2014 In Review: Spring 2014 Season

Yesterday, I took a look back at the shows I was watching during the Winter 2014 anime season. Today’s post is taking a look back at the anime series I started watching during the Spring 2014 season.

The World Is Still Beautiful: After watching the first episode of the series, I thought that it showed a lot of promise. Not only did the story grab my interest, but so did the look of the animation. The series also managed to find and keep the right combination of drama and humor to tell its story. It became a series I looked forward to watching week after week. Overall, The World is Still Beautiful is a sweet series. The only real issue I had is when it was glossed over in the episodes that introduced Bard that Nike had been ordered to go to the dungeon, but for whatever reason, she never went. Livius’ temper was definitely out of control, and that was definitely not one of the sweeter moments of the series. I really enjoyed Nike as a character, and Livius’ evolution as a character was pretty decent. With the way the series ended, I suspect there isn’t going to be another season; however, if there turns out to ever be a second season of The World is Still Beautiful, I’d definitely watch it.

One Week Friends: After watching the first episode, I thought that One Week Friends was a sweet series. As the series continued, it remained a sweet series; however, the sweetness never got to the point of being so sickly sweet that it was saccharine. It’s a light-hearted show, but it’s not so light-hearted that it’s simply a barrage of jokes. Throughout the series, there was a good mix of humor and drama. The characters are accessible to the audience; as you meet each character, you’re able to get a good sense of who they are through their interactions with each other. The characters I came to care about the most were Kaori and Yuki, and I came to care about them at the end of the first episode. However, I also came to like Shogo and Saki later on. At the end of the first episode, I was worried that the concept would hold up for the series’ 12 episode run. But I’m happy to say that the series succeeded in maintaining its concept throughout all of the episodes and succeeded in keeping the concept, story, and characters interesting the entire time. I also thought that the series was brought to a realistic end. And since there are still loose ends in regards to the potential relationships, there’s fodder for fanfic writers to work with to write their own continuation of the series. While One Week Friends is a good series, I’m really not sure there’s a chance for more episodes; at least, I don’t think there’s enough material to go for another 12 episode series. There might be enough to maybe squeeze an OVA episode or two out, but that’s about it. However, I have a feeling that it was intended to end here. I also really liked the animation style that was used in the series. It has a “soft” feel to it, and it almost looks as if it could have been inspired by paintings made with watercolors. This look and feel is perfect for bringing the story of this series to life.

Captain Earth: After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that the series had potential. Admittedly, that first episode was a little hard to follow and understand at times, but my hope was that once the major exposition was done to establish Daichi and the world that he inhabited, that the series would become easier to follow. At the end of Episode Two, I was still a little confused, but there was enough interesting ideas being presented that made me want to see more of the series. At the end of Episode Three, I was genuinely interested in the characters and what was going on, especially since some of the questions I still had at the end of Episode Two were answered during Episode Three. At the end of Episode Five, though, I found myself feeling a little frustrated at just how slowly the storyline was progressing, as well as the fact as I thought I was starting to understand the story, new concepts were slowly being thrown out that I had to try to fit into my understanding of the series. It also didn’t help at that point in the series, the antagonists still weren’t very clear. It turned out that the first seven episodes were there to establish the premise and the series’ elements, and that Episode Eight truly started to move the story forward. The next six episodes focused on Amarok and Malkin working at awakening the other designer children and getting them to join their cause. Ultimately, the first half of the series had a rather slow start, and I think that the amount of designer children that were introduced helped to bog this section down. Now that I’ve seen the whole series, I can say with certainty that Liban and Bugbear really didn’t need to be there. Liban did nothing during the series after being introduced, and Bugbear only did a couple of things in the long run; the things that Bugbear did could have been done by another one of the Planetary Gears. I liked Bugbear’s backstory, and perhaps Zimbalt could have been given that backstory. Between Zimbalt’s backstory and Bugbear’s backstory, I thought that Bugbear’s was stronger. The second half of the series felt as if a lot of concepts were being thrown out to the audience and that the story was being hurried along in order to reach the series’ final destination. In the end, Captain Earth had an interesting premise that it was presenting, but the overall execution just wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been. While Captain Earth was an overall stronger mecha show than Aldnoah.Zero was, Captain Earth did still have some issues. And I have one question: Who is the girl with the recorder that appears about three times in the series around Daichi? She’s the one who ultimately leads him to the Livlaster in the first place, and then she shows up a couple more times near the end of the series. The audience is never given an explanation for her, so that’s one aspect of the series that I was dissatisfied with. She’s does some important things in the series, but we never get her name or know anything about her. All I can refer to her as is “the Recorder Girl.”

