My episodic notes, reactions, and commentary from Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [If Her Flag Breaks], which aired during the Spring 2014 anime season.
Everything is by and large as it was when I originally wrote them in the Hangers category when the show was airing. They have been sewn together and provided for the convenience of readers to look back on my feelings on this series specifically, without needing to click through numerous pages.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode one]
This is the kind of series that makes me consider trying out new WordPress themes, as my present one and the formatting I use for these posts is just not equipped to handle these series with oddly constructed original titles, their pet name abbreviation, plus the English translation. Which works out to be If Her Flag Breaks, in this particular case.
Of all the anime coming out this season, this was the one that raised my personal interest eyebrows the most. The doofy light novel series adaption with the raw otaku bait concept of a guy who can see “flags” for things like love or friendship as if he was an insufferable walking TVTropes and visual novel junkie. But here we are, and there was a reason for it.
The anime series is directed by Ayumu Watanabe. He has helmed multiple years of Doraemon entries, the odd but I like it Mysterious Girlfriend X, as well as the recently concluded and critically acclaimed Space Brothers. So when this particular guy picks up this particular kind of show to tackle, he has my attention. He has a unique background to make this sort of thing work as a character series.
If I did not have that level of benefit of the doubt to grant it, I may have been potentially soured on it, as this episode is a brutally fast marathon.
Inside of nine minutes we have a car crash, a new transfer student at school, multiple students approaching him in various way and getting shot down, our lead girl Namani calling him out and dragging him to the roof, and the whole deal on how the “flag” seeing concept operates with him. It is efficient, I’ll grant it that, because we still have more than half an episode left after that for introducing another character, her background, and some quirks of the flag vision. It’s sprinting somewhere, but hell if I know why there is a race on. Apparently this first episode handles the entire initial volume of eight books. Crazy. If the objective is to quickly and cleanly get to that future stuff and to then slow down and spend more time with it, I can totally understand that approach.
Souta’s treatment of event flags in real life is the kind of plot device that would absolutely destroy this series if handled incorrectly. It is the entire engine driving character interactions forward at the moment, and for I assume will be the entire series. I appreciated how Namani, who for the time being lacks any decision point flags over her head, was able to drop the “Even if I did have a flag, it’d be immediately broken by your gloomy attitude” bomb. I like that line and the framework weight it could have quite a lot. Souta’s attitude at the start is the standard I Shoot Down All Possible Human Connections personality. Combine that with the armchair psychology quarterbacking thinking those most unbearable of TVTropes kind of persons views the world in. That every event can be boiled down into a “love,” “friendship,” or whatever decision tree that one need only provide the correct answer for their desired outcome. Even if Souta has previously focused on selecting the answers to keep as many people away from him as possible, the general idea still applies.
All this is a potent cocktail of potential growth for the series to focus on as he gets called out on his nonsense by the likes of Namami and makes better life choices he otherwise would not. Certainly, even by the end of this first episodes, the gears for such changes are already in motion and he has affected someone’s life in a way he never would have before. As this will in time become some variety of a harem series given the ending credits, that could lead to some intriguing interactions and approaches for the genre.
It is shaky in places, but if Watanabe can steady a manga concept as absurd as Mysterious Girlfriend X’s drool shenanigans into a show, he is the man for this job.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode two]
I am not entirely sure what kind of intro credits sequence I expected this show to have. But I am pretty sure saxophones and chimes while singing of pratfalls and revues was not on my radar. Pleasant though, to be sure.
Likewise, the power tiers of the voice cast is still throwing me for a bit of a loop here, that they would all assemble for something that is on the surface so nonsensical and I can not imagine pays as well given the smaller size of Hoods Entertainment. Ayumu Watanabe must have a real knack for grabbing thoroughly appropriate folks for projects they otherwise may not have been a part of. Heck, one of the more universally praised aspects of Mysterious Girlfriend X was getting Ayako Yoshitani to play Mikoto Urabe and she had done zero anime voice work before nor has she been on any since, and Space Brothers is so solid on casting all around.
I think we can all agree in life that when asked “Won’t you play a game with me?” by a little kid in a black dress, and said game is a rather proprietary version of chess with dragoons and ninjas, the only winning move is not to play. But, Souta’s loss is our gain, or we do not get a series.
Like last week, this is fast and a little loose but efficient if it is anything. We meet several new characters for the budding harem one after another in short order while also turning our leading man’s dorm building upside down and into a remodeled estate fit for practically everyone to move in to. And they still find time for a bath scene and a bit more suggestion towards The Bigger Picture behind all this.
