Samurai Flamenco Ep. 21: What love’s got to do with it

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Well, I guess I was wrong: Haiji isn’t completely imaginary. Last week’s episode kept hinting at the idea that Haiji couldn’t be seen or heard by anyone but our protagonist. This week, however, Joji claims to have seen the guy, and Haiji even goes so far as to kidnap Goto. You can’t get any more direct than that. Of course, this doesn’t rule out the idea that Haiji is nevertheless a product of Masayoshi’s imagination. Perhaps he’s some physical manifestation of a figment of our hero’s mind. After all, his abilities and even his existence itself continue to seem far too supernatural. Haiji is seemingly everywhere at once; like most fictional mastermind geniuses, he can do anything he wants and get away undetected. This week, this means poisoning the Flamenco Girls and luring Goto into a trap. He even knows things he shouldn’t know, i.e. Goto’s “relationship” with his girlfriend. As a result, there’s no doubt in my mind that Haiji’s existence is linked to Masayoshi’s mind. Having said that, I feel as though there’s been a small change.

In last week’s episode, it was rather ambiguous whether or not Haiji had really been responsible for all the terrible events that had occurred. Did he really blow Masayoshi’s apartment up, or was it just a gas leak? A bit later in the narrative, Masayoshi thought his curry had been poisoned, but it apparently wasn’t. And what about all the stuff that happened to Joji and the rest of the Flamengers? Did they not seem like pranks hoodlums would pull on people? I mean, cutting a girl’s hair seems relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things. Sure, Joji could’ve died from his injuries, but if Haiji really wanted the old man dead, he could’ve done more than to simply push the guy in front of a truck. Still, how can a dead kid do all of this? And where have the kid’s parents disappeared to? All of a sudden, however, the stakes have been raised. Somewhere between last week’s episode and this week’s episode, it feels as though Haiji has become more “real.” It feels as though the idea of Haiji has crystallized. He doesn’t just want to torment Masayoshi; he wants to kill Masayoshi’s friends. But why? Is this a response to something?

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These, I feel, are the major clues in front of us. First, according to Haiji, “[Masayoshi] can’t control his passion for justice…” Second, Haiji didn’t start resurfacing until after the imaginary girlfriend nonsense with Goto. Last but not least, Joji claims that love is somehow “the ultimate secret weapon” in our hero’s disposal. Yes, there are other clues, but I feel these three are the big ones. If you could somehow come up with a theory that ties them all together, you’d understand this concluding arc. Having said that, I don’t know where love enters the picture. Let’s say Masayoshi’s passion for justice means he can’t do a thing for Goto. After modeling his life solely after the Super Sentai-esque stories he had consumed as a kid, he’s ill-equipped to deal with problems that have nothing to do with good versus evil.

At first, Haiji seemed like nothing more than a figment of Masayoshi’s imagination. As a result, this helped our hero empathize with Goto’s situation. Unfortunately, there was just one small problem: it led to a fallout between him and his best friend. Then like Goto, Masayoshi now has this great need to convince not just himself but others as well that his phantom exist. Goto desperately avoids reality by pretending to converse with his late girlfriend through text messages. He doesn’t want to deal with the fact that she’s dead for good. Likewise, if Haiji isn’t real, then Masayoshi’s worst fears would be realized: “I’m the only one who’s met Haiji-kun, who’s talked to Haiji-kun, who even knows that Haiji-kun exists. In that case, maybe he’s an illusion I unconsciously created, once peace was brought to this world. In that case, the true source of evil Samurai Flamenco must defeat… Is really me?” But unlike Goto, we know that Masayoshi can effect the existence of new beings in real world through his desires.

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Goto can pine all he wants for his late girlfriend, but she’s never coming back. That, however, isn’t necessarily the case for Masayoshi, is it? If he so desperately wants Haiji to be real, there’s a very good chance that the boy villain would become real, isn’t there? And maybe that’s why things seems to have escalated. Maybe that’s why Haiji’s existence seems to have crystallized. At first, it looked as though our boy villain was content with just mentally tormenting our protagonist. People started to doubt Masayoshi though. Cops couldn’t find any trace of wrongdoing. Worst of all, Goto, Masayoshi’s best friend, didn’t buy his story. It must be incredibly frustrating to be called a nutjob by a guy who talks to himself pretending to be his late girlfriend. It’s like, “Where do you get off talking down to me when you’re crazier than I am?” As a result, I wonder if this is why the stakes have been raised. All of a sudden, Haiji needs to embody pure evil. All of sudden, Haiji needs to commit crimes that people would really pay attention to just so that Masayoshi wouldn’t make a fool of himself — just so that he could have a target to satisfy his passion for justice.

