Samurai Flamenco Ep. 17: Heroic teamwork!

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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.

Thoughts:

• 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.

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• 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.

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• 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.

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• 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:

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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!

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13 thoughts on “Samurai Flamenco Ep. 17: Heroic teamwork!”

  1. Sorry, but to me, your last couple of posts read like someone trying to justify continuing to like Samurai Flamenco in the face of all evidence otherwise. Kind of like a Frenchman trying to justify his adoration of Jerry Lewis movies.

    Look, many of us loved Samurai Flamenco in the pre-Guillotine Gorilla episodes, and quite a few have stuck with it since then, treasuring the occasional flashes of cleverness, and biding our time to the big reveal that would have the story start to contextually make sense again.

    But the “superhero imaginary” just doesn’t cut it. Since that fateful seventh episode, the whole show has seemed lazy and out-of-gas, like they’re making it up as they go along.

    The Prime Minister was really just trying to protect us all from an even MORE evil alien overlord? That doesn’t reek to you of, “Oops, we still have several more episodes to fill, so we’d better add in another wrinkle”?

    Did they really just run out of ideas? Did someone look at the first several episodes and force them to change it and add in the ridiculous King Torture and From Beyond nonsense, screwing up the carefully plotted narrative?

    Honestly, I don’t know. But I just don’t buy that this is some amazingly witty and adept commentary on society, when the Occam’s razor explanation that it’s just a lousy, slapdash anime is much more likely.

    1. From the way you invoke Occam’s razor, it’s clear we have two very different ways of looking at art. You think there is only one explanation, while I’m merely looking to provide an explanation. Is my explanation the simplest? Of course not, but you’re a smart person. You’ve heard of Occam’s Razor, after all. So naturally, you must also know that Occam’s Razor was meant to be used in the pursuit of objective truth, i.e. in the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, ethics, etc. But this is not science. This is art. And art is about letting people think whatever they want, read into it, and come up with explanations for why they feel the way that they do. Art is subjective. But at the same time, this doesn’t mean I think we should be allowed to say whatever we want to say about art without there being any consequences. As I have written elsewhere, “Opinions must be subject to scrutiny. Opinions must be constantly refined. Opinions must be held against other people’s opinions. In the end, you might just end up with a well-written opinion that is nevertheless ‘wrong.’”

      Look, if what you read into this anime is that it’s “lazy” or “out-of-gas,” that’s fine… as long as you can back that up. But if you can, you’re perfectly justified in asserting your interpretation. I have a different interpretation, and I agree that if I fail to back my interpretation with textual evidence, I would be engaging in sophistry. So I guess this is the crux of the issue: you take issue with the textual evidence I have supplied when you say I’m doing it “in the face of all evidence.” But if that’s the case, you’ll have to mount a better argument than merely asserting “the ‘superhero imaginary’ just doesn’t cut it.” Because I’ve written quite a few words in the past few weeks and you haven’t addressed any of them. Your comment amounts to, “It’s too silly and ridiculous to take seriously. There’s no way a bunch of professional storytellers could’ve thought of any of the commentary that you’re reading into the show.” Sorry, in my book, that doesn’t cut it.

      1. I wasn’t questioning the validity of your opinion or your right to hold it, I was just disagreeing with you! My disappointment isn’t with you or your fine blog, of which I’m obviously a regular reader. My disappointment is with this show, which I feel has been haphazard, and yes, lazy, since the last few minutes of the seventh episode.

        I don’t have my own blog because I generally have neither the time, energy nor motivation to back up my own lazy assertions, but since you’ve challenged my honor, I’ll try to justify some of my reasoning.

        First and foremost, regarding Guillotine Gorilla, I think it’s fair to point out that it was a plot device which appeared almost a third of the way into the show and took what had been a fairly grounded (if admittedly buoyantly silly) narrative and suddenly added a comic book fantasy element that I would argue had in no way been telegraphed prior to that point.

        The show then introduced GG’s boss, King Torture, along with his motley crew of hapless henchmen. No explanation as to where they came from, and from my perspective, no real explanation of what they wanted other than to demonstrate the superiority of “evil.”

        OK, so now we’re segueing into Super Sentai territory. Fair enough.

        But I would argue that this wasn’t really a natural follow-on to what had started out as a humorous but largely realistic take on a starry-eyed young man’s desire to make the world a better place. Still, assuming there was a method to this madness, I was down with that.

