This is pretty much “Masayoshi Grows Up, the Episode.” That’s basically it. I normally wouldn’t weave an episode recap into my analysis, but I think I kinda have to for this week’s write-up. The episode’s just too bonkers for me to talk about it in any other way. To start things off, Masayoshi confronts Alien Flamenco aboard a spaceship. It turns out Alien Flamenco hopes to achieve peace in the universe by forcing intelligent species to quickly evolve and thus assimilate themselves into a singular ‘uberspecies.’ This is sort of a commentary about cultural homogeneity, which is actually quite relevant to the discussion but I’ll get to it later. In any case, Alien Flamenco offers Masayoshi and the people of Japan a chance to evolve too, which leads to a funny exchange between the two that you really just have to see for yourself. Honestly, I can’t do it justice in a blog post.
Naturally, Masayoshi turns down Alien Flamenco’s offer, so they do battle for a short bit. In the end, Masayoshi ends up evolving anyway but in more ways than one. First, his superpowers obviously have to evolve in order for him to defeat Alien Flamenco. So y’know, he grows in size, his suit now gives him the ability to survive in outer space, he can throw out moves that have galaxy-related names (“Space Flamenco Galaxy Uppercut!”), etc. But more importantly, Masayoshi grows up on the inside. He matures and stops being a little boy with little boy dreams. Just bear with me. I swear it’ll make sense in the end. Masayoshi finally defeats Alien Flamenco on the moon, but when he lies down to catch a breath, he finds himself whisked away to a serene location. This same location is also full of figurines of all the Samurai Flamenco heroes and villains. Now this is where the anime gets all meta on us.
Masayoshi starts having a conversation with an entity that can change its appearance to whoever or whatever it wishes to look like. Not only that, it claims to be the universe’s will. At this point, we may as well call it God. And yes, we’re dealing with multiple universes now. Basically, certain individuals across the multiplicity of universes have the ability to shape reality. Masayoshi just happens to be one of those individuals. Our protagonist wanted to be a hero just like the ones he admired in the stories he grew with up, so as a result, weirdos like King Torture, the From Beyond organization, the evil Prime Minister, and Alien Flamenco kept appearing one after the other in quick succession. Essentially, the guy was crafting his own superhero narrative.
The reason another villain hasn’t appeared, however, is because Masayoshi hasn’t wished for it. But make no mistake about it, this story could continue on forever if need be. “I can give you the next enemy. From another universe, the fourth dimension, deep inside the mind, a super-nanoworld, the abyss…” claims the omnipotent entity. But as it turns out, Masayoshi’s done. He wishes to return to his original, and more importantly, normal life. As I’ve previously said, he’s grown up. Hell, if you really think about it, he’s been growing up. This all started because a kid felt as though he couldn’t be a hero in the real world, i.e. the sort of realistic ‘crimefighting’ he was doing at the start of the series wasn’t enough to sate his appetite. Well, could you really blame him? His parents died when he was young, so his only sense of justice came from his uncle’s manga and the Super Sentai-like stuff he consumed voraciously. Masayoshi thus grew up with a very distinct sense of justice that just didn’t fit in neatly with the real world.
As such, he wished forth King Torture, a real villain for him to defeat. And after having just a small taste of comic heroism, Masayoshi wanted more. So he wished forth the From Beyond organization, which had so many members that they could only be stopped by a Super Sentai-like band of heroes. Naturally, Masayoshi becomes the leaders of the Flamengers. At some point, however, Masayoshi started to grow up. He realized that heroism shouldn’t be limited to just a handful of powerful people like himself and the Flamengers. That’s when the story segued into the Prime Minister arc, and I wrote all those posts about the plurality of heroism and the need to resist the superhero imaginary. After all, he was writing his own best friend out of the story. Viewers were complaining about how Gotou was practically missing from the story, and Masayoshi noticed it too. He thus corrected it.
Finally, in this current “arc” with Alien Flamenco, Masayoshi takes a good hard look at himself. Yes, he has a strong sense of justice, but does he really want to force everyone to adopt his values and vision of the world? Or will he allow them to ‘grow up’ (i.e. evolve) at their own pace just as he was allowed to do? Trust me, this was the whole subtext behind the whole evolution dilemma between him and Alien Flamenco: “You’re forcing others to accept your ideals. What humans need is to grow… To learn to walk on their own.” After all, both our protagonist and Alien Flamenco want to achieve peace, and there’s no doubt about it that a homogenized culture is more conducive to accomplishing such a thing. Hell, just take a look at Tumblr. Tumblr is the logical endpoint of multiculturalism, and it’s nothing but full of strife. But like Masayoshi, we all know cultural homogeneity isn’t the answer.
So Masayoshi grows up and returns to his normal life. Or does he? The story would then come full circle, and I would like that. There’s a sense of finality in this. But we’ll see what next week’s episode has in store for us. But no matter what happens, Samurai Flamenco has been a hilarious journey from both inside and outside the anime. There are just these little jabs throughout the series that remind me why I think the show is so underrated. At one point, Masayoshi asks that one question that I know a lot of viewers have been dying to answer: “Why is everything named ‘Flamenco?'” Needless to say, the answer our hero gets is so wholly dissatisfying that it just has to be a middle finger to everyone who thinks the writers of the show are too dumb to realize what they are doing.