Aku no Hana Episode 12: It’s About Family

25 Jun

By: Stephanie Weirich

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Well guys, we’re just about ready to wrap this whole thing up. This was the penultimate episode of Aku no Hana, and unlike pretty much every other anime series that has EVER been made in the history of the medium, this one felt like it set up very little in way of a conclusion. This will probably be my shortest piece about the series, because if you watched the episode, you know that very little actually happened and I therefore have very little to talk about. So let’s just get INTO IT!

And so it hath been written

And so it hath been written

In typical Aku no Hana fashion, we pick up right where we left off: with Kasuga pouring his soul into an essay to Nakamura about his many failings as they played out in their relationship. The kid seemingly spent all night on it because the sun is rising when he finishes. We then get to see him go to school and be the very definition of an awkward middle school boy.

NOPE

NOPE

Pretty much everyone ignores Kasuga’s existence now, including Nakamura, who he painfully attempts to speak to. Nakamura continues to be all like this:

Seriously, just go the fuck away

Seriously, just go the fuck away

ALL THE TIME. The only person who seems to actually be aware of the spot Kasuga is in is Saeki’s best friend Ai, who confronts Kasuga’s “friends” about what his deal is. They, being the paragons of humanity that they’ve shown themselves to be talk about how creepy he is and how they don’t like him anymore (because guys with wicked unibrows and sex offender voices are the experts on creepiness).

Pictured: Experts on creepiness

Pictured: Experts on creepiness

We then get to see Kasuga chase Nakamura down after school in order to give her his surely epic essay. Nakamura, as you may have guessed, is having none of this shit so she keeps walking, completely ignoring Kasuga.

The words every girl is hoping to hear one day

The words every girl is hoping to hear one day

He then starts reading his essay aloud to her, which prompts her to RUN THE FUCK AWAY. Does this deter our man? Of course not, he just runs along behind her, shouting the contents of his essay at her now quickly receding back.

HEY, SO SORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING!

HEY, SO SORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING!

This continues until they run across an intersection and Kasuga narrowly avoids getting Froggered. As Kasuga lies on the pavement, pondering his many failures, Nakamura escapes.

It's a trap!

It’s a trap!

Kasuga then runs home and frantically digs up his class list, taking off again to Nakamura’s house so that he can leave his essay in her mail slot (NOT a euphemism). He’s thwarted though by Nakamura’s dad, who invites Kasuga in to talk after Kasuga apologizes for the trouble he caused a month ago (nice job Kasuga. You’ll be a man soon).

Attention: MANHOOD APPROACHING

Attention: MANHOOD APPROACHING

Nakamura’s father and Kasuga have a heart to heart, where we learn that Nakamura’s mother is no longer in the picture after her parents divorced when she was 5. Nakamura has, since then, been raised by her father and her delightfully ancient grandmother.

Grandma, tell me about the Meiji Restoration again.

Grandma, tell me about the Meiji Restoration again.

Nakamura’s father confesses that he doesn’t understand his daughter, that she hardly speaks and when she does it’s nothing but cursing (totes obvs) and he asks Kasuga what his impression of Nakamura is. Kasuga admits that he doesn’t fully understand Nakamura, but that he really wants to and then my heart grew three sizes bigger.

We all do Kasuga.  We all do.

We all do Kasuga. We all do.

The episode ends with Kasuga approaching Nakamura’s bedroom door with extreme trepidation (of note: she spray painted Keep Out Shitheads on her door. Bless her heart). Cue danger music.

DUN DUN DUN!

DUN DUN DUN!

First I’d like to state that I was a big fan of the chase scene, mostly because I loved how it was shot. That was the good stuff. But really, as much as I would love to wax ecstatic about dem sweet visuals, the meat of this episode was obviously in Kasuga’s meeting with Nakamura’s father. This was an excellent—and much needed—scene. We’ve gotten a glimpse of both Saeki and Kasuga’s home lives, but no picture of the home that produced Nakamura. And rather than have something stereotypical (though I suppose you could make the argument that her coming from a broken home contributed to shaping her into the black hole of rage that she has become, I don’t think that’s solely to blame) such as an abusive family or even a neglectful one, we see that she has a father who is greatly concerned about his daughter’s wellbeing. A father who it would appear is patient and kind, who just wants to understand why his daughter is who she is.

And he's so affable!

And he’s so affable!

This is a rather harsh contrast to Kasuga’s parents who have essentially written him off as a lost cause since they discovered what he did to his classroom. They make no attempt to understand him, instead they bemoan the faulty job they did raising him, which has the effect of stripping him of any autonomy or personhood. He’s seen as a product of their faults, and as such, they have no desire to actually understand those faults because the truth might be unpleasant. It’s easier to ignore the darkness that rises up due to your inaction than it is to understand it, particularly when it relates to your children. Even when they initially discovered the truth about their son, they cared only about how it affected them, not about how he might be feeling or what his motives might be. There was no recognition of the potential struggles that he might be encountering in his daily life that would cause him to do what he did. There was only shame in themselves as parents, and then no effort made to address that OR to repair their broken relationship with their son.

It’s even more remarkable how Nakamura’s father deals with his daughter because we can imagine that the abuse she has hurled at him on a daily basis has been much worse than what Kasuga did. And yet in spite of that, he seems to want to reach his daughter in some way. He invites a friend of hers into his house, even after that friend was caught with her by the police half way up a mountain on a rainy night. He wants to know what that friend thinks of his daughter. He’s reaching out instead of shutting down, and that’s more than Kasuga’s parents can say for themselves.

You wanna hug it out bro?

You wanna hug it out bro?

I am also so incredibly thrilled to see Kasuga finally maturing into his own person. Whether or not that is ultimately tied to his flirting with deviancy is irrelevant. He’s becoming a fully-fledged human being. He took responsibility for his actions when he apologized to Nakamura’s father, which is not an easy task for any teenager to undertake, let alone a Japanese one. And then he goes and makes a deeply honest confession about his true desire to understand Nakamura. That takes moxie. That takes initiative. That takes individual desire. Kasuga is finally growing up, and he’s doing remarkably well. In this episode at least.

So what’s going to happen next? I honestly don’t know. Whatever happens though, this episode made me realize how much I’ve been pulling for Kasuga to grow as a character. This episode made inroads towards that, and for a series like this, that rich character development can do more in the long run than having an episode packed with rising action or plot points.

That’s about all I’ve got this time folks. Who else is excited for the finale? Let me know in the comments! Also, if you have a theory about how it will all end, throw that in there too as I would love to hear it! Until next time, matta ne!

...That you are the best.

…That you are the best.

One Response to “Aku no Hana Episode 12: It’s About Family”

  1. Artemis June 26, 2013 at 3:24 am #

    Well, I’m very curious to see what Kasuga finds in Nakamura’s room – I’m assuming it’ll be something strewn with rude graffiti and death threats against the world in general, but honestly, I really feel there’s no telling when it comes to her. in any event, I’m so glad we got to see Nakamura’s dad in this episode. I had been wondering for a while what her parents were like, although for Nakamura to be so damn hostile all the time, I’d hazard a guess that there’s more to the story than simply a divorce. As for predictions for the finale next week… something involving fire. Nakamura has talked a couple of times now about burning things down, and that could be meant figuratively, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she decided to go with a more literal take on things.

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