For its whirlwind pace though, I can not say I was having a bad time. It has this kind of x factor to it shenanigans that is clicking with me. I enjoyed the Character Vision gag, for instance, where folks like Kikuno and Akane see Harem Lead Souta in their own exaggerated ways we as viewers can not normally. I appreciate how the event flag concept is able to contain more granular things like Manly Action. And I think it is pretty clear at this stage we are assembling all these girls together to form a kind of tabletop game class adventuring party, so that holds my more narrative interests to see to what purpose.
The more I think about the art direction of this series, the more I think of marshmallows.
Everyone has this kind of matte finish but squishy and lumpy quality to their animation from their uniforms to their bodies and hair. Like everyone was almost literally modeled out of sugar and corn starch. I like the effect, but I can see how others would find it more arresting. It is so close to a “normal” anime harem reality aesthetic that it can be odd for it to not have that extra polish and definition behind it. But, for a series that wants to suggest there is something larger at play for how the world works and must be uncovered, maybe it is the right choice.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode three]
You know how for the previous two episodes I mentioned this was a very efficient show?
The trend continues here, and yet this was also I feel the “slowest” episode so far. It counters with rolling together The Stoic Girl and Robot Girl archetypes into one for an additional character intro (and she even has Toast In Mouth Before Going To School features). Meanwhile, the Athletic Type / Tomboy / Childhood Friend / Traditional Garb Girl are all rolled into a single entity as well.
At minimum, someone needs to hire this series to run a moving company, because it can take a bunch of generic boxes and pack a suitcase in a jiffy.
For what is a pretty fast paced romantic comedy too-many-girls-in-the-same-house affair (at least until the eventual Darker Game Changer they keep alluding too crops up), I feel the series only needs to do two things: Move at a steady clip, and have some good jokes.
Of course, there is a ton of danger in something so seemingly simple. Go too fast, and it turns into a madcap Haiyore! Nyaruko-san type situation for instance where the viewer can feel they are barely treading water amongst the chaos. And “good jokes” is all relative, but as an example ideally more character based over We Made A Reference humor. It is a tricky minefield to navigate, especially over the long term.
For now though, it does work for me.
Parts like Kikuno having worked out how to have everyone wake up Souta at the same time in the morning, or Rin being able to get a Route Cleared flag because she was able to accept associating her idealized childhood friend with the Souta of the present. That one in particular actually was a good mechanics moment for the series to have right now too. It was far more tonally different a Route Clear than Souta saving Akane by giving her this big Prince Charming kiss to avoid death as was done in episode one. Heck, outside of Souta keeping Rin from falling down the hill and then letting go to talk, they do not even touch each other through the entire sequence. They just talk it out. It keeps things dynamic, it shows the variety it needs to keep me interested in what interactions may happen next and where they go, and so on. Quite modular stuff.
It is, well, very efficient.
Which ideally carries over whenever they can stop introducing more members of the party and the Big Shift they keep alluding to actually hits.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode four]
As a harem series, I do not hold this show to a very strict narrative standard. Which is to say, I am looking more for individual character actions and how they play out as crunchy or snappy bits.
Quest Hall winning the MVP Award and saving their dorm despite Souta and Nanami falling down in the final sports festival event does not really matter to me if it comes off as expected and with little weight. I mean, of course they were going to win, or the show ceases to function. So I prioritize other things instead.
I appreciated how, when Akane shows up riding a white horse and its crazy imposing purple aura, Souta is offered a ride. And, being a harem series lead, he turns her down. Which in turn results in every other girl shoving him onto the horse anyway, because it would make Akane happy and Souta needs to not be a lame mopey or completely milquetoast harem lead. And it is not like Akane is the “main” girl either, as that would be Nanami. It is just a nice little character moment, where we know they all like Souta to varying degrees but not letting that get in the way of doing a nice thing for someone else in the group.
Likewise, the entire long conversation between Souta and Ruri essentially starts off with her going into lots of technical and verbose language for what amounts to You Feel Like Shit, You Are Making Everyone Else Feel Like Shit, Stop Feeling Like Shit Or The Group Will Break. And the private conversation they have in the greenhouse afterward, which starts to get into the whole bigger picture involving the tabletop roleplaying game classes, the nature of the world, and all that, is not shattered or interrupted with zany What Were You Two Off Doing Together shenanigans. The scene can touch on these concerns, and those of Souta worrying about his death flag, and just more naturally conclude. Then transition into something else revolving around the sports festival. On a mechanics level, it moves things along without inducing groaning mid-scene pacing that breaks the moment. It also continues to support the notion of friendship or trust the various girls have. That no, most of them do not need to worry about Souta maybe sneaking off and doing things with someone.
