Aku no Hana – 01 (A Tale about a Controversy)

Categories: Aku no Hana, Miscellaneous | April 6th, 2013 | 5 Comments

Did any one of you read the forums lately? Then you surely didn’t miss the controversy regarding the first episode of the new series Aku no Hana. It’s really amazing how much hate a show a single episode can create in a passionate fandom. Strangely enough, I found the reactions utterly hilarious – and yes I didn’t take them very seriously (and probably never will). Before you boil me in the comments, please let me explain my point.

If you did watch Aku no Hana…what did you expect? Did you expect something similar to the manga (at least stylistically)? Well, I’m pretty sure that whatever you expected, Aku no Hana certainly smashed those expectations. It’s a beast like no other we’ve seen in along time. Its visual style and its storytelling follows almost no anime cliches or tropes many of us have come to expect.

Let’s take the visual style and the animation, around which most of the hate is centered. Yes, the visual style doesn’t follow the manga at all. Yes, the animation is rotoscoped. Yes, the animation feels sloppy at times. Yes, the characters are flat shaded. Does this make it bad? Nope. Not because it’s different as some in the forums posted but because it perfectly fits with the plot. Aku no Hana is a dark, deeply twisted tale about two deeply twisted characters so how could you possibly use the usual design style approach used in all the other anime out there, add some blue color filters in post production (see the first half of the first episode of Kotoura-san) and call it day. Yes, the manga uses the usual design style but it’s this design style for which I cannot take the manga seriously. Heck, there’s not even an attempt to disturb the drawings or the character designs although the author had all the freedom in the world to do so.

The anime does what the manga should have done: Fit the visuals to the content. And it did it – in my eyes – in an exceptional and completely fitting way. You see, the animation, above all else, is in the deep end of the uncanny valley. Compared to almost all anime out there, the characters almost look like real people. The same goes for their movements. Both of course are a result of real people being filmed and then being rotoscoped in 2D animation. But by being that close to reality everything ends up…well…uncanny. The animation increases this unnerving feeling even further by giving it a sloppy look where very often the lines would jump and move around.

In a way the soundtrack follows this as well. The opening sounds like a bad, generic JPop shit, while the ending is completely disjointed and tuneless. In a way, the ending is the audio counterpart of the animation. Uncanny, unnerving. Again, this perfectly fits to the unfolding plot.

Of course, there’s the plot of the first episode itself. Many have argued that the pacing is the shits. Well, in a way, they’re right, but at the same time they’re wrong again. You see, the plot of the first episode had only one goal: It had to show us the mundane and boring life of everybody. Nobody is special. There’s nothing special happening. There’s no deep dialogue. Heck, there’s only unimportant small talk for the most time. The daily scenery doesn’t change at all. It’s all the same shit day in and day out (many backgrounds are reused to increase this exact feeling). We are shown the parts which normally are cut out in other anime or movies. We’re shown the boring parts. The ironic thing is that there’s only boring parts. That, of course, is a jarring difference to the usual beginning of many anime where we’re simply told by the protagonist (in the usual voice over) that he’s utterly average, only to meet a hot chick two minutes later, which marks the beginning of a silly or an epic quest of whatever.

For example, it’s thanks to this bleak and boring feeling that I was utterly surprised and shocked when Nakamura said “Shut up, you piece of shit” to her teacher. The same goes for his reaction which is so nothing one would expect in the usual generic anime. It’s the first glimpse of the twisted tale that’s to follow. And it wouldn’t have that kind of heavy impact if this would have happened in a different “world”.

So whats your take on this whole controversy thing? Did you like Aku no Hana like me or did you hate it like most of the fandom right now? Let us know and comment below.

Oh and by the way: Even if Aku no Hana might not be your type of series I hope we can agree that it’s at least way better than some generic crapfest like Date a Live where the usual genki girl (of course sporting a twin tail with cute ribbons) wakes up her boring and generic brother with her genki voice and genki antics, while not forgetting to flash her panties several times (Fanservice!!!! FAPFAPFAP). To me, it’s utterly uncanny how a fandom finds something like that more worthwhile to watch than Aku no Hana (judging by the average rating of 7.4 vs. 5.1 on MAL as I write this).


  • I loved it. It’s definitely the most intriguing of the shows i’ve seen so far this season, and I suspect nothing will top it on that front.
    The grotty background visuals, the creepy soundtrack (and that ED!), and the animation.
    Sure, it’s uncanny valley material, but I think that’s totally intentional to add to the unsettling feel of the show.
    I am all in favour of anime that tries to do something different and unique. This is that show.

  • Loved this too! It’s such a shame that some people could not see the difference between an animated and a printed medium. So sad.

  • I didn’t like almost at all* what they did with this series, and I still don’t. But I wholeheartedly agree in still putting this far above all ecchi/harem crap.

    (*as things I enjoyed, I can point out the “Flower of Evil scenes” and the ending theme*)

  • Aku no Hana is a breath of fresh air in a sea of garbage.

    The audio, background art, atmosphere are all very well done and you can tell a lot of effort was put into the audio especially.. I am excited for the soundtrack.

    The animation is a little strange at first, almost reaching into uncanny valley territory, but I don’t think that it detracts from the overall atmosphere.

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