Synopsis: What would you do if you could stop time? Moritani for one is using her unusual ability to stop time for three minutes a day to observe the people around her. One day, she chooses to “observe” class idol Murakami’s panties—only to find herself in a very compromising situation when her classmate turns out to be immune to her power.
Because L didn’t really like the movie that much or want to write about it, I’m the one who’s going to be reviewing Flag Time, and since I don’t read any sort of manga, my perspective is that of someone who’s new and unfamiliar with the series. It’s quite different than what L’s perspective would’ve been, so I won’t be able to say much about how faithful it is to the source material or which medium did it better. I should also mention that since L has always called it Flag Time instead of Fragtime, that’s what I’m calling it. Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, and I’ve successfully reduced your expectations, let’s continue on to the review~
Coming in at only an hour long, Flag Time had big shoes to fill in order to live up to the expectations that yuri fans have come to expect in a post 2018 yuri anime world, but I hate to say that I was pretty disappointed by this OVA, and I think the biggest reason for that disappointment is the story.
From the outset, we get a glimpse of what makes this story unique: one girl’s ability to stop time for three minutes each day. For a yuri story, that’s a pretty unique premise, yet the first example of this we see is the girl using her ability to peek under another’s skirt. That’s sexual harrassment, kiddos. Yeah, it’s sure to get everyone’s attention, but it gets nonchalantly swept under the rug so easily that in this #MeToo movement of today, it’s a little uncomfortable to see something like that present, especially since this isn’t an anime that does it all for comedic purposes. Doing something like that in the name of comedy doesn’t make it right, but to me, it at least could make it tolerable. Anyway, this sets the stage for what’s to come, and what’s to come is a story that’s a lot more grounded than the sci-fi twist would lead you to believe.
At the heart of the story of Flag Time isn’t actually the ability to stop time, but rather the personal (and later relationship) issues of the two main characters. After Moritani’s perv moment, Murakami becomes interested in Moritani, and the awkward dance between the two girls begins. The next thing you know, despite their contrasting personalities, Moritani finds herself having feelings for Murakami, who has a ton of personal issues that really drive her to do all the outrageous things she does.
The Flag Time OVA does a pretty poor job of developing Murakami as a character, and all of her issues are either not addressed very well or are simply glossed over in order to move along with the story. Moritani’s a simpler (yet a no less stereotypical) character that’s really at the mercy of Murakami’s doings, and while Moritani has her own problems that she’s dealing with, it’s Murakami’s issues that drive the story. To me, they’re just not presented or explained in a very enjoyable way, which I think made Murakami appear like less of a believable character. Aoi Hana and Bloom Into You were two yuri anime that excelled in how their stories portrayed the struggles of their troubled characters, but Flag Time seems clumsy/lazy and just didn’t do this very well.
And then there’s the issue of romance, which I don’t think this anime really does all that well either. Anyone hoping for something on the romance level of Asagao to Kase-san. will be sorely disappointed, and for most of the OVA, Murakami and Moritani’s underlying issues ruin the hopes for a simple and sweet romance. Even towards the end when Moritani really confronts Murakami and there’s finally some semblance of story and character development, it all feels like too little, too late.
I’ve discussed the characters a little bit already, but let’s do it a little more. I didn’t really like these girls as much as I thought I would, and as I mentioned earlier, the biggest reason for that is probably because they’re both underdeveloped as characters.
Kase-san proved that an hour is more than enough time to introduce and endear your characters to an audience, so this was a major failing of Flag Time. I’m not really going to talk even more about the lack of character development, so I’ll mention how I wasn’t in love with the personalities of either Moritani or Murakami, and at times, I found myself struggling to find them all that likable.
I mentioned how romance isn’t this anime’s forte, yet in this yuri anime drought of ours, you can do a lot worse. Because of Murakami’s insistence on being who everyone seems to want her to be instead of who she wants to be, the more intimate moments between her and Moritani didn’t resonate with me all that much. Kisses and a little sensuality sound like it should be great, but when it’s one-sided and probably fueled by a lack of one’s self-respect, the moments like that felt anything but romantic to me. I’m sure some people will still enjoy them, but they’re just not my cup of tea.
I don’t know how many times on here I’ve mentioned that an anime has too many dman characters, so I’m ecstatic that this one only had one other notable character besides the two leads. She was totally forgettable, but I liked that all of the focus was on the two main characters, which makes it more awkward that their character development was so stunted.
Flag Time is from much of the same production team that was behind 2018’s Asagao to Kase-san., so it’s not surprising that this OVA isn’t a dud in either of these aspects. While I mostly enjoyed the art style, I don’t think this had as many really striking shots as Kase-san., so I didn’t find this to be as visually pleasant as it could’ve been.
One thing I found myself lamenting was how little music there seemed to be for a good portion of this OVA. There were a lot of instances (especially early on) in which I told myself that the right background music could’ve really elevated this scene and made it more impactful, so I feel like the lack of a lot of music wasn’t a smart choice. When the music was there, it was all so melancholic and sweet, really giving off the sweet romance vibes that the rest of this anime was missing. Tear Studio closed their doors after this project, yet the production values definitely weren’t the worst of this anime’s problems.
Overall, it turns out that Flag Time isn’t the yuri savior that we’ve been needing over the past year and a half. It takes the genuinely interesting concept of time manipulation and straps it to a rather mediocre teen drama that excels in neither romance nor drama, and it’s super disappointing that the story and characters see little in the way of actual development. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think 2018 raised the bar for yuri anime, and Flag Time just doesn’t meet my expectations. If you’re a yuri fan, I’d still recommend it, for the simple reason that there’s very little else worth watching right now and your opinions may vary from mine, but I can’t deny that I didn’t enjoy it very much.
+ It’s finally another yuri anime
+ Almost exclusively focuses on the two main characters
+ A couple more yuri kisses to add to the list
– The story disappoints in a major way
– The character development disappoints in a major way
– Was it really necessary to include the upskirt?
Total Enjoyment: 4