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Manga: Aku no Hana

Saeki-san, I'm sorry.
I'll spend the rest of my life atoning for this crime.
Even when I'm an old man, I'll still be making up for this.
But there's nowhere to escape. Not in this town.
Not for me. The town is surrounded by mountains.
There's nowhere for me to run.

Aku no Hana (The Flowers of Evil) is a dark tale about gym clothes, blackmail, teenage drama and the desire to do something different.

The Protagonist of this tale is Takao Kasuga, a keep-your-head-down middle schooler from the rural town of Gunma, Japan. He has friends, gets less than average grades, and respects his parents. He also a passion for reading books, inherited from his father. Of his many-volumed collection, the crown jewel is the prized first edition of "Les Fleurs du Mal" by Charles Baudelaire.

On an average day much like any other, Kasuga returns to school after forgetting above mentioned book, when he stumbles across the gym clothes of his crush, Nanako Saeki. In an abnormal fit of lust, he steals them and takes them home. The following day, the school lights up with Gossip Evolution as to who the pervert is. Overwhelming shame forces Kasuga to further hide his crime. On his ride home, he is stopped by Sawa Nakamura, residential evil quiet girl and his worst nightmare come true. She knows about his crime and will expose him if he does not fulfill a contract. From there, things get crazy.

The manga, written by Shūzō Oshimi, is still ongoing. An anime directed by Hiroshi Nagahama and produced by ZEXCS premiered on April 15, 2013. It is currently streamed on Crunchyroll here and on hulu here if you live in the US.

Not to be confused with the Korean manhwa.

