Aku no Hana is an exercise in “the slow build.” It is the ideal show for a weekly viewing; though you are always left wanting more, watching a couple of these in a row could lead to frustration due to AnH‘s quite deliberate pacing. Each episode methodically, creeps along, its dense atmosphere imparting a sense of foreboding. The source of this foreboding is Sawa Nakamura, a Holden Caufiled-like character with a nasty mean streak. Throughout the first half dozen episodes, Nakamura slowly ensnares Takao Kasuga, our “hero,” in her web of depravity and self-loathing. She hates the hypocrisy of the world and wants Kasuga to hate it too. The thing that is so compelling about Nakamura is her unpredictability; her character feels so…dangerous.
Though the show’s buildup is not quick, there are two extremely rewarding payoffs, one at the end of the series and one at the end of episode seven. The end of that seventh episode is one of my favorite moments in anime, and not just for this year. Nakamura has been prodding Kasuga to drop his pitiful mask and reveal his true self: a shithead (like everyone is underneath). Now, dropping the mask is more than just saying a few poignant words. Kasuga can’t just verbally acknowledge his shithead-ery. According to Nakamura, heis required to commit some sort of action to fully cast off his fake self. Becoming who you really are demands an initiation.
And what initiation. Everything seething and boiling and rising within Kasuga throughout episodes one through six, all the angst and anger and hurt, comes wildly bursting out in a beautiful, horrible way that truly does take my breath away. I don’t want to describe what happens because I do believe that the show is worth watching just to see that scene. I can only say that I won’t easily forget that moment.