There’s a beautiful scene at the end of episode seven of Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil.) Finally overcome with the guilt of stealing Saeki’s gym clothes, Kasuga asks Nakamura to help him confess and in the dead of night they head to their classroom to do just that. She forces him to write his confession on the blackboard but along the way something snaps in them both and they fucking trash the classroom instead. Paint and chalk goes everywhere, desks are overturned and they lay there in the middle of it all, exhausted and happy. It’s a moment of total anarchy, like a flash of lightning, equal parts beautiful and scary, and the anime captures it wonderfully.
It’s a rare expression of honesty from them both. For the first time in this story, we see an honest smile from Kasuga. He isn’t hiding anything any more. We also see contentment in the face of Nakamura. She wants nothing more than to see this town burn, and for that evening, at least, they are doing what they’ve always wanted to without giving two shits for the consequences. It’s their way of communicating their utter contempt for anything and everyone. To see such passion from them both is undeniably moving.
It’s also scary for many of the same reasons. It’s a destructive act of rebellion against the society that forces them to be there and while it’s amazing to see them finally doing something so honest and impulsive, they have edged ever closer to the void, a place of pure chaos, which can’t be a good thing.
Over this weekend, I’ve started reading the late Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, which is a short fantasy novel set in a far off future where the sun is dimming and mankind has relapsed into an age of swords and sorcery. In one chapter, we meet T’sais, a women created by the magician Pandelume. She’s perfect in every regard except for one: she was designed, by mistake, without the ability to recognise beauty and therefore, comes to loathe everything. Her wonderful story aside, she reminds me a lot of Nakamura.
I don’t think there’s any denying that Kasuga is a realistic teenager. Every class will have its misanthropic outsiders, people who live too much within their own warped minds. Aku no Hana is about pushing these deluded minds to the very brink of sanity and showing their elitism for what it is: a dead-end. That amazing scene at the end of episode seven is what the end of that particular rainbow looks like: nothing but oblivion, but it’s as far as he should go, because deep down there’s still some love in his heart. He still wants to be close to someone.
Nakamura, though, feels a lot more artificial. Like T’sais, she was created without a sense of beauty and knows only hate. T’sais comes to realise that her hatred was born not in others but in herself, but Nakamura’s simply too arrogant to recognise that. We rarely see her at home and never see her conflicted. I have no idea what’s going through her head at any one time. The truth is that she’s completely alien to me, the original flower of evil, immoral to the core. Her lack of empathy drives this story and makes it such an involving experience, but she’s an artificial, broken person, make no mistake, and the path she’s leading Kasuga down can only end in madness.