This series contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Nakamura seems to think so. Kasuga's actions aren't exactly making this point seem frivolous.
    • The only thing Kasuga's friends in both middle school and high school ever seem to talk about is sex, so the manga itself doesn't exactly put the kibosh on this notion. Of course...
  • All Women Are Lustful: The females aren't exactly squeaky clean either.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Nakamura is implied to have an extremely debilitating emotional disorder.
  • Angst: Loads of it.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Kasuga toward Tokiwa. In the middle of her workplace. While she's on her shift. In front of her boyfriend. God damn, Kasuga.
    • What makes it even more surprising is the fact that IT WORKS!
  • Animation Bump: The rotoscoping used in the anime seems to improve as the series goes on, and the character's facial expressions are more detailed compared to when we first see them in episode 1, particularly with Nakamura.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: As mentioned in the synopsis.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: In Chapter 6, Nakamura delivers one to Kasuga, to the point where he couldn't even talk straight. Definitely not played for laughs.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Plenty.
    • One example is in episode 8, when Saeki asks if Kasuga was the culprit in the the classroom. Although the vandalism covered up his name on the chalkboard, he drew a picture of the flower on his favorite book, which raised her suspicions.
  • Art Evolution: Initially the character art had problems with proportions, and everybody was slightly strange looking, until the 12th chapter where everything normalized. Like the characters, the art direction also becomes becomes darker and more mature.
  • Author Appeal: Kasuga can be often seen reading books that are famous for being absolute Mind Screws.
  • Batter Up: Nakamura uses one to destroy the door on Kasuga's house and smash his father's kneecap.
  • Betty and Veronica: Classic case. Kasuga must at one point decide between his sweet, wholesome crush Saeki (Betty) and his violent, psychotic contract keeper Nakamura. Though he later finds out the hard way that maybe they aren't so different after all...
  • Big Damn Kiss: Kasuga and Tokiwa in Chapter 51, proving that she is indeed the one he loves.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Saeki turns out to be one, though it's due to her desire to be loved running into Kasuga rejecting her for Nakamura. Before that she was a genuinely nice girl.
  • Book Dumb: Ironically, Kasuga fits the trope in initial chapters despite the fact that books are his specialty.
  • Bored With Insanity: Kasuga, in the time-skip.
    • When she reappears post time-skip, Nakamura seems to have calmed down as well.
  • Born Unlucky: Kasuga, full-stop. He doesn't exactly make things better for himself, but that doesn't change the fact that literally every single one of his peers that he trusted pre Time Skip actively worked to screw him over in some way.
  • Break the Cutie: Gender-flipped with Kasuga. Saeki gets hit with it hard as well.
  • Break Them by Talking: Making Kasuga feel like a "fucking worm" is the only way Nakamura gets some form of pleasure. Though, talking isn't the only way she breaks him...
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Kasuga, once and Nakamura, daily.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Dammit, Kasuga.
    • When he finally DOES spit it out to Tokiwa (the THIRD GIRL HE'S BEEN INTERESTED IN, NO LESS) he does so while she's at work. In front of her boyfriend. The incredible thing? It works.
  • Catchphrase: Nakamura seems to like calling people 'shiteaters'. Or any various combinations of profanity.
  • Character Development: Kasuga eventually starts to grow a pair and stops being so spineless. He even tries to openly defy Nakamura, with predictable results. After the time skip, he continues on this path, even managing to confess his love to his new crush, Tokiwa.
    • Nakamura opens up more to Kasuga and even begins to accept his feedback. So much so that she begins to see him as an equal. This... fluctuates wildly throughout the series, however. She also shows hints of falling in love with Kasuga, making this the first time she's seen another human as more than a "shit-eater" who doesn't understand her.
    • Saeki is drawn to Kasuga for his honesty and eventually starts dating him. When she finds out about Nakamura's blackmail, she get so desperate that she forcefully has sex with Kasuga in order to convince him of her love.
  • Character Shilling: Saeki gets a boatload, though subverted. In some cases, the praise is genuine. She's top of her class, is the most popular girl, and the apple of her parent's eyes. In reality, however, she can be as desperate, if not more, than Kasuga. She has similar problems and deals with them in pitiful fashions. The only reason she is perceived as a better person is because she is compared to two very unlikeable people. And, after she rapes Kasuga, she proves that she is, in many ways, worse than both of them.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Kasuga.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The thing about Nakamura that's odd despite her general mannerisms is the fact that she can be rather foul-mouthed while wearing the same emotionless expression on her face.
