Flag: Courage and Hope

Out of the diverse library of anime I’ve watched, Flag strikes me as very unique. It makes me feel that I’m watching a war documentary in a not-so-different alternate world where bipedal robots work. It’s camera porn, complete with film grain. The characters are all well-portrayed and believable, and the story has solid focus. Even its one tangential episode was meaningful and relevant.

Someday I will turn this into my banner.

Someday I will turn this into my banner.

Shirasu is awesome. She’s a refreshing type of protagonist in war anime: she sees the horrors of war firsthand, but doesn’t cartoonishly whine how terrible war is and how we should stop fighting. Instead, she clicks the shutter. There is a large amount of courage at work here, throwing yourself into the battlefield with only a flimsy helmet and vest for protection in order to take pictures.

And the show doesn’t mince scenes on how dangerous Shirasu’s work is. She gets thrown around in her helicopter seat. She gets nasty cuts from exploding debris. But she doesn’t turn tail. Instead she keeps on inching forward, looking for a good shot. Why? Because she loves to take pictures, that’s all. And she also knows how to have fun, even if she has utterly unkawaii tastes.

This pic is weirdly cute.

This pic is weirdly cute.

I also love the other characters. Akagi, Shirasu’s sempai and the show’s POV character, is a hardboiled journalist with a big heart, and the SDC is made up of real professional soldiers. The Japanese pilot is awesome without being a hot-blooded idiot! The doctor was pretty cool, too. I wish the show had more yak action. The chef also reminded me of Nadesico’s chef, who also shares the same philosophy at work. I wouldn’t mind eating his Sinigang everyday~

Oh, I'm such a tease.

Oh, I'm such a tease.

The mecha action in Flag is something to be seen. That said, I like how most engagements are shown in first person, complete with sophisticated interfaces. The chain gun also sounds like a real chain gun, which is a rare thing in anime. And the show makes it clear that piloting a HAVWC is srsbzns! I’d love to have a job calibrating these babies.

flag picture

In the end, Flag is Shirasu’s story, but I’m afraid it’s too real to give us the pleasure of a comic book ending. I would like to know more about her (and see her in more flattering clothes), but perhaps Shirasu’s most famous picture tells more about her than more episodes could. It is a prayer of hope in the highest sense. Hope doesn’t need lengthy speeches, nor does it need to justify itself. Bombs and bullets, physically fatal as they are, cannot kill the spirit of human beings. Shirasu, Akagi muses, is like Kufura, the living goddess of Uddiyana, who exudes hope. Flag is the story of a legend, and how a handful of brave men and women fought to keep it safe. Watch it, if you haven’t done so yet.

PS: The ED is a beautiful, moving piece–especially the final shot at the very end. ;_;

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6 Responses to Flag: Courage and Hope

  1. I have a lot of time for Flag, partly because I always have time for Takahashi, and partly because I’m inclined to agree with Mark’s assessment (at COLONY DROP) that it’s something like ‘the final evolution of Real Robot’. There are one or two scenes in the show which are just brilliant.

    That said, I didn’t feel that much of an attachment to the characters, and I felt it could have handled its ‘real world’ credentials a bit better – it seemed to have an unreasonably positive view of journalists, for example (though given that Akagi supposedly put the thing together that might be to be expected!), and a rather simplistic idea of religious faith.

    In a way, though, it’s a testament to Flag‘s quality that I’m making those kinds of criticisms, not ‘it was badly animated’ or ‘there were too many prettyboys’.

  2. Ian K says:

    I’ve seen the first DVD of Flag, but haven’t had a chance to see the rest yet. It is certainly interesting, but I’ll need to more to decide just how much I like it.

    Another minor quibble that annoyed me was how everyone in the ‘international’ special forces team had Japanese names. How difficult could it have been to give them non-Japanese names appropriate for their background?

  3. ghostlightning says:

    I have this, will watch it sooner or later.

  4. animekritik says:

    @Ian K

    Inability of Japanese to think outside of the Japanese box is always baffling…until you realize it’s not an inability at all, but unwillingness.

  5. schneider says:

    @ IKnight

    I’m ignorant with journalists and their world, but I enjoyed seeing Akagi work in the city.

    My next Takahashi stop would be VOTOMS. A generous estimate of when I’ll finish it: in half a year.

    @ Ian K

    Huh? Their names are pretty international to me, except for the obvious Japanese pilot. I checked the dub track too, to be sure.

    @ ghostlightning

    Yes, please.

  6. Funeral says:

    I’ve always found this to be an interesting and always wanted to watch it.

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