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Flowers of Evil, Volume 1 Paperback – May 8, 2012
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“Oshimi uses surreal imagery—a wall of eyes, a fun-house mirror, a giant sink hole—to suggest that Kasuga’s normal teenage discomfort with sexual feelings has become something more powerful and destructive: shame...That said, The Flowers of Evil is a shockingly readable story that vividly—one might even say queasily—evokes the fear and confusion of discovering one’s own sexuality. Recommended.” —The Manga Critic
“[The Flowers of Evil], living up to its name, is a story that starts out very much like a seed that has only just been planted. That seed may represent Kasuga’s perversion, his progress towards becoming a different person, or perhaps Kasuga himself. The principle that matters is that this story will continue, that with Nakamura’s aide and instruction, we shall eventually see this seed sprout into a flower. What will its color be?...Vertical has truly picked a wonderful, new manga to add to their already colorful repertoire.” —Monor Manga Impressions
About the Author
At only 30 years of age, Shuzo Oshimi is already considered a seasoned veteran of the Japanese comics community. Winner of the most important comics awards for newcomers, the Tetsuya Chiba Award in 2001, Oshimi has been penning quirky slice-of-life dramas now for a decade for major manga publishers such as Kodansha and Futabasha. Raised in the slow laid back hills of Gunma, in mid-eastern Japan, Oshimi wished to someday escape his community for bigger pastures. Living solely off of comics and books, he is a man of words and that shows in his very humanist stories. While he has drawn nine series in the past decade, Oshimi's star began to climb just recently in 2008 with the release of his first hit Drifting Net Cafe. This horror-themed homage to the legendary Kazuo Umezzu work, Drifting Classroom, was adapted into a live action series and propelled Oshimi onto an international stage. He would soon reach new heights in 2009 with his most recent series Flowers of Evil. In 2010 and 2011, the property quietly landed on numerous must read lists and has helped revitalize the shonen genre.
Top customer reviews
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The story is set in middle school with our main character Takao Kasuga, who's a definite bookworm and in particular reading the work of Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil. As most boys of his age he has a crush on the class idol, but is often too scared to even try and approach her. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Nakagawa Nakumura who is considered the class bully. After a certain event that occurs early on, she latches on to Kasuga and binds him into a contract, of which the details aren't fully explored, we just know that she has blackmail information on him. The story really develops from there and we are treated to a realistic look at how certain events can shape your adolescence.
It's a perverse tale, but has some great ideas to take out of it. Reading this, I couldn't help but feel like the situations Kasuga faces, while not directly like mine, are paralleled to my youth. It's a quick and easy read and I'd highly recommend trying it out.
This is not a series for young people or the faint of heart. It's blunt, coarse, and details events that are not for the squeamish. It is a brilliant blackmail setup by a middle school girl who witnesses her male classmate succumbing to a momentary weakness. This girl is both sick and sadistic, yet brilliantly clever in maximizing the leverage she obtains in the knowledge that could destroy her classmate's reputation and scar him for life. By chapter three, the reader is trapped on a juggernaut that gets ever closer to embarrassing discovery, skillfully maintaining plausible deniability, chapter after chapter and keeping the tension not only going, but intensifying when you cannot imagine it getting anymore uncomfortable.
A love triangle develops, as our male protagonist becomes infatuated with the female classmate with whom his obsession led to a certain act which made him vulnerable to the blackmail by the other female student, but it is not your average love triangle. In fact, many things are inverted, because our male protagonist is not quite right in the head, which is probably why he idolizes his favorite writer/poet, Charles Baudelaire. Wanting to understand more about our main character, I read a bit of Baudelaire. It's nihlistic and depressing work. Probably not a good idea for Japanese middle school students to be reading this kind of thing. Surprising things happen, and ironic behaviors result, which had me verbally cursing at the male protagonist as I read. Indeed, this series has tragedy entwined throughout, because persons throw away beautiful opportunities and relationships, in deference to sick, perverse relationships. Sensible minds will be frustrated by this and it is the only reason why I didn't give this five stars.
As bizarre as the situations are, there are some aspects of these characters that many can relate to, and indeed, I suspect that there is a fringe end of Japanese kids who go off the deep end on a trip into hell on earth. These are the kids that didn't commit suicide, or become hikkikomori--instead they engage in perverted activities, where one is the kind of 'ring leader' ordering the other to perform ever more outrageous stunts. If you enjoy watching a slow-motion trainwreck, then Shuzo Oshimi's "Flowers of Evil" will entertain well. It's not for everyone, but it is an expose on the problems faced by those living on the fringe edge of Japanese society.
This series is truly unique. I'm divided whether to recommend it to veteran manga readers or to a complete comic novice. From my years of experience with manga, it's difficult for me to recall anything so bizarre or touching. If there were ever a "Required Manga Reading List" in high school, this would surely be a contender.
Approach with an open mind. This series is a dissection of perversion, in all of its gritty, greasy detail. If you can stomach through the roller coaster of the opening volumes, you will be rewarded with an emotionally fulfilling conclusion.
Oshimi-san is a poet, and the moments captured within the autobiographical stanzas of "The Flowers of Evil" are a putrid beauty. I look forward to reading the author's other works.
Most recent customer reviews
This was… weird.
I know I was expecting it to be odd and dark, but I didn’t know how much. Instead, it was weird, and maybe even a little unsettling.Read more