Aku no Hana 07

First Comment:

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It’s terribly cute that Saeki is reading Flowers of Evil just then.  I mean, what a coincidence.  Or is it?  Did she hear the doorbell, figure that there was a decent chance her new beau had arrived, and picked up the book just in case?  It’s possible…

Second Comment:

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gg’s translations are pretty spectacular.

Third Comment:

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I had pretty much figured out that this was the reason Saeki was so distraught.  She thought she heard Nakamura tell Kasuga she (Nakamura, not Saeki) wanted to sleep with him.  It’s a delicious bind (well, delicious to us observers~) Saeki has gotten herself into.  Think back of the terms in which she started her relationship with Kasuga.  The boy was clear: he wanted a pure, platonic relationship with Saeki.  Saeki accepted gladly.  After all, for a regular girl her age, this kind of sounds like a splendid deal.  She gets to know and explore her feelings for a boy she likes at a leisurely pace, without having to worry about the boy jumping her on the second date (as boys his age often try to do).  And of course as the relationship blossoms she expects fully expects it to turn into something more normal and less…platonic.  (I’m thinking kisses and that kind of thing yo).

Aye, there’s the rub.  Saeki now has cause to suspect Kasuga is enganged in decidely physical pursuits with Nakamura.  But she can’t really blame for it if he is, since by the terms he presented (and which she agreed to) theirs is purely a platonic relationship.  Oops.

Fourth Comment:

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Kasuga starts calling himself by Nakamura’s own names for him.  This is an important turning point, to be sure.  He calls himself a kusomushi, i.e. a dung beetle.  But at least at this point, he refuses to call himself a hentai, i.e. pervert.  I think these words are important.  A dung beetle is a regular creature, it does what it does and you can’t really blame it for doing so.  Kasuga might be appropriating Nakamura’s term because it’s liberating in a sense: “I creep around shit, it’s what I do so just back off.”  Hentai is something else altogether: something different, something that should not be.  So at this point Kasuga would rather relinquish his humanity and creep around like a bug than be dubbed a human deviant, an outcast.

Fifth Comment:

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The sequence that begins now is just epic.  I relish the religious undertones here.  Kasuga basically takes Nakamura to be a priestess or a mediatrix for the redemption of his sins.  Only she can help him in this regard.  Nakamura, after laughing like a maniac, picks up the role and plays it marvelously.  I mean, that caress, wow.

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Nakamura points out that the moon is full and about to burst.  Some of us might think of werewolves, others might think of how all of the important events in the Buddha’s life occurred on a full moon.  It is a time for action, in any case.

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The sign works great here: 2 are about to become 1 in some sense.

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See how he still rejects the “hentai” prompt?

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Nakamura has the correct “ethical” approach in mind.  She can see a mile away that Kasuga is intending to cheat.  He wants to fess up to his crime, but only to Saeki (and not even in person, what scum~).  Kasuga knows Saeki’s character.  She knows the girl might be aghast and shattered, but that she’ll keep it to herself, she won’t go around school telling everyone about it.  So Kasuga will feel better without losing too much.  Hell, it’s almost as if he’s willing to pass the burden on to Saeki just to feel better himself.

That’s a no-no, so Nakamura plays it straight: you want to do the ethical thing, you confess to everyone.  Let everyone know, let Saeki get the support she needs from all of her classmates, and you, well, you just get ready to get ostracized as you should (and wait till your parents find out etc etc.)

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She’s rubbing against him right there, isn’t she?

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Here we get a pretty impressive speech/rant.  The “shit” hits the fan.  Nakamura’s contention, then, is that people are really dung beetles.  Not just Kasuga, everyone.  As a corollary to this, the word “hentai” is almost meaningless.  If everyone deviates from the social norm of what a good human being is, if everyone really loves to roll in shit and fuck, fuck, fuck, then who’s a hentai?  Everyone.  But if everyone is a deviant then no one is, because the norm is not truly real.

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Therefore when Nakamura calls Kasuga a hentai, what she means is this: you are a dung beetle like everyone else, yet I know that you know you are a dung beetle even though most dung beetles are blissfully unaware of  it, and now you know that I know that were people to peek inside your brain they’d call you a hentai, and so I’ll call you a hentai until you truly realize your true potential and start going shit-crazy just like you’ve always wanted to.  Then you’ll wear that stupid word “deviant” like a badge of honor, because you know the measure of it and the others don’t.

