Gah!! I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish this show. It’s literally painful to watch. I keep purposefully distracting myself— I think this episode took me an hour and a half to finish.
That’s not to say this show isn’t good. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s wildly successful at making me cringe, which is exactly what it intends.
A good part of what builds this atmosphere is the music. Look at the scene above. It’s an idyllic view of the countryside that could have been plunked straight out of a Ghibli film. And yet with this creepy, atonal soundtrack buzzing in the background I see this scene and all I can do is freak out.
Aku no Hana’s time budget is all dedicated towards this goal as well. Notice how much time we spend pondering the decision to steal the bag. The confrontation with Saeki, on the other hand, speeds by.
The only problem is that I don’t understand Japanese fetishes. Why would you want to sniff a girl’s clothes? I can sort of understand maids and neko-mimi and whatnot, but this one is beyond me.
The Nature of Evil
What makes this episode so disturbing isn’t the act of stealing some girls clothes. As someone who fails to understand this fetish, I find myself incapable of seeing this as some sort of terrible, unpardonable crime. Definitely a jerk move, for sure, but no worse than bullying some kid at school.
No, what makes this act so disturbing is how Takao does it despite believing it’s wrong. Normally when people do something they consider wrong, they offer up excuses and justifications. Takao dispenses of these pleasantries. He knows what he’s doing is wrong, and he does it anyway. It’s a self-destructive action, obliterating how he envisions his very own identity. I wonder if this is, at some level, intentional. We know that he hates the way he is and how he has no friends. Could this be a misguided attempt to change himself? To at least get the girl to notice him, even if it is for all the wrong reasons?
Despite how much he worries over the consequences of his actions, he doesn’t seem very repentant. Notice how he declares he’ll confess his crimes as he continues to sniff her clothes.
The Baudelaire poem we quote from this week is titled “Benediction.” A benediction is a prayer for help from God, invoked at the end of a worship service. I think we can see Takao’s action as a benediction: a desperate cry for help and the closing of a chapter in his life.
I still hate the rotoscoped faces. For the body movements it looks okay, but the faces look inhuman. At least give these people teeth.
Nakamura does not come across as crazy evil as she did in the manga. I think this boils down to the faces again. She already looks inhuman, seeing as she doesn’t have any teeth, so it isn’t particularly surprising when she acts inhumanly. In the manga, where she’s drawn as a cute girl, it’s all the more disturbing when she says these terrible things.