The characters by and large like each other. They are not, at this stage, generally trying to backstab and sabotage each of their efforts. The series can have good character moments where they try to support one another, without devolving into unfunny bickering. This is where Ayumu Watanabe’s background from Doreamon and such comes into play, I feel. I think one reaches a professional skillset point where they can make modular character interactions or small moments manage to survive and register with the viewer more regardless of what one does to the narrative structure and scene progression. Because if they can not do that consistently through thick and thin, well, I would think they would have been ejected from that particular long running franchise rather quickly.
So I can enjoy those positive moments between friends quite a bit.
[As a fun aside, I finally realized Rin is Nanako Saeki. So I am always glad to see that while I loved The Flowers of Evil, that series bombing as hard as it did is not sabotaging careers.]
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode five]
Date episodes can be tricky for harem shows.
There are a lot of ways to go about it given the number of characters involved, and numerous ways to screw it up royally. There is a fine line between, say, endearing and oppressive kinds of personal worrying. Or a charming character moment versus a just doing a routine bit.
A lot of these characters are archetype roles, after all, so it is even easier to succumb to the sloppiest of screenwriting practices.
I thought this was pretty cute though.
It goes the (Almost) Everyone Gets A Date route, but not in the style where the lead tries going on dates with multiple girls at once and needs to keep coming up with excuses. Just a progression of individual scenes, and everyone by and large respecting each others personal space. Which is to say, no cuts to other girls scoping out the competition and peeping on each others dates, plotting ways to sabotage or going into paranoia fits. A character like Akane gets to flat out slip and say she would like it if she and Souta became a couple someday, and there are no smash camera moves to other girls reacting, just her own realization and how she actually handles the situation.
The closest thing we have to that sort of thing are the cuts to what Nanami is up to back at the dorm as she tries to convince herself she is having loads of fun by herself, but even that is used more as a transition scene while the actual dates move from one location to another. It gels with the character mechanics and progression, keeping what should be personal time, well, personal rather than more contrived. It serves double duty as a means of slowing the show down a bit after a lot of character introductions, and get the audience a bit more acquainted with the core group before we move forward.
And even the stuff that could be really dumb, like event flags on a UFO catcher teddy bear or heck an entire cafe of people sprouting flags hoping they would see Souta kiss Megumu, do not really feel overused in regards to placement and duration. This show could trot out a waterfall of event flag shtick every week if it wanted because, hey, it is in the title after all. But it keeps itself somewhat restraint, so the quirks and gimmicks still hold weight or charm.
By all accounts, one would think I would be bored as hell with Gaworare’s whole objective too, right down to Kikuno’s “I’m your big sister, but I’m not really your big sister” thing, complete with her own screwball accessory in the form of that ladle. This whole pile of checkmark character stereotypes is almost standard regulation Dead On Arrival as far as shipping should be concerned.
But dagnabit, I keep looking forward more to the harem event flag show more every week than the “actual” romance series I’m watching!
I feel the series has been very judicious in handing its flag moments out, which keeps the gag funny when used in new ways as well as helps with highlighting a key moment of a scene narrative with a visual tick. I do not feel a need to take many notes with this show, as the entire structure and delivery not only reinforces the character dynamics as I mentioned but also works as a means of assisting in committing the girls and events to memorability when used appropriately.
It is kind of insidious, when you think about it.
The director of this series was responsible for one of the Anime Mirai shorts this year, and it sounds adorable as all hell, whenever the subtitles for that actually come out.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode six]
We had a date episode last week, so it seems more than appropriate we have moved on to the school field trip episode side of things.
Given, we in fact have two dueling trips, with the class split between a beach and mountain one, and our leading man assigned to be on both excursions due to backroom paperwork dealings. Which results in… mostly everyone pleasantly recognizing that Souta spending half of the trip which each side of the group is more than okay by them because that way the rest of Quest Hall is equal and nobody is left out.
Dagnabit people, you are all so agreeable!
Given the trip switcheroo that allows for the two school groups to swap locations for a day, this does mean this episode is basically a beach one. Yet, I can not say this round felt like pure fluff. Sure, there are shots of the cast in swimsuits (Akane and the sea cucumber is easily the most blatant), but it is not like there is only cheesecake on hand. As Souta is unable to get himself into the water much due to his past seafaring trauma, this is also a whole lot him sitting around and getting to know Kurumiko. Complete with plot point flags and needing to navigate a decision tree when one knows every obvious option is the wrong one.
That she lost her parents in the same boat accident and already knew who Souta was due to the prior news coverage is a nice little character facet to be able to deal in. Likewise, if we take his commitment to Kurumiko here to be her big brother, and the already existing arrangement with Kikuno where she acts as Souta’s big sister, that is something of a familial vector that has some potential play going forwards in the narrative as Souta’s actual sister seems lost to all other memories and records.
