- Genre: Psychological horror, drama
- Episodes: 13
- Studio: Zexcs
Takao Kasuga is a special precious flower. Completely unique, brilliant and misunderstood. He is smarter, better, purer than all those pedestrians he is surrounded by. He is truer, he feels more honestly. He is a teenage boy whose favorite book is Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal. Have you ever known a kid like that? They’re the worst right? Well almost. You also have those kids that just can’t quite deal with becoming people and instead turn into uncontrolled vortexes of rage generally directed at nobody and everybody. There’s also those kids that aren’t really anyone at all. Nice sweet kids with absolutely no actual substance just desperate to become whoever you want them to be. Which do you hate more? Want to find out?
For those of you which are new here, I’ve decided to fill my October with animes said to be of the horror genre, more specifically: The Flowers of Evil, Mononoke, Hellsing and Shiki. Then I imposed my ill-conceived views of each on the world.
I read the Les Fleurs du Mal in school. It was a’ight. It’s poetry so I’m not sure it really translates. I’m actually pretty curious to know what the effect in Japanese would be but apparently it’s intense. For some reason I hadn’t realized that “the Flowers of Evil” was the English translation of that title. I should have, it is a word for word translation but what the metaphor of the title evokes in French is actually somewhat closer to the Seeds of Evil. There’s an idea of reaping what you sow tied into the word flower in French. So although the title is 100% accurate it also seems to miss the point. And so does this show.
The Flowers of Evil is smarter than you and goes all out to make sure you know it. For one, it is entirely made through rotoscoping. This is a painstaking and resource intensive technique that gives the show a completely unique look and feel. Of course, so as to not have the production go completely over budget, some pretty clear priorities are taken with the animation. For instance, anyone not in close-up loses their face. Literally. I think it looks cool but I can see people taking issue with it. I mean you will obviously not be able to see expressions unless they are insisted upon. So supporting cast are just an indistinct mass. Even the characters which are focused on have minimal movement and detailing. I found the overall effect to be very much like somewhat wooden actors playing against a green screen. It’s a love it or hate it thing and I must say I loved it.
Moreover, I found the highly detailed and lushly painted stationery backgrounds quite beautiful and the cardboard like characters seem to fit this particular story. It all added to the surreal and slightly uneasy mood the story was cultivating. This said, it is an acquired taste and won’t be everybody’s cuppa.
The themes explored in Baudelaire’s classic center around excess, debauchery and eroticism. It deals with questions of existential angst through the lens of Christian guilt and Faustian metaphor. I assure you I am not this smart. I barely understand what all these words mean. I am writing this right after finishing the series and you know… drinking game…
Basically, The poems are very surreal and deal with angsty metaphysical ideals. The Anime, is obviously trying to do the same through the eyes of a teenage protagonist. As such, the story isn’t really that important. What happens in fact is completely secondary to how it is assimilated by Takao. The problem is that Takao is a spineless, pretentious little …let’s say: kid. He takes everything, and I mean everything, very seriously. His humourless outlook taints the entire narrative and brings everything down to a dingy monotone. I have a feeling that at one point I may have been very much like this guy and I would probably have enjoyed this show then. It was a cringey time. Now I found it full of itself and rather boring.
I must say, I did think it started out rather promisingly. The first half had me intrigued. The slow pace, the unlikable characters and the unusual visuals all seemed to work in harmony and I really thought it might be going somewhere interesting. Unfortunately, it spiraled rather quickly around the mid show mark and never quite recovered.
Some elements did work well in my opinion. Ultimately Sawa is a shallow pit of anger without much personality to her but for most of the series she was also a very effective antagonist. The fact that her character wasn’t fully shaped kept her unpredictable and very unsettling. Unfortunately, they left her incomplete which destroyed the effectiveness of of the more dramatic influence she was supposed to bring and robbed the finale of any credible emotional impact. This said, for at least 9 episodes, I felt real tension whenever she came onscreen.
Everything is also very naturalistic. I got the feel of a Lars Von Trier movie off it. The dialogue is realistic for the age range and setting. The use of light and shadow is completely life-like (that’s the rotoscopy of course) and the minimal, atmospheric soundtrack was the perfect complement. That is up until you stop caring about what’s happening and suddenly realize you have no eye candy or music to distract you…
One thing I cannot take away from the Flowers of Evil is the intros and outro. The opening credits are plain but very pretty. Four different intro songs are used throughout the series and all were quite good. However, the ending is probably the best thing about the show. This has got to be one of the creepyest closings I’ve ever seen:
Basically, you can watch the first episode and know exactly whether you’ll enjoy this show or not. If you (like me) chose this because you were looking for some horror themed anime in time for Halloween, this would be the philosophical type of horror or as some of you may know it “not horror”. You can pretend to be smart when talking about it though.