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior: After watching the first episode, I thought the show had a good combination of comedy and drama to help drive the characters and their story. I also thought the first episode was charming and fun to watch. I enjoyed watching the series for the most part, although I thought Episode Nine was one the weakest episodes in the series. My favorite part of the series was definitely the story of Kazunari and Ritsu. Some of the ensemble stories about the other characters tended to not do much for me for the most part, and with some episodes I found myself wishing that there was more of a focus on Kazunari and Ritsu. My least favorite character was definitely Sayaka. Not only was she the most annoying, she also came across as a character who didn’t really add much to the series. A lot of the times, she was either just “there” or wasn’t even at the dorm for the entirety of an episode. In a lot of ways, I think this series might have been a little stronger if she wasn’t in it. She was probably intended to be a foil for Mayumi, but I thought Shirosaki did a pretty good job of filling that role for both Mayumi and Kazunari.

Brynhildr in the Darkness: After watching the first episode, I thought the series showed a lot of promise, and at the end of episode two, I thought there was a really good setup for the story. By the end of episode four, after both Kazumi and Kotori were introduced, I found myself wondering if the series was setting up Murakami to have a harem. By the end of the series, I think I could safely say that while Brynhildr in the Darkness wasn’t a true “harem anime,” some of the girls surrounding him did act as if they were part of a harem of girls attracted to the main protagonist. I started to become frustrated with the series around Episode Nine, because I felt like the loose thread of the device was left hanging. Unfortunately, it didn’t come back until Episode 12. With Episode 10, it began feeling like the writing started to become sloppier. At the end of Episode 12, I felt like there had been a major and sudden change to the tone and direction of the story. It also felt unnatural, like they were rushing things in order to fit everything into two episodes. I ended up being disappointed with how the series ended. When I reached the end of Episode 13, I found myself thinking, “I devoted 13 weeks of my life to this show, and this is how it ends?”

Haikyu!!: After watching the first episode of Haikyu!!, I thought that the series seemed to be following many of the tropes associated with sports anime. However, the main character of Shoyo, along with his backstory, was intriguing enough that it didn’t feel like “just another sports anime” by the end of the episode. By the end of Episode Three, I found that Haikyu!! was keeping my interest, even though I’m not a fan of volleyball. At that point, I was already looking forward to seeing what was going to happen in the series as it progressed. The two practice matches that appeared during the series helped me to get a better understanding of how to play volleyball, and the matches themselves were exciting to watch. These matches also helped to set the stage for the Inter-High tournaments. When the series hit the Inter-High tournaments, the story was done in such a way that these matches were even more exciting than the practice matches had been. When Karasuno went up against Date Kogyo, I was very impressed by how well Karasuno was able to hold up against them. But much of the Inter-High focused on the hard-fought match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai; in fact, it was so hard-fought that it extended into a third set. I had anticipated which team would ultimately win the third set, but I still found myself feeling a little disappointed and off-guard when that team actually won. I knew in my heart of hearts that this is how this would have to play out, but the match had been so intense during the episode that I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for the underdog team. While the underdog team takes the loss hard, I think they also learn a lesson in humility as well. When I first started watching Haikyu!!, I never would have imagined enjoying a sports anime about boys’ volleyball as much as I’ve come to enjoy this series. While Haikyu!! may employ a lot of tropes that are associated with shonen series, the characters are engaging enough and interesting enough that the viewer doesn’t necessarily notice the tropes being used.

