Aku no Hana Episode 11: It’s Always Been Your Choice

18 Jun

By: Stephanie Weirich

TONIGHT.  YOU.

TONIGHT. YOU.

All right guys, we’re getting down to the wire here! We’ve got 2 episodes left of Aku no Hana after this one and the feeling of trepidation is starting to swell within me. Where are we going? Where will this all end? Will Kasuga ever get to transcend his emo-ness? Will Nakamura burn the world down finally? Will Saeki realize that she’s out of her league and should pack it in? Your guess is as good as mine folks, but before all that, let’s get to the recap!

We're back....in the car again.

We’re back….in the car again.

So we start out in the car again. It’s still just as awkward. And then we get to have a lot of jumping around in time in order to fill us all in on the repercussions of Kasuga’s and Nakamura’s attempted escape. The bulk of the episode takes place in the present, which is one month after the events of the previous one. Summer is here, everything sucks and is boiling hot and there are even swimsuits in this episode for everyone who wanted to see that (Fanservice amirite?).

Hey gurl, lemme holla atcha.

Hey gurl, lemme holla atcha.

Kasuga looks like a shell of himself, and he’s clearly being ignored by his former friends, while he ignores Saeki’s existence and Nakamura…Well, Nakamura is probably thinking about drowning everyone in fire and poop. But either way, she’s totes ignoring Kasuga. She also is floating around aimlessly in the lap lanes until she’s rudely disturbed by the gym coach blowing his whistle at her repeatedly.

Nihilism bro.  It's heady.

Nihilism bro. It’s heady.

In typical Nakamura fashion, she steals his damn whistle and asks him if he thinks he’s a stupid pigeon and then she takes off in the middle of gym class because YOLO.

YOLOLOLOLOLOL

YOLOLOLOLOLOL

We get some more flashbacks from Kasuga about how his mother and father took the news of what he did to his classroom and essentially, Kasuga did what every Japanese boy does in these situations: stay stone silent and stare at an undetermined point until everyone stops talking. Just like what you’re supposed to do when pursued by a T-Rex. So he’s got that covered, just in case the situation arises. While Kasuga perfects his silence, his mother weeps and blames herself and her husband for Kasuga’s current state while his father very calmly attempts to wrest the truth about things from him.

You know they can still see you right?

You know they can still see you right?

That shit doesn’t happen though, because authority can suck it. Back in the present time, Saeki breaks up with Kasuga after her friend forces a confrontation between the two of them and Kasuga just apologizes for everything. Well done Saeki, well done.

In Japan, awkward handshakes end all relationships

In Japan, awkward handshakes end all relationships

We then also get to see how Kasuga’s home life is faring after everything that has gone down and turns out that now his parents are giving him the silent treatment, because that’s how that should be done. Kasuga excuses himself from the table without eating, heads to his room and pukes in a bag. He has now officially become every goth girl I knew in high school, high minded (yet totally misunderstood) reading habits and all.

Love.  Love will tear us apart.  Again.

Love. Love will tear us apart. Again.

Kasuga’s goal here is to die a pathetic and inevitable death “like a desert tree”. Again, if he was constantly listening to the Smiths and burning incense to cover up the smell of cigarettes, this would be my life in high school.

Does anyone else smell cloves?

Does anyone else smell cloves?

Anyway, all of that malnourishment leads to some pretty wicked fever dreams which brings us to my favorite moment of the episode.

I LIKE THIS VERY MUCH

I LIKE THIS VERY MUCH

Kasuga has a dream that he’s wandering through the town, and as he wanders, the landscape begins to change. The sky becomes increasingly red, which then leads to flames and underfoot, evil flowers bloom, all watching his slowly paced trip through his dying (and now burning) town.

It's like the poster for "Midnight in Paris" but with more burning.

It’s like the poster for “Midnight in Paris” but with more burning.

He eventually comes upon Nakamura, and as they talk, everything around them disapppears—the flames are gone and the flowers uproot themselves in a swirling tangle that circles Nakamura—which is a none too subtle visual metaphor for Nakamura’s place at the center of Kasuga’s life.

Fancy finding you amidst all of this fire.

Fancy finding you amidst all of this fire.

