Yes, I often hear this word lately, but everytime I came across this, I wondered what it was meant to be. フラグ[furagu] merely means a flag, but I assume when you come across it, you might be playing a bishoujo or otome game. When you pursue a certain girl/boy in such a game, you would definitely encounter some questions which enable you to go forward at the certain points. You need to choose a right answer, otherwise you would fail to pursue her/him. Yes, those questions don’t seem to be so important, but actually they are. Because if you don’t choose a right one, you can’t get a happy conclusion. The right answer must be hiding in the questions…that is フラグ[furagu]. If you can tell the answer you selected might be correct, you could say like フラグが立った[furagu ga tatta] to mean “successfully passed the point,” or “it is going to be okay.” But don’t get reassured until you have a happy ending!
Having said that, I feel フラグ things are actually used in real life, especially in real love. In the song 愛しの彼が振り向かない[Mikuru’s version], she says フラグ twice like フラグを立てる[furagu wo tateru]. Literally it means to stand a flag, but something is missing. It should mean to stand a flag in order to make him/her come to you. To get to the point, it means to make passes at him/her. This is a bit old way to say this, but we used to say モーションをかける[motion wo kakeru]. So if a girl/boy whom you don’t know well speaks to you, don’t miss it, he/she would be trying to stand a flag in order to get you!
Technically, this kind of flag shall be called 恋愛フラグ[ren-ai flag, a flag of love] since this can be seen in the process of love. There’s a spin-off, 死亡フラグ[shibou flag, a flag of death
not Death Note]. If you tell a premonition of someone’s death, watch out, there would be a 死亡フラグ on the person. Well, I think if I give you a better example, I shall definitely some detective/horror films, manga, anime or whatever. In Kindaichi’s File (yes, I know it’s too old), I used to have fun in guessing who gets killed first. Such a person always is evil-looking. When everyone in the episode gets together, someone accidentally mentions what happened there a long time ago…That chills the atomosphere so badly.
“Don’t mention it! Let bygone be bygone!“[←upon hearing this, Kindaichi tells something bad happened there and they do know about it.]
The one who says like above is absolutely going to die soon. Or the one who really gets surprised to hear it. Yes, a 死亡フラグ is standing on him. Next morning his carcass can be found in front of everyone else. Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! This is just a prelude for the nightmare…To be continued…
Nah, this is something like a お約束? That’s too cliched, though…Yes, we have seen this kind of フラグ everywhere. In a war film, when a man who is going to the warplace says, “If I could come back, we will get married(or open a small restaurant),” he never comes back since there is a 死亡フラグ on him. During the battle, when either of the two says, “You can leave it to me, just go!” or “I will follow you for sure, I’ll be fine!,” yes, there is a 死亡フラグ on him[for example; Titanic, Brotherhood]. In a yakuza film, when he turns himself in to stop being a yakuza, there is a 死亡フラグ on him since he gets stabbed just before he reaches to the police station.
Well in real life, if your friend rings you all of a sudden, and talks about the old memories, watch out, there might be a 死亡フラグ on him/her for some reason. No, don’t hang up! Keep talking! Get rid of the flag!