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Manga / The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night

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"Please listen to the story of my pitiful self."

Marie Moriya is a rather timid girl, who is frequently bullied by her classmates. On top of that, Kanamori, her homeroom teacher who initially defended Marie, has begun to molest her at night in the Old School Building. When some of the other students start talking about the ghost story of a girl (herself) crying in the toilets at night and killing those who talk to her, Marie desperately wishes this to become reality in order to take her revenge on everyone who makes her life a living hell, starting with her teacher. Just as she is thinking that, a strange girl appears before her and offers to make her the 8th mystery of the school. She is the doll of the infirmary, the Dancing Higanbana. Marie's wish is about to come true…

However, poor Marie soon finds herself in the middle of a power struggle between the school’s Youkai. Can she quell them all, and deal with the rampant bullying in her school?

The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night (JP: Higanbana no Saku Yoru ninote ) is a horror manga series, created by the creator of the When They Cry series, Ryukishi07, and drawn by Ichirō Tsunohazu (the actual character designs are by Nishieda, though), that started in 2010. It is published in Monthly Dragon Age magazine by Fujimi Shobo, a division of Kadokawa Shoten, who also published the manga adaptation of Higurashi: When They Cry.

Ryukishi07 has adapted the manga as a two-part Visual Novel series, with each game being released on August 13 and December 31 of 2011, respectively. Unlike When They Cry, each game is a Genre Anthology and contains up to seven self-contained short stories. Each of these stories follows a different protagonist, though the benevolent youkai Marie and her not so benevolent friend Higanbana always have some role in them. The stories are sometimes dark and cruel but sometimes simply bittersweet.