The “confession” that Nakamura is supposed to mediate for Kasuga kind of falls to the side here, but the ground has been laid for an infinitely deeper confession.  She is literally forcing Kasuga to open up, let his walls down as she keeps saying, and become who he is.  His sin, if we can call it that, is not stealing Saeki’s clothes.  That’s just a symptom.

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Nakamura’s sex, sex, sex is followed up by Kasuga dreaming back of Baudelaire.  We can be sure that to some extent at least Kasuga likes the Flowers of Evil because they’re sexy.  That’s no surprise, it’s a big appeal of the poems.  But Nakamura isn’t interested in Baudelaire, she really isn’t.  And no, it’s not that she hasn’t read the book and so doesn’t realize that if she did she’d end up loving it or at least empathizing with it or something along those lines.  No.  She has no use for Baudelaire.  Judging from her ranting, I think she’s already read a book that renders Baudelaire redundant and even pedantic.  It’s not necessary to find out for sure what that book is.  It could be Darwin’s Origin of Species, it could be Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene.  There’s a great irony here: it might just be that Nakamura is the student who has been paying the most attention in class, at least in Biology.  She knows what drives humans, and she realizes that IT is no different that what drives all the other creatures, even dung beetles.  Ipso facto, the word “human”, not as a shorthand for the species Homo sapiens but as an abstract counterpoint to the word “animal” or “beast,” is bullshit.

This knowledge, Nakamura senses, can be liberating.  But she wants, she needs, an ally.  Kasuga’s own standpoint, while still somewhat superior to that of the masses, is still woefully inadequate.  Why be tied down to the fetishes of a confused 19th century Frenchman when you have all the world to play with?  Why dream of Baudelaire when you can do whatever the fuck you want? (emphasis on fuck)

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Kasuga wakes up from his “there’s no way out of this place” nightmare to Nakamura’s screams: “Boring, boring, boring!”  They’re on the same wavelength, then.  But there’s a key difference: Kasuga is constantly thinking extensionally.  That is, he thinks, he fools himself into believing, that his salvation lies “just beyond those hills”.  Who knows?  Maybe in Tokyo, maybe in Europe, in Baudelaire’s Paris.  The solution is travel, distance from where he began, extension.

Nakamura, on the other hand, thinks intensionally.  They don’t have to leave town to be free.  Hell, they don’t even need to leave their very own classroom (the very image of hell to many a high school student) in order to reach heaven.  It’s not about movement and distance, it’s about intensity and feeling.  To quote Hamlet again: “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space,” ergo fuck space.  And maybe it’s because travel is always a solitary thing (one always leaves the others) whereas feeling is always a group thing (one always feels the others) that Kasuga, who is stuck in this extensional framework, insists on daydreaming of non-existent pure angels (angel-Saeki) and basically being alone whereas Nakamura is obsessed with reaching out and touching someone.  And that lucky someone is Kasuga.

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Among the things that Kasuga writes is hentai.  That’s a broken wall right there. And note that Nakamura has finally gotten him to write, which he’s been refusing since the beginning.

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Nakamura prods him on and Kaasuga writes “I’m a hentai” again and again though he still can’t manage to yell out the complete sentence.  Nakamura prods him further.

And then the sex music begins.

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What a beautiful episode.

~ by Haloed Bane on May 18, 2013.

9 Responses to “Aku no Hana 07”

  1. That song was pretty great. I wish gg had translated it, though.

  2. Great post! I feel like you’ve put into words the thoughts that have been swimming in my head since reading and watching this part.

  3. Very good and complete blog of this episode AK.

    This episode was amazing. Really special and touching in personal ways that few series can achieve. And to think so many people dropped this because of the rotoscoping.

    • I think about 10 people dropped it because of the rotoscoping, and then 10,000 people dropped it because of the 10 that had dropped it. Nakamura would have something rather impolite to say about those 10,000.

      • Anyone dropping this show after they watched it and took issue with it aesthetically – no disputing tastes. Anyone who “dropped” it because of the overblown negative hype campaign without ever actually watching and giving it a try – idiots.

        • As you say, no disputing tastes. I figure “community feeling” is a big thing in the anime fandom, so that some viewers find satisfaction in watching shows because the community has hyped them, and not watching them because the community has condemned them, regardless of the actual content of the shows concerned.

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