Sun, 2 December 2007
Anime DVD review for Flag Volume 1 from Bandai, Episodes 1-4, 100 minutes. List Price: $29.98.
If you were born in the last 50 or so odd years, then you are part of a multi-generation raised on images, especially those emanating from television, film, and, more recently, buzzing across the internet in a single lightspeed bound. The traditional news media like newspapers and magazines are outdated almost as soon as they are published and are casting an increasingly nervous eye at websites and bloggers. These days images can spark wars or take a hand in ending them. This is the case with Flag, a 13 episode anime series that was originally broadcast as a pay per view web video show.
The focus of Flag is a on a single photo taken by a war photographer named Saeko Shirasu in the civil war-torn country of Uddiyana which at times seems a cross between Afghanistan and Tibet, if that makes any sense. The United Nations has come in to help stop the fighting. Saeko takes a shot of a UN flag that highlights a silhouette of someone on their knees praying behind it, which comes to symbolize the call for peace between the government and the insurgents. But as is always the case in wars, there are some individuals or groups whose agendas are best served by fighting. On the eve of the peace talks, the famous flag from the picture is stolen by an insurgent group and is spirited away to a heavily protected fortress. A special forces military unit, the SDC, is prepped to steal the flag back before the fragile peace is shattered. The SDC is equipped with HAVWC technology, which in anime terms means "Mecha"! The UN wants someone to document the mission and the best person to do that is Saeko.
Flag has a very weird storytelling strategy, or "gimmick". The anime is shot from the perspective of image making machines, whether it be still shots from a camera, video footage, computer menus, sometimes, even through a character's reflection on a monitor. While this is somewhat unique, in the end it becomes annoying to see every cutscene done with a clicking mouse icon on a computer monitor or some such. It also makes the anime seem very cheap, like maybe that didn't do the camera perspective to be original, but to cut costs. I would say that about 75% or more of this first volume is still shots, menu screens, or scenes where there is very little motion. I will say the music is well done and atmospheric. But that's pretty sad when I can say that is the only thing done well. I think the MESSAGE of the show is very important and timely and it deserved a lot more tender loving than Flag gets. It also suffers from the whole Blair Witch Syndrome. I mean, do people actually record everything they do and and leave their cameras on even when they're eating? At some point the constant filming becomes a little unrealistic. The characters seem quite interesting and I would like to see them in a more traditionally styled anime instead of a dehumanizing fishbowl view.
My Grade: D-
Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 2:24pm CDT