I think doing posts like this is better for my sanity than dedicating a whole entry to episodes that, to be frank, don’t often have much to say, which in turn leaves me with little to say. Still, if I think a topic deserves a little more space, I won’t hesitate to sequester it….
Samurai Flamenco Ep. 12
Last time I talked about this show, I wrote quite a bit about its subtext. Seeing as how I had only seen nine episodes at the time, however, my thoughts are obviously incomplete. I do intend to wrap things up on that front, but I don’t think this feat is any more doable now at merely the twelfth episode mark. Things are still a little silly and a little cornball, and I suppose it wouldn’t work any other way. Samurai Flamenco is, at the end of the day, a love song to those Super Sentai-like shows of the past, so naturally, it must have all the requisite trimmings. We’ve got the color-coded heroes and the silly, super-deformed villains. And, of course, we have the Super Megazoid-esque thingamajig to exemplify our heroes’ heroic teamwork. Just, uh, with a few extra embellishments:
I do get a very Watchmen-esque feeling as I watch this anime. No, I don’t mean that in the bitter, grimdark cynical way that plagued Watchmen, i.e. “Who watches the Watchmen?” Everything in Samurai Flamenco is still very cheerful and upbeat, but nevertheless, the show takes a very “What if superheroes were plucked straight out of (in Japan’s case) manga and TV series and dropped straight into reality?” We can plainly see that not everyone will just fall in line and march in lockstep with Red aka Masayoshi. In the end, he may have gained four more allies while losing only Mari — four more dependable allies than the pseudo-masochistic Mari ever was — it’s not quite the case that he’s gotten any less lonely.
Ever since we met him in the first episode, Masayoshi has always been the naive, slightly sheltered, always-do-good main character, and that hasn’t changed much. Granted, he’s a little more comfortable in his own skin nowadays. His dreams of becoming the hero he’s always wanted to be has definitely been realized in more ways than one, but he’s still, well, rather lonely. I feel like even though the rest of the gang, i.e. Blue and Black, aren’t going to butt heads with Masayoshi as much anymore, none of them are still his actual friends. Goto remains his one and only confidant, as well as the everyman, the rock amidst a storm of cornball for us viewers to anchor our perspective as we take in all the chaotic, nonsensical villains that gets thrown at us.
Anyway, I’ll just do these small snippets weekly for Samurai Flamenco until I feel compelled to write a little more. Like I said above, I still want to touch on the themes of hyperreality within the show, but I want the narrative’s destination to take a little more shape before I jump off that cliff.
Mahou Sensou Ep. 1
Y’know, I think I’m watching a joke. Whether it’s intentional or not, who really cares because this just has to be a joke. Nevermind the Shakugan no Shana-esque premise — y’know, what with the dual worlds and the long, black-haired pettanko — because you can’t really tell me that a show where a combatant flings magical wasps from his briefcase at his enemies is serious, can you? Or that the blonde chick’s special powers (at the moment, anyway) is breast enlargement. Like really.
But everything else about the show is pretty much by-the-books… painfully and generically so. Nothing much of note happens either. Our main character Takeshi duels a guy who wants to retrieve Mui, our female protagonist, for much of the episode’s runtime in a very uninspiring sword fight. The rest of the episode is devoted to trite animeisms like “Uguu, I tripped and accidentally kissed you, how hazukashii ne~~~~” And typical of any show of this type, we have to painstakingly learn the rules of the game, i.e. what an Evasive magic user is, what Corporeal magic is, what happens if magicians attack each other in the human world… yawn, I’m getting sleepy just talking about it. God only knows why the enemies just stand idly by while the heroine is allowed to clue the hero in on a couple crucial details. And of course, they’ll go to a magical — can you guess?! — academy next week to hone their newfound abilities. Yip-fucking-pee. Even if this is one meta joke from Madhouse, it’s still not a very entertaining or funny one. Not yet, anyway. I mean, Nicholas Cage already did the killer bees thing, man. Yes, bees and wasps aren’t the same, but functionally as weapons… eh~
Gin no Saji S2 Ep. 1
I took in the entirety of the first season last night, which isn’t saying much as the show is very light on the palate. Obviously, eleven episodes aren’t much to digest to begin with, but I really do mean it when I say it’s light on the palate. It’s one of those sort of relaxing, sort of boring in a nevertheless endearing way kind of show. Silver Spoon never gets very heavy in drama or even conceptually — much less too heavy — following in tradition with similar slice-of-life anime. Don’t get me wrong. The anime does a decent job in educating its target audience on some of the realities that farms and farmers have to deal with, but that’s just it. It’s not a revealing expose like The Jungle nor does it have to be. I’m just making a statement that Silver Spoon isn’t out to push buttons. The first episode of the second season doesn’t change up the formula either.
With the seniors moving on with their lives, Hachiken finds himself with the responsibilities of Vice President of the Equestrian Club thrust upon him. Problem is… he’s not quite sure what that job position entails. All he’s been told is that he’s supposed to form a consensus within the club or something. Oh well. Our main character gets to enjoy some brief happiness when he gets a text from his mom telling him about how his dad enjoyed the bacon he had made and sent home (poor Pork-Bowl), but the moment of pride is short-lived when Hachiken stumbles upon a tearful Aki having a personal conversation with Komaba. Every attempt Hachiken makes to discern the contents of said personal conversation is immediately stonewalled by Aki. Komaba, being the tall, handsome ace of the school’s baseball team, suddenly becomes our hero’s rival for Aki’s love interest… at least, that’s how Hachiken sees it.
