You’d think that with a summary like this:
Takao Kusuga steals a pair gym clothes of the girl he likes, the next day the girl that sits behind him reveals that she saw everything. Now if he doesn’t form a “contract” with her, she is going to tell.
– Baka Updates Manga
We’d end up with another generic, ecchi romantic comedy.
After going through most of his works, I’m tempted to say Oshimi Shuuzou himself may be in an unhappy place, unhappy being an understatement. I can’t say I’ve researched deep enough into the Japanese psyche to present solid evidence to back up this statement but I think his work is enough to speak for itself.
Reading Aku no Hana was quite the experience. Takao Kasuga is a spineless, whiny pervert who loves to read books. But as we go further into the series, the word ‘pervert slowly begins to lose its meaning.
What is perversion? What makes someone corrupt, and does it even really matter? Kasuga’s rejection of these accusations from Nakamura happen over and over again, and every time he’s given a chance to finally be free for her torment, he comes back to her. He can’t cast aside that part which makes him human. He can’t stop being a pervert.
We also have the nihilistic and sadistic Nakamura, a girl who affectionately calls everyone in town a shit eater. She wants to find ‘the other side’ of town, but realizes that she can’t do it. Not very subtle, but you get the gist. She explicitly calls herself a pervert.
I don’t want to pretend that I’ve perfectly grasped the reasons behind everyone’s actions in this manga, in truth– the choices they make are bizarre, almost as if they’re purposely punishing themselves. But what makes Aku no Hana stand above works of the same theme is that none of it feels manipulative. While we don’t always understand these people, the manga progresses in a way where these characters naturally came to these decisions. It’s all about trying to understand why these kids are making such poor choices and how the town they grew up in is somewhat directly responsible for this.
This is the kind of story that’d fit will in between your copy of Snakes and Earrings, Battle Royale and Confessions. It’s all about disillusioned kids, suppressed by society and how it all turns into one nasty cycle of depravity and violence. In short, GOOD STUFF.