|A controversial psychological drama that won't be for everyone.||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Aku no Hana's been the Spring season's most controversial title among anime fans and a great deal of that has to do with the anime's choice of animation style coming in the form of rotoscoping. I might as well address this issue before remarking on other aspects of the anime. Rotoscoping's been a controversial style of animation for years. While the style allows for one to animate more lifelike characters and movements, there are acclaimed animators that don't consider it a legitimate form of animation since live-action shots are animated over in order to accomplish the style and such animators think it kills creativity in the medium. Personally, I think rotoscoping made for an excellent fit for Aku no Hana considering the mundane story it depicts with Kasuga's ordeals with Nakamura and Saeki. The style helps to better depict the dull routines of everyday life seen through Kasuga's eyes and allows the viewer to become immersed in the experience with him. The style also helps enhance a number of the title's uncomfortable moments with Kasuga and Nakamura's interactions. Going for a more conventional style of animation would have killed much of the effect this series would have to immerse the viewer in its story.
Backgrounds are depicted to be photo-realistic with realistic details and color that are quite pleasing on the eyes. Character designs are just as realistic with believable facial details on characters that make them actually look Japanese instead of the typical doe-eyed, rainbow-color hair designs of conventional Japanese animated titles. The designs are a bit rough in early episodes, but gradually improve throughout the span of the series. The animation, though, is a bit of a mixed bag. It's clear the makers of Aku no Hana are working with a TV budget as there are points where character designs are rendered still in movement, particularly during classroom scenes. However in major moments of the series involving Kasuga and the two girls, movement is quite fluid and there aren't too many instances of this leading to degradation of quality from the rotoscoped characters.
Moving on to the title's story, Aku no Hana is prominently focused on Kasuga's interactions with Nakamura and Saeki pushing his fragile teen mind to the breaking point. The kid behaves much like any teen would at his age as he tries fitting in with friends, yet is feeling out of place with what society considers "normal" as he retreats to reading books. The series is pretty much a psychological drama that gets into Kasuga's head as he thinks about his interactions with the two girls, each representing a different world that he considers to be out of his grasp with Nakamura being the deviant outcast and Saeki being the popular girl of the class he has a crush on. The former plays enough of a big role in messing with Kasuga's head when she believes him to be a fellow deviant like herself and pushing him to do twisted acts involving Saeki after Kasuga steals her gym clothes in the title's second episode. I don't come across many recent titles that offer this level of depth in exploring the mental condition of a teenage boy getting ripped apart mentally by two girls his age. Only issue I have with the plot is that it looks like the series lacks a proper ending with the abrupt way it concluded and dropping hints that things would get worst for Kasuga in his present situation, likely teasing viewers for a possible second season.
Another major element of this series that was also somewhat controversial was its pacing and atmosphere. Aku no Hana devotes a good amount of time in some episodes to focus on the mood and atmosphere of a scene, mainly during major moments of the show or whenever Kasuga is in thought over whatever predicament he gets caught up in with Saeki or Nakamura. For the most part, the pacing and focus on atmosphere work rather well as they help enhance the discomfort and fear going through Kasuga's head as he contemplates things and shows how disconnected he is from "normal" people. However, the series usually gets in the bad habit of getting too focused on its atmosphere as it can unnecessarily focus on scenery shots for several minutes at a time at points and cause progression of the anime's plot to drag.
The music for Aku no Hana does very well at sticking out and flowing with the mood of the series. Its use in the series is minimalist, yet consists of haunting and tense insert tracks that go along well with the uncomfortable and mundane mood prevalent throughout the show's run. The OP and ED tracks are just as haunting with twisted lyrics accompanying the title's several OP songs meant to convey the mentalities of its main cast throughout Aku no Hana's run.
Overall, Aku no Hana is quite easily my favorite title of the Spring season for being bold enough to be completely different in how it conveyed its story and overall presentation. Some elements of its approach on presentation have their issues, but they don't completely hurt the experience of exploring the complicated and twisted world of adolescence seen through Kasuga's eyes. Not to mention that the slow pacing, focus on atmosphere and rotoscoped animation won't be for everyone. But if you're looking for something that is completely out of the ordinary for an anime series, Aku no Hana would be a definite watch for you.