This is review number three hundred and three. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara or “If Her Flag Breaks”. It’s a thirteen episode anime about a guy and his harem. Yeah, that’s really the entire content of this show. It’s just one big harem and all the fun stuff you do in a harem. It does have some unexpected things though that I really enjoy but I bet this is an anime most people wouldn’t like. I did my best to give the show justice so I hope people will try this one out as well. Anyways, let’s read on.
This anime is about Souta Hatate who has the ability to see “flags” and break them. It’s both a gift and a curse for Souta because his life hasn’t been the same ever since he acquired this ability. Souta will be transferring to a new school and hopefully start anew. In Hatagaya School, he hopes to leave his past behind him. The steadily growing group of girls trying to comfort him might help but it seems his past is catching up and it’s calling for him to use his powers for something greater even he can’t comprehend.
Taking the Pants Off
Here’s something special for you perverts, a harem anime. It’s a straight up shallow show about one guy drowning in pussy complete with the idiotic flirty situations and a bunch of submissive girls falling head over heels for him. Good gawd, I am actually pretty happy to see something so trashy and pointless appear in this day and age. Recent light novels has taken the fun out of harems. They often add pretentious stuff like a story into the whole thing so they’re not really harems but more of an “accidental” one where this guy looking for his lost brother just conveniently talks to nothing but female characters. I miss the old days where a harem anime is just about flirting, the girls being absolute sluts and the situational comedy involves a bunch of them being groped or fallen on top of the only guy in the show. Don’t get me wrong, harem anime are the absolute worst. I rank it as otome anime, High School DxD and then harem anime. Watching a show about nothing but wish fulfillment of all those sad guys, who wishes they can have as much girls fighting over them as well, is just a worthless experience. Nothing is really accomplished and episodes just consist of boobs or ass but not as blatantly explicit like an Ecchi anime. Harem anime is all the fun of a Comedy anime but without the satisfaction of an Ecchi show. It’s basically a show of nothing but girls worshipping one guy. There is some hidden fun in that, I guess. I’m quite happy to review a harem anime though because I think this is my first one. Yes, three hundred reviews down and I still get a few “firsts” from time to time. Note though that I am not talking about Harem/Ecchi anime. No, Harem shows don’t have a lot of nudity. It just has flirting and girls practically bending over for one guy. It’s Love Hina or Boku wa Minna Tomodachi ga Sukunai. If you add Ecchi then it’s now High School DxD. Anyways, Kanojo ga wo Flag Oraretara is a light novel anime without the pretentious story. It’s just one trashy harem anime and I love it. With that being said, you can’t really write a light novel of nothing but girls’ throwing themselves at one guy. That’d be one boring ass reading material. Instead, a story is smartly slipped in. I appreciate the trashy appeal but I think the pretentiousness should’ve been more forward since the entire show feels like one confusing hot mess when you watch it. Whatever, it has a ton of girls so I’m not really complaining.
The show opened with a really interesting premise. It features a guy who can see “flags”. It’s basically like an event or a character development you trigger when you play visual novels. So when you trigger a “love” flag then you just made a character fall in love with you. Our main character can see certain flags on top of people’s head and he has ways on how to avoid it. He knows what to say to people to break whatever flag is on top of their head. This is especially useful when a death flag would be on a person. He knows how to break them if one ever pops up. Souta Hatate is especially distant though because of his powers. He doesn’t want friends and he’ll break a friendship flag if he ever sees one. Apparently, he once was the only survivor of this freak boat accident where a lot of people died and he was somehow blamed for being the only one to escape the incident. He has since believed that people who get close to him will only get hurt so he chooses to stay away. Poor Souta though because, halfway through the first episode, two girls are already trying to make nice to him. He pushes them away but they insist on sticking around. The initial premise sounded fun. You have a guy that can break death flags while he tries his best to keep his friends safe from whatever curse follows him. It takes the fun of VN games and gives it a dark twist. This particular premise slowly disappears though when you reach episode three and there are suddenly seven girls introduced and they’re all somehow interested with Souta. It’s ironic how he distance himself from people yet somehow didn’t see the harem flag in front of his stupid face. The show has some serious stabs from time to time but you feel the harem slowly takeover. Seriously, you just felt its warm embrace as you keep watching the show. This intriguing story about a guy fending off death somehow devolved into a gawd damn harem. It’s also not a slow transition. It was f*cking abrupt. There is a new girl introduced every fifteen minutes and every other minute is spared for this:
A somewhat smart show you wanted to see unfold basically turned gooey and just messy. With that being said, this anime has two plot points. One is given more importance than the other which irks me a bit but I think everything that happened in this show is done on purpose and I’ll explain that later on. For now, let’s talk about the glorious harem. In one sentence: it’s a good trashy harem story full of the good stuff. Every character is completely clichéd and they even have their own little side story that is massively clichéd as well. I remember this one girl who is a bit tomboyish and actually only liked one guy her whole life. It turns out to be Souta. It’s so f*cking unoriginal that it’ll make you cringe a bit but then you kinda feel a bit nostalgic seeing this kind of cliché used once again. The last time I saw it was back in the early 2000s and the show somehow was able to capture the appeal of the cliché. There is nothing original about the first plot point. It’s your standard harem. The girls just keep piling up and they all had a short time with Souta. Their backstories is trope heavy and their personality is the rawest form of cliché. They spend their time talking about how they want to be with Souta and they even engage in activities where they literally share Souta. From the tsundere classmate to the down to earth idol to the caring sister, this harem is packed with a lot of fun bits. The funny thing is that despite the show being blatantly clichéd, it is somehow really entertaining. I always believe that cliché is good or bad depending on how you use it. In this show, all the clichés doesn’t feel like a done-to-death trope that you’re tired of seeing. The cliché actually contains all the entertaining things that go along with it. For me, I was more happy seeing the cliché back than anything. I know this might not be the same thing for others though. Cliché is still cliché. It’s still a recycled content that we’ve seen in other better shows. In fact, the over reliance in the cliché actually makes the show pretty shallow. The clichéd backstories might be a bit too much for others and the flirty nature of the harem is really something that’ll test you. If you didn’t appreciate it back when it was a trend then there’s a big chance you won’t like it now. After all, the first plot point is basically the entire content of the show. It is one big harem ball filled with clichés that comes off as a bit too unappealing.
With that being said, there is yet another level to the whole cliché thing. As I said before, the harem cliché garbage and badly unoriginal cliché is somehow intentional. This show is really a big piece that celebrates cliché and pokes fun of the tropes. The fifteen minutes given to introduce the girls topped with their own cliché backstory and the harem filled dumb moments are just a part of it. The cliché trickles down to every aspect of the show. It starts with the harem but then you realize the each episode also has a lot of unoriginal content to it. As you’d expect, there is the cultural festival episode, a beach episode, a dating episode, a summer episode and even a hot spring episode. Now imagine it. Cliché episodes filled with cliché characters doing cliché harem stuff. Normally, I’d be going off on how stupid the whole thing is. That’s the insanely beautiful part of it though. It’s not really overwhelmingly bad. Things are presented smartly and the unoriginal content somehow entertains. This cliché business goes a notch deeper though when you realize even the various voices of the girls seems to be inspired by some annoying stereotype. It goes beyond flirty. I cringed hard when I heard some go “gao gao” and I wanted to punch somebody for bringing it up again. There are also girls who just have this distinct clingy personality that just sounds so stereotypical yet, for some reason, really completes the experience. It’s cliché on top of cliché on top of cliché and I really hate to admit it but it’s really brilliantly made. This weak ass plot point has so many dimensions to it that digs up some indescribable nostalgia and somehow delivers smart execution. It’s complex and you wouldn’t really think that just by looking at the screenshots I took. Seriously, can you believe there is a method to this harem garbage? It’s freaking amazing.
The first plot point is really the main focus of the show but it does sprinkle another plot point from time to time. The second plot point is about the ability Souta has. At the start of the show, he is this person that can see flags and break them. As the show progresses, we discover how Souta got his power and how he is somehow involved in a conspiracy involving bards, mages and swordsmen. Apparently, Souta’s power is so great that it is interweaved with a legend and, for some reason, the internet. Well, I’m vaguely describing the second plot point but that’s because I don’t really understand it myself. The show didn’t balance out the two plot points. The first one had a lot more time to…fester…while the second plot point just appears and disappears for no reason. The best I can gather is that Souta’s power came from someone special and that person is involved with his boat accident where he is the only survivor. This means that the incident is also closely tied to Souta because things started here. Anyways, this special person is also connected to some kind of aristocracy and Souta is somehow related to this bloodline as well. Things happened and some stuff transpired then we somehow ended up talking about the virtual world when the story started from a tale about mysterious chests and a band of RPG job classes banding together to fight something. The story isn’t gradually developed so it just randomly leaps out at you. The annoying part is that the first plot point often stalls the progression of the second one and then you’ll just be surprised to see the second plot point appear again. One second you’re seeing Souta go on a date with a girl where she’s confessing her undying love to her but not really because she’s just flirting and then you’ll suddenly see Souta go emo. For no apparent reason, we suddenly see a flashback of Souta that is dark and then you realize this stuff is actually related to the second plot point. The storytelling is a bit erratic and short that they even sloppily tie all the loose ends during the later episodes with confusing results. I watched an episode twice because I just didn’t understand all the exposition suddenly revealed without any build up to it.