  • Covert Pervert: Saeki tells Kasuga that she actually liked that he wore her uniform, which to her meant he liked her. She was more upset that he didn't tell her.
  • Creepy Child: Nakamura's clearly got some screws loose...
  • Cruel Mercy: Nakamura decides to congratulate Kasuga in asking out Saeki. Unfortunately for Kasuga, it's only because she uses the opportunity to force him to go on the date while wearing Saeki's gym clothes under his clothes.
  • Date Peepers: Nakamura does this to Kasuga and Saeki in episode 5.
  • Digging Himself Deeper: The Official Manga of The Trope
    • As of Chapter 45, it seems like he's finally out of the hole... for now.
  • Dissonant Serenity: It is never a good thing when Nakamura smiles, and Kasuga knows it.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted. When Saeki rapes Kasuga, it's played very serious and disturbing, almost like... well, like a scene from a horror manga.
  • The Dragon: Kasuga. Included within this example are several variations.
  • Drone of Dread: A lot of the music in the anime uses this. A low, toneless rumbling sound also shows up frequently to underscore tense moments.
  • Driven to Suicide: Both Kasuga and Nakamura. Both are unsuccessful.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side/Evil Feels Good: Nakamura certainly fits the profile, but eventually Kasuga enacts upon the teachings of Nakamura.
  • Evil Red Head: Guess who's the only character with red hair.
  • Flash Forward: The second half of episode 13 shows dialogue and scenes from later chapters in the manga and a possible Sequel Hook for a second season, such as a baseball bat being dragged along the ground, and a knife being pulled while at a festival, as well as a lighter.
  • For the Evulz: The stuff Nakamura forces Kasuga to do.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Nakamura in spades.
  • Gonk: Kasuga's friends in middle school.
  • He's Back: A very poignant one in Chapter 46.
    Kasuga: MOM! DAD!
    Kasuga: ...I'm home.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Tokiwa says this a couple of times regarding Kasuga. Oh, he will be, Tokiwa. He will be.
  • Heroic BSOD: Saeki suffers from one after overhearing Nakamura's Wham Line to Kasuga regarding herself in episode 6. She doesn't come to school the next day, and one of her friends mentions she was crying over the phone.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Kasuga can't seem to stop doing this. Nakamura is just making things worse.
  • Humanity Is Insane/Sex Is Good: Played with. Nakamura lives by the standard that all people are perverts. Simple and flat. She believes that people should learn to just accept their animalistic tendencies, making the world a more interesting place. However, she doesn't outright condone insanity or sexual relations. More often, she wants the highs and emotions that come with these actions.
  • Hypocrite: During her "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Saeki calls out Kasuga for apparently attempting to use Tokiwa as a Replacement Goldfish for Nakamura... when it's heavily implied that she's done exactly the same thing with Koizumi due to his resemblance to Kasuga.
  • Idiot Ball: The reason why Kasuga's problems snowball into much worse ones is the fact that he tends to do the least sensible thing at the worst possible times.
    • Later in the manga, this ball is pretty much fused to his body.
    • After the Time Skip, it seems like he's finally gotten it surgically removed. Either that, or his stupid tendencies are actually starting to work out well for him.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Saeki pretty much earned her spot in this trope when she tells Kasuga that she doesn't care that he stole her gym clothes; in fact, the only problem she had with it was the fact that he never told her. Wow.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: One of the main motivations for all three main characters. Whether they made the right choice or even actually had to do those things in the first place is... debatable. At best.
  • In Love with Love: Kinoshita accuses Saeki of this for why she cares so much for Kasuga.
  • Jerkass: Nakamura seems to enjoy torturing and manipulating Kasuga for no other reason than the fact that it's so damn easy to do so.
    • Kasuga's friends in middle school are basically just backstabbing assholes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kouji is kind of a brash dick who doesn't understand Tokiwa and attempts to embarrass Kasuga in front of his and Tokiwa's friends, but it's shown repeatedly that he means well.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Episode 7, when Kasuga destroys the classroom with Nakamura. Although he wrote his name on the chalkboard, its covered by paint, so no one aside from Saeki realizes that he was responsible for it, and she only knew because he drew that flower on the book he bought her.
  • Just Puberty: Kasuga's dad uses this as an explanation for his son's odd change in behavior.
  • Kubrick Stare: Nakamura, in her first appearance.
  • Lack of Empathy: Nakamura. Or maybe not completely...
  • Leave the Camera Running: Used frequently.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The series is named after Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire.
