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Flowers Ain’t Evil, They Just Scare You

April 6, 2013

flowerofevilI have no idea what’s going down in Flower of Evil. I haven’t read the manga. I haven’t even so much as read a synopsis of the thing outside of the nigh-meaningless blurb slapped on Spring Season previews. All I knew going into it was that it was supposed to be freaky in some way. I’m down with freaky. Freaky makes me all kinds of happy.

Freaky’s exactly what I got with the first episode of this thing, and apparently that’s exactly what most other viewers got as well. It just seems that said freakiness ain’t what these peeps want out of their anime.

Plot-wise, nothing particularly out there happens in the first episode of Flower of Evil. Yeah, some girl tells off their math teacher or whatever, but that’s about it. The sequence of events are about as slice of life as you can get without veering into the manufactured artifice of what usually passes for slice of life in anime. Kids do school shit, some dude is down in the dumps and likes a girl, and that’s about it.

Mood-wise, this thing is fucking oppressive. The background droning– the shots where you see things primarily through mirrors– the occasional vision of an omnipresent black dandelion with an all-seeing eye– it makes the thing come off as voyeuristic. Not just in the sense that we’re peeking in on the lives of school kids when we have no fucking business prying into their privacy, but also in the sense that someone’s watching us back. Watching this makes me feel like everyone’s spying on everyone, trying to keep tabs in order to keep everyone in line.

Then there’s the show’s rotoscoped animation. You’re watching real people do stuff, but it’s filtered through the rotoscoping process. It’s as if the creators are saying “There’s no way in hell you’d actually watch this shit if it were live action, so we’re gonna make some accommodations.” And in the rotoscoping process, they pick and choose what gets drawn and what details are left out. The way the faces are drawn pretty much mimics the style of normal anime characters: pronounced eyes, small mouth, plenty of empty space, and the absence of a nose. You take those particular design choices and you get your average anime girl facial design, but if you apply them to something a bit more realistic in design and you get faces that look like the plastered-on faces from fucking Annoying Orange.

Isn’t that a condemnation of popular anime designs? By making such a deliberate character design– molding realistic proportions with the stylized facial aesthetic of normal anime– isn’t that saying there’s something inherently grotesque about all those anime girls people love? It’s an attitude I agree with, to be honest. When you actually think about the way anime characters are drawn, there’s an inherit inhuman quality to most designs. I’m cool with that. It’s an aesthetic I find appealing. But does the average anime fan stop to think about that sort of thing? Do they say “Yeah, when you look at it this shit DOES look weird. But that’s cool,” or does the question never occur to them?

That’s what this first episode of Flower of Evil seems to be getting at. It’s questioning that which anime fans never question: Why does anime look the way it does? Why do we insist on watching shows that focus on the minutia of life?

Flower of Evil’s basically asking “Why do you like this?,” and that’s the one heretical question fandom as a whole refuses to ask. It isn’t just anime fans. All fans are put off when someone questions their choice of obsession. When you throw yourself into a particular fandom, you’ve drunk that proverbial Kool-Aid. You might call to question the merits of a particular thing within your fandom, but you never question the basic tenants of fandom as a whole. When something like Flower of Evil gets right to the heart of things, fans are gonna freak out.

I like freaking out.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2013 11:05 AM

    I felt stupid for hyping this thing up on last week’s Anime Talk when I saw the initial reaction. Then the entire blogosphere started to like it and that stupidity was relieved. Was afraid I’d be like Scamp when Guilty Crown aired.

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  1. Flowers of Evil: Tearing Down the Walls | SatchiiKoma

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