Mar 25, 2020
Qoaleth (All reviews)
When I first picked up "Blue Flag" there was a lot that was making it difficult to get into the story but by the end of the first volume I would have to say I was at least mildly enjoying this stock shonen romance story. The narrative centers on a basic love triangle, or maybe it’s a love quadrangle, or perhaps even a love pentagon? While it is obvious the focus will be on a core of three high school students that need to sort out their feelings for each other, every side character that is brought into the early story seemingly adds yet another layer to the network of relationships in which everyone appears to be in love with the wrong person. I wouldn’t say the characters were boring, but the angst of the main character, the earnestness of the girl, and the bubbly optimism of the best friend felt a little too convenient. Now for some these things will be exactly what makes the reading juicy, but in general people should brace themselves for an extensive use of misunderstandings to drive the plot alongside fairly predictable character growth moments. And in short that summarizes my take on this story – it looks like it’s going to play it close to the pre-constructed script of a romance manga, albeit with a shonen flair, and so anyone that is looking for a fresh take is unlikely to find anything too original to keep them going. Nonetheless, those already converted and looking for more in their favored genre of high school shonen romance will undoubtedly find plenty that keeps them turning pages.

As for the art, I felt it was really lacking throughout the exposition chapters. The pacing between the opening panels felt really stilted with gaps often forming as it tries to leave a little too much implied rather than shown. Similarly, each panel is incredibly sparse with next to no background art to help one feel like the world is full, and character expressions are drawn in such a small manner that they are overwhelmed by their white backgrounds. Further on that, character designs struck me as a confusing mixture of different series all hobbled together rather than having its own unique look – the main character strongly reminded me of Deku from "My Hero Academia," his cadre of loser friends appeared to be borrowed from Inio Asano’s "Dead Dead Demon's Dededededestruction," the best friend looks like every hunky high school boy drawn in a manga ever, and the main girl looks to be so faintly and uncertainly drawn as to be an afterthought. Still, I could see how some will see this as helping to powerfully convey the personality types of each character, and even being a bit original in not having a singular “look.” For me it just made it hard to see how everyone fit together as part of the same story.

In summary, the art just barely keeps the story afloat, and the story barely recommends itself beyond tried and true tropes. Judging this series on its opening volume, it leaves little to recommend itself if you didn’t already find the cover art or the back page description enough to make you want to throw yourself full on into it. For those that did find that enough, I think they’ll find about what they were expecting.