Anime Spotlight: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara is an anime based on a light novel written by Toka Takei and illustrated by Cuteg. The series is produced by Hoods Entertainment and is directed by Ayumu Watanabe. The series aired on Japanese television from April 6-June 29, 2014. As of this writing, Crunchyroll holds the North American streaming rights for the series, and NIS America holds the North American home video rights.

High school boy Sota Hatate is the main character of the series, and he’s a new transfer student at Hatagaya Academy. On his way to school the first day, he’s there when a truck almost collides with pedestrians on the sidewalk (which includes a blond-haired girl who is also a student at Hayagaya Academy). But after Sota says something to someone, the truck misses the pedestrians.

When Sota arrives in his classroom, he discovers the blond-haired girl is in his class. Her name is Nanami Knight Bladefield. In class, Sota has some people approach him and asking him things, and he shoots them down. Nanami watches all of this intensely, and then tells Sota that she wants to talk to him.

When they talk, Sota tells Nanami that he can see flags over people’s heads which tell him what they’re feeling or what will happen to them. Sota also tells Nanami that she needs to stay away from him because he brings misfortune to other people. Nanami, however, refuses to heed what he says.

At lunch, as the two of them sit outside, they are approached by a girl named Akane Mahougasawa. She wants to have lunch with them. Sota tries to get rid of her, but she refuses to go. After school, Akane insists on going to where Sota lives. It turns out he lives in Quest Dorm, one of the school’s dorms that is located quite a way from campus. Not only is it far away, the dorm is also falling apart. While Akane is there, she falls through the floor. Fortunately, Sota can see her flag and determine what he needs to do in order to save her.

A girl named Okiku transfers into Sota’s class. It turns out that she’s an old friend of his and that they haven’t seen each other in two years. She wants Sota to think of her as an “older sister.”

After the accident, Okiku, Nanami and Akane take Sota to see Tsumugi Ryuukishibara, an “elder” at the school to see about getting his dorm fixed up. Mimori Seiteikouji, the student body president, brings in the school’s Engineering Research Society, and they renovate the dorm.

A harem develops around Sota. In addition to Nanami, Akane, Okiku, and Mimori, there’s also: Megumu Tozokuyama (who claims to be a boy who is mistaken to be a girl), Rin Eiyuuzaki (a girl with a talent for archery who turns out to be a childhood friend of Sota’s), Ruri Ninjabayashi (an android created by the Mahougasawa Foundation who turns out to be more than she seems), Mei Daimyozamurai (a mysterious girl from an alternate world), Kurumiko Daishikyogawa (a middle school girl who becomes Sota’s “little sister”), Hakua Berserker Bladefield (Nanami’s little sister), and Serika Gin’yuin (an idol singer that Sota ends up having a connection to).

Sota discovers he has a death flag over his head but has no idea how to get rid of it. As the series progresses, he starts learning a little about what’s going on with him through an old fairytale, and then later finds that everything leads to a science-fiction story that feels inspired by The Matrix.

After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that there was an interesting concept that was drawing me into what I was seeing. I also thought the episode had a good mix of drama and humor. Although I was already sensing from the ending credits that a harem could develop around Sota, I thought that the premise was interesting enough that it could potentially keep the harem elements a little bit more in check.

After watching the second episode, I thought there was a major tonal shift, and it appeared that the series would simply end up being a harem comedy with gags that would get old fast. After Episode Two, I felt a little disappointed by the series. However, I decided to stick it out and see if perhaps the series would get better as it went along.

After seeing Episode Three, I thought it was rather predictable, which hampered my enjoyment of what I saw. And after such a big deal had been made about the flags in Episode One, it was hardly touched on at all in Episode Two or Three. At that point, I was already feeling that it was my least favorite anime of the Spring 2014 season that I was watching. Sadly, my feelings for this series hardly improved for the remainder of its run.

And then suddenly, near the end of Episode 11, it’s suddenly revealed that Sota is in a virtual world, and in a story that feels like it was inspired rather heavily by The Matrix. At this point, the narrative became a confusing and contradicting mess, and those issues with the narrative continued for the remaining two episodes of the series. It also didn’t help that the ending felt rather vague.

The main weakness for this series is that it doesn’t truly understand what kind of tone and feel it was going for. It started out with hints of a harem anime with the potential for an interesting story, then it became primarily a light-hearted harem anime with some elements of a fantasy story thrown in, and then it turned into wanting to be a sci-fi story with a setup like The Matrix and suddenly became much darker and serious in tone. The first shift in tone was kind of noticeable, but it wasn’t jarring. However, the change to the darker sci-fi elements ended up being a very jarring transition, and I don’t believe that it worked well.

After finishing Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, I found myself regretting having ever started it. The first episode had shown so much promise, but it kept shifting its storytelling and narrative tone. The elements that led up to the conclusion were ultimately a convoluted mess, and they didn’t come together in a satisfactory manner.

At this point, I’m not in a hurry to ever watch Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara ever again.

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