Series recommendation - Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta...

in #anime8 months ago

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The isekai genre. One soul is transported into another world of fantasy. Be it an actual world of magic and fantasy or a world a game turned reality, the main character will set out to explore and experience everything the world has to offer. But what's this? Many of the isekai series are mainly geared towards the teenage boy or 'shounen' demographic, depicting a fantasy adventure of fighting, exploring, training or just plain screwing around. Is there any isekai series made for teenage girls, the shoujo demographic?

YES, THERE IS! An isekai genre specific to the shoujo demographic! Every bit the same transferred into a fantasy world, this time a bit more centered and enclosed. For an isekai shoujo series, the story will be set in the world of commoners and nobles. Hardworking commoners. Prim and proper nobles. Fancy backgrounds. Beautiful scenery. Beautiful men and women. Welcome to shoujo isekai!

So what does shoujo isekai have to offer? Romance of course! The enticing nature of fantasy noble life. The dramas where words are weapons of war. Brilliant cast of beautiful and regal men and women in a high class setting. Truly fantastic for romance. Just like all isekai, the main character is introduced to another world while retaining their memories. The world is always the world crafted from a romance novel or an otome game that the main character indulged in.

What is an otome game? It is a dating simulator for the shoujo demographic. Game is played by controlling a heroine character and capturing the hearts of beautiful men through choices and actions. Naturally, there will be rivals to the heroine for each capture target and the heroine must outmaneuver them to capture the love interest. But this story is quite special. Other than being born in an otome game world, there are special twists in the story's setting that makes it much more interesting. This is an isekai story of a girl who recovered her memories from a previous life and discovers that she is in a world exactly like an otome game she played in her previous life. The twist, she is the villainess from the otome game. My recommendation: ‘Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shite shimatta...’ | ‘I Reincarnated into an Otome Game as a Villainess With Only Destruction Flags…’ by Yamaguchi Satoru.

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Also known as ‘Destruction Flag Noble Girl Villainess’, ‘Destruction Flag Otome’, or the more affectionate nickname ‘Bakarina’.

Now, based on the long title, you pretty much get the gist of the story. Having suffered a blow to her head, Katarina remembers the memories of her past life. She was once a Japanese teenage girl in modern Japan who died in a traffic accident. As she watches her surroundings with her new found perspective, she recognizes that the world around her is reminiscent of the world of an otome game she played in her previous life. And when she looks at herself, she recognizes Katarina Claes, the main villainess in the game.

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What a predicament!

Having played the game already, Katarina knows what twisted fate lie for her in the future. Of all the characters in the game, Katarina is the only one who dies in the end. Getting killed by her lover or her adopted brother, even execution. Bad ending or not, she dies in the end. Lamenting her fate, Katarina curses the game developers for spiting Katarina Claes. With a new found purpose and her memories from Japan about the otome game, Katarina is determined to take action and avoid all the death flags in the game.

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Striking down death flags as they come!

Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta, or Hamefura (‘Hame’, Hametsu; ‘Fura’, Furagu [Flag]) for short is a romcom of a reincarnated girl trying to avoid the death route of an otome game world. However, the girl in question is quite a naïve airhead. Yes, an innocently stupid girl. This series will mainly feature this foolish girl and her antics that charmed those around her.

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Females characters as well.

Let’s focus on Hamefura’s centerpiece; the main character Katarina Claes. She is the daughter of Duke Claes who got engaged with the Third Prince, Gerald Stuart. After retrieving the memories of her previous life, she has replaced her arrogant and mean villainess personality with a mellowed, innocent one. And in spite of her memories that are teenage in age, her mind accurately resembles a child. An energetic, bold and cheerful child.

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Childlike in every way.

And it is exactly this childlike innocence and positivity that won over the hearts of characters and readers alike. Her antics are troublesome and often caused by her own foolish interpretations. Yet everyone knows that she means well and warms up to her. Even the readers accepts her and even nicknamed her ‘Bakarina’ a wordplay of Katarina and ‘baka’(fool). And for the characters who had their hardships, she comes in headstrong and takes over the situation, often resolving their hardships altogether.

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And often as a result, love blossoms.

