by Marlan Moore | staff editor
When we last saw Kasuga, he had gone back to his classroom after school to pick up the book he forgot there. The book, which happens to be his favorite book, is Flowers of Evil - a collection of poetry on eroticism and the decadent. In other words, it’s (probably) kinda perverted. Just like this show’s starting to be.
But not in the panty shot, fan-service kind of way. This isn’t perversion for the sake of the audience. This is perversion of the character, a typical, hormonally driven teenager with a lust for one of his fellow students — Saeki. And it’s this lust that drives Kasuga to do the unthinkable at the beginning of episode 2 — steal Saeki’s gym clothes.
Okay, that sounds a little weird. Not too perverted by American standards, but it seems like it’s the Japanese equivalent of being a peeping Tom. Plus, he does sniff the clothes and says it smells like shampoo. That’s getting into the stalker realm right there.
The next day, Kasuga hopes to return the stolen clothes without anyone noticing, but Saeki – being the studious student she is – got to school early and noticed her garments were missing. After school, Kasuga goes biking around screaming at the top of his lungs out of guilt and misunderstanding. Why can’t people just get that he’s got hormones and reads out of print books on the nature of erotica? Plus, he feels really guilty about stealing those clothes. He even says he’ll be atoning for that crime until he’s an old man.
That’s when he meets the one person that might just get him — Sawa Nakamura. In the first episode, Nakamura was introduced as a girl who gets a 0 on her tests because she doesn’t even try, and calls her teacher names in front of the class, and is enough of a bad girl to stare that teacher down to the point that he won’t even smack her for her insolence. Her and Kasuga? A match made in heaven right there.
Well, not exactly. So Nakamura knows that Kasuga took Saeki’s gym clothes. And now, like any bad girl would do, she’s using that info to blackmail Kasuga. There’s this great moment this episode where he thinks Nakamura’s gonna tell the teacher all about him taking the gym clothes. The camera goes between Kasuga, Nakamura, and Saeki as Kasuga tenses up and readies himself for exposure. His heartbeat grows louder and louder. Then, nothing. It’s a moment that’s really well played out and really captures what it feels like to be someone who’s afraid of being exposed of doing something wrong. Especially as a teenager, where everything can feel like a big deal, and like everyone’s just watching you.
The end of the episode, another confrontation between Nakamura and Kasuga, also plays out really well. Kasuga tries to tell Nakamura that he was planning on telling Saeki about what he did and return her clothes. Then, like clockwork, Saeki appears, wanting to know what Kasuga wants to tell her. It was a set up. Nakamura, that conniving…person…invited Saeki to their little meeting as well, just to make Kasuga’s life harder. And oh, how she does it. She’s turning out to be a really interesting character. I don’t know what her motives are yet, but the way she pushes Kasuga’s buttons is really interesting.
Also, the music on this show does a great job of creating tension and suspense. It’s unsettling, in a horror movie kind of way and used at just the right moments.
Next week promises to up the ante with the “contract” between Nakamura and Kasuga. This episode ended with a new perversion that goes a step farther than the last, so we’ll have to see how that effects Kasuga’s psyche and his non-relationship with Saeki.
[NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the SPJA.]