Aku no Hana — First Impressions


This was one of the anime of the season I was most anticipating due to having read part of the manga before. It ended up being even better than I was expecting.

It captures the fucked up sense you get from reading the manga but even more so. The soundtrack in this episode was excellent. The episode is just about a kid reading books and going to school, but with the music and animation you get a strong sense that shit is really fucked up. And as you’ll discover in the next episode (spoilers) it is.


Yes, the animation of the people is really ugly. I think it’s intentional, to help build that feeling that stuff is messed up even more. Still, I kind of wished they’d gone with ugly people whose faces don’t disappear when they cross a distance threshold and who move in a way resembling humans. The animation is not a deal breaker for me though.

12 thoughts on “Aku no Hana — First Impressions

  1. While maybe the fading faces at a distance is just an effect of the animation, I feel that it adds to the atmosphere. The qualities, personalities, characters of people are invisible at a distance. They are just more faceless bodies that drift by one’s perception. When the three male students were walking down the street, as they had their spiritless conversation they were tangential to the world, which is rendered in gorgeous definition. Then they become simply a reflection in a street mirror – faceless imprints, in all their human clumsiness and ugliness. Although I will agree that there is something of a fluidity to be desired in the animation, it is delightfully off-setting.
    I have read the original manga, and I feel that the anime has done far better in injecting the poetry of Baudelaire into the narrative. What was glanced over in the manga becomes a surrealist undercurrent. The poetry readings were gorgeous, fantastic and the VA for the protagonist is very pleasing.
    While I agree that the music and the sound design are fantastic, I’m a little unimpressed by the OP and ED. And I’m on the fence about that overly-synthetic voice near the end.

    I am glad that you have picked this up, and anticipate reading your future posts!

    1. The animation is definitely off-putting. But I think the way they made the facial transitions so abrupt is distracting. They could have achieved much the same effect if they made the features appear gradually. Or just left the faces blank the entire time. They way they did it, where the glasses suddenly wink into existence one moment, the mouth another, and the eyes and nose the next just looks like an artifact of laziness more than an item of thematic or artistic intent.

      I completely agree that the poetry of Baudelaire was integrated much better in the anime. I think the music for both the OP and ED is great for this series, but the visuals there are basically non-existent.

  2. I think this anime adaptation did its job. It got me interested enough to read the manga (all 43 translated chapters in 1 sitting). I really enjoy the story, since I haven’t read much Seinen in a while. Sad to see the wait for the next issue, but at least an entire arc was completed.

    1. I should catch up on the manga… I think only twenty chapters or so were out when I read it. Now I might as well just watch the anime so I can be surprised though.

  3. I love the animation style this anime is taken. It’s a breath of fresh air in the industry. In my opinion these characters look much more like real life people than the average anime characters. This anime will probably get put down as an “arthouse” anime but I think it’s an interesting development and a much needed change of pace for the industry. The first thing I thought when I saw it was that it was a Westernized interpretation of an anime.

    1. I like the style too. I do think it could use a lot more work in some aspects though, in particular with faces and how people are portrayed at a distance. I think the underlying technique is sound but it could use some touch ups and polishing.

  4. To be honest, I don’t mind the Rotoscoping direction. Personally, if done really well (especially with facial and body details plus fluidity and how they handle effects of mixing animation and reality of it all), I’d say the anime in itself can have great art direction. If anything, this could be like an anime ‘Waking Life”.

    But Imma guess that they are doing this on a budget. It shows somehow in lack of facial features, but I can get the eerie WTF atmosphere from the LACK of reality in something meant to look realistic (facial features disappear, some background characters freeze)

    But how should I know? Otakus and Moeblock fanacists ain’t gonna like something new!

    1. Completely agree, it looks like they are doing this on a budget. The facial features are my biggest issue with the animation, but I think the style itself is working out well.

  5. I’ll certainly be following this but I’m not quite sure of whether I like it.

    The “animation” (is rotoscoping even animation at all?) is so offputting that this series will certainly not be one of my favourites. Admittedly this is no moe content and the artwork fits w/ the eerie atmosphere. But I would have much preferred if the creators chose some less obtrusive animation b/c the storyline in itself is disturbing enough.

    The series’ atmosphere reminds me a lot of the excellent movie “All about Lily Chou Chou”. If you ask me that movie was much better b/c it combined a charged atmosphere w/ plain live action pictures. This would have been good for this series, as well.

    1. I don’t think this is the kind of series that would ever be anyone’s “favorite”. It’s not going to be something you want to watch multiple times, that’s for sure.

      I’ll have to check out “All about Lily Chou Chou”, I’d enver even heard of it before.

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