Riddle Story of Devil: At the end of the first episode, I wondered if the potential promise I had seen for the series would manifest itself as the series progressed. Sadly, I ended up being rather disappointed in that regard. By the end of Episode Two, I had a major issue with just how many characters were being thrown out there at once and I had a hard time keeping their names straight.  At the end of Episode Four, I found myself feeling a little frustrated because characters were being written out just as the audience was getting to know them. I also realized the weakness of knowing the fact that a student has to fail each time they try to assassinate Haru, because the series would come to an end if they didn’t. By the end of Episode Five, the only thing that was keeping my interest to any degree was discovering who the next person who tries to assassinate Haru is and how they’re going to do it. Admittedly, at that point, if I hadn’t been watching the series to write about it for my blog, I would have dropped it after watching Episode Five. The formula that had been developed started being changed with Episode Six, so the series started becoming a little more interesting again. However, after truths are revealed in Episode 11, things become very confusing and crazy in the final episode. In fact, I found myself spending most of Episode 12 feeling rather confused as I watched it. While Riddle Story of Devil wasn’t my least favorite anime I watched during the Spring 2014, it definitely ran a close second.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: 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 end up getting 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; this 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, near the end of Episode 11, it’s suddenly revealed that Sota is actually 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. This would also rank up there as one of the worst anime I watched during 2014.

Ping Pong the Animation: First off, I have to say that I have to give credit to Ping Pong The Animation for not being a “typical sports anime.” Unfortunately, I have to say that the pacing for the series ended up being a bit awkward, especially since the series was trying to condense about one year into the course of 11 episodes. This meant that the first seven episodes tended to feel rushed. Then, starting with Episode Eight, the pace slows down and the series spend its final four episodes focusing on one event; this would be the singles qualifiers that takes place for the series’ climax. But then, during the final episode, there’s a timeskip that takes place from the end of the qualifiers match to several years into the future. Unfortunately, with how rushed those first seven episodes were, this didn’t allow for as much character development as there could have been in order to help the audience care more for the characters. I wish there had been some more episodes for the series in order to give the story and the characters a little more room to “breathe” and to develop even more. Now that I’ve finished watching the series, I find myself wondering why Kazama’s cousin Yuri was ever introduced. Honestly, she didn’t truly add much of anything of any real relevance to the series and was quickly written out in Episode 10. When it came to the animation, I have to admit that I did have some issues with the animation style right at first; however, I became accustomed to it around Episode Three. Once the animation style didn’t distract me, I was able to better focus on the storytelling aspect of the series.

Chaika – The Coffin Princess: After watching the first episode, I have to admit that I was a little annoyed by Chaika’s tendency to speak in one, two, or three words phrases; however, as the series progressed, I just got used to this character quirk. But what I saw in that episode made me interested enough to want to continue watching the series. When Fredrica joined the cast and becomes part of Chaika’s party, I thought it added an interesting layer. At that point, not only were they being pursued by the Gillette Corps, they were now also traveling with a party member who is out to kill one of the other members of the party. Overall, I thought that Fredrica was a good addition to the party and its dynamics, and that she was portrayed realistically. When the Red Chaika was introduced in Episode Five, I thought this added an interesting twist as well; unfortunately, Red Chaika seemed to disappear after two episodes. In Episode Seven, it appeared that Chaika had developed feelings for Toru, which ended up adding another layer to the story since it was obvious that Akari liked him. I was thrilled when I learned that there would be a second season of the series in Fall 2014, and I found myself looking forward to what that second season would bring.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure: After watching the first episode, I thought that the concept of Nanana’s Collection was an intriguing one, and the interactions between Juugo and Nanana also kept me interested in continuing to watch the series. I enjoyed the first three episodes or so, but then things started to get a little confusing. Near the end, it was starting to get interesting with the final confrontation between Hiiyo and the Adventure Club in Episode 10. That episode ended on a cliffhanger, and I expected the final episode to be action-packed and focus on the confrontation. Unfortunately, that confrontation ended up being anticlimactic and boring in Episode 11; this is primarily due to the fact that so much time was spent on characters talking to each other and not having much going on in the way of action. And the very end of the final episode didn’t truly resolve anything, and some footage seen both during the ending credits and right after raised more questions than answers. To me, this was an unsatisfying end to the series, and I started to feel as if I’d wasted my time over the 11 weeks that I watched this show. At the end of the series, I didn’t see the promise that I had seen early on manifest itself like I had hoped. As the series went on, it seemed to lose its focus as various characters and concepts were added to the series. While the characters from Matsuri and their organization seemed to be important early on, those characters and the organization basically disappeared by the end. The last time we saw Yukihime and her partner was a brief shot of them in Episode 11 when they were in the mall at the same time as Juugo. Also, Juugo declares early on in the series that he’ll help Nanana locate her killer. Unfortunately, this part of the story is hardly ever touched on, and is not resolved at the end of the final episode. I wouldn’t say that Nanana’s Buried Treasure was the worst anime series that I watched during the Spring 2014 season, but I also can’t say it’s among the best, either. For me, it was ultimately a series that had a lot of potential that was never realized due to decisions that were made in regards to the storytelling. And I have to say that if it turns out that Nanana’s Buried Treasure ends up getting a second season, I would have no desire to watch it due to the various issues I had with the storytelling of this series.