  • Love Epiphany: Kasuga has one in episode 10 towards Nakamura.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Saeki, Saeki, Saeki...
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Tokiwa shows some shades of this.
    • Nakamura is one played very darkly.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Nakamura, who really enjoys psychologically torturing Kasuga.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Kasuga after the Time Skip. Before that, his personality ranged from spineless wimp to a truly evil child who fully embraced Nakamura's life philosophy, but afterwards, he's finally matured into a generally good person and that is trying his hardest to do the right thing and put his past and Nakamura behind him.
  • Moment Killer: Nakamura does one to Kasuga and Saeki in episode 5 by running behind him and dumping a bucket of water on his head after Saeki accepts a Relationship Upgrade from him.
  • Nice Girl: Saeki. Probably too nice for her own good. At first.
    • Tokiwa fits this so far, especially to Kasuga. She mocks him playfully, but it's clear from the outset that she really likes and cares about him.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: When Nakamura's wrongfully blamed for stealing Mayu's lunch money, Kasuga sticks up for her. Unfortunately, this just makes Nakamura seem more suspicious, not to mention that he made it seem like he's interested in Nakamura. It becomes subverted however, when Saeki personally thanks him for standing up for Nakamura, and begins to take an interest in him as a result.
  • Not So Different: Nakamura isn't the only one who finds the setting of this story uninteresting.
  • Not So Stoic: Nakamura and damn, is Kasuga finding it out the hard way.
  • Off Model: As a side effect of its rotoscoped nature, characters facial features tend to appear and disappear at random.
  • Official Couple: Kasuga and Saeki... for all of three or so chapters.
    • Kasuga wanted to become this with Nakamura, and in her final chapter they behaved in a way similar to one. Whether Nakamura reciprocated or not has been left open.
    • As of his Anguished Declaration of Love in chapter 45, Kasuga and Tokiwa are officially dating.
  • Oh Crap: Kasuga wears this expression so much that one must be afraid that his face might permanently be stuck that way soon.
  • Only Sane Woman: A fourth character, Ai Kinoshita, often interjects on behalf of Saeki and against Kasuga and Nakamura, as she tries to be the voice of reason.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Kasuga driven to near madness because of his misdeeds is a non murder-related example.
  • Poisonous Friend: Nakamura towards Kasuga. While they technically aren't friends, her influence on him gradually starts changing him for the worse.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: Eventually gets to this point with Saeki and Nakamura being the yanderes.
  • Put on a Bus: Nakamura after the Time Skip.
  • Relationship Upgrade: In episode 5, Kasuga asks Saeki to enter into a pure relationship with him. Much to his surprise, and probably Nakamura's as well, who's watching nearby, she accepts.
    • Interestingly enough, he tries to break it off with her at the end of episode 8/beginning of 9. However, she refuses to do so, and seems to care about him despite all the things that seem to be going on in his life.
    • After Kasuga's Anguished Declaration of Love in Chapter 45 of the manga, Kasuga and Tokiwa are now officially dating.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Saeki accuses Kasuga of using Tokiwa as a replacement for Nakamura during her "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but after the events of Chapter 45, it's surprisingly leaning towards a "no".
    • It's implied that Saeki has done this with her live-in boyfriend Koizumi, who looks and acts quite a bit like an older version of Kasuga's middle school self.
  • Rotoscoping: The type of animation used for its anime adaptation.
  • Sanity Slippage: At the end of episode 7, Kasuga seems to be slipping down the morality slope a bit, after he initially refuses to write that he's a pervert and thief on their classroom chalkboard. He then does it largely out of frustration, and seems to be enjoying destroying the classroom with her.
  • Secret Diary: Kasuga finds Nakamura's in episode 13 in her room when he visits her house.
  • Self-Immolation: Kasuga and Nakamura decide to do this at the summer festival: After jumping on a float, they douse themselves with gasoline and grabs two lighters. At the last second, Nakamura pushes Kasuga off the float. Before she commits the deed, her father tackles her.
  • The Shadow Knows/Talking to Themself: Kasuga's epiphany into his dependence on others is personified by a giant shadow.
  • Slasher Smile: Nakamura's smile will keep you up at night.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Nakamura manages to pull this off with just a foldable chair, of all things.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Starts to happen to Kasuga around episode 7, after he and Nakamura start trashing their classroom. Things aren't the same after that...
  • Small Town Boredom: One of the underlying problems the main characters face.
    • After leaving the town post time-skip, Kasuga starts recovering from his insanity. Saeki and even Nakamura also seem more sane after they left.
