The following assumes familiarity with the reviewed material. Spoilers below. Upon completing Flagtime also called Fragtime no one seems to be entirely sure which is the proper translation I was left with a feeling I find difficult to describe. Equal parts relief disappointment and confusion maybe. If nothing else Flagtime is a textbook example of how a lateseries development can torpedo a promising first half in almost any kind of series. Flagtime is your usual schoolgirl lesbians story with a small twist that one of the girls in the couple can stop time for 3 minutes a day and bring her girlfriend with her qualifies as small says a lot about how truly out there manga can be and for the majority of its read time it is above all pleasant and cute. POV character Moritani is adorably dorky and crushingly socially awkward in equal measure using timestops to escape awkward social situations can stunt ones development as it turns out its more with coprotagonist Murakami that issues start to emerge and theyre unfortunately not really evident until the end of the series. Murakami is both instory and out a hard girl to read. Throughout the manga Moritani wonders if shes being strung along by the other girl even after she and Murakami begin dating and for the majority of the story its easy to write this off as a combination of Moritanis social anxiety and the usual boneheaded lack of communication that tends to come part and parcel with romance manga both straight and gay. But....well as it turns out Moritani is completely right. She in fact is being strung along. We find out in Chapter 15 in a manga that is mind you only 17 chapters long that Murakami avoids considering her own feelings to a degree that suggests some deepseated mental issues and indeed earlier we learn both that one of her teachers occasionally gropes her and that some of her friends talk about her behind her back to her knowledge oh and we find out that she keeps a literal file on everyone in her school in the form of word card rings the kind one uses to memorize simple math facts as a child. Including Moritani. Were then treated to a genuinely very unsettling four page sequence which Murakami effortlessly coldreads her girlfriend and makes it seem like their entire relationship has been predicated on her bizarre desire to be used for the happiness of others. Its upsetting and by all rights this is the point in the story where one of two things should happen. Either wethe audiencehave been taken for a ride and this is actually a very dark manga about the consequences of naivety and how easy it is to abuse people or more likely Moritani and Murakami should begin the long hard process of healing what is clearly a quite damaged psyche on the latters part. It could well worm its way back to touching With the two both of whom have serious issues with stunted social development bringing each other out of their shell. In this version of the manga which perhaps exists in a parallel universe near to ours where this manga is a good deal better and some other manga is a good deal worse Flagtime is a 10volume comprehensive document of two girls finding happiness in each others judgementless love and slowly but supportively working through their issues. I have an inkling and it is just an inkling that something not unlike this may have in fact been the original intent. Because what actually happens seems like a greatly greatly abbreviated version of what I just laid out and while its better than the alternative it does give off the vibe of something that was supposed to be a much longer and more indepth story being rushed to a conclusion. Out of fear of being cancelled or some other factor I cannot say. But what were left with is a hypercondensed mini redemption arc that just doesnt really feel believable. And while I want these two to have found happiness in each other and I can buy that it does happen eventually some time some number of inuniverse years after the manga ends the actual ending were presented with just doesnt really work. So much emotional development is crammed into the final two chapters that when combined with dropped plot threads such as the overly touchy teacher the tennis club rep / mangaka Moritani befriends and Moritani coping with the eventual loss of her powers cancellation starts to look like the only sensible explanation. And its a genuine shame. Because this is a manga that clearly tried to be something much greater than what it actually was. And that hurts because when something aims low and is bad thats not really surprising. When something aims high and greatly undershoots its depressing because you can easily see how it mightve been so much better. So because it does ultimately end on a happy note and because it truly does try and because it does clearly have a heart to it Flagtime is hard to hate but its even harder to truly love despite how much I might want to. Generally it just leaves an impression of wasted potential and sadness at how it couldve been so much better.
65 /100
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