Don’t fuss too much with understanding the underlying theme when watching Aku no Hana. Enjoy the acting then research the source material later.
Aku no Hana (惡の華) Synopsis
Nerdy Mid-School student Kasuga Takao feels incredibly stifled by the town he lives in, and seeks refuge in complex literature such as Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal. After doing something he really shouldn’t, he is “blackmailed” by class outcast Nakamura Sawa into various outrageous acts. Instead of languishing, though, Kasuga becomes increasingly fascinated with Nakamura, this starting his slide into self-destructive nihilism.
This was a difficult watch for me. Correspondingly, even harder to write a review for.
Firstly, I’m not familiar with the source material, famous as it is. Secondly, I’ve only ever managed to read a few lines of Les Fleurs du mal. As this live-action adaptation keeps reminding, Baudelaire is hard to understand. Muzukashii!!!
And so had there not been meticulous analysis of the source material such as this, the real story would have been lost on me.
Anyway, from the viewpoint of a casual viewer, the movie exhibits a certain fascination, one that’s kept alive by the two leads. On that, there’s admittedly a great deal of overacting throughout. The lavish amounts of bombastic rants, Anime-style, will also be a turn-off for certain audiences.
Still, one does want to continue watching, if only to see what the duo would next concoct. Their nihilistic indulgence rubs off on you, put it that way. Particularly after that key classroom scene.
From the middle of the show, though, the developments feel increasingly odd, or should I say, aggrandized. Now, from reading the above-mentioned analysis, I realised what’s depicted was on the whole, faithful to the Manga. Based on that, my conclusion is thus that the important themes of puberty struggles and social conformity, while repeatedly mentioned in this adaptation, were just not adequately explored.
Specifically, the supporting characters of Saeki and Tokiwa were intended by author Oshimi Shuzo as contrasts, but the movie allocates too little attention to both; Tokiwa was practically unimportant. I hate to put it this way but the overemphasis on Kasuga and Nakamura took away some flesh of the original story. They were interesting to gawk at, but soon, they also felt inexplicably juvenile, as well as excessively self-absorbed.
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