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, 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; 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; this 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.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 13 – “If His Flag Breaks”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

At the beginning of Episode 13, the members of the harem start taking on the cyberspace creatures in order to help Sota. Suddenly, the boat that’s there starts absorbing the cyberspace creatures to power up. It lifts out of the water, and wings and a halo of light appear on the boat; it truly becomes an “Angel Boat.”

The boat fires its guns and shoots down the members of the harem. An upset Sota wonders if he can do something. He realizes that there’s a special death flag there that he can use. As he reaches that conclusion, he remembers what actually happened on the Premium Ambriel. He was traveling on the boat with some of the members of the harem (Nanami, Akane, Megumu, and Rin) what it was attacked. As they try to escape, Sota sees someone who looks like Sakura and tries to save her; the girl he saves is actually Laplace’s Demon. Sota finds himself trapped in some rubble that falls on him, and after some time, the harem members and some guys arrive. As they try to lift the rubble off of Sota, and pillar starts falling.

Laplace’s Demon is able to freeze time and tells Sota he can save them. She shows him the death flags and explains what they are. She says he can alter their fate if he collects everyone’s death flag into one and carry their fate for them. He agrees to do this, and is informed as he gathers the death flags that this event will be erased from the others’ memories and that he will never have met them.

When we return to the battle in cyberspace, Sota launches an attack on the boat. His life isn’t enough to defeat the boat; however, he finds himself being joined by the harem, and they are able to defeat the Angel Boat.

The remainder of the episode sees Sota returning to the real world, learn what happened in the real world, and learn the identity of Number Zero.

So Episode 13 continued in the strange and hard to follow vein of the previous two episodes. While this episode finally answered the question of how Sota truly acquired the ability to see the flags, I still found myself still feeling as if I had more questions than answers at the end of the episode. The ending also felt rather vague.

We also never received a definitive answer when it comes to Megumu. Is Megumu a boy that looks like a girl, or is Megumu really a girl trying to disguise as a boy? There were hints that Megumu was really a girl, but no definitive answer was given either way.

And now that I’ve finished Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, I find myself regretting having ever started it. The first episode had shown so much promise, but after the first two or three episodes, the series devolved into a typical harem anime. But then with Episode 11, it suddenly became a sci-fi concept that appeared to be based around The Matrix. 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 definitely not in a hurry to ever watch Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara ever again. It was ultimately a series that showed some promise early on, but ended up falling flat on its face by the time it ended.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 12 – “It’s a Cruel World. I’m Going to Take a Look in the Shadows.”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

Episode 12 sees Sota fighting with the creatures known as “The Angel Boat” in cyberspace. He discovers he has a power he can use to take these creatures down. Unfortunately, after these creatures are defeated, more of them spawn. Over time, we see that Sota is getting worn down.

Nanami remembers what happened on the final day of the festival, where everyone except her has forgotten about Sota. We also see that she tries to take them to his room at Quest Dorm and finding that the door is locked. She’s told the door was locked after Akane fell through the floor and there was an accident; fortunately, she wasn’t hurt.

We then see that Mimori is graduating and everyone is moving out of Quest Dorm. We see that it’s the rebuilt version, but we hear that the dorm was slated for demolition after Mimori graduated. We also hear some of the others wonder why they ever lived in that dorm, since it’s so far away from campus.