I mean, his real sister is perhaps the Number Zero girl in the big black cape speaking before a congress of People Who Know How The World Actually Works in the prologue this episode. Given how the familial loss and sister aspect keeps creeping up, it seems as good a use as any for such a shadowy figure. But the how and why of that remains to be seen.
Ruri made a remark regarding making an attempt for higher ratings this week, so I hope that works out for them. We are on the back end of the series now, everyone in the opening has been introduced, so we are primed for things Get Real regarding this whole role-playing game class system, as it were. Which it looks like is just what will begin to happen next week given the preview, so they are not wasting any time.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode seven]
I read elsewhere that in the source material the whole “Megumu is in a dress and acts as a mysterious girl at the beach” bit goes on a whole lot longer, so it is entirely possible Ruri’s crack here about there being no need to drag out this reveal is as much a joke on its own right as it is a commentary on that.
So that is the kind of thing that can be both amusing in its own and then a little extra jab to show the team understands the material, which is welcome.
Another injection of members for Quest Hall then, raising the total by four in a single blow. Not that this was unexpected, given the cast members and antics of the intro, and at this point I think we are well and truly full with only five episodes left of the series remaining after this one. Mimori getting her own little date escape seems fitting, as it brings her into focus more after most of the other character received their own previously. And, of the four members added to the hall, she has had the most preexisting screen time. To say nothing of it making the most sense for Souta to go on a date with her of that new injection group, as Kurumiko is too young, Tsumugi is out of Souta’s age range in both directions, and Mei he barely knew.
Speaking of Mei: this quickly turned into her big showcase in the second half. It gets easy to forget that she has technically been here for a few episodes now, just very minimally. Which can be a problematic thing, with so many characters. Where there is the danger her Let Me Show You Some Of How The World Truly Is demonstration coming off as more mechanical. But the series, with so few episodes remaining, also sort of has to do this at this point to be able to comfortably pace any kind of conclusion arc. We could no longer avoid addressing at least some the deeper mystery aspects, or we would have a sludge like and underwhelming finale whatever the series did. As a result its hands are rather tied either way, though Mei showing up as a kind of plot device at least kind of fit her colder, direct, or more matter of fact personality aspects and acting on the behalf of an organization.
We go for some jumping around the temporal streams, we have some parallel worlds where some characters don’t know Souta anymore, Nanami dies, and… Miyuki Mackenzie on the same ship burning Souta was on, except now she is Miyuki Hatate. And she gets a protagonist flag in that world plain as day, where her grandfather went missing during World War II under the same building Souta now lives over. So that is certainly… something to consider regarding that sealed box under the building, and may well play into some reasons why it fell into such disrepair in the first place in our original world.
In either event, unless Souta turns out to be denser than lead next episode, he should have the idea that he is the protagonist of this particular version of universe events. And that should take us through to set sail for everything behind The House of the Seven Virtues, The Angelus Gemini, The Sacrament, and all the rest of the roleplaying game character class name mechanics on this back end of the series.
I am conflicted regarding Mei’s memory wipe at the end of the episode.
On the one hand, I think it is a useful enough thing to want to try and do, so Souta needs to figure out the rest on his own without a potential character crutch. But I do not feel we really got to know Mei in much of a capacity for her memory erasure to have much impact. I actually think I would have preferred it had she actually more fully taken on the weight of Souta’s death flag herself, and ended up dying or otherwise rendered out of commission via that processes. It would still be potentially punching above its weight given her character time, but I feel it would be a more natural way to remove her skillset from the story for Souta to need to continue on without. We will need to see where it goes from here and how it plays out though, given the alternative character personality she now has.
At least she managed to sneak a kiss out of the ordeal before she left.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode eight]
After last week, this show had two primary options: It could double down on the serious turns behind how the world works revealed previously, or could swerve to lighthearted shenanigans to kill time until a future episode event drop now that we have the whole cast to stew in for a bit.
Or we could take a third option: attempt to balance summer vacations and hot springs with massive mounds of roast beef and The Terminator fighting maids trained in martial arts and automatic weapons, while adding a new girl to the cast with her own vocal tick.
It is the most dangerous option, since then you need to stick the landing and make all those parts fit together and make sense for the flow of the show. This entire ordeal would be primed to bury most teams, since you are aiming at setting off an interconnected series of fireworks timers.
It actually makes this episode a bit harder to write about as an individual entity; what am I supposed to do, explain all the jokes? That’s no fun.