  • Snowball Lie: Which occurred because Kasuga was unwilling to admit the truth to Saeki about stealing her gym clothes, and Nakamura uses it against him.
  • Stalker with a Crush: While he doesn't stalk her, Kasuga's inner monologues of how Saeki is "his muse" and getting unnecessarily angry whenever his friends make harmless jokes about Saeki make him lean towards this trope. And then there's his actions of stealing her clothes...
  • Status Quo Is God: Kasuga tries to do this for a while, but Nakamura's influence gradually erodes his way of thinking.
  • Those Two Guys: Kasuga's friends, Yamada and a character yet to be named.
  • íThree Amigos!: Saeki says to Kasuga that she wants to be this with him and Nakamura.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It's probably not a good idea to try and hide something from someone who knows your deepest, darkest secret, Kasuga...
    • Pretty much every damn decision he makes pre-Time Skip fits this to a T.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Kasuga, right the fuck outta nowhere.
  • Trauma Conga Line: This entire series for Kasuga. Straight from the beginning, it seems like the story is constructed entirely to make the poor kid's life hell. The worst part is that his own decisions only serve to keep the trauma coming or make it much, much worse. After the Time Skip it seems like the line is finally ending... although there are some hints that his first taste of happiness will not last.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Well, no guesses to as who belongs here, but it's not just Nakamura. Kasuga does some really strange things out of his own free will.
    • Saeki rapes Kasuga. Both of them are in middle school. If you can think about that in-depth for more than a second without needing Brain Bleach, you have some serious mental fortitude. Or you're just sick.
  • Villain Deuteragonist: Nakamura.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 5, when Kasuga goes on a date with Saeki, and asks her to be his girlfriend. She accepts.
    • In episode 7, Kasuga destroys the classroom with Nakamura, after initially refusing to.
    • Episode 10, when Kasuga essentially says he's just an empty shell, and causes a lot of strife between himself and both Saeki and Nakamura.
  • Wham Line: Nakamura says this whopper in episode 6 to Kasuga regarding Saeki:
    Nakamura: She said she wants to have sex with you!
    • Kasuga tries to deliver one in episode 8 to Saeki, when he says they should break up, but he doesn't give her a reason. Instead he just attempts to walk off, but she forces him to stop to ask him an Armor-Piercing Question.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Kinoshita basically says this when she finds out that Saeki is going out with Kasuga.
    "What's so good about that hesitating introverted guy?!"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When Saeki asks Kasuga if he's the culprit behind the classroom trashing as well as stealing her uniform, he doesn't answer her. He also refuses to see her when she visits his house, and shouts outside his window that she's more upset that he kept stealing her uniform a secret rather than telling her. He also runs away when his mom finds some incriminating evidence against him, the extremely dirty sweater he was wearing when he trashed the classroom.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Repeated verbatim by Kasuga's parents on several occasions.
  • With Friends Like These...: Sure, Kasuga is capable of feats of spinelessness that would make Shinji Ikari shake his head, but pretty much everyone he's associated with pre-Time Skip is in no way more likable than him. In fact, all of them are... basically even worse.
    • Nakamura goes without saying. She forced him into becoming friends with her, manipulated him, and eventually morphed him into a reflection of her.
    • His two friends in middle school... aren't much better. One of them is portrayed as a two-faced Jerkass who turns on him constantly. The other is portrayed as a creepy pervert with no respect for women.
    • Saeki appears to be the kindest, most upstanding person in Kasuga's life, even after they break up. Then she rapes him.
  • Yandere: Saeki becomes obsessed with keeping Kasuga to herself, even going so far as to rape him.
    • Nakamura is also implied to be this to Kasuga. She forcibly strips him and forces him to strip himself repeatedly, gets some kind of sick pleasure out of watching him wear Saeki's gym clothes while on a date with her, seems to derive... enjoyment out of inflicting physical pain on him, holds his hand towards the end of their time together, is said by Saeki to be shaking from shock after she learns from her that she had sex with Kasuga, and goes as far as smashing his dad's kneecap with a metal baseball bat when she learns that he's keeping him from her. The classroom vandalism scene also has some sexual overtones and symbolism.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: It's like everytime it seems like Kasuga's caught a break, Nakamura makes an extra special effort to ruin it. Subverted after the Time Skip... so far.

~Ha-na-ga-sa-i-ta-yo~
Aim for the Ace!Creator/MadhouseAll-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
Amnesia (Otome)Anime of the 2010sArpeggio of Blue Steel
AkumetsuShonen (Demographic)Aphorism
Akatsuki no YonaMangaAkumetsu

alternative title(s): Aku No Hana
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