As the others leave, Nanami rushes into the dorm and forces the door open.  She finds a letter to Sota on the desk that’s written in her handwriting. Ruri enters, saying she didn’t expect Nanami to break through Sota’s protection mechanism. Ruri also says she’ll give Nanami back everything she’s been keeping, and then suddenly kisses Nanami.

Nanami learns about the various virtual worlds, and that she is actually Sota’s sister. We get a bit of background information, including the truth about Ruri and what Sota is doing. After learning everything, Nanami decides that she needs to save Sota, with the help of others who care about him. Nanami then sees Akane watching from the doorway, and Akane says she feels as if she’s forgotten something important. After they have an interaction, they see that the others are watching from the doorway.

Nanami takes the group to the secret area that Sota had found earlier in the series. As they think about Sota, a lock is unlocked, and Ruri activates her dimensional tracing program. They end up in cyberspace and come to Sota’s rescue right at the end of the episode…

This episode finally brings all of the various elements together and the story starts making a little more sense. Unfortunately, this has to be accomplished through a very lengthy “info dumping” scene that takes place when Ruri is able to reveal everything that’s been hidden from Nanami up to this point.

The main weakness for this series at this point 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 recent change to the darker sci-fi elements ended up being a very jarring transition, and I don’t believe that it worked well.

The next episode will be the final one of the series, and I wonder how this rather jumbled mess will ultimately come to an end.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 11 – “We Don’t all Have to Dance. I can Dance by Myself”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

At the beginning of Episode 11, we learn that the dark-haired girl who was running down the stairs and needing help is Serikyan, a popular idol singer that’s scheduled to perform on the last day of the school festival. Nanami turns out to be a big fan, and she lets Serikyan borrow her school uniform in order to blend in more. Serikyan says she came to check out the stage and wanted to enjoy the festival. Sota believes that Serikyan is the bard from the fairy tale story. Nanami and Sota take Serikyan around the school fair.

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time finding this to be believable. According to Nanami, Serikyan is a hugely popular idol and is the most popular at the moment; because of that, I can’t see her realistically being able to run around without some kind of a bodyguard protecting her. There was nothing to indicate that a bodyguard was hiding nearby in camouflage, and Serikyan never makes any kind of comment saying that she snuck away from her handlers, either.

Later, Serikyan tells Nanmi and Sota about how she became famous. When she first debuted as an idol, no one paid attention to her. At one point, she was about to give up, and a boy in a purple hoodie came up to her and said he sees a success flag over her head and that she shouldn’t give up. About six months after this encounter is when Serikyan finally found her success. Nanami figures out that this had to be Sota, and she gets mad about it. When Sota explains this happened at a time when he was ready to kill himself, Nanami is a little more understanding.

On the last day of the fair, Sota and everyone else at Quest Dorm attends the concert. Serikyan has a flag of light above her head, and so does everyone else in the audience; their flags emit light and connect with each other. Suddenly, a beam of light from Serikyan aims for Sota and hits him; when he touches it, time freezes around him.

Number Zero suddenly appears and explains everything, which comes across as having been inspired by The Matrix. Basically, the Council of the Seven Virtues created virtual worlds within a network to try to find a way to protect humanity from the Angel Boat, a system that exists in cyberspace to watch over the real world that went berserk. The council ran numerous simulations through these virtual worlds. Sota is informed that his power is the best weapon they have in order to save the world.

Now, wait a minute. It wasn’t that long ago that the Council of the Seven Virtues was upset about Sota having this power and claimed that it was too dangerous for him to have. Now they’re changing their tune and saying that they need him to use his power? I wish we could have seen a scene of the council discussing this and potentially changing their minds, because this just felt like it came completely out of nowhere and contradicts what had been said earlier.

Right at the end of the episode, something happens that makes Akane forget that Sota even exists; this catches Nanami by surprise.

Okay, so all this time was spent building up Sota’s harem, and now it potentially appears that all of them except for Nanami have forgotten him? Really? Then what was the point of spending so much time on the harem’s antics?

At this point, it really does feel like that more effort was spent on developing the harem part of the series than there was on the overarching story. The narrative has become quite a confusing and contradicting mess, and the overarching story seems to be relying too much on combining tropes from fantasy and sci-fi.

