Comic Picks By The Glick

The Flowers of Evil vol. 9

April 30, 2014

This series has gotten enormous mileage in making delicious suffering out of its protagonist’s entire life situation.  In news that should surprise absolutely no one who has been reading “The Flowers of Evil,” it gets some more during the first half of this book.  Still reeling from being called out by Saeki for not finding out what happened to Nakamura after the festival, Kasuga has been avoiding Tokiwa ever since.  While Tokiwa breaks the ice in this impasse, it’s to tell him that she has made up with her boyfriend and he wants to meet in order to apologize for the way he treated Kasuga.  What follows starts off as a slow burn as the boy’s disappointment becomes palpable on the page and then turns phantasmagorical as his subconscious brings all of his fears and apprehensions to life in front of him.  Even if the sequence still rigidly adheres to the books established art style, it’s still pretty creepy and one of the title’s most memorable if only for the nightmare imagery it conjures up.

After that, something happens which leads to about the last thing you’d expect here:  the longest sustained period of happiness we’ve seen in “The Flowers of Evil” so far.  It almost feels unreal seeing Kasuga experience genuine joy with his friends and a girl who doesn’t derive joy from driving her fingernails into his psyche.  The problem with this part is that it’s fairly obvious that mangaka Shuzo Oshimi really, REALLY wants you to believe in her protagonist’s happiness, as it winds up serving as a visually obvious “calm before the storm” metaphor here.  However, it’s both refreshing and surreal to see actual happiness in this title that it winds up creating a not inconsiderable amount of suspense when you start wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.  That does happen before the end of the volume, and thankfully not in the way that I was expecting.  Rather than the unexpected return of a certain someone, Kasuga is set up to enter a gauntlet to see if he really has changed since the time he left his hometown.

The endgame has begun.  Let’s see into what twisted places it will lead…