        Heck, I even kind of liked the idea of Mari’s disgust with herself over being exposed as a fraudulent hero.

        However, following King Torture’s all-too-easy dispatch, other than our hero, all of the other main characters were sidelined for the next several episodes, destroying the lovely chemistry that had been developed up to that point in favor of the addition of a bunch of cardboard cutout sidekicks about whom we never really learned a goddamn thing.

        Still, I guess this is a parody – or maybe, as you suggest, an homage – or something like that.

        Give it a chance!

        But here’s the thing. Super Sentai shows, like a lot of non-Watchmen, non-deconstructions of superhero legends, are kind of campy, self-parodies already. So by going full-on Super Sentai, what does Samurai Flamenco actually accomplish?

        Samurai Flamenco’s villains have been ridiculous, over-the-top and easily defeated, just like in the “real” shows. Perhaps they were written with a bit more wit and visual flair than is typical, but not so much more than the Adam West Batman TV show of the 1960s.

        So how does their easy and “hilarious” defeat provide any worthwhile commentary? Batman did the same thing 50 years ago, and has continued doing it in syndication ever since. Bam! Whap! Splot!

        Yet, onward Samurai Flamenco presses to reveal to us a secret government-sponsored base. From this hidden headquarters, the Super Friends, er, Flamengers, must save the country from impending doom, this time in the form of the latest ass-pulled villain group, From Beyond.

        And guess what, despite some close calls, the good guys ultimately triumph easily, again, just like in a actual superhero show, this time apparently because the superheroes we’ve seen on TV all of these years turn out to be REAL.

        Wait, what? Do we get an explanation for this? The TV shows were real all along? This, despite Masayoshi meeting a bored director of one of these shows in an earlier episode who was embarrassed at the young man’s credulity?

        OK, so it’s a fantasy universe, but doesn’t it have to have some kind of internal logic?

        Even so, in a better show, these might be just quibbles (e.g., it was clearly hinted that Kaname was doing superhero stuff on the side from very early on). But the crux of my argument is that after these last two episodes, any pretense that Samurai Flamenco is a good show has gone out the window.

        That’s because the latest plot twist involves the Prime Minister turning on the superheroes who just saved the country and rounding them all up. Of course, literally NO ONE objects, because the lesson Samurai Flamenco is trying to teach us is that the populace is too easily cowed by demagogic leaders and too-neat media narratives (a lesson that it seems like half of the TV shows and movies since World War II have covered).

        Except, guess what? Our original core group of characters has re-formed, and they’ve come to kick the evil Prime Minister’s ass. Against all odds, of course they succeed!

        Talk about too-neat narratives!

        Only, because this is Samurai Flamenco, we’re not done with the ludicrous plot twists.

        Apparently, the evil 100%-approval-seeking Prime Minister wasn’t really so evil at all! He was actually doing all of this to save the masses from the TRUE EVIL, Alien Flamenco!

        Wow! My mind is blown! I wonder how many hours before they started filming they thought of introducing this subtly brilliant moral ambiguity into the actions of the hitherto monstrous Prime Minister? You think it might have been in a bar, the night before?

        (By the way, are they ever going to explain why everyone uses the Flamenco naming convention dreamt up by Masayoshi’s grandfather? Or is the final plot twist going to be that grandad’s not really dead, after all, and has been the puppet master behind all of the plot developments, testing our hero’s mettle to make sure he’s truly READY?)

        So, to sum up, you choose to believe that all of these developments are a rumination on the need for people to be their own heroes. I, on the other hand, think this is an animated TV show that has become a cartoon.

        I’ll admit that I’m better at forming opinions than arguing them, but I personally don’t see how anyone can look at how this plot has developed over 17 episodes and draw any conclusion other than that the creators had a good idea, but after getting off to a wonderful start, simply didn’t know where to take it.

        Believe me, like you, I still very much WANT to like Samurai Flamenco. It’s just that unlike you, I’ve become incapable of doing the mental calisthenics to make that possible anymore.

        Again, though, if you’re enjoying the show, I don’t mean to criticize you or your taste. There are far, far worse shows out there than Samurai Flamenco, and undoubtedly I like many that you would deem garbage.

        I’m just trying to explain why someone might not buy that this is brilliantly realized exploration of the meaning of heroism in modern society, and might instead feel deep disappointment at a work which showed great early promise, but devolved into nonsense under the collective weight of (more than) one too many half-assed plot contrivances.