The series of character gags were swell though, such as Ruri arriving out of the sky and into the dirt like a full blown meteor in the prologue, sunglasses and all. It fits within the realm of something I would expect would be within Ruri’s capabilities, while not being anything we had seen from her previously. Really, anything this episode involving Ruri felt top notch in terms of timing, Nendoroid form factor actions and crawling on Nanami’s head and all.
Going back to the hot springs part I mentioned: as one of the most cliched things in the harem book going way back to the first ones, a barely two minute bit sounds about right. It needed to bring it in given the nature of this event flag show as a cliche blizzard, but was able to frame it largely around a character level interaction between Souta and Rin and then move on without too explosive an incident. It did not feel overwrought or even too terribly unnatural in delivery, given the series we are in. Embarrassed characters, sure, but nothing more than that.
As a side note, the sister narrative thematics (Souta’s missing real one, Kikuno, Kurumiko) continue to work themselves in.
This time both via one of Nanami’s other princess sisters showing up and Nendoroid Ruri proclaiming the new European assassination model as being like her little sister. Maybe that will amount to something, either directly relating to the missing sister or familial notions of a harem as a whole, maybe that is me looking into things too much. But it seems pretty noticeable otherwise.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode nine]
The prologue may be a little on the nose, with it straight up divulging the entire history or legend of the Royal Banner without any real setup. But, the storybook and stained glass nature of it made it easier to process what it was going for, and it linked with the end of the episode regarding Souta coming to learn of its foundational aspects and it being similar to his own present situation.
And hey, I am not about to fault this series for being direct and overt!
Now, this is closer to the kind of episode the last one could have been: this is generally a transition piece. Souta and the princesses manage to get returned to the capital after the assassination attempt courtesy of those lovely House of Seven Virtues folks (which is a statement that can be read two ways, and both are correct), so we minimize time on the cast being separated.
Meanwhile, the old king passes away. Crown Prince Elia gets a press conference and announces he is actually the father of Nanami and Hakua so they are in reality directly after him in succession rather than like a dozen steps down the line. We get a fast funeral and a longer festival before leaving on Souta’s more concerned note of the dire pickle he is in. And Number Zero is, as expected, Souta’s lost sister. Lots of game pieces moving around sort of stuff, in the effort to set up the dominoes for a looming finale in only four episodes.
That is the real kicker potentially, is it not? Everything is designed to lead us to assume that things will happen in a similar fashion to what the legend entails. The Knight, Magician, Cleric, and Ninja will lose their lives at the first obstacle, the Samurai will get cursed with (another?) memory wipe, and even at the very end the leading Princess gets shot by a final arrow. And our boy takes on the role of the Royal Banner for real to bring everyone back to life at the cost of their own humanity.
This, of course, would mean we already know the plot. There is an argument to be made that these windows were also about past events though rather than future ones, given the interpretative spins for things like the prior memory wipe Mei has already had (if we see that as the memory curse from the story) and last episode’s train separation being where the sister princesses of the story run away with the banner. Certainly Souta recalled a mix of both his own events, and those he had seen from the more direct fantasy class system images, so it is kind of muddled (though he is admittedly kind of not in a good state of mind at the time anyway, understandably).
I took it as future events rather than previous escapades in the series if only due to the setups of Souta’s information from Ruri far earlier. The first barrier was that box under the grounds of Quest Hall they have not cracked open yet, where he saw the same physical location but with folks in their more fantasy class oriented forms, and the Cleric there he did not know yet at the time. Which could be past events from the legendary story, sure, but that underground box they still have not passed yet now in the present if that is indeed the first barrier and supposed to cause some kind of fallout. Which, to me, would mean any previous series events could not be the second or later obstacles, since the first one is still sitting around unconquered!
Going with that idea to its logical conclusions then, the show can either: stick with that story and execute on it well, or try to subvert it. On the latter front, either to screw with the event order so the cast will not know what is coming up (which may be how we are in this situation regarding interpretation of the legend as it relates to Souta’s reality in the first place), or some kind of last minute saving throw that would prevent Souta from becoming a flag forever.
To be honest: I really want it to stick to the stained glass window legend.
A harem lead is, if anything, a representative of an idea. Over the years they have often turned into a cheap vessel for a viewer to see themselves in, and a rallying point for the stereotype cast to crowd around. So, yeah, have Souta be The Chosen One and all to save the kingdom / world / etc, but have that require them to take on that very literal representation idea of a flag in the end. To have been defended by a wide swath of stock character types, even if it cost them their lives in the process, because the idea of Souta retains a value regarding why they are even here as a harem cast.
I mean I am not exactly requiring some kind of a go at armchair meta philosophical meaning when it comes to most harem comedy hijinks. But, I think there is an interesting execution to be made given the material, should they stick with following through on the legendary story.
