Posted by psgels on 7 May 2013 with categories: Aku no Hana

There are times when the characters in this series don’t have faces. But holy crap: when they do, their facial expressions and nonverbal communication here is just stunning. If I had to pinpoint the thing I like the most about this series, then it would be that: the subtle cues that the characters give each other that say so much more than what mere dialogue could have done.

Nakamura in particular is just brilliant at this. I just love how her mood changed over the course of this episode, from excited, to disappointed, and then back to excited again. The way she just looked down upon Kasuga was really expressive. She, more than anyone else in this series, has presence.

As for Kasuga, it’s always difficult to write a very flawed character. You need to know the difference between being flawed, and just completely stupid for the sake of the plot. The key for that is balance, and believability. And Kasuga indeed is not normal. I suspect very much that he has some sort of autism, or at least I suspect so considering the way he so passionately talks about books, and how he is socially awkward. And for that I too have to congratulate the creators, because for me they managed to make him believable enough to completely draw me in here.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

12 Responses

  1. Emma-hime says:

    The show don’t tell thing along with the atmosphere being alot better/more effective than the manga helps and adds a realism feel yes.
    However the use of not normal, the phrasing seems awkward, austism I hadn’t thought of that, thats a very interesting observation though. Being autistic myself I can see what you mean even though I don’t feel as if I’m on Kasuga’s level.

  2. Dop says:

    In the end card the author asks viewers if they remember their adolescence, and this show just captures the awkwardness of adolescence in a nutshell.
    It’s almost painful to watch Kasuga and Saeki on their ‘date’ as they’re both quite clearly very uncomfortable about everything, and the bit in the bookshop when Kasuga is rambling on about surrealism you can just see how very very uninterested Saeki is by that. It’s the look on her face.

    Certainly one thing I pick up from this show is body language.

    I think Kasuga’s real problem is that he’s read too many dodgy old French poets and that’s given him this over-romanticised, idealised and unrealistic opinion of girls, and he’s too young to know any better.
    I get the feeling that his reading habits are influenced by his father, but he hasn’t got the wisdom of age on his side.

    It’s an uncomfortable show to watch in some ways, but I find it compelling, and I can rewatch each episode several times just to wallow in it.

  3. zoom says:

    Kasuga does not have autism…

    Just because he likes books doesn’t make him autistic, similarly to how you aren’t autistic just because you like anime.

    It would be better to avoid the pop-psych in future reviews.

  4. Kagamihime says:

    Not sure about him having Autism. Asperger’s syndrome maybe, but even that is fairly hard to diagnose. I think Kasuga’s problem is just that he has a more realistic version of 8th grader’s syndrome where his superiority complex has completely overshadowed his view on life.

    Also Nakamura just keeps getting better and better. I can’t help but think her behavior is cute in the sickest of ways. At the same time, she resembles the average bully that is seen in schools though manages to throw her own little twist in it.

  5. Ennor says:

    I agree with Zoom, it’s not autism. It’s not Asperger either (actually, after checking it out I’ve learnt the later has been recently included within the autism spectrum). Anyway, the point is that Kasuga’s problem to socialize doesn’t seem to come from a lack of empathy, he seems perfectly capable of understanding social rules and how people works emotionally.

    If anything, I’d say he has an avoidant personality disorder… although, probably he’s just a timid and inmature teenager that has taken refuge in books to feel he belongs somewhere…

    Or even better… he’s just an excuse crafted by the creators to set Nakamura in motion,… after all, she’s the actual star of this show…

    By the way, I’ve been lurking around for a while now, but that’s the first message I leave… so, hi everyone! ^^

    • zoom says:

      Nakamura believes she is the only person in her society that is true to herself. She hates everyone around her for being repressed and fake, which is why she becomes so excited when she meets Kasuga, who is, to her belief, the closest to her herself in authenticity. The Flowers of Evil represents the repressed darkness of human nature that people choose to ignore for the sake of living lives rooted in blissful ignorance.

      I love this show…

  6. Tarsio says:

    Yeah, I don`t think Kasuga is autist too. I think he is just a repressed guy that only can liberate his trueself through books and fiction. Aku no Hana is certainly about repression, how we fear to show our inner desires when we are adolescent, especially in Japan. So Kasuga desires Saeki, but he can’t deal with his feelings, because japanese society thinks that everything is peverted (gosh, a fucking uniform disappears and it`s a fucking fuss), therefore kasuga creates this holy image of Saeki – this platonic love – to hideaway his desires and not be rejected.

    For me this show is the closest to how a japanese really acts. When we read manga and watch anime we usually get a wrong notion about japanese behavior.

    Another thing. I have seen a lot of complaints abou the animation style, and the heads withou face. Well, I adore the heads without faces. It have everything to do with the story. Is like everyone is hidind there faces, hiding who they really are, so only when they are close to the camera we see their faces and personallity. A town surrounded by mountains, populated by people without faces. It’s a fantastic scenario and symbolism.

    A interesting question to discuss about the show is: Why the purity and evil can`t coexist together? Why the first-in-the-class girl couldn`t love weird things in bed? I don`t see any problem in that.

  7. Raye Peneber says:

    I’m so sorry Psgels, this is a rare miss on your part. Ignoring the fact that the show is animated in a “lazyscoped” style it continues to reuse and re-reuse assets and backgrounds. Sometimes an a competent series an animator will draw a char without facial features to show that the char is emotionally distant. Here we have no facial features because of laziness or a low budget. The opening and ending theme suck too…

    Next we have the issue of the main being a complete fool. Yeah, guys are awkward with women during puberty. We get it. Still, the level of incompetence here kills me. Burn the clothes, fight back against the redhead bully. It’s annoying to watch him struggle with easily fixable minor life problems. The low self esteem thing is just lame and overdone.

    Even if this turns in to a horror series (as you mistakenly billed it as psgels) and redhead murders Ms. perfect, or ditz boy murders redhead, or redhead straight up rapes/literally tortures ditz boy I wouldn’t want to watch it happen because it will be animated like poop. I doubt a body count would save things here. This series is dropped, with prejudice.

  8. Raye Peneber says:

    PS: I’m calling that redhead has a tortured past, an abusive home life, or is/was molested. Cliche city bro.

    • Vonter says:

      Whatever floats your boat. To be fair this show isn’t for everyone, it wasn’t intended for a wide audience.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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