Taichi Futaba and Toma

Pride Month Reads: Blue Flag’s Finale Is All About the Choices We Make and Living in the Moment

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Spoilers for Blue Flag volume 8

In my quest to find more LGBTQ+ manga, this is the series I didn’t see coming. Blue Flag initially starts off as a love triangle with a queer twist, but throughout its volumes, it becomes a deeply meaningful coming-of-age story for its characters. As a writer, I’m glad that this isn’t an easy decision in regards to who our main boy (Taichi) ends up with. I’m also glad that this series is more than just its multi-sided love dilemma and is full of genuine conversations (both heartwarming and difficult) about sexuality, friendship, and love at a young age. 

That being said, as a reader? I HATE HOW DIFFICULT THIS IS AND I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO BE HAPPY! 

Is such a thing even possible?

Let’s find out!

The review for volumes 1 – 6 is here.

The review for volume 7 is here.

Synopsis for Blue Flag Volume 8

Cover to Volume 8

Toma and Futaba have their first sit-down talk after the big fight at school. Meanwhile, Taichi struggles with the problems that have been dumped in his lap by his friend’s choices, and he ends up distancing himself from Toma. Then, one day, Toma stops coming to school. Left in the lurch, what can Futaba and Taichi do? Everyone chooses their futures, and time marches on. Don’t miss the heartfelt conclusion of Blue Flag!

What this Pride Month Read has in store for you

Taichi made his choice

The tension between the characters is brutally honest, with onlookers trying to point the finger at who’s responsible for what’s going on with Toma and who Taichi’s gonna pick. What I love about this volume is the same thing I’ve loved about the series as a whole: it explores how its adolescent characters are dealing with their feelings, not just with Toma’s love confession, but with how others are reacting to it. Toma’s back at school and it’s pretty anticlimactic… until Taichi realizes how everyone outside of their friend group is acting toward them. It’s high school, so there are childish comments about how Toma should stay out of the locker room while Taichi’s changing, and other small remarks that begin to get under Taichi’s skin.

I know I’ve said it in previous reviews, but I really like how this isn’t a story where the major issue is blatant homophobia. That’s not to say that’s never brought up (ie: the big discussion revolving around Kensuke in volume 7), but in this volume, it’s more about the sudden burst of microaggressions now that Toma’s back in school. They aren’t outright malicious, but are still irritating, especially to Taichi, who doesn’t want to deal with the way things have changed between him, Toma, and even Futaba. Taichi cares for both Futaba and Toma, but it’s clear that something’s expected of him now that this “love confession” has happened. And it’s not like either character is making it any easier because, well, both of them are so damn likable. Even when Toma and Futaba finally talk the conversation is touching, despite them both having feelings for the same guy.

However, as always, Masumi is 100% blunt about the whole thing, forcing Taichi to really sit and explore how he feels about the entire situation and come to a decision.

From here on out there’s gonna be spoilers as I delve into the ending.

Spoilers!

Last warning for spoilers!

Okay, let’s get into the spoilers!

Taichi tells Toma that he wants Futaba to be by his side, happy and smiling, while he wants Toma to be there as his best friend. While this may feel like a rejection, knowing the importance of their friendship actually makes the declaration of Taichi wanting Toma to be his best friend pretty significant. It’s especially significant when you realize that, at the beginning of all of this, Taichi and Toma weren’t really friends at all. They were childhood friends, but in school, they barely spoke to each other and hadn’t in quite some time.

Now? Taichi admits to wanting Toma to be a part of his life.

Taichi also realizes that while he’s been opposed to all these changes in his life, deep down, he’s been wanting to change himself. While he isn’t sure if he’s making the right decision, he is, at least, making a choice that feels right at that moment.

I expected the manga to stop there, at this moment where Taichi, Toma, and Futaba (who had arranged for the two to finally talk) were smiling and happy together.

But then?

This happens:

“Two years after high school, Futaba and I broke up.”

And then we get a time jump.

The rest of the manga shows what everyone’s been up to. Some relationships changed, others remained the same, and some are stronger than they’ve ever been. We find out that Masumi isn’t with Futaba and probably never revealed her feelings (or maybe she did and Futaba said no, we never really find out). Masumi is with a man, but he knows that she cares deeply for her friend (and mentions how he can’t help but wonder when she’s around Futaba), he even acknowledges that she could be with men or women.

Meanwhile, Futaba’s getting married to someone else, and Taichi? Taichi’s with someone we don’t see, but it’s HEAVILY implied that it’s Toma.

Taichi and ???

I say that because we get that first-person perspective we got in past scenes of Toma watching Taichi, particularly those childhood moments where you could tell that was when he fell in love with his best friend. Toma’s also the only character in this time jump we don’t see, which leads me to believe that he’s the one watching Taichi interact with everyone.

Overall, I think this is a fitting conclusion to this story. I’m a little bummed out that we never get to see Masumi talk to Futaba, but I kinda feel like her conversation with Mami in volume 7, and Akiko in volume 6, was more in line with what she needed to hear. Those conversations were more about her, her sexuality, and who she was as a person, not so much her feelings for Futaba.

Futaba and Masumi in the future

I also don’t mind that we don’t get a definite reveal of Taichi being with Toma. I like that it goes into that first-person perspective we’ve seen before and there are sweet, quiet hints, like Taichi having a ring on his finger, and the person holding his hand also wearing a suit jacket. I think it’s a good tie-in to Taichi making that decision back in high school, not being sure if it was right, but doing what felt right at the time. Even if it ended with him and Futaba breaking up, that didn’t mean the time he had after making that decision was bad or wrong, it just … was.

And if that is Toma he’s with at the end of the story, the whole “which do you choose, lover or friend” question has a nice answer of, well, why not both?

In all honesty, it took me a minute to be okay with this ending. We often want definitive answers of “this person is definitely with this person” or “this person definitely identifies in this way.” Blue Flag doesn’t do that. It’s about how these characters are working to come to terms with who they are, the kinds of lives they want to live, and how it’s okay if that changes over time. Taichi had a plan of being with Futaba and having Toma at his side as his best friend. That didn’t work out, but life continued moving forward.

How you feel in the current moment is what matters, and for all we know, things will be vastly different with these characters a few years later.

That’s perfectly fine because that’s just how life works sometimes.

You can check out the final volume of Blue Flag right over here!

Taichi Futaba and Toma happy

(Image: KAITO/SHUEISHA Inc.)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)