Lest I get too far ahead of myself: I am not sold they will actually reduce Souta to a Royal Banner either, for what it is worth. I think it would be a swell angle to take, and gives a solid conviction to a finale.
But it certainly immediately finishes a story as well and would limit a potential followup, depending on what any of the companies involved are looking to do with the franchise going forward. This is a series which is still ongoing in its original light novel form, with an ongoing manga adaptation, and two ongoing spinoff manga on top of that, after all.
None of which I have actually read, now that I think about it.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode ten]
In terms of harem show stock episodes, festival / carnival ones relating to school or community are my favorite.
I mean hell, I went on a a several thousand word binge a few months ago on Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, which fundamentally exists as a film length festival contortion from a certain perspective. One of the best lines to ever come out of something like Tenchi Muyo as a genre codifier was the whole “You know the carnival comes and goes, and if you wait for awhile, it will always come back to you” idea. And so on down the line.
And fundamentally, Gaworare is pulling its entire genre-cliches-ramped-up-to-eleven structure from foundational cores relating back to such series.
So, sure, I was pretty interested in what they would try to pull here!
Hakua is at school now, and almost everyone in class loves her more than her sister Nanami because she fits all the docile princess stereotypes. Megumu gets more oddball noises associated with them, like squeaky toys or that out of left field ringtone used for their sister (see also: there is that whole sister theme cropping up). And Souta does not read paperwork he is signing and thus the entire school beauty pageant is populated by folks from Quest Hall. And he gets to judge it and potentially boil alive in any resulting hot water.
Fair enough, that is a fine setup. I think this is an an area where the sheer size of the cast, even when a few are removed like Kurumiko and Tsumugi as additional judges, begins to put a strain on the mechanics though. It has to blitz a lot harder through things like the girls in their own ways introducing themselves to the audience and why they are here, etc, as there a lot of people to get through here. Though, those who were selected for the pageant do all fit in a Hollywood Squares style visual box for vote counting purposes.
On the one hand, sure, you have the school member hosts talking about how totally perverted it is, and Souta is clearly uncomfortable with the entire situation, being handed the squirt gun to do the fluid application with.
But I am not sure how much self awareness really helps this scene: we still get all the loaded innuendos, the leading visuals of where the liquid landing cut in such a way where it is going for imagery more indicative of viewer insert hentai works, and so on. And it arguably should be able to have such content as this if it wanted to, is the thing. Those skeevier genre elements would be valid for the rolling thunder cliche storm the series operates with, and they stand out so much here given how much the series generally stays away from that more baseline territory. So it has some claims to delve into it or make a point of that, for sure.
…But maybe the bit goes on too long? We are looking at nearly two minutes of what amounts to a series of Money Shot porno jokes. And given, they do find a lot of ways to rework simple context sentences into statements prime for an entirely different kind of program. But it comes at the expense of other contests that only get a passing mention, like cooking, karaoke, and a quiz. Maybe I feel something more akin to a dress-up contest could have done the sex joke job with a little more tact than the wet shirt and squirtgun routine? Perhaps it has something to do with my festival episode fascination thing, and it came off as less festive or creative as a result. At least they didn’t include Kurumiko and Tsumugi as targets for these scenes, which is the entire reason I imagine they were scripted as judges? But that seems like a really depressing kind of anime industry kudos to give, that they should be lauded for not doing simulated sex scenes on those characters.
Given the construction of the show, if it wanted to take a stab at the perverted tropes, I feel it should be able to do that.
In essence though, the “Boy, this sure is so naughty!” stuff is pretty standard stuff on its own, and while some harem productions are more overtly self aware and others less so, being self aware of something does not itself mean being subversive or satirical. So it was these few minutes of weirdness that felt like a pretty different kind of show, though I am not sold on the idea that such effect alone makes it have a direct point outside fantasy freeze-frames for a certain subset of folks. Also, really now, Ruri should probably get her eye checked out and everything.
It is kind of weird that I am left with the net effect of thinking the actual beach episode was a lot less overt, and a nagging sense of “You know, a costume show part of the pageant probably would have been better.”
I would have liked to see more of the ghost maid fried noodle cafe Megumu mentioned as well. You can not just throw something like that out there as the classwide event project, and then not show me what sort of final product they made!
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode eleven]
It is nice to see Nanami super excited about something. Even if (or perhaps, especially if ) that something does happen to be an major idol singer fascination whose mere presence can render her into a pile of lets be friends forever type goo.
And Serika is the same idol singer from the giant television monitor across the street from the near fatal car crash that started the series, so everything starts to come full circle on the that front finally. She is, appropriately, the Bard after all.
I did appreciate that we got to have a bit more of the school festival this episode, even in a fast forwarded and roundabout way (we even got cheated out of the after festival dance ourselves!), since that was one of the main quirks I had with last week.
