Flowers of Evil starts off with one young boy’s foolish mistake but quickly develops into something more sinister. Takao, an unremarkable high school student who always has his head in a book, on impulse takes home the gym clothes of his crush Nanako. He plans to return in the next day but is intercepted by fellow classmate Sawa, who threatens to expose him as a serial pervert unless he makes a ‘contract’ with her.
Flowers of Evil is addictive to watch because Sawa’s blackmail of Takao is both disturbing and strangely amusing. Sawa largely succeeds in guiding every aspect of Takao’s life, even his relationship with Nanako and his friends, and delights in ‘shaping’ him into a serial pervert. We aren’t given any indication of her motives until very near the end of the series – is she just mad, lonely, a genius, or something else entirely? The series itself, in a nutshell, is about the control we exercise each other and how malicious even the seemingly nicest of people can be.
The cast is small and Sawa is by far the best character. She’s incredibly complex and unpredictable, but if you feel at home with the hysterically laughing girls from series like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Mirai Nikki, you’ll end up rooting for her. Takao as a character is fairly unremarkable and weak, but that’s partly what makes him so susceptible to Sawa’s messed up games. Even Nanako, the supposedly perfect sweetheart, ends up showing a slightly darker side.
One of the most noticeable things about Flowers of Evil is its animation, which is certainly a lot more ‘realistic’ and less ‘cartoony’ than a lot of other contemporary anime. The art director for the series is Kentaro Akiyama, who worked on other series such as Penguindrum and Michiko & Hatchin. The animation itself is atmospheric and more gritty, although it is at times very distracting because people’s faces are often simply not animated and look like blank canvases. The series was obviously done on a fairly low budget, and is only 13 episodes long, but shouldn’t be unfairly looked over because of that.
I watched Flowers of Evil in two sittings and really enjoyed it. It’s dark, atmospheric and gripping – a healthy 8.5/10! Another one to add to the shelf from MVM Entertainment.