        1. I’m sorry, but I can’t address every single one of your points because you haven’t really addressed my core argument, i.e. the real, the hyperreal and the simulacrum of heroism. So honestly, how can I actually respond to you when it doesn’t feel as though you’re responded to me?

          But I would argue that this wasn’t really a natural follow-on to what had started out as a humorous but largely realistic take on a starry-eyed young man’s desire to make the world a better place.

          Ah, but you can see that it isn’t natural. And we can agree that something that isn’t natural also takes extra effort because to go against the natural grain of things is much more difficult, isn’t it? So then the question is why might that be? Why would someone choose to go against the natural grain of things? Just because they ran out of ideas? Honestly, if you ran out of ideas, you wouldn’t want to make things harder on yourself. It’s very easy to go along with the natural progression of things. It’s very easy to meet other people’s expectations and deliver a show that they always wanted to watch. So ask yourself, why would the show’s creators go against their natural instincts? Why would they go against the audience’s expectations knowing fully well that doing so would piss people off? C’mon, they’re not idiots. Do you really think they went into the Guillotine Gorilla twist thinking that no one would be pissed off? So if they truly ran out of ideas as you’ve repeatedly proposed, it only makes sense then that they would go with the audience’s expectations because that is the easiest thing to do.

          So how does their easy and “hilarious” defeat provide any worthwhile commentary?

          So this one bit has no commentary. What about all the other bits in the show that do provide commentary? Ah, but then you would argue that this commentary isn’t good enough. But at the same time, you ignore my discussion on the real and the hyperreal. Which is it, then? Which commentary do you actually want to address?

          Still, I guess this is a parody – or maybe, as you suggest, an homage – or something like that.

          I’ve never called Samurai Flamenco a parody. Nor have I said that it is just an homage. Of course, it does pay homage to the Super Sentai series of old, but it’s doing a whole lot more than that which I’ve pointed out in previous posts. I don’t feel as though you’re addressing those points. You’re just listing your grievances with the anime.

          a lesson that it seems like half of the TV shows and movies since World War II have covered

          So what? Do you expect every story to be original? I’ll just leave this here:

          And I’ve argued that this show takes classic Japanese heroism and puts it into the modern context through the exploration of the real, hyperreal, and the superhero imaginary. But as far as I can see, you’ve only said that my superhero imaginary doesn’t cut it.

          Talk about too-neat narratives!

          Okay? Like most stories ever? Look, I’m not claiming that this is the perfect anime. I don’t even love Samurai Flamenco. I just think it’s funny and thus underrated. And because this is an anime blog, I’m merely trying to explain why I feel the way that I do. Again, I’m not saying it’s perfect. I’m not saying it doesn’t fall into certain contrivances such as “too-neat narratives.” But having “too-neat narratives” doesn’t mean that it’s a stupid show. If anything, that’s more evidence that it is constructed to convey a certain message. Whatever that message is, well, it’s up to the viewers. We certainly know where each of us stand on that issue.

          So, to sum up, you choose to believe

          Of course I choose to believe what I believe. What else would I do? The point is that I offer evidence for my beliefs. But again, I feel as though you haven’t really addressed my evidence.

          It’s just that unlike you, I’ve become incapable of doing the mental calisthenics to make that possible anymore.

          I suppose “mental calisthenics” here is supposed to be some kind of snark, but honesty, I don’t have a problem with doing “mental calisthenics.” Are you accusing me of using my mind? That overthinking is wrong? I’d say the problem is underthinking!

      2. “I’m sorry, but I can’t address every single one of your points because you haven’t really addressed my core argument, i.e. the real, the hyperreal and the simulacrum of heroism. So honestly, how can I actually respond to you when it doesn’t feel as though you’re responded to me?”

        It’s certainly fair to say that all I’ve done is list my grievances! So let me take one final whack at explaining myself:

        I admire your attempts to put lipstick on a pig by drawing something of a comparison between what Samurai Flamenco is doing and the ideas animating the development and patronage of Disneyland.

        Of course, I still think my grievances are legitimate!

        More than that, though, I believe those grievances get at the heart of your argument, which is essentially that Samurai Flamenco is much more clever than I’m giving it credit for.

