Flowers of Evil: Kids are Scary, yo

This is the sadist. Look at those weird eyes.
She could do anything. F*cking horrifying.
Recently, I had the weird pleasure of picking up the first volume of a new manga series called The Flowers of Evil. In general, this was good manga. But when you read it, you feel a little...uneasy.

I've been trying to put a finger on the source of my discomfort with this book for a few days now. The story is not terribly complex. A middle-school boy is a voracious reader with a superiority complex, who likes a cute girl in his class. One day after school, he finds himself face-to-face with her gym bag, and swipes her clothes. Unfortunately, it turns out the class sadist saw him do it.

I think this is where I'm on unsure footing. The class sadist is a really, really weird little girl. She's antisocial and she calls everyone a "shitbug", which is a bizarre way of swearing to me. She tortures the main boy, for no particular reason. All of that is a little on the weird side, but none of it is very far from par for the course for manga. The girl is....flat. There's an unpredictability in the story that's really weird. I can't say why, but having a character who doesn't conform to any of the normal manga standards is scary, in a bad way. Sadistic characters act this way in manga, victims act this way, and there's a certain comfort in knowing that the twists and turns will come out of the story and out of the situations, not out of the characters.

Maybe I'm just too old. Maybe I'm going through my late-in-life crisis, and I'm scared of change. But a character who to me, seems completely without borders, is alarming and makes me not want to get attached to anyone else in the story. I'm not saying that she couldn't be a madman or a killer or just a twisted person, I'm saying that there's no sense of who she is at all and that is, for me, patently wrong.

Perhaps in the next volume, her character will get nailed down and a backstory will come out, and she can be a real person. Until then, I'm not holding my breath or getting too attached to any of the main characters.

Also, this is just like reading a more tame version of Sundome. It's more tame so far. Hope it stays tame,  unless they skip time past middle school.


Dr. M said...

I like that there's a manga that uses the word "shitbug" named after Charles Baudelaire's collection of poetry "Fleur du Mal (Flowers of Evil)."

That was a weird choice for whomever named it. A very, very weird choice.

AwillWang said...

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