Favorite character: None dude…none at all.
What this anime taught me: The technique behind rotoscopy
Blondes have more fun, but redheads remember it the next day
Suggested drink: the Frenchy
- Every time we see electrical posts – take a drink
- Every time we see the “flower” – take a drink
- Every time someone says the name Baudelaire – take a drink
- Every time we see a picture of Baudelaire – take another
- Every time the men eat while the mother cleans – ask yo woman to bring you another drink
- Every time Saeki smiles (you’ll see…) – take a drink
- Every time Takao’s mom nags – roll your eyes
- Every time Sawa takes her glasses off – take a drink
- Every time Takao says book or bookstore – take a drink
- Every time Sawa says “hentai” – get defensive
- Every time we see/hear about Saeki’s gym uniform – take a sip
- Every time Takao apologizes – take a drink
20 thoughts on “The Flowers of Evil – Countdown to Halloween”
I thought the series was okay, even if the animation style may put off some anime viewers. My biggest beef with the show is the meh ending. Guess I’ll have to read the manga some day to see how messed up things get and see how the story pans out.
Let me know how that works out!
I’d seen this anime around 5 or 6 years ago. This is literally something that needs some attention. The theme might be a little bit exaggerated but definitely realistic and applied in modern society. The animation is actually beautiful and is on a different league of its own.
I’m not sure about beautiful but very striking. I enjoyed to same technique more in Hana to Alice to be honest. I feel that resources might have been stretched a bit thin in the series explaining the stiffness of the animation but the natural quality of the movements is refreshing.
I would watch this just to see the rotoscope, after recently finding out the early Disney animated movies used that technique in parts, I want to compare the animation. Also, you don’t see it in my writing, (yet) mostly because it takes time for me to put it on paper, but I like getting philosophical about the things I watch and read. This sounds like something I could dig my mind into. I may very well give this a try someday.
And if you do, I really hope you tell us all about it
I remember quite “enjoying” this show, but it’s not a show I’ve grown fond of. It’s not only the characters that are unlikable, It’s the show, too. At best, it’s clinically detached, and at worst its sneering at its characters. The depictions of euphoria are an exception, but… well, in terms of drinking, this show is written from the point of view of hangover. How much does the hung-over you like the drinking you? That’s the attitude of the show. When you’re miserable, it walks up to you with a self-satisfied “Told you so.” That’s the impression I got from the anime at its worst.
Unlike you, I’ve never read any Baudelaire, and all I know about the Flowers is what others said about it. So that connection was lost on me. Thinking back, I kind of want to call the anime Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai, instead. Sort of fits, doesn’t it?
And, yeah, it might not be most fitting halloween anime. I sort of doubt that cringey teenager will ever be a popular mask.
French poetry Chuuni? That is certainly unusual… Hung over me usually suggests hair of the dog.
I always got the impression that the show was sneering at the audience rather than at the characters. Now that you mention it though, I can see that angle too. I guess I just make everything about me…
That ED was something else.
I remember giving the first episode a shot when it first came out and then wimping out. I had the feeling the series was a bit pretentious and your review sort of supports that conclusion. Hm.
THE ED IS SO CREEPY THOUGH I HAVE TO SAY IT AGAIN
Thank you for the informative review~
You’re welcomed my good sir
Hmmm, well don’t think after reading this review that this would be a series that I would enjoy. It sounds too artist for me, and honestly reading that you barely understood what it all meant already had me singing off for this one. You still wrote a very enjoyable to read post for it though 😀
It doesn’t get much artsier really….
visuals is an issue for me, because Sawa is supposed to be extremely “hot” in the manga. Like, her beauty is intensified by her anarchistic attitude. The more you see her act out, the more you wish you have her. The rotoscoped version cuts that subtle detail out, so the character is a lot more……sadder to look at.
I also honestly do not understand this anime. If I can re-watch it then, maybe, but it feels like there’s a bigger point to the anime that just flew over my head. haha.
You know – I can see the story working better in a manga format. Despite being unimpressed by the anime I might give it read. Like I said, I was intrigued for a while there…
the manga is paced exactly like the anime. the director was anal about that, he just shoved artsy rotoscope in between. but the manga does have all the content, lol. i hear there’s a redemption arc for the guy, but i can’t be sure.
I finished reading the manga in 1 day and I was basically intrigued by it the whole way. You can say it’s weird but somehow interesting at the same time.
And yes TPAB, there’s a redemption(sort of) for the guy, and the ending of the series made me rethink alot about whatever I just read. It’s pretty deep once you read further into the story.