Welp, I guess I better take a break from drinking the tears of disappointed moe lovers to fester in our inherently wretched and filthy human nature for a while. Buckle up kids, it’s Aku no Hana.
0:42 – Man, screw those dumb, dirty Alaskan seals. You never needed them anyway!
1:40 – God, those “their faces are hideous” comments were so freakin’ off-base. If they want a character to come across as attractive, they definitely have that power, as Saeki demonstrates here – most of the discomfort this show likes so much is in the framing, not the actual physical design
2:43 – Oh man, a whole new, also wildly tonally inappropriate OP? I like it – it’s got a great “circus funhouse of demented horrors” feel that does indeed describe this show
5:05 – Nakamura’s wise to his bravado. We can’t have him going and developing any self-worth on us here!
6:08 – That same argument with mom, that same wistful shrug from dad.
I think the formal structure of this show works really well for its goals as a mood piece. The way it settles into these rhythms of specific establishing shots, specific points in Kasuga’s day, specific repeated conversations – not only does it very sharply illustrate Kasuga’s changing mental state (since it’s contrasted against a situation where all the other variables remain familiar), but it also works almost like a slowly building song, where the melody remains the same but new elements frame it in harsher and harsher context as the tension rises. I wish more shows gave few enough fucks to attempt structural tricks like this
7:09 – Oh man, Kasuga’s flailing, derpy-armed happy run. That guy
8:18 – See, now it wants these characters to look awful. These weird, off-kilter closeups highlight the style, making them more like abstract animals with shining teeth. Because to Kasuga they’re just a bunch of uncomprehending animals anyways
12:55 – Omigod her faaaaace. They picked a really damn good Nakamura – her smile is terrifying
17:23 – Kasuga nooo. God, he lets her have so much power over him.
20:20 – He’s not you, Nakamura. Even if you get him to think he is, he still won’t be you.
I was actually very impressed by Kasuga’s defense of himself here – not only did he make a strong guess at Nakamura’s motivations, he also displayed the kind of honesty even his interior monologue tends to avoid when he asked her to let him enjoy a normal date. But Nakamura’s psychological issues are far worse than his (in fact, his aren’t even really issues, he just has the pompous faux-intellectual superiority of precocious, introverted teenagers), and her personality is far stronger as well. She’s gonna do some damage to this kid
Whew! Survived another one.
I think the direction wasn’t quite as powerful in this one, and the variety of necessary plot-advancing conversations kinda made the claustrophic mood a bit less pervasive (partially because it meant we couldn’t get as much of Kasuga’s painful inner monologue, and partially because they had to cut back on the incredibly creepy music), but even a not-incredibly-uncomfortable episode of Aku no Hana is pretty damn great.
I get the feeling next week’s will be perhaps the most uncomfortable one yet – they’ve set up the episode so it starts precisely as Kasuga would begin to panic about this date situation. I’m very much looking forward to it, in that way you look forward to things which will be horrifically painful. What’s that called again?