The cruelty continues in volume two of The Flowers of Evil, by Shuzo Oshimi (Drifting Net Cafe). Pure, unadulterated elation mixes potently with a maddening telltale heart as Kasuga embarks on a dream date with his school crush, Saeki. Despite all the nefarious obstacles presented by his sinister classmate Nakamura, Kasuga has done it! He’s on his very first date, and it involves taking his crush to his most beloved bookstore. That’s just too sweet for this series, though. Naturally, Nakamura is tailing them both, and her sinister peeks from behind corners pretty much sum up the feeling of reading Oshimi’s series.
See, no matter how many beams of happiness shine down from the heavens on Kasuga, we all become the prescient fortune tellers who know it can’t end well. As for that telltale heart? It pounds underneath Kasuga’s clothes, because Nakamura forced him to wear the gym outfit he stole from Saeki. His shame, the truth of his perversion—or the perversion Nakamura insists on projecting, depending on your perspective—is but a few threads of fabric from the surface.
Oshimi excels in conveying expressions like guilt, apprehension, and malice; a crucial skill for a series shadowed by such a malevolent force. While Kasuga’s thoughts are on display from beginning to end, Nakamura frequently communicates with sly smiles, nods, and, when things are particularly dire, commanding scowls. When she does speak up it’s never ends well. She plants conflicting seeds in both Saeki and Kasuga, or maybe she just plants the seed that she planted a seed… Yeah, she’s not your average school reject, and it’s clear she doesn’t plan on backing down from Kasuga any time soon.
While Kasuga longs to expose Saeki to the world of beauty woven within his favorite books, Nakamura wants to expose the world to the perverse demons bubbling beneath Kasuga’s skin. Or maybe she just wants to expose the world to itself; stop everyone from lying to everyone about who they really are and open the door on the facades all around us. Deep thoughts, Nakamura, but your own insecurity and self-loathing could shatter a hall of mirrors.
Oshimi does a good job of keeping things just unpredictable enough. It’s not quite a direct descent into blackmail-induced despair, and a few cars you see coming from a mile away end up turning the corner at the last second. I still find the frequent use of photographs as backgrounds jarring and out of place, but the fact that so many real life locations from Oshimi’s past are utilized in the story makes some moments a bit more meaningful, so I’ll give them a pass. The end of this volume ends on a particularly interesting beat, so I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story & Art: Shuzo Oshimi
© 2012 Shuzo Oshimi