I will say this though. This anime is very well written. The second plot point somehow supports the insanity of the first plot point and it actually adds another level of complexity to the whole thing. You will really appreciate how things are presented when you realize how everything ties in together. It’s not just an anime poking fun of tropes. The show actually incorporates that clichéfest into the actual story in an unbelievably smart manner. This anime is really clever and I think the writing is so complex it walks the fine line between parody, homage and trope bashing. I have seen other shows try it before but I think this is the only show where I’ve seen it succeed. Keep in mind though. I said it was well written. Everything supports each other. This anime is badly executed though. While the show is indeed smart, the way it was presented is still pretty sloppy. Especially with the second plot point, I felt that there was a more serious undertone the anime refused to setup because it might ruin the harem appeal. I do understand that a serious anime with a harem just doesn’t work but I think there are ways to combine the mystery of the second plot point to the trashy harem fun of the first one. The show shoves pockets of serious moments from time to time and I think it would’ve been more meaningful if those pockets were executed more effectively. Things just happen suddenly and it was hard to keep up. This ultimately leads to a pretty pathetic ending I honestly think the show does not deserve. The whole scenario with the ending also didn’t make a lot of sense since it was a serious moment but it meant nothing after a whole lot of this:
And gawd damn this:
The characters are all one dimensional with nothing but their cliché basically standing in for whatever personality they might have. Souta is your typical harem lead. The dude just basks in his harem as he watches girls literally share him. He acts like the dumbfounded guy who didn’t think this girl can be so flirty since he never really initiated anything and mostly just goes along with whatever the girls might like to do. If he’s not in his harem then he’ll be going emo somewhere. He’ll often be reminded of his tough childhood where he experienced ridicule for surviving that boat accident and seeing death flags all around him. It was a shame the initial premise of saving people from death flags didn’t culminate much because I think he could’ve had character development if that premise was actually pursued. His emo didn’t go to waste though because this is mostly the reason why the girls like to stick with him. They believe Souta should be happy so they’ll be with him and happily become his harem. I think Souta is a really interesting character because of the conspiracy theory regarding the second plot point and it’s just a shame he wasn’t properly developed. The rushed story turned him from a guy looking for a mysterious door into a guy seemingly battling people in the internet or something stupid like that. The show also didn’t properly explain that his power can level up. I think there was a whole other side of Souta the anime didn’t properly explore. It’s all for the sake of the harem so the feeling is a bit bittersweet.
His harem is pretty insane. Every conceivable trope is utilized and every existing cliché is used to form this magnificent harem. I think there are fifteen girls all in all that Souta meets and eventually becomes a part of his harem. Some are regular harem members though while others are just introduced to establish that confusing thing for the second plot point. His harem is actually fun to watch. Even though they are all one dimensional, they get the job done in making the harem lively and fun to watch. I don’t want to talk about all the girls. I think half the fun is discovering what other stereotype the show will introduce. This is especially more fun when you have a good idea of how there stereotypes usually act. It innocently starts out with your tsundere and the friendly hot girl then branches out from there. From the childhood friend to the sister character, I think every possible flavor is added to this harem mix. The eventual expansion of this harem is also pretty fun to watch. You don’t really know just how big this harem will get until you see all the girls gather around Souta. Just when you think the show has reached its maximum amount of girls, it goes bat sh*t insane when it introduces more despite being on episode ten. It is insanely fun and I think anyone who enjoys a good harem will understand how wonderful this particular harem is.
I think this show is really interesting. The layered cliché might be a bit too much for some but I think the way it pokes fun of it while also give homage to it is pretty damn inspiring. The harem is also something I quite missed. With the anime trend changing constantly, it’s nice to see something get a decent revival. It still doesn’t amount to much but I hope I’m not the only one feeling nostalgic while watching this anime. Hoods Entertainment is a fairly quiet studio. They don’t release much and they are often just middle tier stuff. A lot of their shows take time to appreciate catering to a specific niche but I think they’re on the right track as of now. While Nazo no Kanojo X and Manyuu Hikenchou won’t bring in a lot of attention towards them, I think a certain group of people appreciates the effort this studio is pushing forth. At this point, all they need now is a certain style unique to them. I think they have the audience and they just need to hone their craft a bit more. This anime isn’t bad but it also misses a few of its potential to be really great. I like Ayumu Watanabe’s directorial style though. It’s clear his time directing Space Brothers is able to bring his great style of storytelling to good use. He is able to nicely present a show made of nothing but cliché. I think that takes great talent. I can see this anime f*cking up hard if it was handled by someone else. To be able to make something painfully unoriginal still entertaining takes a great amount of talent. Maybe his time doing Doraemon movies is to thank for that as well. Nothing is more repetitive that a show lasting that long. As I said though, there are still areas for improvement but I think being able to give a decent adaptation to such a complex light novel deserves some credit. Watching this anime made me miss harem. If a light novel can do some stupid revival like this then I hope this trend catches on. It is better than Mahouka and its depiction of a perfect character. Light novels like that should just promptly burn. A light novel celebrating harem and does it beautifully is something I can get behind with though.
