Aku no Hana has been eagerly anticipated by everyone who’s read the manga, and from everything I’ve read it looks to be the big downer show of the season, but we need one now that Shin Sekai Yori is done with. We can certainly also use anything that looks like episode one does. We’ve got rotoscoped actors and highly realistic backgrounds and surroundings. I’m not saying I want every show to do this, but compared to it everything else looks kind of old and stale. You know, the same old thing.
As for the storyline that’s supposed to sear the souls of every character involved and eviscerate their hearts, and whatever other metaphor you want to toss out, we get almost none of it this week. Instead, we get a vague menace lurking beneath almost unbearably mundane scenes of our hero (is that the word?), the Baudelaire-addled Kasuka, walking to and from school, talking with his depressingly stupid friends, and pining for a girl named Saeki. This goes on for a day, so we get to see the walk to school footage twice. The only lively moment is when the most unpopular girl in school, Nakamura, calls the teacher shit. Then it’s back to normal until the very end.
It’s certainly a show worth following, though I wonder if I’ll enjoy it once the plot really kicks in. It remains to be seen how effective the rotoscoping will be. I like it so far. It allows for more expression in the characters than straight-up drawing can give us. We see more underlying motive in their faces, more than they realize they’re revealing. Other parts of the production work well, too. The soundtrack, mostly a dark shimmer, works well, and the ED music is striking. I’m glad someone out there is trying to make shows like this, even if I dread the thought of another show where I have to watch it even though I don’t want to.