In this dream, Nakamura shows some real humanity and while choking back tears tells Kasuga that he ultimately disappointed her by clinging so desperately to his walls and refusing to show his true nature. She calls him a liar before brokenheartedly walking away from him.

There you go, breaking my heart again.

There you go, breaking my heart again.

He wakes up panting, reinvigorated with purpose because he knows how Nakamura feels. He knows that Nakamura shouldn’t be left alone in her pursuit of something beyond what this town has to offer. He knows that Saeki can live on happily without him. And so he resolves to write all of this out for Nakamura, and thus make amends.

That's the spirit!

That’s the spirit!

Ultimately, this episode is just continuing the themes that were at the forefront of the previous episode making them much clearer for Kasuga and the viewer. Kasuga got so close to embracing his true nature and living out his true deviancy and then he backed off because he couldn’t commit. He couldn’t do it for himself. He had no clear purpose and no tenacity to see anything through while Nakamura most certainly did/does. While he needed the true catalyst of Nakamura to push him further along on his own path, what he truly needs, what Nakamura truly wants him to do is to realize that HE wants to take that path with her. As forceful as she has been, she wants a companion. She wants an equal. And Kasuga is no good to her if he can’t realize that he wants to be that person. He has to decide to end his own world for the sake of moving onto something better.

vlcsnap-2013-06-18-20h51m50s38

It was also necessary for him to realize that being with Saeki platonically or not would only forever tie him to normalcy. It would, whether they stayed together for years or had a brief school days relationship, put him further on the path towards the kind of life that is encouraged in Japan. And this is the kind of life that he’s subconsciously been rejecting all along. He’s right when he realizes that Saeki can and will be happy without him, because that is the life she wants and deserves. And there’s no judgment there; it’s just that that’s not the life for Kasuga. This is an incredibly important moment for Kasuga. This realization fully pushes Kasuga towards to point of no return. He is finally, FINALLY, making a decision on his own and is committed to carrying it out with his own hands, for better or worse. And that is a huge, character changing moment. I’m sort of proud of the guy, to be honest.

YES.  LET THE AWARENESS CARRY YOU FORWARD.

YES. LET THE AWARENESS CARRY YOU FORWARD.

I want to talk a bit about Kasuga’s parents and their treatment of their only child in light of his obvious problems, but that’s a longer piece that I’m still mulling over that will most likely appear in my much longer recap of this show as a whole. But for now let’s just say that I don’t think the best solution for dealing with a troubled child is to bemoan how it’s your fault as a parent and then follow that up by essentially acting as though that admission is enough, and their kid just has to deal with all emotional fallout on their own, with no parental guidance. Needless to say, this is also something that I’m rather familiar with after teaching kids in this age range and being privy to parent/teacher meetings about the most troubled of students. Much of the time, when the parents had reached the point of personally giving up on dealing with a difficult child, their next solution was to demand that the school and the kid’s homeroom teacher take responsibility and finish suitably molding them into a full-fledged Japanese adult. There were more parents than I was comfortable with who seemed all too ready to wash their hands of their difficult children in favor of the schools raising them in whatever way they could. Expect more on this topic at a later date.

Yeah, that's totally helping the situation right now.

Yeah, that’s totally helping the situation right now.

So that’s about it guys. We’re almost done with this crazy ride and we’ll all get to be together when we see where it takes us in the next two episodes. Oh, and one last time, let me sing the praises of that dream sequence. It was beautiful I tells ya! Beautiful! In your face people who hate the visuals of my beloved Aku no Hana! IN YOUR FACE!

Look at it!  FOREVER!

Look at it! FOREVER!

Do you disagree, agree, fall somewhere in between? Or did you get something completely different out of this episode? Let me hear it in the comments!

One Response to “Aku no Hana Episode 11: It’s Always Been Your Choice”

  1. Artemis June 19, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    Once again, great stuff from Aku no Hana – despite my original reaction to the show (based mostly on its slow pacing style), I honestly think that this series has just gotten better and better with each episode. I’m intensely curious as to how things will play out in the end, although I’d be willing to bet that Nakamura finally snaps entirely and quite literally does some burning (or something equally as violent/destructive).

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