Quite a bit went down in the lives of our central characters over the course of the first three volumes of Shuzo Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil, and when it all wrapped up it kind of felt like we might be right back where we started. Well, volume four is here to let us know that isn’t the case at all, and this collection of chapters represents a major shift in the story’s direction.
At this point, Takao Kasuga has rejected his bookworming ways. He’s gone full-on recluse at home, and he’s more or less turned his back on his school crush, Nanako Saeki. He projects a palpable emptiness, and it’s clear that the only thing left that could be classified as remotely fulfilling resides in the ever bizarre and rebellious Sawa Nakamura.
Nakamura spent the last three volumes torturing Kasuga in a way that gradually became endearing. She is wholly responsible for the person he’s become; outed as a “pervert’ when a simple, impulsive mistake attached itself like a insatiable parasite. Now she’s just disappointed in Kasuga. He didn’t provide the escape from this “shit-bug town” she desired, and so he doesn’t amount to much more than anyone else in their class. Once Kasuga realizes the void within him is directly related to Nakamura, he goes out of his way to prove himself to her, thus flipping their dynamic while keeping Nakamura firmly in power.
Flowers of Evil is more interesting than ever in this volume. It isn’t a graphic series by any means, but it comes across as such due to how psychologically bent it can be at times. Oshimi’s art has always been a pleasant and strong factor, and it’s only improved as the manga has progressed. A bonus in the back of the volume shows off even more of the real world locations referenced in The Flowers of Evil, each of which gives the story a bit more of a grounded, concrete feel. Not to say what happens within is terribly outlandish, but the characters and their situations really pop when put in true-to-life spots like that. s
This volume arguably has the most brutal cliffhanger the ongoing series has seen yet, and the wait for the next is going to be interminable. The Flowers of Evil is one of Vertical’s best releases, so hopefully it hasn’t taken this many reviews to convince folks to go out and give it a shot.
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Story & Art: Shuzo Oshimi
© 2013 Shuzo Oshimi