Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil)

This was quite a ride. I was not expecting something much from Flowers of Evil (Aku no Hana,) but the results were fascinating. The anime is an adaptation of a manga of the same name.

The anime starts with Takao Kasuga, a student whose favorite book is Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal that has a crush on Nanako Saeki, a pretty girl he idolizes. Later, Takao stays late in school; before leaving, he finds Nanako’s sport class uniform and, as you can guess, the boy hesitates. He was about to put it back, intentionally or not, but there was a sound that made him run away from school, taking the girl’s uniform with him.

This is where the conflict begins. Takao believed he could get away with it and just give it back when no one’s looking. Bad luck shows up when one of his classmates, Sawa Nakamura, tells him she saw him taking the uniform, and if he does not want her to give him away, he should follow her orders.

The story goes beyond a boy stealing female clothes. Most anime shows with a starting point like that would be part of a comedy or something along the lines to give us a good laugh. However, Flowers of Evil is not the typical high school comedy or slice of life; it’s very far from being considered one of the mentioned genres. This is the first time, at least for me, that I see something on a screen an animation that presents the many conflicts of growing up, to fit in a society and their expectations; self-discovery is what the author is bringing to the table. If we think about it, being young is easy compared to being an adult, but it is also terrifying to see as we grow up how things are not going the direction we wanted.

As we really know what we want, our inner journey to personal discovery could be scary. And the series, indirectly, tries to tell you in its own way with a dark atmosphere that teenagers are vulnerable in a world where you must adapt, without a clear clue on how to do it, to be considered normal. Nothing is straight to your face, the images, the music, the silence, and the protagonists don’t grab your hand along the journey, but it is clear what the story is trying to tell you.

The general atmosphere are what grabs you from the first second until the end of the credits of each episode. Sometimes you just hear the sounds of the town, the anime wants you to pay all of your attention to the characters and what they have to say, perhaps its own way to discover yourself as well (as if you were a teenager) and remember when some of your decisions, meaningless as they had been in school, could mean the world when you wanted to be accepted but something, or someone, was there ready to make everything fall apart in a few seconds.

Everything adds to the general mood of the series. Its music is something you don’t expect, especially when the credits start rolling. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the feeling of uncertainty is present at every corner; the sole mention of an “other side” makes you believe there’s something deeper in the meaning of maturity. The choice of music at the end of each episode is strangely scary and yet beautiful. There’s an actual message, a poem about a flower; I recommend you look it up after watching the show.

Best choice is bad choice

The irony here is that the artistic choice of using a rotoscoped animation affected the show. Let’s be honest, most shows and movies that use that kind of animation tend to look weird or just bad (not all of them, to be clear). However, I don’t see the Flowers of Evil any other way. The animation, as bad as it could be, was the best choice for this. Rotoscope animation, along with the story, the music, and the characters themselves are a perfect combination of a story about the fear that comes from our natural cycle. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to look at it that way; I bet a lot of people have avoided the anime the instant they saw the type of animation used. Although I don’t blame them, judging something by just images is not a good thing, they might miss a great experience doing that.

A great experience hard to recommend

The anime is really good, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t regret a single second I spent in front of the TV watching the show. Sadly, it seems the anime was not very popular, perhaps for the animation, as I mentioned on the previous paragraph; this means it never got a second season, and it will never happen. I am talking about an anime that its thirteen episodes were aired in 2013.

I said it was one of my greatest experiences in anime, but it is hard to recommend when it is incomplete. At the end of the thirteenth episode we have a glimpse of a second season, something that never happened and never will. I guess you could watch it and see for yourself what it is about and then move to the manga to get the full story; but the music and the overall atmosphere from the anime is going to be missing. It is sad to see the anime incomplete.

If you want to watch Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil) Crunchyroll is your place. The anime is available for FREE (with ads) or for Premium users. Click here to watch it on Crunchyroll!

Sing “Yesterday” For Me

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Promotional image

Sing “Yesterday” For Me is a drama (seinen) that surprised me. I rarely appreciate a drama about unrequited love. Most of the time it feels forced, and that is why I don’t enjoy the genre.

However, Sing “Yesterday” For Me felt different. It is refreshing to see an anime that takes itself serious, without recurring to all the yelling and jokes. I could actually see the story for what it meant to show the audience, and I could empathize with the characters. They all feel realistic (as realistic as an anime can be), they all have to deal with the issues in a relationship, or lack of one for the matter. Even when you dislike a character, it is because, somehow, you know this person needs some kind of help.

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Rikuo and Haru

The story centers around four characters: Rikuo Uosomi, a college graduate that is unsure about his future. While unsure he works at a convenience store; he is in love with Shinako. As his story develops, we see him being doubtful of everything, and it gets worse when he finally declares his love for Shinako. Unfortunately, she’s in love with an impossible love.

Shinako Morinome was Rikuo’s classmate in college and currently working as a high school teacher. She is still in love with Rō Hayakawa’s deceased brother. Though Shinako is not anyone’s favorite character because it seems she’s just using Rikuo, it is a very relatable character; sometimes is hard to let go some memories, not necessarily a person, but a place or a part of yourself. She could be taken as a representation of the people that holds a memory so tightly that one cannot easily let it go. Sometimes, even if we knew it would be better to move on, something drags us into a void, where everything around seems good, but deep inside it does not allow us move forward.

My favorite, is Haru Nonaka, an eccentric girl that adopted a crow and has strong feelings for Rikuo. She does know, though, that Rikuo is in love with Shinako, and as much as it hurts, she visits him at the convenience store before heading to work. Haru is a person that does her best to look happy; even when she tells Rikuo about her feelings toward him, she does it in a way that seems like teasing. That teasing is just a shield that helps her hide the pain.

