This show is just too goddamn funny.
Episode summary: With Goto’s help, Masayoshi eludes capture once again and meet up with some familiar faces. They then hatch their plans to stop the Prime Minister from attaining a perfect approval rating. In the big fight against the Prime Minister, our heroes are on the ropes, but thanks to a bug that Masayoshi had managed to discreetly plant upon the Prime Minister’s power suit, Konno has been transmitting everything to the entire population of Japan. As a result, the Prime Minister’s approval rating plummets to a historic low, allowing our heroes to defeat him once and for all. But there’s a twist! Now that the Prime Minister has been defeated, Mr. Justice reveals himself to be Alien Flamenco, one of many Alien Flamenco hellbent on taking over the world.
• So we’ve come full circle. Not only is Goto back in the picture, but so’s Haruzuka. Our heroes even return to using the latter’s goofy gadgets to make their escape. So there you go! We’re back to square one: “But leaving thumbtacks on the road is dangerous.” As you can see, even Masayoshi is returning a bit to how he used to be at the start of the series, i.e. fretting over the little details. It’s only fitting, after all; the superhero imaginary is slowly being dispelled. As a result, everyone gets to be a hero. Goto’s a hero! Haruzuka’s a hero! I like how one commenter put it: “Democratization of heroism is a beautiful thing.”
• I feel like some people didn’t really understand my post last week. I read some reactions to it and I have to admit I found them a little puzzling. No, the reactions were not on Moe Sucks (sadly), but elsewhere instead. Some people were like, “I always thought of cops as being heroes.” Well no shit, dude. Of course you do. You’re in the real world where the superhero imaginary is not quite as prevalent. Get back to me when you actually start seeing the Flamengers and Guillotine Gorilla outside your window.
• Goto (on Harakiri Sunshine): “…he was just like the heroes we grew up watching.”
• We find out the Prime Minister intends to pass an anti-hero bill. This part is a bit iffy to me. While it’s true that we should all try to be heroes in our very own ways, vigilante justice is frowned upon for a reason. Well, let’s put it this way: let the courts do the punishing. Apprehending potential or suspected criminals is fine, but I think vigilantes overstep their boundaries when they start to mete out justice as well.
• Prime Minister: “I do this for the safety of our citizens.” Ah yes, it’s always for our safety, isn’t it? What’s next? Are you going to wiretap Japan?
• It’s funny that people actually think Goto is just cosplaying. That’s what I mean when I’m talking about how the superhero imaginary has distorted people’s perception of what is real and what isn’t. They’re so used to the hyperreal that they can’t even imagine a real life cop showing up to fight for what he or she thinks is right. They instead see the cop as hyperreal, i.e. just a dude in a costume… a really, really authentic-looking costume.
• And then you’ve got Masayoshi fending off his attackers with literally a giant brush. Well, they say the pen is mightier than the sword. So against the brute strength (sword) of his attackers, our hero binds them with the ink from his brush (pen). This is why he keeps insisting to the Prime Minister that he is only here to talk.
• But with the rest of Japan’s population still transfixed by the superhero imaginary, it only makes sense that the Prime Minister’s approval ratings continue to rise as he reveals his true form. After all, in the simplistic narratives of your average superhero story, the good guys always triumph through a demonstration of superior strength. As a result, it’s easy to mistake that same strength for justice. It’s equally telling that the Prime Minister calls himself Izanagi. He thus sees himself as a god, so therefore, his actions are divine and just, and this all just plays into the superhero imaginary. We are helpless. We need superior beings, whether it’d be literally superheroes or a god himself, to be our savior.
• Heh: “Unchecked and Unbalanced Armored Politician…!”
• Prime Minister: “This armor’s strength depends on the amount of popular support I have!” Yes, I think we can tell.
• Okay, I’m sure it seems super silly as hell that a villain’s power suit is literally powered by his approval ratings, but c’mon, it’s not as if the idea is born out of nothing. With certain politicians, there is definitely a cult-like fervor surrounding them. Samurai Flamenco is merely taking what already happens in the real world and coating it in a sheen of humor so that it becomes palatable — so that we can broach a sensitive subject matter without scaring people off because the themes are suddenly “too heavy.” Make no mistake about it… populism is a dangerous thing.
• Plus, it’s plain funny as hell to see the portraits of all the former prime ministers light up with laser eyes.
• Oh well, I’m not a big fan of the Flamenco Girls, but it only makes sense that they get to be heroes too… well, heroines in this case.
• And there you go: “Power determines truth.” Nothing has changed. This is still a love story to the Super Sentai series, but it’s also about putting the Super Sentai series into the proper context. That’s why it is part silly and part serious. Those superhero shows were awesome, but as we grow up, we’re supposed to aspire to become heroes ourselves, not sit idly by until someone powerful shows up.
• But the problem is that we’ve become passive: “[The people] seek positive news that can be easily understood.” This just plays into the idea that we want others to play the heroes for us when the Super Sentai series have always been about encouraging heroism in youths. That’s why they look the way that they do. The face underneath the mask doesn’t matter. The uniformity of the outfits isn’t a concidence. It’s basically saying, “Hey, one day, this could be you!” But somewhere along the line, this message has been distorted somehow. The team of superheroes slowly became a cast of one. Stories began to focus more on a singular protagonist over a host of them: “Running a country only requires a single icon.” And that icon isn’t you. The superhero imaginary disempowers the people, forcing them into idolatry.
• By the way, Konno represents the journalist in search of truth. Not all journalists are heroes, but surely the ones brave enough to do revealing exposés at any costs can be described as heroic. Everyone gets to be a hero. It’s like an Oprah Winfrey giveaway at this rate.
Still, where does the story go from here? What’s left to explore?
• And in typical shounen fashion, the next threat appears:
C’mon, that’s just funny as hell. First, you fight the strongest villain on your planet. Then you fight the strongest villain in the entire galaxy. It’s just the natural progression of shounens!
• So it turns out that the Prime Minister had been attempting to consolidate power in order to unite the people against an even greater threat. Otherwise, people would fall to despair. After all, it is hopeless against the Alien Flamenco… or something. Obviously, no one’s giving the people enough credit, but… why don’t we just wait and see how Samurai Flamenco wishes to tackle this very issue. This isn’t a depressing, cynical anime, after all.
• Maybe our heroes will hold a big concert where song and dance will raise the people’s spirits high enough so that they can summon a spirit bomb to defeat the Alien Flamencos. The possibilities are endless!