Like in pretty much any show, the Flowers of Evil were judged by most, based on how they looked, instead of what they actually were. The anime community was divided into those who hated it because it doesn’t have the exact same artwork as the source material, thus it’s bad, and to those who loved it for the exact same reason, because it was avant garde. And of course close to nobody bothered to look past the pretty colours to see if there is anything else besides that. Stay classy you tasteless casuals.
If you ask me, I say it is both ugly and artistic. On one hand, the budget is clearly low, making it look crude and not good fapping material for the otakus. On the other hand, it is unorthodox, experimental, and different. Both of these impressions are the result of rotorscoping, a technique no longer used much, since it takes way too much time to look nice compared to android animation. They didn’t give enough frames per second or detailed enough body structure, so the result feels very crude. The motions are jerky, and the characters don’t have faces or lightening when they are a few meters away from the camera. This makes them look bizarre, especially next to the backgrounds which remain fairly detailed and full of textures.
Nonetheless, exactly because rotorscoping is very rare, it gives the show a special feel. If you are fed up with all those overused anime-style characters and their copy-pasted into infinity school grounds, then chances are you are going to embrace this artwork as a breath of fresh air. I mean, they could have simply used the bland artstyle of the manga, the result of which would be an anime nobody would notice or care about. By not doing that, it created an enormous amount of buzz, and became rather famous.
SCRIPT & CAST
But what does fame or animation style even mean in the longrun if theme exploration, characters and writing are garbage? When it comes to those elements, I found the show interesting but not developed. There is emphasis on the twisted mentality of the characters but it’s not going anywhere in specific, so by the end of the day it feels like deviance for the sake of deviance, with very little of anything else. It makes it focused, but also one-note.
I appreciate the effort to deal with the issues of disturbed teenagers and trying to make something more other than yet another fan service oriented school comedy. It feels like a psychological thriller at times, but saying all that stuff led to something, would be a lie. Despite the characters SEEMINGLY acting far more realistic and plausible than your average school harem, they are still pretty simple and hard to take seriously. Especially the teen idol girl which is pure hearted to the point of stupidity, falling in love with the introvert loser protagonist for no real reason, and constantly forgiving him despite everything he did to her. And despite the various scenes where the characters are hallucinating, or completely lose themselves in rage and frustration, nothing really comes out of it.
I can’t even say I cared about any of them either; they were so simple in character and bland in behaviour that I was given no reason to bother remembering them. And no, reading books or reciting poems is not depth of character. The only things I still fondly remember are the artistic overtones, the ending song, and the scene where they vandalize the school. Everything else is just a vague memory by now. What does that mean? If you have a show where you only remember one song, the art, and one scene, then you know there isn’t much content in it. The plot also uses the age-old trick of resetting progress after every event, and making everyone to act like they are too blind in figuring out who is responsible, or too stupid for doing the obvious.
The show also ends incomplete, so you don’t even get closure. Thus the whole thing becomes once again an excuse for advertising the source material. That’s right people, the anime is just a sample, go read the manga, only to realize it is also not going anywhere as well.
In all, the Flowers of Evil try to be different and more mature than your run of the mill ecchi school comedy, by trapping you in a constant feeling of disgust and regret. It is still nowhere near great, and the small fanbase the show has are blowing its content out of proportion. If it had a faster plot, no character resets, closure, and the atmosphere was like episodes 7 and 8 all the time, I would consider it an amazing watch. But because it isn’t, I end up remembering mostly as an ugly looking piece of low budget art.