Flowers of Evil ep4: I can’t think of a better way to spend your afternoon.
If we’re lead to believe anything at the end of episode three, it’s that Kasuga has firmly placed a target on his back. While the blame for the thievery was placed on Nakamura, the class seems to care more about him possibly liking Nakamura. Heh, I wonder how the girl who lost her money feels about all this? Oh that’s right! She disappears!
I’m beginning to see the flow of this show more clearly now. First Kasuga gets knocked around (verbally) for sticking up for Nakamura. And then in the hallway, Saeki tracks him down and tells him that she liked what he did by sticking up for someone. It brings Kasuga to tears! Man, he makes me worry sometimes. He’s just so emotionally unstable. His highs and lows come way too fast. Saeki speaks to him and it looks like he’s so happy someone could kill him with a smile still on his face.
The next morning Kasuga is even more firmly ostracized from the class. Even his big-mouthed classmate Yamada is giving him the cold shoulder. And it’s not as if Nakamura cares to talk to him in class at all. It’s Saeki that breaks the silence and comes over and says hello. In between all this Nakamura is sensing that something is up with him because he’s grinning like an idiot and skipping like a loon. Kasuga refuses to give up anything information to her however. The watershed moment comes when Kasuga runs into Saeki after school as she’s moving papers between classrooms (talk about busy work). Somehow, he has enough balls to spark up a conversation with her, and even ask her out on a date. Though she only says it after Kasuga gets flustered carrying the boxes near a stairwell and almost falls. She saves him, grasping him tight around his waist, and then says yes. At the bottom of the stairs, we see Nakamura looking on with a wry smile on her face.
The jig is up, and the secret is no more, Nakamura wastes little time in tracking him down after after school activities that evening. She shakes down Kasuga for the information on the meeting place, and tells him point blank that she has plans of her own. And he had better be there.
The day of the date, Kasuga meets Nakamura outside a public restroom and he’s shoved into the women’s units. There, Nakamura demands he wear the gym clothes she demanded he bring on the date. Man! What is the deal with her seeing Kasuga in women’s clothes, Saeki’s clothes specifically?! Kasuga pleads with her to let him have a normal date with his goddess, but even I laugh at that idea. The episode ends with him wearing his shame (literally) to his date with Saeki. And a happy, yet predatory-looking Nakamura watches from a distance.
OK, I’m starting to see where the comparisons to Sundome are coming from, and I see a bit of this show’s kinkiness. Though right now, all of the weirdness is really coming from Nakamura. The weird and creepy stairs, the manic personality and the way she feeds on Kasuga’s weakness and somewhat feminine qualities, they all feed into what gives this show its weird creepiness. At the moment, I can’t say Kasuga is much worse, if any more worse, than standard wimpy protagonists in anime. He seems a bit more emotionally unstable than most, I’ll give him that. And his love – no, that’s not love! Let me correct myself immediately, his obsession with Saeki is almost a normal teenage boy’s crush, but it’s a bit too close to worship. It’s that subtle,yet still stark contrast that makes him seem disturbing. But at it’s core, none of his actions have been that damning in my eyes. He “borrowed” a girls’ gym clothes. He didn’t masturbate with them or anything like that. Anything weird done to those clothes was forced on him. Had he only returned them, or snuck them back to where he found them, he would be alright. The real question now seems to be, what could be wrong with Saeki. It’s hinted she’s the third main character of this story. Could she really be that dumbfounded or ignorant throughout most of this story? Or is she some sort of deviant, too? I’m very interested to see how this date plays out. After reading manga like Nana to Kaoru and Sundome, I have a decent idea. What will be Flowers of Evil‘s unique twist on it?
One more thing, I’m still a bit torn by the rotoscope animation here. Scenes focusing intensely on characters’ faces seem to do well with this style. But the uneven draw distance that they use for some scenes just baffles and annoys me. I don’t like how at the scene this episode where Kasuga and Nakamura are sitting together by the river, you don’t see their faces when they’re talking. They are the only two people in the scene, and they’re talking and the show doesn’t give us anything to look at for a moment. It just focuses on the characters from a medium distance. We can clearly make out who they are, but the faces aren’t drawn. I would accept this for side characters in that scene, or strangers passing by. Such a thing worked well in Bakemonogatari. But in this anime, I just seem to have a problem with the direction more than anything. It’s a weird thing for me to complain about, because I don’t usually think of it as the main problem in a show. I usually poke and prod at character development, pacing or narrative. But in this anime, I just don’t like the very deliberate choices in camera work here.