Aku no Hana (The Flowers of Evil) is basically School Days done right. Yes, THAT School Days. No, the main character does not fuck every girl he sees but rather the same “Oh my god, what a trainwreck” type of feel when you read Aku no Hana but it’s an actually well built-up and well developed trainwreck. Literally I read these thirty-two chapters in around an hour and a half, I couldn’t stop reading because every damn chapter there’s some craziness going around. Follow me into the abyss..
The manga starts off with Takao Kasuga somehow stealing the gym clothes of Nanako Saeki and being caught buy the odd one in class, Sawa Nakamura. This is where Sawa comes in and threatens him to make a contract with him and do her bidding or else she’ll tell everyone what happened. It already starts off eerie and foreboding, and honestly there may be some aspects of this manga that are fabricated but I’ve seen stuff happen in Aku no Hana happen in real life: plain and simple it’s a story of a boy being bullied by a really crazy and twisted girl and their adventures in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. Chapter by chapter, we see a quick decaying of Takao and Sawa’s characters: they feed off each others’ insecurities, Takao being easily controlled and Sawa’s yearning to find someone just like her. Our third wheel, Saeki, comes and goes throughout the first couple volumes not really making a huge impact until we start heading into volume 3: this is where the School Days comparisons become clear. Saeki is a strange girl: she’s one of those girls that literally takes any sort of crap thrown at her and brushes it off with that smile that says “I’m hurting inside, but I’ll do this for you”. This is where we see Saeki literally throwing herself onto Takao and baiting Sawa with words like “I’ve already had sex with Takao!” and literally starts going pretty crazy. Whether or not this craziness will lead to a eventual resolution is yet unknown because chapter 32 is the last fan scanlated chapter and honestly the manga could have ended there, and it would be one hell of a cliff hanger.
I like some of the themes this manga presents: a feeling of hopelessness, but a resolve to free oneself from the confines of a menacing populace. Sure Sawa is one crazy bitch, but the manga does a good job in actually giving her depth and not just “OLOLOL U PSYCHO”: she has an aspiration to be free, to be rid of the small town that traps her. Yes, the bird in the cage symbolism is what I’m talking about and overused as it may be, I still am a sucker for any sort of symbolism in general (hence why I loved Penguindrum). Currently Vertical is releasing the manga in english but the volumes only containing 7 or so chapters, meaning a long wait until chapters 33 and beyond get released but I do plan on buying the manga because I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Honestly, just read the first two chapters and you’ll already experience the despair and hopelessness of it all and if you’re a true masochist, you’ll want more.
Art – C: Plain, very very plain.
Story – B+: This manga is the definition of hopelessness. I feel it’s more of a social commentary on what would happen if the minds of teenagers were to suddenly become a reality, a very very bleak Evangelion-type of reality. Starts off with simple blackmail and in thirty-two chapters in turns into a grand mess of domination, perverseness, pure humiliation of the main character and it’s trainwreck status. You just have to read this and believe me when I say it’s a trainwreck.
Characters – B-: Wonderful in a perverse, morbid type of way. Sawa is frankly a really fucked up person, more than just a bad way: from making Takao wear Saeki’s gym clothes on a date with her to calling everyone things from “fucking worms”, “fucking fly”, and “shit eaters” and by everyone that includes her teachers.
Enjoyment – A-: Everything about Flowers of Evil is building up, and boy it’s building up to something really intense because this is a damn good manga for those who worship similar series like Evangelion, full of despair but with a glimmer of hope beyond the distance. I highly suggest purchasing the manga, despite the boring art it really is worth your money and the re-read value for this is very high.