Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara – 10

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What a strange and beguiling little series this is.

It was announced this week that Gaworare is going to get an OAD this December (a Christmas episode, written by the original author, Takei Touka).  That’s nice to hear, especially as we’re certainly not going to get another season – I’ve grown quite fond of this weird gem, which is quite unlike any anime I’ve seen in quite some time.  I’m not surprised that the anime isn’t especially popular, given what it’s satirizing and how different a show it is that first impressions would lead you to believe.

Watching Gaworare and Gokukoku no Brynhildr back-to-back is very interesting, because they’re very different series that nevertheless share the common trait of being heavily laden with both comedy and drama.  Brynhildr is an overtly serious show that’s often very funny and Gaworare is an overtly funny show that’s often dead-serious, but above and beyond that I think the difference is that while the two halves of Brynhildr co-exist quite naturally, with this series it seems as if the author (and the director as well) is trying to intentionally generate some shock value by exploiting the glaring contrast between how genuinely dark and foreboding the show can be, and how outrageous the comedy is.  And it works.

After last week’s episode – which was very dark indeed – naturally, we return with one of the most abjectly absurd and comic episodes yet.  Hakua has returned to Quest dorm to live with the others, others.  And it’s just in time for the school festival, which naturally enough involves a “Miss Hategaya” contest, in which the entire field naturally enough consists of Souta’s harem (which naturally enough includes Megumu).  All through this, of course, Souta is still consumed with what he saw in Bladefield, and what it might mean for him, but as always the idiot brigade around him plows forward without  seeming care in the world.

The contest is really a showcase for Gaworare to display just how adroitly it’s able to keep it’s balance when it comes to satirizing and downright parodying the LN cliches at the heart of the cast.  The show is genuinely ruthless in this respect, as displayed by just how shameless and exploitative the contest is – with everything from wet T-shirts (again, naturally involving Megumu) to declarations of love.  But the characters themselves are brought off with such affection and they’re so genuinely likeable that Gaworare somehow manages to bring off a sequence like this as a merciless caricature and a loving homage.  I don’t know how – it really doesn’t seem possible – but it does.  I’ll give credit to the novelist as I’m sure that’s a part of it, but having an ace director like Watanabe certainly isn’t hurting the cause.  I’m starting to get what he saw in this property.

Not satisfied with that, though, Gaworare manages to finish the episode on a genuinely sentimental note with – of all things – Nanami’s confession at the contest.  Basically, she touches Souta’s heart by (in her tsundere way) letting him now that she sees how wounded and scared he is, and that he’s not alone.  This is made a joke of – Ruri notes that it was a “marvelous confession utilizing your gap moe” and that “your tsundere power has surpassed 530,000.” – but it’s arguably the most emotionally intense moment of the entire series.  I very much like that this show is capable of achieving such extremes in so many different tonal directions, because there just aren’t a lot of them that make the effort.  It’s going to be forgotten rather quickly once it’s gone, I suspect, but I can say that I’m certainly going to remember Gaworare, and fondly too.

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  1. F

    I couldn't agree more. This series will indeed be forgotten, and it is a pity, because it really is excellent on many levels.

    For myself satire, parody on ruthless levels, dark humor and the like are not things I really either look for or (when I see or get them) appreciate… generally speaking, of course. But one of the things I do look for is a feeling of sincerity, and Nanami's confession scene in the pageant was wonderfully done.

    Brynhildr did not click with me for whatever reasons, but this odd duck did, and I am very happy I forced my self to stick with it past three eps, it finally gelled with me around ep 5 iirc.

  2. m

    I'm surprised that this show isn't popular. It feels like the type of show that even the people who love the things being mocked would still like. Like you said "a merciless caricature and a loving homage." I guess some people are too defensive about the weird stuff they like. Hopefully they'll give us a concrete ending, or at least resolution to the whole death flag business.

  3. D

    Yeah, this really seems like the type of anime that I'll endlessly and tiresomely bring up in a lot of 'most underrated shows' lists, because it really is kind of an underdog this season. I suppose it's too odd and these kinds of satires usually don't do too well – as I remember, Kaminomi was never a superseller either and Outbreak Company also bombed. Meanwhile, Infinite Stratos 2 sold more than all of them together. Grmbl…

    Well, won't stop me from loving it. The sense of fun this show has is really addictive, and combined with it taking the piss out of stupid yet common tropes and poignant character-building (Nanami's confession was quite d'aww worthy), this episode showcased all the reasons I got attached to Gaworare in the first place. Truly a show I'll miss once it's over.

  4. D

    Also, because I forgot to bring it up, its lack of viewers in the west are probably (hopefully) for different reasons. I get the feeling a lot of people never gave this a chance, based on the non-conventional designs and the ideathat the show would be a gimmicky harem-comedy like Noucome or something. They couldn't been more wrong, obviously, but good luck trying to convince them of that. This show just doesn't get enough exposure, I suppose.

  5. This is in some ways a better version of O.C., yeah. I would say that show didn't quite bomb – sales were more so-so than awful.

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