Much like my last week mentioning of the number of girls in the harem perhaps getting to be a bit of a drag on certain mechanical aspects being able to execute as fully or as quickly though (like the introductions at the pageant), we do also need to bust down a character development door and get Serika’s background and story across. It is a tough nut to figure out how to crack here, in that we are at the late stage of the series and we are still introducing new core characters who are required for the larger How The World Truly Works gears. And on the one hand, that can feel kind of a shame, because one has already met so many folks and one probably has other characters they want to see more of by this point.
And yet given the role Serika has, in that through her concert Souta finally sees truth and the light of hopes / friendships / wishes and so on, he gets to have a breakthrough in his powers and see the actual reality of the world as computational data. So given how things are, that particular setup is not exactly something the series would be able to execute on sooner. I am certain one could have figured out a way to rescript both it and thus an earlier introductory rollout of Serika, of course. But then other mechanics I did like may not work as well (such as the sudden smash drop that Nanami really, really likes this idol, which is an amusing character thing this far on).
I dunno, it is tricky. At that impasse then, the series being blunt about all this regarding her and then getting to just go on trudging ahead to the virtual nature of reality stuff is likely the far better option than trying to slug it out through some larger device this show really does not have time for on the whole. We have more girls in the harem than episodes of the show, after all, so there is something to be said for it continuing to realize what it is, what it can do, and what it should avoid so as to maintain that level of brutal efficiency. So I am really doing little more than talking out loud here, essentially.
The power overload to the server, then.
I like the idea of a series of computer simulations being behind all of this, as it does a few primary things for me.
I think it better justifies than a fantasy aspect the use of the character class name pun engineering, the high speed efficiency of the structure of the show itself as mimicking the sped up processing, and were one to get right down to it the entire flag system itself as a series of blatant decision points. So that all checks out for me, I have no problems with that, and really it is among the better ways to explain this entire situation.
The first thing many would tend to think of when given the synopsis of this series would tend to be computer based visual novels or dating sims with regulation archetype characters, after all. It also means that things like the earlier interdimensional travel become easy to justify in retrospect, or the memory of Souta’s existence being stricken from folks minds as data points. Likewise, his level of control of the data in said reality then makes Nanami not forgetting who Souta is easy to hypothesize explanations for as well. It would not surprise me if we were to come to learn it was something he did, subconsciously or otherwise, being unable to allow that point to be erased or a coding quirk.
To be honest, at the end of this episode I had to double check how much time we actually had left. If next week was going to be the finale, I was prepared to have a lot more mental alarm bells going off. But we have two, so that gives it some breathing room. Which, arguably, is something it has had little opportunity to enjoy. So many actions or activities had to justify certain gears moving. So we will get to see if all the front loaded efficiency from across the series gets to have a nice payout. The preview for the penultimate episode seems nice in that “Nobody but Nanami remembers why they are together anymore” kind of way, even if I still suspect Souta will be safe and sound at the end of the series despite my earlier theorycrafting on why I might like it better if he was not. It will all come down to the execution, at any rate.
I am hoping for it to perhaps stick with the bittersweet or heroic sacrifice ending more than I probably should.
I mean, I will not be disappointed if it doesn’t happen (plenty of other harem shows have teased doing that but without the clincher follow-through, so it’d still be a genre thing to hurl up with all the others). But I keep seeing nifty things it could do if it decided to stay the course, depending on where they wanted to go with this whole harem lead nexus point thing, or the girls needing to perhaps move on after some kind of Royal Banner style sacrificial move after being able to remember him again, or something.
It has been a fun show to mess around with either way for what it is and aims to be. I suppose its just a matter of what kind of bow it wants to pick up to tie on everything at the end. If it wants to grab something standard but reliable from the store or maybe make its own arts and crafts project out of it for a personal touch.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode twelve]
I am not entirely sure what I expected these endgame virtual reality combat sequences against the Angelus Gemini to actually look like. Thinking about it, I do not think I ever really gave it much thought at all. I was probably, had the idea ever crossed my mind at all, thinking something medieval or swords and sorcery themed given the character names and other trappings? But drenching the upside down cityscape and network access connections in gold, mist, and the borderline post-apocalypse works for me too.
It would get old were its style to be around too long, but for two conclusion arc episodes it should be enough to not wear its gimmick out (and it looks like we are busting “indoors” next week anyway)
Given what this series is, as a harem archetype steamroller locomotive, the Kingdom of Bladefield our princess knight is in direct line to ruler over serving as the critical center of the world nexus point to defend above all else is believable enough (even setting the prior legend bits aside). I can roll with it, the place may as well be Luxembourg or something in a world where over seventy percent of the global financial structure has already been taken over by an encroaching computer threat. Going along with that, now that we know the previous world of the series was a simulation, I think Souta’s old room being locked via encryption capable of being brute forced in a literal sense is stuff the show just gets to say and do now, and we can think that is neat for a few seconds and we move right on.