        You think there’s a subtext to the plot, and that amidst the seemingly chaotic and messy story, the writers are making a serious point. If I understand correctly, and to use an American perspective, I think you might say that Samurai Flamenco is commenting on current events like the “War on Terror,” which politicians have used to create their own new reality (or hyperreality) to enable them to undertake certain actions (actual wars, loss of privacy, etc.) that would have been unthinkable prior to September 11, 2001.

        Assuming I have this right, that’s where we part company.

        “So ask yourself, why would the show’s creators go against their natural instincts? Why would they go against the audience’s expectations knowing fully well that doing so would piss people off? C’mon, they’re not idiots. Do you really think they went into the Guillotine Gorilla twist thinking that no one would be pissed off?”

        I don’t know if the show’s writers are idiots, but I absolutely believe they’re L – A – Z – Y. They had a great idea, and initially terrific execution, but seemingly only had three hours worth of material. So when they dropped Guillotine Gorilla into the script, I can’t judge whether they thought anyone would be pissed, but I’m pretty comfortable in suggesting that they probably didn’t care. Moreover, they likely thought, “Guillotine Gorilla is SO COOL. Twitter is going to LIGHT UP with that shit!” (They were certainly right about that.)

        All of which is to say that I think you’ve put infinitely more effort, art and imagination into your posts about Samurai Flamenco than its creators have put into the show itself.

        Don DeLillo’s best book, in my opinion, is “Libra,” a heavily researched novel in which, using many facts and much imagination, he spins an utterly convincing tale of what “really” happened with the JFK assassination. The book is full of real people and the things they did in Dallas in 1963, and afterwards, but embellished with the author’s own take on what “actually” may have happened. Of course, it’s much different from what the official Warren Commission offered, and highly suggestive of a CIA conspiracy. (Long story short: the CIA wanted to scare Kennedy into taking a harder line on Castro, but things got out of hand…)

        The novel is a hyperreality, you might say!

        So, at last, my point:

        I think you’re adding your own Don DeLillo sheen to what’s basically a much more straightforward situation than you’re allowing.

        You and DeLillo are both smart guys and excellent writers. I admire your skills, and there’s even a chance that the theories you’re both postulating are correct.

        But for myself, while I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read your speculations, I’ll continue to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that Samurai Flamenco has turned into a piece of utter garbage.

        1. If I understand correctly, and to use an American perspective, I think you might say that Samurai Flamenco is commenting on current events like the “War on Terror,” which politicians have used to create their own new reality (or hyperreality) to enable them to undertake certain actions (actual wars, loss of privacy, etc.) that would have been unthinkable prior to September 11, 2001.

          What? No, you’re making it more than what it actually is. This isn’t about wars. This isn’t about terrorism. This is simply about how the superhero imaginary devalues the act of individual heroism by placing an inordinate amount of value on superhero-like heroism. We’re talkng about small scale heroism vs depending upon the heroism of great leaders like the Prime Minister. The point is that the latter is unsustainable.

          They had a great idea, and initially terrific execution, but seemingly only had three hours worth of material.

          I think your only problem is that you didn’t get what you initially expected to get.

          but I’m pretty comfortable in suggesting that they probably didn’t care.

          Why would people not care about their own work? You advocate the use of the simplest explanation, but this is hardly the simplest explanation.

          Moreover, they likely thought, “Guillotine Gorilla is SO COOL.

          Well, where’s your evidence on that? Considering how Guillotine Gorilla lasted all of two or three minutes, not a great use of a cool character.

          The novel is a hyperreality, you might say!

          I haven’t read it. I wouldn’t know. Doesn’t sound like it from your description though.

          But you realize you’re comparing a real life event to a work of art that is open to interpretation. There can only be one answer to the question of JFK’s death. That’s the objective reality. You cannot use this analogy for art. It makes no sense. Art is open to interpretation. This is the same problem as with the Occam’s Razor again.

          Y’know what… I don’t think we are getting anywhere. As much as I love debating this stuff, our views on how we should look at art are just too divergent that this conversation was a nonstarter to begin with. We’re just talking in circles.

          1. I agree that we’re arguing in circles, but just want to respond to a couple of points, fully expecting you to ignore me henceforth.

            “Why would people not care about their own work?”

            Surely, you’re not asserting that this most commercial of art forms doesn’t have a whole lot of creators who care about little beyond making money? Cynical, exploitive garbage like OreImo couldn’t exist in a world where everyone truly cared about their work.