The other character is Rō Hayakawa, he is Shinako’s childhood friend and holds feelings for her. He already knows that she still loves his deceased brother. Still, he wants to be closer to her. The character is the least important, and the anime does not explore much of him. But his behavior and age makes him someone important to Shinako, as another family member to take care of, or perhaps another obstacle for her to move on? I guess that depends on how you do perceive his character.

These characters and their circles make of this anime series something memorable. A tale of young-adulthood where anyone might be able to relate to personal experiences, or a feeling they’d had for an unrequited love. Although, the show does not try to teach you what is the best decision or what is not. It only wants to tell you the story of these characters and how they fell in love, how they try to hold onto a memory, and how other opportunities to be happy could slip through their hands. All of it, it does it pretty well.

Sadly, the anime, as it is today, is almost ruined by its ending. I am not sure if they’re going to add more episodes or not, but now it has twelve episodes, and the last episode ends abruptly. It looked as if the characters changed their minds in a second and things happen. I don’t want to say more because the anime is short and there are only four important characters; any more words and it would be obvious what I refer to.

I still recommend it, though, it is very enjoyable and relatable for some people.


Sing “Yesterday” For Me is available for premium and FREE members on Crunchyroll. Go and watch it clicking here!

Please Tell Me! Galko-chan

GalkoPromo

Promotional image

Please Tell Me! Galko-chan doesn’t follow a plot per se. It has a few characters, each filling a stereotype that the protagonist breaks; Galko being the girl that despite her looks, she’s kind of a mixture of her other two friends. Otako, is the… otaku, because that was not obvious enough. And Ojou, who’s the most innocent of the three.

Galko is a combination of her friends and herself.

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I need to start by saying this is uncomfortable. It was not bad at all. In fact, it is good, but it was an uncomfortable anime to watch. It is hard to tell if the anime is addressed to the male or female demographic. It has a lot of fan service; just take a look at Galko’s design, her proportions are a bit exaggerated, but it serves a purpose here (no, I am not joking or trying to justify anything). The episodes explain it very well, her classmates have an image of Galko that is usually wrong. Even her two friends at the beginning.

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If you can pass that out, look at it with an open mind, it could be a fun show. Just a warning, though, that this is not a show you want to see with your family around. The anime speaks openly about teen-female perspective, body, and some other topics that are not discussed in public, some people (with some people I am referring to the male audience) may find discomfort here. Although, I believe one of the objectives is to bring a few subjects that for some reason are still considered taboo nowadays. Things that might be better if we could discuss without raising flags.

The animation is one thing I loved. It looks very good and colorful. It is a delight to watch. Its bright colors make each episode even more enjoyable.

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There are twelve episodes and these are twelve minutes long! I’d advice you to check it out, but that depends on certain sensibilities over what is called fan service. Though as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t find it clear if this goes for the male or female audience. I think it can be enjoyed by both.

The anime is available on Crunchyroll for both premium and FREE members. Click here to watch it!

Hanebado!

This is one of the animes I’ve enjoyed more during this quarantine. I wish I had had more time to enjoy it in two or three days; but it took me more than a week to watch the 13 episodes. 

By the way, you can watch Hanebado! legally on Crunchyroll by clicking here!


HANEBADO PROMO

HANEBADO! tells the story of Ayano Hanesaki, a first year student in high school that is a beast at playing badminton, but after a match against a certain character that left our protagonist as “not-the-best” her mother abandons Ayano, taking away her daughter’s motivation to play badminton along.

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Mother of the Year

The other main character is Aragaki Nagisa, captain of the Kitakomachi High School badminton club, she lost a game at the Junior Nationals without scoring a single point. After that, she’d started to take her anger out on her friends.

Things get an abrupt change the moment Elena convinces Ayano Hanesaki to join the club; trying to help her friend to find, recover, and follow that passion for badminton again. To forget everything that had happened before and play. At first, she didn’t want to listen to her friend, but it doesn’t take too long for her to try a few friendly matches. 

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“Why do you play badminton?”

This is a recurring question that everyone asks to each other. And this is where we start to really know the main cast. Every member of the badminton club has a reason to be there, one could be more substantial than the other; but that is not exactly the point. In real life, we’ve had our unique motivations to do our own things, a career to follow, perhaps.

What makes things interesting is as the details unfold for each of the main characters, they evolve along its thirteen episodes, for good and for bad. These motivations ended up affecting positively and negatively on their respective teams or teammates. This emphasizes more with the two central characters. And I must say that their evolution is very well-done; the story has a few subtle twists and a satisfactory conclusion.

There is one character that is the rival for Ayano, even though I liked her, I believe she went kinda out-of-character the second time they met. First encounter she wanted to win against Ayano, and the second time they met is a different story; almost as if she were being a different person.

Subtle fan service

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Kaoruko besto waifu

The fan service is subtle. Nothing that would distract you from actually enjoying the show. We know there are animes that had a very interesting premise, but that is ruined, DESTROYED, by their ridiculous fan service. Here, though, you can argue that the body proportions of some of the female characters are a bit exaggerated; I am happy to reply with a relieved “WRONG! Well, yes, but WRONG!”, nothing happened in the anime that turned into a distraction from the story. Just the matches are great enough to put you on the edge of your seat. Especially the final match!

Must not miss

This is definitely a good anime. The animation, the characters, and the competition against each other and themselves, make this a MUST choice for those looking for an anime focused in sports. Perhaps badminton doesn’t seem like an appealing sport, but that shouldn’t let you judge the series without having a look first.

Hanebado! is available on Crunchyroll for both premium and FREE users!