Aku no Hana – 11

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A month after being picked up by the cops on the hill, Kasuga has not spoken to either Saeki or Nakamura, keeps to himself, and talks little. Kinoshita makes him apologize to Saeki, and they formally break up. Going to be without eating and after vomiting, Kasuga dreams of taking a long walk into a field of flowers of evil. There he finds Nakamura, who tells him she’s disappointed in him for not breaking all of his walls. He wakes up, destroys his Baudelaire portrait, and begins to write a letter to Nakamura.

In a series full of tense “aftermath” episodes, this one was not the strongest, taking place a full month after last week’s events; a month in which not much at all seemed to have happened.  Instead of saying much of anything, this episode focused on painting the picture of Kasuga’s new bleak, hopeless, pointless existence. Saeki walks past him, classmates mutter around him, and Nakamura into trouble and invites ridicule, his mother cries and his father watches TV, but Kasuga has simply checked out. After he and Saeki officially break up, he is resigned to a lifetime of loneliness, “like a desert tree,” unable to escape the city he hates.

And then Kasuga has a dream. He’s content with living the rest of his life alone, but the dream asks the question: What about Nakamura…that crazy outcast girl who saw him take the gym uniform of a girl he worshiped? The girl who became his shadow, and the obsessed architect of his deviant renaissance? The girl who saw something in him, even if it was dark and sinister, that no one else did? Saeki might not ever have even approached Kasuga if he hadn’t defended Nakamura when she was being accused. Nakamura may well want to be alone, and not want pity or help from the likes of Kasuga. But he’s not going to leave her alone.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • And so ends the best run of high-rated episodes since the likes of Tempest, Sukitte Iinayo and New World. This episode wasn’t bad, but it was lacking compared to the previous seven.
  • The scene with Kasuga excusing himself from the dinner table as formally as possible was long and slow, but effective, perfectly encapsulating an excruciating ennui.
  • (Non-dream) Nakamura’s only line is to insult the whistleblowing swimming instructor. We have to say we missed her this week…like Kasuga!
  • With Saeki, you truly do get the feeling she jumped into a relationship too fast, learned a lesson, and will move on. But…will she?

Btooom! – 08

Sakamoto and Himiko spend the night in an abandoned building, and Himiko is suddenly woken up by a mysterious figure with disheveled hair and a flashlight. Sakamoto sees a lit room in the distance, and is attacked by the figure, who turns out to be a woman, Shiki. He knocks her out, and when she comes to, Himiko manages to calm her down. She was a player in the Btooom! game that preceded theirs, and her arm was blown off, so she has no chip. She was betrayed by a man, Date, who she’d worked with until they got six chips. She warns Himiko no be careful around men. Back where Taira is resting, Date has returned.

Sakamoto’s constant niceness and saving of her life is starting to have an effect on Himiko, especially now that she knows he was the Sakamoto she married in the virtual Btooom!. They both used the game as escapes from real lives that they didn’t like. Because we’re a party to both Sakamoto and Himiko’s thoughts, we know neither of them have designs on stabbing the other in the back. In fact, with the new information from Shiki – that the winner is airlifted out via helicopter, Sakamoto is even optimistic about the possibility of hijacking that ride with BIMs and getting out alive together (even with Taira, still clinging to life).

There are problems, of course. Sakamoto mentions how a “limiter” within him turns off when shit hits the fan, and he becomes calmer and gains the will to do whatever is necessary, whether it’s defeating an opponent or rescuing whom he regarded as his game wife. Who’s to say another limiter won’t turn off when he’s only one chip away from victory, and the seventh is in Himiko’s hand? Also, Tyrannos is watching and listening in on everything, so there’s no way to get the jump on them or game their system unless they find a place where there are no cameras or mics, and they’re not even aware they’re being observed. So even if the lovebirds collect fourteen chips without killing one another, they’re not in control of their fate.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)