Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. The routine of class and endless stupidity in a provincial town is taking a toll on middle schooler Takao Kasuga. Though he gets along well enough with his peers, they’ll never begin to dig any of that reading business that’s his only true escape. What can he expect when he’s in love with foreign stuff like the poems of Charles Baudelaire?
Yet, his life threatens to take a turn for the worse when he finds and takes home, in a moment of weakness, the gym clothes of pretty, sweet, and smart Nanako Saeki on whom he has a major crush. Witness to the theft is the oddest girl in class, who seems to consider the whole world a pile of excrement and to nurse a terribly sadistic streak…
Rising star Shuzo Oshimi, the author of the hit apocalyptic series “Drifting Net Cafe“, finds his groove in an ever-so-slightly autobiographical work that grows more soulful with each volume. Nominated for the 2012 Manga Taisho (Cartoon Grand Prize).
Shuzo Oshimi’s Flowers of Evil begins innocently in a school setting where the seemingly normal Takao Kasuga goes through the mundane daily routines of his middle school life. It begins as an apparently standard plot of a schoolboy having a crush on a fellow classmate Nanako. Nanako is a pretty and bright girl while Takao’s love for reading for pleasure leads to poor grades in the classroom.
A moment of spontaneous action leads Takao to steal his crush’s gym clothes and he rushes home with them. At home the self-condemnation is too much for him to bear but unfortunately for Takao he is not alone in his misery. Nakamura, classmate of both characters, blackmails Takao as being the sole witness to his act of pilfering the innocent Nanako’s gym clothes.
The dark nature of the story begins to spiral further and deeper with Nakamura being the catalyst to Takao’s anguish. Nakamura’s ruthless perverted nature shines the most when Takao is at his weakest.
This first volume of Shuzo Oshimi’s series creates the foundation where character’s “flowers” shall either blossom or rot in the ground. The pace of the plot keeps the reader engaged but not overwhelmed since it’s an introductory volume. The use of white space and shading throughout the panels gently suggests to the reader what twists the storyline is about to take.
Much more is to be uncovered in the volumes to come and myself as a reader am anxious to see how characters will develop. Highly recommend for fans of psychological manga series, one of my top personal favorites of 2012 thus far.