For those of us whose first exposure to Aku no Hana/The Flowers of Evil was the odd, willfully different anime adaptation, this bravura scene–which occurred in Episode 7–seemed to have come out of nowhere. In a show that, at first, seemed to revel in its aggressive “ugliness,” as well as willful slowness, the final five minutes was an explosion of orgasmic ink, charged with the release of all of Kasuga’s pent up sexuality, resentment, and anger–while Nakamura dances in ecstasy. The odd and foreboding ED, when slowed down and with string backing, took on a surprising majesty. As Kasuga and Nakamura paint the classroom black, one senses that what they are experiencing–and what the audience is experiencing with them–is nothing less than the true meaning of catharsis: a purgation or purification of emotion. (It was so overwhelming, it’s no wonder that the subsequent episode spent minutes just depicting them walking home together, as if to recover from such an explosion.)
After the first episode, I challenged the creators of the anime to justify the rotoscoping and the offbeat character designs with content to match. The depiction of this moment, as well as some other scenes of high drama later on, fully met that challenge. Aku no Hana became one of the most searing depictions of both the ridiculousness and the depth of teenage angst in anime. Real angst, not the manufactured kind of most shows. Sadly, it is not likely to continue and adapt the remainder of the manga, which takes even more bold turns that are only hinted at in the final episode’s close, given its low sales figures. But like Kare Kano, even the fragment that was left is a thing of beauty, albeit a twisted and incomplete one. That such a show is even made today is a wonder.