Samurai Flamenco Ep. 19: Melodrama

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Peace and love everywhere? I thought we were returning to normalcy! But that says something, doesn’t it? That peace and love everywhere isn’t normal. As humans, the idea that life isn’t full of strife is… well, it’s just plain weird. And boring too:

Goto: “These days, all we get are people needing directions or looking for missing kids. Which is a good thing, I realize.

Kanno: “It’s so peaceful, nothing interesting is happening! Hey, you! Find me a dead body!”

It’s just odd that we’ve come to this point when the grand ol’ lesson from the previous arcs was that you shouldn’t force people to become one. Y’know, Alien Flamenco wanted everyone to evolve into one unified uberspecies. As for the now retired Prime Minister Okuzaki, he wanted everyone to fall in line with his policies, i.e. giving him 100% approval rating. I don’t have to go on; you get the picture. In any case, Masayoshi told Alien Flamenco that this sort of thing wasn’t right. He believed that humanity should be allowed to evolve on its own terms: “You’re forcing others to accept your ideals. What humans need is to grow… To learn to walk on their own.” So what happened? Why has peace and love now become the norm? Did everyone in world suddenly decided to embrace peace on their own? Probably not.

Well, remember that Masayoshi is apparently just one of the many individuals across the multiplicity of universes with the power to shape his or her own reality. And since Masayoshi has always held a strong sense of justice, it’s probably likely that he desires world peace. So is it a coincidence that we now have peace and love around the world? Is it a coincidence that all evil has left the world? I mean, what are you trying to tell me? That after the Alien Flamenco incident, evil people just decided to stop being evil? That drug dealers stopped preying upon young people, that human traffickers let their victims go, etc.? Probably not. But at the same time, is this really Masayoshi’s doing? I don’t know yet. But if it is, I doubt he’s doing it on purpose. Regardless of who’s ultimately responsible for this current state of affairs, however, it’s clear that peace and love in such a fashion isn’t normal.

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A world that has turned peaceful overnight is so weird and boring to everyone that it almost feels like the characters are looking for trouble. And it seems like they have to stick their noses where their noses don’t belong in order to find said trouble. But what conflicts are there to find if evil has left the world? Well, y’know, you could still have melodramatic problems. Like the issue of Goto’s girlfriend. Out of nowhere — which, let’s be honest, this seems to be this show’s calling card anyway — we learn that Goto’s girlfriend isn’t real. In fact, he’s just been texting himself this entire time, pretending to be his own girlfriend. He is apparently doing this to maintain his own sanity. Yeesh. Why, Goto, why! You were supposed to be the sane one!

Well, it isn’t quite fair to say Goto’s girlfriend has never existed. She was real… until one day, she just plain disappeared. Literally. It’s like a bona fide unsolved mystery. It would be one thing if she was just kidnapped or murdered, but no, they found her belongings on an empty bus, but she was nowhere to be found. No witnesses, no clues. Where did the bus even come from? Where did the bus driver even go? That’s more than a little odd, if you ask me. Most of all, there’s just something not quite natural about all of this. Again, it’s like we’re digging for trouble, you know? Evil has left the world! So let’s turn our gazes inward and revel in the melodrama of our day-to-day interactions with each other. And unfortunately, it looks as if Goto’s the target for this turn for the melodramatic.

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But wait a minute… we’ve been told that Masayoshi has the power to shape his reality. Reality is now boring. What if we were to make it so that reality is no longer boring? But y’know, make sure to keep evil out of the equation at the same time. Could it be… that reality has been changed in a way so that Goto’s girlfriend no longer exists? I dunno, but maybe. Think about it. He’s always had a girlfriend, but because we need a problem to keep the narrative interesting, we’ll just go back in time and literally pluck her out of the story. Hm. Maybe! And y’know what, there’s nothing really evil about this (assuming that it isn’t being done on purpose). Goto’s sudden mental illness is a problem, sure, but it’s not a problem born from evil. You can still have peace and love in a world full of trauma and mental illnesses. Melodrama itself has nothing to do with the battle between good and evil. And personally, I think that’s sort of an interesting observation to make.

