There are massive SPOILERS here!

A tale that sounds suspiciously similar to the story of this anime…

Episode 9 Summary:

Following Hakua’s attempted assassination; Souta, Nanami, and Souta finally arrive at the Bladefield castle.  En route, Souta learns that the Council of Seven Virtues is part of the Bladefield government. (That’s the group Mei belonged to)  At the castle, Souta is reunited with the rest of the gang, after which they meet with Elia, the Crown Prince.

Here we are introduced to the lovely Zero, who is totally not evil at all, nope.

That night, Elia reveals that the King has died.  He also reveals another shocker—that Nanami and Hakua are actually not the king’s children… but rather his own.  In the following days, there is a funeral held for the king, and also a coronation for the new king.  Hakua and Nanami are obviously saddened over this, so Souta attempts to comfort them.

Eventually, it’s about time for everyone to return to Japan for school.  The night before their return trip, Souta is greeted by Zero, the leader of the Council Seven.  She tells him a tale of a boy who sacrificed his life to save two princesses, and became a flag.  Souta realizes right away that the tale is suspiciously similar to the events of his own life, and is thrown into a deep despair.   Zero leaves him to muse about what she’s told him.

Literally the only thing I could think of during this whole scene was “…holy shit…”

In the episode’s stinger, we learn that Souta’s sister is still alive after all…

Episode 10 Summary:

Souta and gang return back to school.  Hakua ends up going with them all and is enrolled into Souta’s school as a student.  The school festival starts up soon after, and Souta accidentally signs up everyone in Quest Dorms to be a beauty pageant contestant.

During the festival preparations, Souta is still in despair over his fate.  Nanami notices this but Souta dodges the subject.  One night, after a long day’s work, Souta, Akane, Nanami, and Meg go out to buy snacks.  The four end up having a fun time just goofing off, and Souta decides that, even if he is to die, he’s fine with living life as he has and having fun with everyone.

I couldn’t get a good cap of all four of them goofing off, but this entire scene was just heartwarming.

When the festival starts up proper, Souta is recruited (against his will) to be one of the judges for the beauty pageant.  After some embarrassing contest events, the last event is a “love confession” one.  Nanami is up first, and she tells Souta that she’s noticed he was sad, but is happy that he’s gotten strong enough to get over it on his own.  This touches Souta… and everyone else so much that they all agree to let Nanami be the beauty pageant winner (much to her chagrin).  Nanami gets Souta all to herself that afternoon, which she spends by… eating everything she can.  Not long after, a mysterious girl crashes into Souta, asking him to hide her.

Tsumugi, just how old are you…?

This is the face of a man whose soul has died.

BEST GIRL

My Opinion:

Episode 9 was a fairly WHAM episode, with revelations and twists every few minutes.  However, I ended up not enjoying it as much as episode 10, even with episode’s 10 rather cringe-worthy fanservice shenanigans.

Episode 9’s pacing felt way too rushed.  We’re introduced to Elia, who’s the crown prince—but oh wait, he’s actually Nanami’s and Hakua’s father!  And, oh wait again!  He’s actually evil!  Introducing a new villain in just one episode isn’t great, because Elia hasn’t shown up enough to make a real impact.  Zero, who’s more of the “villain” of this series, finally gets a formal introduction in this episode.  What is up with her mask?  That mask just screams “I’M EVIL!” so I’m sort of surprised that Nanami and Hakua are just like “whatever” about it.  They are also rather unfazed by the Council of Seven Virtues, whose members walk around in broad daylight with hooded cloaks on.  I suppose they’ve just grown used to it, growing up as royalty in the Bladefield kingdom.  But when has a group whose members wear hooded cloaks ever been a good thing?

Zero has always been a shady figure before, and she spends absolutely no time in her introductory episode making herself out to be as evil as possible.  Turns out that she was the one who orchestrated the assassination attempt on Hakua as a “test.”  She also tells Souta the story about the boy sacrificing himself just to throw Souta into despair.  Though, I get the strange feeling that Zero may actually be some sort of alternate world Nanami… (the hair style definitely throws some possible hints at that…)

One thing I really liked about episode 9 was the tale/legend that the Bladefield kingdom has; the one that Zero tells to Souta.  It’s obviously meant to mirror the events of the series so far, right down to the part where Mei loses her memories.  It also contains a huge amount of foreshadowing—namely, Souta’s death, but also that one of the princesses decided to keep the “flag” to herself.  I get the sinking feeling that that’s referring to Hakua.  Will Hakua end up turning “evil” due to her obsession over Souta?  I guess only time will tell…

While the pacing for episode 9 was kind of iffy overall, I really loved the last few minutes of the episode.  We finally see the aftermath of the cruise ship incident, and just how badly Souta’s life got.  I think this episode is the darkest one we’ve seen so far, as it pretty much outright shows us that he tried to kill himself because he had severe survivor’s guilt.  No wonder Souta was so depressed upon coming to Quest Dorms… Poor guy.

Annnnnnd then we move on to episode 10, which quickly throws the series back into the comedy.  The whole extended swimwear competition was rather unnecessary (though it’s pretty obvious why it was included).  And, to be totally honest, it made me groan as much as Souta did.  However, even with that and the comedy (as the whole gang gets the spotlight this episode), the episode still carries the somewhat more somber tone of the last one fairly well.  Souta is still shown to be depressed about what he heard from Zero.  But more importantly, this time, only Nanami notices it.  It’s a rather nice, subtle relationship development between Nanami and Souta.

I also loved the late night snack run scene, where the gang just goofs off, acts silly, and laughs over nothing.  It seems at first like a pointless scene, but I think it captures the feeling of being with good friends perfectly.  When you’re with some good friends, you can still enjoy the moment even when you aren’t doing anything too interesting.  This scene is what ends up motivating Souta to continue living, even though he knows he may die at any moment; and that is why it rockets to the top of my “favorite moments” list.

The beauty pageant is mostly just a montage of the characters doing dumb things, but the ending was rather poignant.  While Nanami doesn’t actually “confess” like she was supposed to, it’s a nice scene that shows Nanami warming up to Souta as a friend.  People might call her “tsundere,” but I choose to believe that she’s just “strong-willed” instead.  I absolutely loved what she chooses to do with her “free afternoon with Souta” pass.  Stay classy, princess.

Overall, a great two episodes.  Although both have their own share of problems, I still think they’re two of the better episodes we’ve had so far.  Oh yeah, we also get a new character in episode 10.  She appears to be the final character in “If her Flag…”s cast (I hope).  It’s a little problematic having a new character appear so late in the season, but I hope she ends up getting sufficiently developed before the series is through.

Out of five for both episodes:

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Have a cool eyecatch of Ruri since she hasn’t actually shown up too much lately.