Fortunately, there’s only two more episodes of this series left. I’ll stick it out, but I’m going to go into the final episodes with very low expectations.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 10 – “Hold This for Me. The Winner of the Beauty Contest is Written Here.”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

Hakua officially becomes a member of Sota’s class at the beginning of Episode 10. This episode is also basically this series’ school festival episode, and it has a focus on the beauty pageant that opens the festival. It turns out that nine of the residents of Quest Dorm are entering the beauty pageant, and they ask Sota to nominate them all: Akane, Rin, Okiku, Mimori, Ruri, Mei, Hakua, Megumu, and Nanami. In Nanami’s case, she really didn’t want to enter, but the others pressured her into it.

The most important part of the episode is about halfway through, when Sota is thinking about his death flag and how he can’t get the fairy tale out of his head. He mulls over the fact that he found things that he thought were clues and he thought they would work, but nothing did. He starts feeling down and is having a hard time having fun. The only other important part of the episode is dialogue that Nanami says to Sota during the beauty pageant, which Sota has been forced to be on the judging panel for.

And I can’t forget that a new character makes a brief appearance right at the end of the episode. From what I saw in the preview for episode 11, it looks like this new character will be playing an important role.

Unfortunately, the little bit we got with Sota and the flags didn’t make up for all of the ridiculous crap that was in the episode surrounding the beauty pageant. They ended up doing a bunch of ridiculous things during the pageant, and also included a “fanservice” moment of turning the swimsuit competition into a wet t-shirt swimsuit competition.

For the most part, this episode felt like a waste of time. There’s still so many questions that haven’t been answered, and with only three episodes remaining, I have a feeling that the rest of the story will end up having to be rushed because enough time has been wasted over the course of this series on the harem aspect of the series instead of focusing on the overarching story of Sota and the flags. Hopefully there won’t be any more time wasting episodes before this series ends…

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 9 – “Someday, it’d be Nice if We Could all Go to a Festival Together Again”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

The episode opens with part of the fairy tale told in the lands from which Bladefield’s founding queen hailed. It ties in with Sota’s storyline and appears to be a metaphor for his life. We get to learn the rest of the fairy tale near the end of the episode. I really appreciated getting to learn about the fairy tale, because it starts explaining some of the other things that had been hinted at in earlier episodes of the series. I wish we could have gotten at least some of this explanation earlier in the series, rather than having to wait until Episode Nine.

Sota, Nanami, and Hakua arrive at the palace and meet Elia, the crown prince. While they hang out and watch TV, Elia comes on with a live press conference to announce that the king passed away that morning. He explains that the late notice is due to the fact that as soon as the king passed away, Elia’s younger brothers plotted to capture the crown and were subdued. It’s also revealed that in order to try to corner Elia into submission, an assassination attempt was made on Nanami and Hakua. Elia is then forced to admit that Nanami and Hakua are not the children of the king and that he is their true father. This confession catches Nanami and Hakua off-guard. Great job, there, Elia. The girls have to learn the truth of their parentage from a television news conference and not from him in person. Couldn’t he have had the decency to pull them aside before the press conference and told them the truth before blabbing it on live television?

Overall, the middle portion of the episode wasn’t terribly important. The only thing of note is the fact that Hakua officially joins the harem in this particular portion of the episode.

Near the end, Sota is approached by Number Zero, a member of the Council of the Seven Virtues; it turns out the council serves the Bladefield royal family. She asks him what the world is to him: is it symbol of hatred or does he love it so much he’d sacrifice anything to protect it? As he starts thinking, he thinks about all of the hatred that’s thrown his way for being the sole survivor of the accident, which goes to a thought of Sota trying to kill himself but not going through with it. He doesn’t have an answer for Number Zero, but she says she’ll be happy to hear his answer when they meet again.

I have to give this episode some credit for doing a bit to try to progress the storyline of Sota and the flags. However, at the same time, I’m also a little confused. In an earlier episode, it was hinted that Nanami was one of the heroes from the fairy tale. However, in this episode, it’s hinted that Nanami and Hakua are the two princesses in the story. So which role does Nanami actually play here? Hopefully we’ll get some clarification on how Nanami fits into the story soon.