Do we sometimes invent problems when there aren’t any real problems to worry about? Basically, if you’re busy fighting crime, evil despots, or freedom-hatin’ terrorists, you wouldn’t have time for personal issues like Goto’s trauma. You just wouldn’t. You’d say, “Buck up, pal. There are bigger fishes to fry. People out there are dying! We don’t have the luxury to deal with your mental issues.” But because evil is now suddenly gone from the world, it’s time to look for touble. It’s time to invent conflicts where shouldn’t be any. In a way, it’s almost like saying that melodrama is a first world problem. Think of a show like Golden Time. Think of its characters’ banal issues with love and friendship… y’know, in the grander scheme of things. Those guys and gals have the luxury to whine and cry about their stupid melodramatic bullshit because they have nothing else to be concerned about in their cushy, first world lives.

So we have to wonder… how much of Goto’s latest trauma has been… I don’t know… “manufactured,” I guess you might call it? But even if it’s actually the case that Masayoshi is somehow responsible for these latest developments in the story, again, it probably isn’t intentional for whatever that’s worth. I doubt Masayoshi would knowingly do this to his best friend. Having said that, the revelation that our hero could shape his reality has always been somewhat problematic in my mind. I think back to the one guy who died to Guillotine Gorilla. Surely, Masayoshi didn’t intend for that guy to die, but if the omnipotent being from last week’s episode is to be believed, Masayoshi nevertheless shaped his reality in a way that cost a man his life. Problematic, indeed…

On a less serious note, I sure do hope Goto’s girlfriend makes a miraculous return to the story somehow. Because honestly, I don’t see anything between him and Mari, and I’d rather keep it that way.

As for this kid…

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Sawada Haiji… Sawada Haiji… you mean, this Sawada?

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From the first episode? Aw hell, it is him. Wow, we’ve really come full circle then, haven’t we? But what the hell is he even rambling about? Oh that’s right, Masayoshi gave a bit of a speech to a bunch of brats at the end of the very first episode of the series:

“You kids… You kids must be enjoying yourselves… You believe that you’re special… That you can do anything. The sky’s the limit… All you care about is… hanging out with friends and fooling around… But your parents and other adults don’t understand. That’s your current mindset… You think no one cares if you act like you own the world! But you’re wrong. People do mind. You’re a damned nuisance. But no one says anything because they don’t want any trouble. They’re scared, so they keep their mouths shut. They don’t step in because they don’t care what happens to you. As they sneer at you and keep their mouths shut, those adults think, ‘Those kids won’t amount to anything in life.’ But here’s what I think. If we don’t get you kids home, nothing will change… The city won’t change, society won’t, our future won’t, adults won’t… You won’t change… I won’t change. That’s why I’m here to tell you you’re being a nuisance! Don’t block the streets. Don’t shout in the middle of the night. Go home! If you want to be a bother, annoy your parents! They’re the only people in the world who absolutely have to care about you!”

This speech must have left quite an impression on the kid, because as you can tell, he recites a bit of it back to Masayoshi. So what’s going on? Well, as it has always been with Samurai Flamenco, your guess is as good as mine. But I wonder… why did the kid leave out the first portion of Masayoshi’s speech? Is it due to the episode’s time constraints? Or is it because what’s missing is actually what’s important? I mean, if Masayoshi has the power to shape his reality, then wouldn’t that make him kind of special? Can’t he honestly do anything? Isn’t the sky the limit? And when you think about it, even if it isn’t intentional, isn’t inventing super villains and world-threatening problems a bit like fooling around? Ahhhh, I don’t know anymore. Maybe Masayoshi is the biggest nuisance in the world of Samurai Flamenco after all. What I can say for sure is that I’m curious as all hell how this will all play out. But hey, remember those folks who were like, “Arrrgh, the writers are lazy! They’re just making this shit up as they go along!” Yeah…

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11 thoughts on “Samurai Flamenco Ep. 19: Melodrama”

  1. Lol’d at the irony of Goto talking about people looking for missing kids. And speaking of coming full circle, this also feels like we’re back where we started at episode 7 “There aren’t any villains left!”, just amplified to the extreme of world peace. Welp, until the end of the episode, of course.