            As for my evidence that the writers thought Guillotine Gorilla was “cool,” I give you the ten episodes which followed! Miami Ballerina, King Torture, Alien Flamenco…and so on and so forth.

            Maybe “cool” was a lazy choice on my part. Guillotine Gorilla represented the place where the writers “cut” their ties with the realistic narrative to that point – it was dramatic and impactful. But it indicated that the writers were out of sensible ideas, not sensational ones.

            Finally, I guess I’d say that I really don’t get your reality/hyperreality paradigm, as I view the idea of hyperreality as being at least somewhat akin to an *alternative* reality, hence the analogy to terrorism, And I don’t for a second buy that Samurai Flamenco has anything at all to say about small-scale, individual heroism versus superhero-like heroism – if only because THAT’S the show I thought it was going to be.

            Masayoshi has been a true hero both on a small stage and on a large one, but it seems to me that’s because of (in the opinion of the show) the pure nature of his motivations versus the ulterior motives of everyone else (sans Goto). Indeed, in presenting us with the “From Beyond” Masayoshi clone, in some weird (and predictably lazy) way, the show almost seemed to be making some hapless point about the beautiful purity of evil.

            You’re completely right that I’m angry because I haven’t gotten what I expected to get from this show. However, I think we actually agree that the best art DOES surprise you. The problem has been that for quite some time now, I’ve found Samurai Flamenco disappointing because it’s become so dumb and aimless, not because it’s been different from what I expected.

            I’ll leave you be now. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to reply so thoughtfully to my rants.

    2. “Continuing to like Samurai Flamenco in the face of all evidence otherwise”?

      What total elitist twaddle. People can like whatever they want to like, and for whatever reason. E Minor obviously finds a lot of this very funny, and so do I. You may not find it funny at all, but then there’s perhaps nothing more subjective than comedy.

      Some people love this show because they love superhero and/or super-sentai shows. Who are you, or anybody else, to imply that’s an illegitimate reason for liking Samurai Flamenco? What does “evidence” have to do with this, aside from the clear evidence that this is trying to appeal to superhero/super-sentai fans?

      And as good as those first few episodes of Samurai Flamenco were, do you really, honestly think they could have made that work for two entire cours? Two full cours of watching Samurai Flamenco do nothing but encourage civic mindedness and stopping random thugs? That’s really your idea of great entertainment?

      But then, like I said before, you can like whatever you like for whatever reason – But don’t expect people to share your tastes. You may love the mundane, but other people can like something a little bit more epic and colorful, and that doesn’t make other people wrong.

      As silly as certain elements of Samurai Flamenco are, the writing still strikes me as very careful. Characters are wrote with an excellent balance of character consistency and character balance. Characters are wisely used based on their talents and abilities (such as how Konno was used in this episode). Thus far, each narrative escalation has proven to go somewhere interesting, and make some interesting meta-commentary and/or social commentary. I see plenty of “evidence” for E Minor’s position, and little “evidence” at all to justify your improper usage of Occam’s Razor.

    3. Not to get too firmly entrenched in this discussion, but:

      The Prime Minister was really just trying to protect us all from an even MORE evil alien overlord? That doesn’t reek to you of, “Oops, we still have several more episodes to fill, so we’d better add in another wrinkle”? ..

      I just don’t buy that this is some amazingly witty and adept commentary on society, when the Occam’s razor explanation that it’s just a lousy, slapdash anime is much more likely.

      Of course it comes off as an awkward last-minute twist to introduce yet another foe in an endless cycle of pointless escalation. The day is never saved – it feels like the threats to mankind are literally standing in line, waiting their turn. That’s superhero fiction at its bones.

      Super sentai series have terrible slapdash planning and don’t give a fig for the consistency of their plots. It only follows that Samurai Flamenco, a narrative in love with superheros, does the same. The logic of Samurai Flamenco’s world is not a concrete thing – it changes in arcs, making some kind of commentary on superheroes from a different perspective every time.

      We’ve seen (super) heroism as a lone vigilante in what’s basically reality, as a saturday morning crusader fighting a supervillain and his costumed thugs, then as the classic super sentai – coloured spandex, one-dimensional heroes, and giant transforming mecha against city-threatening aliens, and now we’re reaching the point where the stories realized there was some value in realism and began to introduce things like politics and personal consequences… with all the subtlety and nuance of an exploding prime minister, but there all the same.