From seeing the preview for Episode 10, it appears it’s going to be a story that’s not going to do much to progress the story of Sota and the flags. I’d say I was disappointed, but this series seems to have developed a habit of dropping hints and information for that storyline, and then doing or revealing nothing more for an episode or two.

According to MyAnimeList, there’s 13 episodes of the series, which leaves four more episodes. If I’m right about Episode 10 not doing much to progress Sota’s story, then that will only leave three episodes. At this point, I’m expecting some kind of lame ending and being disappointed in the fact that I invested any time in this series.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 8 – “I’ll catch up to you. Have I ever broken a promise to you before?”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

Episode Eight is set during Summer Break, and we see Sota hanging out at Okiku’s house. Rin sees them and gets into an argument with Okiku; however, just as the argument subsides, Ruri suddenly appears and takes Sota with her to Akane’s house.

Sota calls Okiku and Rin to tell him where he is, and they, along with Megumu, Mei, and Kurumiko arrive in order to spend time with Sota. We see some harem tropes take place, and then Akane calls Nanami. When Nanami finds out most of the residents of Quest Dorm are hanging out together at Akane’s place, she gets upset and invites them to visit her in the Principality of Bladefield.

After arriving in Bladefield, they ‘re taking a three-hour train trip to capital. The train makes a stop at one point, and a girl with long, silvery hair gets onto the train. Sota meets her and learns she is Hakua Berserker Bladefield, the 14th crown princess of the Principality of Bladefield. Nanami gets upset when she sees Sota with her, and we learn that while the two princesses may be sisters (although with different mothers), they are not close. Near the end of the episode, Nanami and Hakua are targets in an attempted assassination attempt, and it’s up to Sota to try to save them…

Unfortunately, most of this episode returned to focusing primarily on the harem aspect of the series again. This was rather disappointing after getting some more development about Sota’s ability in Episode Seven. While I understand that some of what happened at the beginning of the episode needed to happen in order to set up what happens in the Principality of Bladefield, I felt this went for a little too long and didn’t really accomplish much of anything. In fact, the harem and the harem tropes took up a little over half of the episode. I nearly wanted to scream as the episode progressed because of it.

I have a suspicion that Hakua will somehow end up joining the harem by the end of Episode Nine. I’m sorry, but the harem is getting too big, and some of these characters are feeling a bit pointless for the overall story.

Luckily, there’s only a few more episodes to go. At this point, this series has been my biggest disappointment of the Spring 2014 season, and I’m looking forward to this one coming to an end.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 7 – “I Learned Something Amazing. I’ll Hide Myself Before I can be Erased”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

In Episode Seven, the elder learns that Sota and Kurumiko have agreed to be brother and sister. He tells the elder he’d like to take Kurumiko back to the academy with him, if possible. They talk to Mimori, the student council president. To get Mimori to try to take on helping Sota out, the elder says that as compensation, Mimori can go on a date with Sota the next day. After some flustered awkwardness, she ends up agreeing to it.

They go out on their date the next day, and the two of them learn a little about each other during it. Some of the things that Sota says to Mimori reminds her of what someone else she knew before had said, and other comments that Sota makes pull at Mimori’s heartstrings, and she ends up falling for Sota. She also agrees to do whatever she can to help get Kurumiko into the academy.

When they board the bus to return to the academy, we learn that Mimori didn’t succeed. Mei, the new girl, witnesses what happens. When they return to Quest Dorm, they are surprised to see Kurumiko there. She says a nice girl helped her out, and Mei comes down the stairs. Later, we learn that Ruri altered the school’s data. The elder, Mimori, Kurumiko, and Mei also end up moving into Quest Dorm.

Sota talks with Mei, and learns that her ability to see flags is artificial and limited. She also reveals that his power is different and very powerful. She ends up taking him to an alternate world where he doesn’t exist; during one of their stops, he does something that alters the course of the alternate world. When they return, Sota coughs up blood and collapses. Sakura then appears and does something to Mei to cause her to lose her memory because she was helping Sota out too much in regards to the favor she asked Sota to do for her.

With this episode, we end up seeing two more girls officially joining Sota’s harem: Mimori and Mei. From the images I’ve seen in the opening, I believe we now have all the girls in place for the harem. Not only that, they all now live under the same roof at Quest Dorm.

