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The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6

Welcome to another midweek manga review here at Sequential Ink! This week I’ll be taking a look at Shuzo Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6, but first some news items that have caught my eye. Apparently, everything’s coming up Yen Press!

 

 

 

 

And now onto this week’s review of The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6!

The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6
by Shuzo Oshimi
Vertical, 200 pp.
Rating: Mature Readers

Kasuga and Nakamura’s self destructive cycle reaches its crescendo in Shuzo Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6! Following the massive fire and the destruction of their base of operations, it would seem that the jig’s up for Kasuga and Nakamura. When the police show up with the notebook full of their plans things go from bad to worse as the duo decide to simply up their already disturbing plans, taking their destructive urges to an all new level.

Part of what’s fascinating about the series, and part of what makes it so successful, is how Kasuga’s feelings of alienation and self loathing come across as real and genuine. In The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6, Ohsimi has Kasuga verbalize much of what readers have undoubtedly inferred from the previous volumes. Namely his desperation, self loathing, and desire to be and to have something more and greater than the life before him. It’s something that rings true and is a desire that I’m sure many can relate too. Unlike most people, however, Kasuga’s urges are harnessed and focused to a laser edge by the intensely screwed up Nakamura, and as a result things take a distinctly dark turn. Despite having their master plan foiled by the events of volume 5, the duo cook up something that’s disturbing and bears echoes of the school shootings that plague the US. While the plan is violent and apparently suicidal to a point that may be alien to many, the roots of Kasuga’s motivations and the emotions behind them resonate and help display one of the things about this series that makes it so good. Shuzo Oshimi is absolutely fantastic at crafting relatable emotions and motivations for his characters, even when their actions are taken to absurd and disturbing extremes. Whether it was Kasuga’s sexual blossoming in the earlier volumes or the clash between his own desires and those of parents and society, the emotions at the core of it all ring frighteningly true.

Oshimi’s artwork shines, conveying a spectrum of emotions with a beautiful intensity. Whether it’s Kasuga’s rage, or his father’s grim and hurt look as he struggles to save his self destructing son, Oshimi’s depiction of the characters and the emotional states are second to none. Even the minor characters are rendered in such a way that helps convey their mental state with a glance. The awkward and terrified look on the elementary school musician at the festival is adorable and instantly recognizable. Likewise the simmering anger and frustration that Saeki’s friend feels throughout the volume is palpable at first sight. Another nice touch is the way Oshimi sometimes renders Kasuga’s and Nakamura’s eyes to suggest the weird little flower that adorns Kasuga’s copy of Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil. It’s not a constant presence, and at times I found myself questioning if I had imagined their appearance. It’s a small visual theme that’s worked its way into the series and it’s appearance often implies a shift or decision within the characters.

The Flowers of Evil continues to be an absolutely fantastic read, and one that I’m eager to continue to its climax. The series has actually wrapped up in both Japan and will be finishing it’s run in the US when Vertical releases volume 11 next month. Clearly I’m a bit behind! At any rate, the series continues to be a disturbing and honest look at adolescent alienation, and I can’t help but feel that there’s a critique about Japanese parenting to be found within these pages by someone more learned and well read in the matter than I.

The Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6 is available now from Vertical.

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