Sight and Sound
CUTEG does a lot of typical character designs. Her style isn’t anything special though. A lot of them are also pretty stereotypical with designs really just standing out because of her great detail work. I think the designs in this anime are meant to be cliché heavy as well though to truly deliver another layer of cliché for this anime. Every character is really just a representation of a stereotype with even the small traits perfectly reflected on the design. The tomboyish character would have straight black hair with a fierce look and a white hairband on her head. It’s your typical design but it’s made special by the little details. She’ll be wearing an archer uniform with a breastplate and a glove on one hand. It’s not much but it takes the unoriginal design and gives it a different look. I like CUTEG’s design here because it’s restrained. She wasn’t able to feature her typical perverted designs with the emphasis on the curves. The characters needed to look bulky but still tall and a bit childish yet still looking sexy. It’s a complex design restrained and held back by the cliché. There is also the tsundere with blonde hair and a ponytail. There is a kuudere with icy blue hair and there is a typical rich girl with long hair and a bow on her head. They’re all typical designs for the characters but the appeal is intact despite looking generic. The design is even more special with the color palette used for the characters. It has a faded watercolor like design that you don’t see a lot and it actually triggers the nostalgia in me. It reminds me of those early 2000s harem shows and I think the style was deliberate. The effect is also pretty effective and I appreciate that a lot.
The animation is pretty inconsistent. Hoods Entertainment is a particularly small time studio so it’s really expected. It does deliver high quality animation on scenes that needed it like a kissing scene or a random fight scene but usually the animation doesn’t look clean all throughout. Characters distort during certain scenes and the movements are often minimal in certain scenes. Facial expressions are decent but not everything is equally good. Sometimes the quality is off the mark and the little details aren’t given enough attention. I am particularly not impressed because I love good quality animation and it’s a shame it’s not consistent all throughout. Perhaps the clichéd appeal of the show also restrained whatever great directorial style can applied in the animation. Even the camera angles and the key scenes don’t look impressive and I think there is room to really be creative on that part of the show.
The anime’s OP is “Cupi-Doo Revue” by Aoi Yuki. This is particularly grating when you first hear it because the singer is intentionally doing an overly cute version of her voice and it just sounds stupid. It will eventually grow on you though and I would often look forward to hearing the song and the half English lyrics being sung. The song has a great trumpet instrumental as well and the lyrics are reminiscent of playing a VN game with how it mocks choices and such. The OP sequence features all the characters in a playful montage ending with the entire harem presented as they stay in Quest Dormitory.
The anime’s ED is “Kanojo ga Flag wo Tateru Wake ” by YELL (Ibuki Kido, Ai Kayano, Kana Asumi, Kana Hanazawa, Yoko Hikasa, Ayaka Suwa). This is sung by the primary characters of the harem. I also did not see KanaHana in this show until I saw the cast list, lol. The cast has some great blending with their voices but one stands out more than the rest. I think it sounds great though when you hear the chorus. The song is your typical love song about unending love. The ED sequence features illustrations of the characters look all cute and sexy doing some cute poses. It’s nothing complicated but it does end with a flag with a lot of characters gather around. This flag doesn’t make sense until the last episode so I love the little forewarning here.
6/10 “It’s cliché on top of cliché on top of cliché and yet it’s still a very clever anime celebrating the trashy appeal of the harem genre.”
The cliché heavy theme might turn some people off but I think it’s actually what makes this show great. It makes fun of the overused tropes littered in harem anime but it also uses it to create a really intriguing story. The anime doesn’t look much but I think the layers of elements that composed this show make it one interesting anime. If you enjoy harem anime then you’ll enjoy the one presented here. If you love seeing some early 2000s nostalgia then check this one out as well. It doesn’t have some perverted scenes and it gets confusing at the end but I think this anime is entertaining through and through. It’s not for everyone but I do recommend it.