At the beginning of the episode, there’s a scene where Sota and the others come across Megumu on the beach dressed as a girl. Ruri tells Megumu to tell the truth, a story is told that “his” sisters came by and switched out all “his” clothes for girls’ clothes. Sota seems to buy the explanation, although it sounds rather ridiculous and flimsy. Between this and the way Megumu acted in the previous episode, I have a suspicion that Megumu may actually be a girl disguising as a boy for some unknown reason.

The portion of the episode with Mei and Sota going into the alternate world was kind of interesting, and it started to shed a little bit more light on the flags and the Council of the Seven Virtues. So far with this series, the emphasis has been so strong on the harem aspect that this other material has only been coming out in occasional drabs and dribbles. Hopefully now that the harem seems to the established, more time will be spent on developing the flag part of the series.

This is finally starting to get a little more interesting, but it’s disappointing that it took so long to get to this point. To be honest, if I wasn’t watching this series in order to write about it for my blog, then I probably would have dropped it before reaching Episode Five.

I’ll continue watching Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara in order to see if perhaps the second half of the series is stronger than the first.

Review: Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: Episode 6 – “Phew. Don’t scare me like that. I guess you’re just a little sister.”

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara focuses on a boy named Sota Hatate, who has an ability to see flags over people’s heads and know how they’re feeling or what will happen to them; he also knows what he needs to do to break the flag over someone’s head. In the first episode, he meets Nanami and Akane at Hatagaya Academy. At the end of the first episode, Sota sees a death flag over Akane’s head; however, he’s unable to make it break. He decides he has to change the flag, so he kisses her to change it to a conquest flag. The stage is set for the beginning of a harem. In Episode Two, Sota’s old friend Okiku returns, and becomes the “big sister” type for his harem. A boy named Megumu is also introduced, but he’s constantly mistaken for a girl because of how he looks.

Episode Six introduces the Council of the Seven Virtues, which is a group that says it cures the Earth of its plagues (the plagues include humanity). Sota is mentioned during their meeting as a heretic that can perceive flags and controls fate with his own hands.

After this, a new transfer student named Mei Daimyouzamurai joins Sota’s class. It turns out she also has an ability to see flags over people’s heads, and she pulls the same stunt that Sota did in the first episode when other students were trying to befriend him. Unfortunately, this is all we see of Mei in this episode.

It turns out the class is being split into two groups for a trip: one for a beach trip and one for a forest trip. However, Sota has been assigned to be on the beach trip for the first half and the forest trip for the second, thanks to the student council president.

Sota has a rough time on the beach trip, because being around the ocean makes him think about being the sole survivor from the Premium Ambriel and it makes him nauseous. While he’s on the beach trip, he meets a middle school girl named Kurumiko Daishikyougawa; she’s an orphan who sells popsicles on the beach in order to make money to live on and to save up to go to school.

Near the end of the episode, Sota learns something about Kurumiko that gives them a connection to each other. He also sees death flags appear over her head, and tries to find a way to break them…

The beginning of the episode introduces a new concept (the Council of the Seven Virtues) as well as a new character. However, nothing more is done with either the new concept or the new character after the first few minutes of the episode. But in seeing the preview for Episode Seven, it looks like Mei will play a major role in it. The other new character, Kurumiko, plays a very important role in this episode. Apparently, her last name means “bishop,” so it looks like Sota may have found the bishop character.

The more I’ve watched the series, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that the harem aspect is what was developed the most, and the concepts with the flags and the Council of the Seven Virtues were more of an afterthought. Basically, the flag concept seems to be there more as a way to make this show seem like it’s less of a harem series than it really is. Overall, not a lot is done with the flags, and the concept doesn’t seem like it’s as developed as it really should be.

From what I’ve seen, it appears we’re about halfway through this series, At this point, most of the characters don’t seem to be very well developed; in fact, the majority of them basically fall into character types that one would expect to find in a harem show. There’s very little here to truly make me care about most of the characters in the series.

At this point, I’m only following Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara because I’ve already made it this far in, and it would be a waste to quit now. But like I said in my writeup for Episode Five, I’m at a point in this series where I go into it not expecting much from it anymore.