18 Jul / The Flowers of Evil (vol. 10) by Shuzo Oshimi, translated by Paul Starr
Open this penultimate volume, and the belly begins flip-flopping over how it might – must? – end. Creator Shuzo Oshimi has clearly shown himself to be one scary manipulator, so already I’m trying to prepare for the inevitably shattering shock this October when that final installment comes out. Oh, but the agony of waiting … [Click here if you need to catch up.]
Until then … back to this, the latest. Check out the saturated hues of that cover: after the muted, lulling watercolors of the last three volumes (volume 7 here; volumes 8 and 9 here), this is an unmistakable warning that things are seriously heating up.
Takao Kasuga and his parents are homeward bound for the first time since the big escape from Gunma, the small town where Kasuga barely survived so many shameful, frustrating, violent experiences. The extended Kasuga family is already gathered by the hospital bed of the failing patriarch grandfather. “It’s your fault,” the young cousins tell the prodigal grandson, “… everybody was saying you’ve got a lot of nerve coming back here.”
His many relatives are not the only unwelcoming committee, as Kasuga must face friends and acquaintances from his less-than-noble past. Provoking as those encounters are, he just might be able to find the answers that allow him to shed his stifling, shut-down shell … and perhaps even move forward with his tenuous relationship with literary classmate – soulmate? – Aya Tokiwa.
He departs Gunma with a scribbled restaurant napkin passed to him by a “left behind” past connection. He must decide his future with that single clue.
Two-thirds through, a double-page spread crowded with desperate, vicious, albeit shrunken, images from Kasuga’s memory are a visceral reminder of what Kasuga has endured. If you’ve been following the previous volumes all the way through, Oshimi’s choices will surely make the neck hairs rise. If you’ve been skipping ahead, these two pages alone should induce you to go back before Kasuga’s unsettling narrative concludes. Take the time now, so you can recover. The end arrives in just three months. The fear factor escalates …
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2014 (United States)