The story isn’t too complex. Despite the grim situation of a death flag, the story in its entirety is pretty peaceful and joyful. This is brought about by charming and beautiful characters and the simple version of high society the blends in with backgrounds as beautiful and bright as gems. The hallmarks of an otome game.

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This series is incredibly charming.

Atlas, for this charming series, it could only appeal to so much people. Due to its niche nature, there are flaws that some people may find unappealing. Hamefura is an isekai series target for the ‘shoujo’ demographic. Thus, it is structured around its characters and their interactions and drama. Those who frequent isekai series will find this lacking as the setting is rather small and characters don’t venture out to explore the world. No action, adventure or conflict. Hamefura may feel suffocating to some. Nonetheless, if one enjoys slice of life, comedy and romance, Hamefura will be a treat.

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A lovely, lovely treat.

Now, for the main character, Katarina Claes. Her innocent and wacky antics might be off-putting for some. Mostly because they are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a dumb character. Katarina’s mistakes and misunderstandings may come off cute for those who like her, but those things also makes her look incompetent and annoying for others. And as the character that hold the whole story together, it can be a ‘love or hate’ flip of a coin.

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You either find her cute and funny or incompetent and annoying.

Now let’s delve deeper into Katarina’s role in the story. In spite of how much I like her character, Katarina is, for all intents and purposes, a Mary Sue. She has all the signs of a Mary Sue. As the main character of the story, she is the lynchpin that connects everything together. Everyone she interacts with will be affectionate towards her. She becomes essentially becomes the light of their life and they could not imagine a life without her. Furthermore, there is literally no character development for her, so for the entire story, inclusive of time skips, she has been the same dumb and innocent Katarina since the story started.

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No change at all even after years of growing up.

However, let’s not get caught up with Hamefura’s flaws. As I previously mentioned, Katarina is, for all intents and purposes, a Mary Sue. That means Katarina is intentionally portrayed as a Mary Sue for the story to proceed properly. Her lack of character development is tied to the fact that Hamefura is a simple comedy romance drama. The comedy in Hamefura is mainly slapstick comedy, where one is the idiot (boke) and the other is the straight man (tsukkomi). Katarina is the boke of the series while the other characters act as her tsukkomi. Because a lot of the comedy hinges on Katarina being Bakarina, there is absolutely no room for Katarina's character to develop and grow. So role of progressing the plot lies solely on the side characters.

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They literally carry the plot forward.

In spite of my dislike towards Mary Sues and Gary Stus, I still find Katarina very likable. It may very likely be her childlike character and the series being centered on romance and comedy. Hamefura is a simple story with likable characters and a cheerful color to it. It may be because of these reasons that I find the series fun and appealing. That’s why I labeled this series as a ‘love or hate it’ kind. How you would perceive Katarina will decide whether you like or dislike the series.

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A 50-50 flip of a coin. You either like or dislike Katarina Claes.

Hamefura is quite a popular series. It has a light novel series, a manga series and an anime release! The light novel has seven volumes released. Seven volumes! The otome game arc spans only two volumes. The Hamefura manga chapters is currently starting on the story of the third volume. Heck there is another manga featuring an alternate storyline where Katarina remembers the memories of her previous life a year before the otome game storyline ends. Less than a year before her destruction end.

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Look at that cute devilish smile.

And that’s not all. The Hamefura anime, which will likely to cover the first two volumes of the light novel has just started airing! Uchida Maada will voice Katarina Claes in the Hamefura anime. Having played the roles of the ditzy Ichinose Hajime from Gatchaman Crowds and the ‘chuunibyou who found love’ Takanashi Rikka from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, she will play the role of Bakarina exceptionally.

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I am already enjoying Uchida Maada’s performance in the anime.

Hamefura is one of the most popular shoujo isekai novels featuring the otome game villainess as the main character. Heck, it might have inspired the whole genre. There is a boon of shoujo isekai featuring the otome game villainess in the web novel sphere and there are many gems hidden among them. The Hamefura anime is the first foray into the genre and is the best candidate as the first flagship for isekai shoujo anime. It has great appeal to the general audience despite its 50-50 odds for the picky viewers. I sincerely hope the good reception will encourage the production studios to make more of these anime.

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Cheers to Bakarina. Break forth and lead the rest of the villainess anime to come!


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