If Her Flag Breaks is based on a Japanese light novel series written by Takei Tōka, with illustrations by Cuteg. The story has elements of romance, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, and harem. It follows the protagonist Hatate Sōta, a high school boy who suffered a terrible tragedy aboard a ship in his past. A transfer student to Hatagaya School, Sōta has the ability to see people’s fate in the form of flags atop their heads, like he is inside a video game. He can alter their fates depending on his verbal responses to them, thereby “breaking” their flags. But there is one girl at school Sōta eventually befriends for whom he can’t see any flags for, Nanami Knight Bladefield, thirteenth crown princess of the small European kingdom of Bladefield. Then there is also the very charming, friendly, and wealthy Mahōgasawa Akane, granddaughter of the great Mahōgasawa Foundation. Her flags won’t break no matter what Sōta says to her. She just keeps sprouting more. Sōta eventually gathers even more beautiful girls around him, including an old childhood friend, Shōkanji Kikuno, who pretends she is his older sister, Eiyūzaki Rin, a member of the archery club who turns out to be yet another childhood friend of Sōta’s who was a tomboy when the two were kids, and even the bishonen Tōzokuyama Megumu, whom everyone is always confusing for a girl.
Over the course of the series, a number of the girls, even the ones who initially come into the series as typical tsundere characters develop a crush on Sōta and the weight of the world does seem to lift a bit from his shoulders, but revelations to him about what is really going on (i.e. why he can see flags and control people’s fates) once again begin to take their toll on him.
The concept of If Her Flags Breaks was really quite interesting, but overall I would say that this series was not strongly executed. It feels like too many elements of what is expected of an anime series tossed together in a stew that doesn’t ever meld. The first half is the stronger half, where it is played as more of a strict high school/harem series with Sōta the ever-clueless teenage boy suddenly surrounded by gorgeous girls. But the second half of the series spins off into some sort of wild, psychological sci-fi territory that is reminiscent of The Matrix, if The Matrix also had sexy androids and secret religious orders. Yes, I said sexy androids, because Sōta has had one of those all along living with him as well, and no one seems to even bat an eye at it. The ending of this season is a bit confusing, to say the least.
The biggest strength of the series are the character designs which are quite moe and kawaii. We also get good background artwork, but even with all of that, it’s not like the imagery breaks new ground. And If Her Flag Breaks is given just a T/13+ rating by NIS, so anyone hoping to get a more salacious view of all of those cute anime girls is SOL.
A generally strong looking release, the digital animation for If Her Flag Breaks gets a 1080p AVC encodement to Blu-ray from NIS America where the only weakness is sort a veil of softness over the image, either buy artistic intent or otherwise. Other than that, colors look magnificent and issues with banding are extremely limited.
The Japanese LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kHz/16-bit) track is a solid one with clean full dialogue, good dynamic range, and solid stereo imaging.
The real treat is the Guide Book and of course the premium edition collectible chipboard slipcover that house the discs and book. On-disc extras are minimal and of the typical promotional and clean animation sort.
- Clean Opening
- Clean Ending
- Character Trailers
- Commercial Bumps
- Japanese Commercials 1
- Japanese Commercials 2
- Guide Book with cast & crew interviews, character profiles, credits
The Definitive Word
An uneven series with an original plot that is not put together well, If Her Flag Breaks is flawed and doesn’t use its potential wisely. The character designs are appealing, but not groundbreaking in this sometimes funny, sometimes romantic, sometimes completely out of left field series.
Additional Screen Captures