      I’m not putting this up as evidence that the series is “still totally great guys” – those super sentai episodes were torpid, uninteresting, and devoid of any characters we cared about, but that doesn’t mean the writers had no plan at all. More likely they just made a dodgy plan that required us to sit through an arc where nobody we cared about was involved in the story, to add that much more emphasis when they returned to the stage.

      1. I could accept that the writers “made a dodgy plan that required us to sit through an arc where nobody we cared about was involved in the story,” if it had been two or three episodes.

        The problem is that this tack started at the end of episode 7, and we’re now at episode 17, and are seemingly not done with the nonsense, even if some of the characters we used to like have finally returned.

        I think because of its nature – not that it’s animated, but that it’s made on the cheap – a lot of anime suffers from this sort of corner-cutting in plot development and script writing. Heck, plenty of big budget Hollywood movies suffer from the same problem. Can anyone explain “Inception” to me, because I got lost in the morass of that plot very early on!

        Anyway, when a show is kind of crappy from the earliest episodes, I don’t mind.

        It’s when one crashes and burns like this that I get upset.

        And honestly, I still hope the show can be salvaged. It’s just that after the last episode, I find it harder to imagine that happening than ever.

        1. The inherent dodginess of the plan is that it took those ten episodes, really. If the arc had only been a few then I daresay the point would be proven: real people are more relateable than the idealized superhero, look at what happens when the real world becomes a super sentai! The mistake was giving us five (?) episodes with none of the other characters rather than one or two. It didn’t take that long to make us miss the rest of the cast or cheer when they showed up again – it didn’t even take one episode.

          I’m not really sure how the budget supports your argument, though. Scriptwriting does not and will never cost great deals of money, especially for a relatively out of the way series like this. Great writers can be had for almost nothing, unfortunately.

          Nobody hit the budget and forgot to pay the (probably one) guy responsible for writing each episode’s plot halfway through the series. When money’s tight it’s usually the animation that suffers, and given how the latter arcs featured giant mech battles, battling prime ministers, and exploding volcanoes, it’s a sure bet that the start of the series was much less expensive to produce.

          Anyway, I think regardless of anyone’s appraisal of quality (whatever that means), Samurai Flamenco was all planned out from the beginning. It’s very clearly a series of “what if”s that changes the rules of its universe every arc to suit its points.

          What if a normal guy ran around trying to be a sentai-enspired superhero in this world?

          What if that normal guy actually succeeded?

          What if that normal guy then found he was living in a world that ran on the logic of an episodic toku series?

          What if it escalated all the way up to the super sentai we all know and (presumably) love, with one-dimensional colour-coded allies and transforming robots the size of cities fighting giant aliens from beyond?

  2. I can’t argue my point as well as others here – so I won’t even try – but here’s my two cents on the matter (if anyone cares).

    As of now, I think the show is incredibly entertaining (I laughed outright several times in the last episode), and I do think it’s underrated. But, ever since the series has submerged into Super Sentai territory, they have lost me on an emotional level.

    For the first seven or so episodes, I was actually involved in the characters; I genuinely cared what happened to them. But after the show begin evolving into what it is now, they ceased any attempt at character development (with the exception of Mari, whose subplot I found interesting until the kiss-and-cry resolution two episodes ago) The new hyper reality of the show wasn’t the only cause of this – it’s entirely possible for exaggerated and hyper real shows to draw viewers in emotionally. However, the writers shifted the focus from the characters to the events, and that’s where they’ve lost me.

    I believe there is some level of subtext to most episodes (which is admirable), but subtext and “deeper meanings” are often the crutch of lesser writers, and cannot be used in good conscience without satisfactory characters.

    By the way, I’m so glad you’re posting again. I really believe this is the best anime blog online.

    1. I think people are getting too caught up on the idea that “subtext = good.” Yes, I find subtext incredibly interesting, but this has never been a review blog. At most, I have only ever said that I find Samurai Flamenco underrated. I’ve even said elsewhere that I prefer Tiger & Bunny as a superhero anime because Samurai Flamenco’s appeal is entirely conceptual. You don’t have to like a show just because it has subtext. And certainly, I agree with you that Samurai Flamenco lacks emotional appeal. My only goal this entire time has been, “Well, this show is not the worst show ever. It has clever subtext. Let me try to explain…”

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