Obviously, we’re privy to a little more details than our somewhat awkward main character, who proceeds to stumble around for the rest of the episode as he tries to decode the mysterious going-ons surrounding Aki and Komaba. We can surely guess that their personal conversation wasn’t remotely about romance. Too bad Hachiken can’t safely make that assumption. You know what would solve all of this though? Some actual communication. Yes, she stonewalled him, but that’s only because she isn’t aware of his deeper feelings, which is something he can easily solve with — you guessed it! — communication! And possibly a little liquid courage to grease the wheel. But whatever, they’re high school kids and I’m just joking about the liquid courage thing anyways. I get it. He’s not confident in the ways of love and courtship. He can’t even admit his feelings for her to himself yet. Obviously, he’s not going to solve this by communication or else we wouldn’t have much to watch. I know actual people in their twenties who can’t even talk things out like adults anyway. So all this hemming and hawing in the first episode fits these characters’ level of emotional maturity. That’s fine.
That doesn’t mean the episode was particularly riveting or exciting to watch though. It’s just like a dull itch that you painfully want to scratch, but you have to sit tight for a group picture so you just have to endure it. And that’s what this episode honestly felt like. I know how to solve the problem, but at the same time, I know the problem would not be solved right now. Not that it couldn’t have been solved. It just isn’t going to be. I just get to sit there in slight exasperation as I see the actors and actresses slowly act out their parts.
Golden Time Ep. 13
I thought it was cute when Koko tried to pretend as though she was going to prepare yakisoba from scratch for her boyfriend. Yeah, sure, she’s technically deceiving him, but it’s one of those white lies born out of love that you can’t honestly get mad about. Which brings me to my next point: love is a verb. It’s not a feeling. You don’t just “feel” love for another person. You love them by choosing to take selfless actions every single day to make them feel needed, appreciated, doted upon, etc. And as you can see, this is what Koko tries to do, even though she hasn’t quite learned how to cook yet. She even thinks about giving up her family vacation to Barcelona so that she can learn how to cook. Again, you show love through your actions, not by how you feel.
That’s why I don’t believe in Banri. I don’t like the guy very much. Poor Banri and his amnesia. Poor Banri struggling with the duality within him. He still has feelings for Linda and he just can’t reject those oh-so-precious feelings. But you know what? We all get feelings. Even people who have been married for a decade can randomly form an infatuation for someone. Sensible people, however, understand that those feelings are nothing more than an infatuation. Sensible people thus create boundaries to prevent an infatuation from culminating into a mistake they’ll soon regret. You love through your actions, after all. Even if you have a sudden infatuation — or even a deep-seated infatuation in Banri’s case — you don’t actually love that person because you haven’t done anything for them. With that being said, he doesn’t actually love Linda because he hasn’t done jack shit for her.
Yes, to be fair, Banri did try to erect some boundaries. He did ask Linda to pretend as though they have never known each other in the past. But then his “other” self is all bitter and angsty: “I’ll curse you. I’ll become an evil spirit and make you unhappy.” Then once more at the end of the episode: “I’ll make you even unhappier.” But I don’t buy that whole “I’m fighting an aspect of myself!” Naw man, it’s all you. It really is. Because even if Banri claims that he has drawn the necessary boundaries between him and Linda, which I don’t think are good enough but that’s a whole other issue to talk about, he hasn’t really shown that he honestly loves Koko. Like I said, love is a verb. You prove your love for someone through the actions you take. I’m not just talking about his inability to kiss her at the end of this episode either.
Nevertheless, that was maddening. I mean, holy shit, I get that you can’t muster up the courage to kiss her or you don’t think you’re ready or maybe you or she doesn’t deserve it or whatever the fucking shit, but here’s a girl who is putting herself on the line for him. I mean, to do what she did is to make herself vulnerable. You expect the other person, whom you trust to reciprocate your feelings — ’cause otherwise why are we even in this mess? — to not make a fool out of you and just leave you hanging. But that’s exactly what Banri does! I mean, what do you think a girl must feel to put herself out there and get nothing. But she puts on a smile, life goes on, and she remains patient — far more patient than I would’ve been. That’s an act of love.
But what really gets me is how Banri can then roll around on his bed later and whine that she’ll one day meet a better man who’ll sweep her away from him. See, that’s not love. That’s a whole lot of bullshit. He’s basically implying that he’s not good enough for her. Okay, that’s a natural feeling to have. Most of us have had to deal with that kind of insecurity in our lives. Completely human, completely understandable. But again, love is an action, and if Banri honestly loved Koko, he would make himself vulnerable for her. He would form the resolve to become the man he thinks she deserves, not merely whining that he doesn’t currently deserve her. And this does make you vulnerable, because what if you fail? You’ll have put in all that effort for naught. But that’s what love is, man. If you think she deserves better, than make the sacrifices necessary to give her what you think she deserves. But Banri… he’s too wishy-washy for me. And I know it sucks to have lost your memory — I won’t even pretend to know what that feels like — but at some point, you just have to realize that you can’t let it define you. Too bad I don’t believe in Banri whatsoever.
Yeah yeah, there’s probably a happy ending at the end of the show, and everything has to be melodramatic until then. I can acknowledge that. Doesn’t mean I have to like Banri. Even though he has feelings for both Linda and Koko, he does little for either of them. It’s all just feelings. Kinda pathetic.