From manga publisher Vertical, Inc. comes the first volume of “The Flowers of Evil”, a dark and twisted tale from the mind of author Shuzo Oshimi.
Some spoilers ahead.
“The Flowers of Evil” follows Takao Kasuga, a young man who is fascinated with books, most notably “The Flowers of Evil” by French poet Charles Baudelaire. As Takao tries to go about his days bored with his classmates, who he believes can’t truly appreciate books; he eventually finds himself caught up in a dark and perverse journey thanks to fellow classmate, Nakamura, a foul-mouthed young girl who is avoided by all of their classmates as they think she is strange.
As the school day ends Takao discovers a bag with a girl’s gym clothes inside and he eventually ends up taking the clothes home with him. This wouldn’t be a major problem if he returns them as planned, until the teacher reports the missing clothes to the class, who then begin to say that whoever took the clothes is a pervert, making Takao uncomfortable with returning the clothes, as he has a crush on the girl that they belong to, Nanako Saeki. The situation is only the start of his problems though when Nakamura learns his secret and begins to see just how far she can make him go down the road to awakening his perverted nature.
Fighting Nakamura with each comment she makes, insisting that he is a normal guy and not a pervert, Takao eventually goes along with what Nakamura says out of fear that she will tell everyone that he is the one who stole the clothes. Things get even more complicated for poor Takao when Nanako begins talking to him, even going so far as to agree to go on a date, but with Nakamura still hanging around there is no telling what she will make Takao do in order to get him to reveal his dark side.
“The Flowers of Evil” has a really interesting concept; it does make you think just what exactly would constitute someone being a pervert, as everyone has their own idea. The problem is that not enough time is spent with Takao to make readers really understand him before Nakamura begins her manipulation so he kind of comes off like a snobbish bookworm, making it difficult to see him as someone you like. Because of the lack of development of the characters early on the story does suffer a little bit, hopefully as the manga progresses readers will be able to get a better feel for each of the characters.
Visually the manga has a great appearance, everything has a fair amount of detail and the characters are all well drawn with unique enough appearances that they are easy to differentiate from. Oshimi also captures the emotions of the characters well, from the many blushing moments of Takao or Nanako’s innocent smile to Nakamura’s creepy devious smile everything fits nicely. The translations all read well and have good flow, the text is also large enough to read without difficulty and they fit in each bubble easily.
The cover of the manga looks good and features a simple image of Nakamura, who looks a little too innocent once you see the type of person she is. As you progress through the manga there are author’s notes at the start of each chapter that add a little more insight into either the chapter you just finished or the one that is coming up as well as a little information about the author himself.
All-in-all “The Flowers of Evil” is an interesting series that fits in nicely with Vertical’s impressive collection of darker manga series. It will make you a little uncomfortable as you watch Takao’s journey, but that just means that it gets and holds your attention. The development was a little bit lacking in this first volume, but from where things leave off it appears that the story will be getting much more interesting down the line.
If you enjoyed “No Longer Human”, “Lychee Light Club” or “The Book of Human Insects” then “The Flowers of Evil” is a series that should interest you.
3.5 Out of 5
The Flowers of Evil Vol. 1
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Written By: Shuzo Oshimi
Illustrated By: Shuzo Oshimi
Number of Pages: 208
Release Date: May 8, 2012
(A review copy of “The Flowers of Evil” Vol. 1 was provided by Vertical, Inc.)