Nanami, then, is also in the running as Souta’s sister. And I say also since Number Zero has already claimed themselves to be as such at the end of episode nine in the post-credits sequence when speaking over the chains of the previous Nanami protocols which managed to embed themselves into Ruri while our “normal” Nanami existed as a kind of fork. Given, Number Zero has physical features which would line up well with them being a real world version of Nanami as well that has become a sort of contortion from whatever personality the simulation originally backed up, which is what I assume the whole costume has been meant to obscure here and there. I assume the finale will be dealing in this and why who did what, so for now what it does to hammer home why exactly there would have been so many sister thematics showing up throughout the entire series in the virtual world.
Also: ta-da, lead couple incest route I guess. Which I suppose has been such a prominent part of the media this show has been pulling its archetype bins for. We get another episode to do one last move one way or another, so that too will play into the finale somehow I am sure.
In either event: the idea that a happy ending for the original legend story that Nanami was told as a kid would be better no matter how cheap and made up probably does speak to the direction our rendition for this show will go in.
I assume the trials and pitfalls of the merry band as we know them to be in the tale (the several deaths early on, the Samurai memory wipe, princess separation from the group, etc), may well come to fruition in the hallways shown in the preview. I had thought them to be future perils when we heard the fuller legend those few episodes back, and that would be as good a place as any to trigger them. I do find it really interesting that Miyuki Mackenzie has also progressed past the first barrier with the rest of the group though. I did not expect her to be coming along for the ride into final battle, but, since a version of her became the main character of another reality simulation I am intrigued for what they will want to do with her here.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode thirteen ~ END]
Game over, as it were.
So I guess for those who didn’t make it this far, they did not get to see the swords, magic, duel wielding knives, and dragon summoning. Not like the combat sequences would be the lone saving grace of the series if someone was hating their time getting to the finale, but, for me it was nice to at least see everyone get to do a little fantasy game class move or two based on those character naming cliches laced through the entire show.
Going along with that, we do mosey along from that pretty quickly into running around the Premium Ambriel. And it did not in fact turn into another run-through of the trials as I was pulling for, but that is fine. It does instead give a better explanation than the previously mentioned chess game for how the virtual world protocols went about granting Souta fate flag determinability powers, with our cast being on the burning and collapsing Premium Ambriel within the confines of the simulation and Souta taking on their death flags and associated memory wipes afterward.
The way it goes about that is a little ham fisted, in that our power granter then becomes the Laplace’s Demon program, which is the kind of really overt “I read about this in a Wikipedia search once” concept name dropping that does tend to bug me a lot. Like when folks just throw out Schrödinger’s cat into a script. At least I can understand why Laplace’s Demon is brought up, since it is a determinism argument regarding the notion that if one could know the state of all forces in the universe at once, it would effectively be able to see how future events would play out. So, for purposes of our series, event flags boiling down seemingly complex human affairs if this were a dating sim or visual novel.
This would still leave the matter of why on (Virtual) Earth the Angelus Gemini, in their rebellious notion of seeking to take great global power, would ever have abandoned the program and their effective sister in the form of the Sacrament. But I am willing to chalk that up to ambition, greed, etc picked up by that artificial intelligence initiative. Which is probably a larger point tying back then to how intrigued Laplace’s Demon was by Souta’s notions of self sacrifice and doing what he considered a reasonable human being should, when it came to him trying to rescue her, the trapped man in the burning boat, saving all the others while dooming himself to pain and suffering, and so on. And from that, with Souta trying to then hurl himself into the wave motion gun, everyone joins together for one final sacrificial move on the Space Battleship Premium Ambriel. Effectively the cast committing to a suicide run, so far as they would know at the time in terms of their ability to be like this together ever again.
Arguably, speedy and condensed as everything was, the show was making a better swing at “the world is still beautiful” concept than the actual show named that this season. So there is that!
That is pretty much it then, until the OVA in December. Souta wakes up in the real world, and Number Zero was the real princess heroine from the original legend story. Souta gets to go to school for real with real Quest Hall (complete with real structural problems) and the real students, and the notion the cast may actually remember each other now that all this is in the past. No more flags.
With two “Kanojo” titled shows that are among the best rated things they have ever released under his belt for them, Hoods Entertainment should probably grab Ayumu Watanabe and make him an in-house director while they still conceivably have a chance.