    1. Lol’d at the irony of Goto talking about people looking for missing kids.

      Yeah, it makes me wonder if that’s where Masayoshi inadvertently got the idea.

  2. “But hey, remember those folks who were like, ‘Arrrgh, the writers are lazy! They’re just making this shit up as they go along!’ Yeah…”

    I’ll concede that the writers likely planned for the bit about Goto’s girlfriend from the very beginning. So what, though? They’ve done absolutely nothing over the course of the series to deepen his character beyond the steadfast, stalwart friend.

    So we now discover he has a dark “secret.” – what exactly have they done with his development to make this revelation anything more than a facepalming moment? I think even calling the missing/dead girlfriend a plot MacGuffin would be dignifying it far too much…

    And how does bringing back a bit character from the first episode, who we’ve seen neither hide nor hair of in the almost score of episodes since, amount to any kind of refutation of lazy writing? Because to my mind, it comes across as just one more nail in the coffin of one of the most slapdash, haphazard shows I’ve ever seen.

    I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: your blog posts have infinitely more thought and effort behind them than anything I’ve seen in Samurai Flamenco for the past three months. Still, it’s all just lipstick on a pig from where I sit.

    1. Still, it’s all just lipstick on a pig from where I sit.

      Well, I wouldn’t want you to sit any closer. It’ll ruin your eyesight.

    2. True, Goto’s character is stagnant, but if you take the entire series as Masayoshi’s personal journey where he comes to terms with his ideas about heroism, other characters’ growth seems less necessary.
      That whole cycling-through of all the different superhero narratives may seem haphazard, but it’s essentially a reflective process for him where at the end of the whole experience he comes out with his ideals challenged. Sawada’s reappearance in this episode acts as a reminder of Masayoshi’s original vision when he first started out on his superhero career. This comes at a time where Masayoshi has new insights on playing hero, as well as realisation about a friend going through a crisis.
      I’m guessing Masayoshi would have to choose from here to either take on Sawada’s challenge (whatever it is), or to help Goto out, i.e. to either return to being a vigilante, or become someone’s personal “hero”.
      TLDR: everything in the series has been planned, it’s not all “lazy” or “haphazard”.
      By the way, Sawada made a small appearance on episode 12 (http://i.imgur.com/zI02MBQ.jpg). Seems to me like he’s been obsessed with Masayoshi after episode 1.

  3. IMO, everything’s still planned, though the sheer craziness makes it look like they’re making manatees as writers.
    In the first OP, Goto throws away a bouquet which would make sense if he gets over his missing girlfriend or accepts that she’s gone.

    This made me watch the first episode and wonder if it’s actually Goto’s imagination that started things in the first place when he was talking about a law breaking superhero.

      1. It’s a South Park reference, the series’ explanation for Family Guy’s randomness is that the latter’s writers are actually manatees taking idea balls from the bottom of a pool and the rest of the staff creating episodes based on said balls.

  4. Here’s a thought.

    The way I see it, you’re not supposed to like Mari and the show has basically rejected her way of thinking ever since she showed up, considering the entertainment thematic. She just sees heroism as a form of entertainment to cure her boredom. And remember the tremendous amount of concern the general public has had for any and every conflict so far? Yeah, neither do I. However, heroism is not meant to be viewed as mere spectacle and I think that’s what Masayoshi is slowly coming to grips with. “I’ve discovered it isn’t exactly what I’d expected” Real heroism is nothing like the stuff he grew up watching. Learning that your best friend has mental problems is far from entertaining. It’s scary, actually. Real heroism is helping out that friend when he needs you the most and I’m guessing Masayoshi is going to end up doing just that, because you see Goto throwing away a bouquet of roses into the distance in the first OP. What does Goto have with him as he pretends to have a conversation with his missing girlfriend on the bench? A bouquet of roses.

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