This work provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga goes into detail while showing us the cruel bullying Marie has to put up with, Kanamori's perverted obsession with Marie, and the Mind Rape Higanbana puts Marie through to strengthen her resolve in becoming a youkai. This is all downplayed in the VN adaptation; Marie and Kanamori's backstories are merely mentioned and hardly shown, and Higanbana's interactions with Marie are much more restrained yet still effectively creepy.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Sumire actually has this as a power.
  • Alpha Bitch: Marie's classmate Mio.
    • Sumire, basically the goddess of all bullying, in an odd way. She turns everyone around her into bullies through her tears, and makes herself the most “popular” girl in school whenever she appears. Popular as in popular bullying target- everyone fixates on her. She’s also blonde, catty, superficial, and very cruel, like your typical example.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Each story follows a different protagonist, though Marie and Higanbana show up multiple times to prove that they're the main characters.
  • Asshole Victim: Kanamori and Nafumi get utterly destroyed by Youkai, but both of them were Evil Teacher molesters who met their fate as retaliation from their students/victims.
  • Big Bad: While each story has it’s own antagonist, Higanbana herself is the most recurring one, being the third-ranked Youkai who manipulates the students into despair to consume their souls. However, Reiko Osumi/Sumire, the seventh-ranked youkai, turns out to be responsible for the mass bullying, and by extension the storylines that surface from it. She’s also the one who made Higanbana into a cruel Youkai.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As dark as the series is, most of the stories actually have sliver of hope in them, and most of the protagonists are relatively well off at the end. Most of them.
  • Blackmail: Kanamori tapes Marie while molesting her, and threatens to expose it if she tries to tell anyone about it. Marie later tries to reverse it, saying that all she has to do is say that Kanamori was the one who taped her. It doesn't work.
  • Break the Cutie: Somewhat subverted, as Marie is already broken when the manga starts.
  • Breather Episode: Several, notably Story 6, "One girl's day", and Story 8, "The Youkai's Tsukimi" who are both short and relatively light-hearted compared to the other stories.
  • The Bully: Lots. Hell, the Big Bad is essentially the goddess of bullying.
  • Central Theme: Bullying in school, and how children are affected by it.
  • Chiaroscuro: The sprites in the VN are drawn in this style.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Part of Kanamori's backstory; he was a decent and fairly cheerful young chap by the time he started work as a homeroom teacher. However, the unbearable stress of work, as well as his unhealthy fetish towards Marie, quickly warped his mind into something far more sinister.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The first night’s final story is called "Utopia", and said utopia involves all the students in the class getting along and having fun... by singling out one kid to bully. First Yukari, and then Reiko.
  • Creepy Doll: Higanbana often takes this form.
  • Darker and Edgier: According to Word of God, in comparison to his earlier works. And considering how dark they were, that's saying something. The second part on the other end is much lighter.
  • Death by Origin Story: Marie is strangled to death by Kanamori halfway through the first episode, then comes back as a youkai and shows up in just about every other episode.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Renoir of the Art Room contains many parallels to the dynamic with Kanamori, Marie, and Higanbana. Nafumi is a counterpart to Kanamori, as Yuuki is to Marie and Renoir is to Higanbana. Nafumi projects an image of being a Cool Teacher who is beloved by her male students and sought after by some of the male teachers, when she's really a sadistic child molester who finds pleasure in seeing boys getting hurt and abused because she thinks it's beautiful. Yuuki is an innocent kid who is regularly being abused by the teacher he secretly loves, and this leads to his death when he finally tells her to stop. Renoir is a youkai who ends up becoming friends with a human he originally intended to eat. The differences lie in that Nafumi had more victims than Kanamori, Yuuki is not as bullied as Marie was and doesn't become a new youkai, and Renoir's friendship with Yuuki was more straightforward than Higanbana's, to the point that he genuinely wanted to avenge Yuuki since he wasn't powerful enough to stop Nafumi.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Marie successfully becomes a youkai and gives Kanamori exactly what's coming to him.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: A great number of the stories pit each protagonist against Higanbana, the third-ranked Youkai in the school who wants to steal souls for herself. In the final chapter of the first half, it turns out that Higanbana is being manipulated by Reiko Osumi. Of all people, the adorable, fragile girl who constantly cries Tender Tears and is the number one target of the bullies is probably the last person you'd expect to be the mastermind behind the school's bullying problem.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Completely averted; Nafumi's abuse and molestation of Yuuki is treated just as seriously as Kanamori's treatment of Marie.
  • Expy: Sakunoshin is a carbon copy of Sakutaro from Umineko no Naku Koro ni, right down to the Verbal Tic "uryu~". They only differ by name, origin, and the fact that there's no badge on Sakunoshin's muffler.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • In the first chapter we get a picture of a naked Marie after she got abused by her teacher.
    • More images of a naked, or nearly-naked, Marie show up as well. Considering that not only is she underaged, but all of them show her being abused.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Instead of downright killing him, Higanbana turns Hikaru into a rabbit and (at his request) gives him one last chance to redeem himself. He fails and is dropped into a rabbit cage full of rabbits he tortured as a human. The only thing clear about his future is that rabbits have a horrifyingly high libido, and they aren't exactly picky about doing it with someone of the same sex...
  • Hate Sink: In a series full of bullies and malicious youkai, these Arc Villains are the worst:
