world but she has no more substance than her peers. There is nothing she strives for as she can't start anything knowing it is all meaningless in the end. She is as dead as her peers, the only difference being she is aware of this. There is nothing for her in the world except Takao who shares her ideals. The world continues to shut Takao's eyes and the pair rebels against this by planning a grand exit. Nakamura however also knows Takao is different from her. He has substance at least in his love of books. He genuinely likes or at least knows about things not considered "normal." He genuinely tries to be a virtuous person. Takao has reasons to persist in this world and is the only person Nakamura sees as truly alive. This is why she pushes him down the float.
For the next 3 years both succumb to the rules and become the living dead, actors again. Takao meets Tokiwa and finds in her a character to fall in love with for genuine reasons, unlike Saeki. He also brings Tokiwa out of her script of marrying the jock to live true to her love of literature. To be true to himself he confesses his past and lingering feelings and confusion for Nakamura and her last act and they confront this together.
Takao tells Nakamura that Tokiwa and him are going well. "And you?" How is Nakamura? Her face sums up how Nakamura is doing as well as what she thinks about the conversation. She is the living dead. Her only companion has also now moved on, whats more, there is nothing genuine about their interaction, everyone has their masks on. Tokiwa is the first to take off her mask and say what's in her heart - that she sees how sad Nakamura is and would rather Nakamura be happy. Takao then sheds his layers and expresses his feelings of love, frustration, acceptance and sadness. He hugs Nakamura (his love for her); pushes her to the ground repeatedly (frustration at ... well alot of things); conveys to her that he treasures their past but will now move on. In these actions Takao and Tokiwa shows Nakamura once more "the other side" - genuine, unscripted, unadulterated, unrestrained, truthful human behavior - what Nakamura truly enjoys and is deprived of in this world. It is enough to change her view of the world and start to find things to live for.
- Official Japanese website for the anime
- Stream the show legally from Crunchyroll (warning: may not work in all countries)