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Drifting Net Cafe author, Shuzo Oshimi offers readers a new manga series quite different from his previous apocalyptic writing. The Flowers of Evil explores the idea of perversion through the eyes of teachers, students, and their families.
The trouble begins in the first volume of Shuzo Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil when Kasuga forgets his most prized book, Baudelaire’s “The Flowers of Evil”, at school and returns to get it. As he is about to leave the classroom he notices a gym bag that has fallen out of its cubby. Picking it up, Kasuga sees the name of his crush, Saeki, embroidered on the bag. Curious, he pulls out the gym uniform. Suddenly he hears a noise and out of embarrassment he shoves Saeki’s gym clothes under his shirt and runs home.
When Kasuga returns to school the next day Saeki is beside herself with humiliation and begs that whoever took her uniform to return it. Rumors start to go round and Kasuga continues to keep his secret. Then things start to take a turn for the worst when the weird girl in class, Nakamura, makes it known to Kasuga that she knows he’s the one who took the uniform. She soon turns the incident into a perverted act and makes Kasuga enter a contract with her. The contract soon becomes something Kasuga cannot bear and he looks for a way out while still being able to redeem his reputation, especially in the eyes of Saeki, his dream girl.
Although Shuzo Oshimi is exploring the definition of perversion in Flowers of Evil, he has missed the mark. He understands that many readers may think, “ew, what a pervert,” when reading this manga, but he claims that as long as he makes at least one reader wonder what perversion means to him or her he would be happy to have created this work. Reading this manga does not allow readers to question what perversion is. Confusion and disgust are what is brought to the mind of readers.
Perhaps, if readers were able to have an emotional attachment to the characters they would be more willing to be sympathetic to the perversity and even start to question what it means for something to be classified as a perversion. Unfortunately, the characters are far too bland. Yes, they seem to have feelings, but none of the text allows the emotions to go beyond two dimensionality. The only redeeming quality of the manga is the artwork. Intricate, detailed, and highly satisfying to the eye, the pictures have everything that the text lacks.
Despite Shuzo Oshimi being described as a “rising star” and having been nominated for the 2012 Manga Taisho, Oshimi delivers a disappointing start to his newest manga series. Hopefully he will be able to redeem himself and the series as further volumes are released.