    • Yoshihito Kanamori and Nafumi Shintani, the respective antagonists of "Mesomeso-san" and "Renoir of the Art Room", are a pair of Evil Teachers and child molesters hiding underneath a veneer of being kindhearted teachers. Kanamori targets Marie Moriya, raping and tormenting her throughout the story and eventually killing her, while Nafumi has targeted multiple children and tortured them to make art of their bodies, accidentally killing Yuki Noda and feeling zero remorse for it. When both of them are given horrible fates by Higanbana, no sympathy is accorded. Despite being human, these two proved to be worse than any of the youkai.
    • Hameln of the Music Room is the villain of "Hameln's Castanets" and the only youkai to lack any redeeming features. A new youkai in the school, Hameln seeks to boost his reputation by usurping Marie as the eight youkai. To that end, he manipulates the bullied boy Hikaru Nihei, turning his bullies into bunnies and having Hikaru kill them brutally. Plotting to do the same to an innocent teacher and eventually spread fear through all the city, Hameln simply laughs when Higanbana foils his plans by Mind Raping Hikaru and turns her into a bunny, trying to eat her so he can dispose of Hikaru.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Downplayed; Yukari decides the only way to deal with the widespread bullying in the school is to take charge and stamp it out in an authoritarian manner.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: One the many things that make the more dramatic scenes hard to take seriously in the manga.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Most of the stories feature school-bullying of some sort, though "Utopia" might be the worst case.
  • Kick the Dog: Marie is sexually abused and blackmailed by her teacher, who tells her that no one would believe her if she told. And then said teacher murders her when she finally threatens to tell someone.
  • Killed Off for Real: This is a series where, unlike 07th Expansion's other two famous series, if anyone dies, that person stays dead. And whatever is after death isn't all that fun.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Marie suffers this at the hands of Kanamori.
  • Kiss of Death: Marie gives this to Kanamori right before she eats him.
  • Large Ham: Higanbana has her moments, but Kanamori far out-hams her.
  • Lighter and Softer: The VN tones down or removes some of the most horrifying scenes of the manga (notably the details of Kanamori's abuse of Marie), though it's certainly not light and soft, mind you.
  • Meaningful Name: "Meso meso" is the sound one makes while sobbing and crying, which is what Marie does quite often.
  • Off with Her Head!: As part of a hallucination(?) of Marie. Also the cover-page of chapter three.
  • The Pollyanna: No matter how horribly she’s treated, Reiko never thinks bad of her tormentors, and never stops smiling through her tears. But not for the reason you think.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: In "Utopia", Yukari’s class becomes a utopia by singling her, and later Reiko, out for bullying. Turns out Reiko actually invokes this.
  • Puni Plush: The graphic style in both the manga and the VN. Though surprisingly, Ryūkishi07's sprites are actually less Puni Plush than Tsunahazu's drawings.
  • Put on a Bus: Quite literally happens to the bully students in "Utopia". And then the bus crashes and burns.
  • Psychological Horror: The VN at least; the manga plays a more direct form of horror.
  • Rape as Drama: Kanamori's molestation of his student Marie, and later on Nafumi's molestation of her student Yuuki.
  • Sadist Teacher: Kanamori, who abuses Marie to relieve his daily stress. There's also Nafumi, who gets off on seeing young boys abused and molested because she thinks it's beautiful.
  • Scare Dare: Happens frequently.
  • Schmuck Bait: The page quote? Listening to it is not a problem. Responding to it IS.
    • The rules of Mesomeso-san: One, if you encounter Mesomeso-san, you cannot talk to it. Two, you cannot respond to any of Mesomeso-san's questions. And three, you cannot attempt to find out Mesomeso-san's identity. Those who try are dragged into the toilet, get all the bones in their body broken, and are ultimately killed. Hook, line, and sinker, Kanamori.
  • School Bullying Is Harmless: Averted Trope within the story itself, though Sumire seems to think so.
  • The Seven Mysteries: Each Youkai is based off one. And the creation of an eighth is the focus of the first story.
  • Shout-Out: The story of "Mesomeso-san" is similar to the story of Hanako of the Toilet.
    • The Visual Novel contains blatant, unapologetic references to Umineko no Naku Koro ni. First there are kids who are talking about a manga and anime series called "Sea Cats," then there's a school play entitled "Rokkenjima." Then there's the character Sakunoshin, a carbon copy of Umineko's Sakutaro.
    • In the character information, Michiru is revealed to buy clothes from a brand called Anti Rosa.
  • Shrinking Violet: Reiko talks softly and spends half her time crying in her first appearance due to the bullying she receives.
  • Spiritual Successor: While not part of the When They Cry series, Higanbana bears a similar atmosphere and perpetuates several of its themes, like child abuse, school bullying or the use of magic to escape reality.
  • Status Quo Is God: The series is just a collection of short stories and doesn't really have a cohesive plot, so whatever happens past the first story, Marie always ends up chatting happily with Youkai she was fighting the day before.
  • Troll: Higanbana as fits the seeming rule of "at least one troll per 7th Expansion work". Her trolling tactic of choice is the usage of dark Irony.
  • Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: Marie has a strange ability to find sweets...
  • Vague Age: It's never made clear exactly what grade levels any of the student characters are at, or even whether the school where the series takes place is an elementary school or a middle school.
    • More likely to be elementary school, as most (albeit, not all) Japanese middle schools require uniforms.
      • In chapter 7 of the manga, Kanamori-sensei says that Marie was in her third year of elementary school while he taunts her during the contest to see which of them would become Mesomeso-san.
  • Wham Episode: "Utopia", as the Kids Are Cruel aspect is emphasized, and it contains The Reveal of the true Big Bad and the cause of the bullying.
  • Youkai: The usual antagonists of the stories. The school has seven until Marie joins, and they’re all based off The Seven Mysteries of the school.

Alternative Title(s): Higanbana No Saku Yoru Ni, The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom In The Dead Of Night