If you really think about it, you could argue that the only true evil that has existed in the series thus far has been King Torture and the From Beyond organization. Prime Minister Okuzaki may have gone about things in the wrong way, but at the end of the day, he simply wanted to prepare humanity for the threat of Alien Flamenco. Likewise, Alien Flamenco’s main goal was to achieve peace, even if it seems immoral to force everyone to become one unified super-species. Anyway, my point is simply that neither of those two villains were truly evil. On the other hand, you could make a case for King Torture. As a result, is it just a coincidence that once the stakes have been raised, Haiji starts to emulate King Torture? If Haiji’s a manifestation of Masayoshi’s imagination, then Haiji’s idea of evil can only be a carbon copy of what Masayoshi actually knows.

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Still, while this all makes sense in my head, I’m not sure what love’s got to do with any of it. After his talk with Joji, Masayoshi then sits through a crash course on love from none other than his devoted manager Sumi. But while she may have helped our hero understand what love does to people, and how confused love can result in destructively obsessive behavior, how will love become Masayoshi’s greatest weapon? At this point, we’re so close to the end that I don’t really want to speculate any further. I just want to sit back and see how Manglobe pulls this off.

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14 thoughts on “Samurai Flamenco Ep. 21: What love’s got to do with it

  1. Di-Dorval

    I do want to believe the universe when he said that he stopped fucking around with our protagonist. And the villains were all different takes on the concept of heroism and justice and media influence. And this guy seems to fit right in also, he mocks the belief of justice Masayo holds. Yet such dream-like ideals animated something in him. He wants the concept to be reality and he knows that only nonsensical extremes can accomplish it. Maybe they both need to realize that it is a concept born from pure love for humans present in everyone and shared between each one of us all the time, and that thinking about it only trough extremes and black and white is the wrong way to go.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I dropped this after episode 10. Is it worth picking back up, or is it still over the top and super sentai? (not that I hate sentai. It just clashed so much with the tone at the start of the series.)

    Reply
  3. A Day Without Me

    Well, duuuuuuuhhhhh, it obv means that the POWER OF LOVE will prevail in the form of Masayoshi’s yaoi rabu for Gotou DUHHH

    Reply
  4. Vrai

    While I suspect the above comment was made in some form of condescension (or sarcasm at best), at this point I am inclined to believe they’re leading up to Masayoshi realizing he has feelings for Goto – there’s far too many direct cuts from Masayoshi asking what love is directly over to Goto, as well as emphasis on Goto’s importance/Masa’s disinterest in girls for it not to be deliberate (and I’d doubt it’s a revelation of friend-love, since Masa had no problem thinking of Goto as his ‘precious friend’ during the superhero roundup business).
    It’s not like the whole show will be ruined if that’s not how things turn out, but i will be quite charmed if they do end on a romantic note. It would make it the only show in recent memory (putting aside No. 6) with a queer romance that isn’t exclusively romance-genre (by which I mean, trumpeted as BL of GL so that the pearl-clutching sectors can feel safe ignoring it).

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Day’s just being Day.

      Masa had no problem thinking of Goto as his ‘precious friend’ during the superhero roundup business

      Maybe, but Masayoshi hasn’t had a lot of friends so I wouldn’t be surprised if his expressions of platonic love aren’t a little awkward. But hey, I’ll keep this comment in mind if you turn out to be correct.

      Reply
    2. striffy

      I’m actually predicting that sort of ending. I’ve bet a bag of chips on it. I will have those chips or Manglobe be damned.

      Reply
      1. Vrai

        Chips? I would rejoice in such chips. If it happens it would yield an absolutely killer essay (not to mention the genuinely sweet rapport between the two characters). Just as long as they don’t decide to wrap around and mirror Goto holding wounded Masayoshi in episode one with Masa holding a dying Goto in the last episode. I’m not sure I could take a sad-death ending.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Well, even if Masayoshi is truly in love with Goto, it isn’t a given that his best bud will return his feelings. But then again, this is fiction, so who knows? Fiction tends to take the path of least resistance when it comes to such matters.

        2. Vrai

          This is quite the fair point you bring up. Goto’s still got lingering issues over his lost love, after all. Even if he were to be open to the idea, it would no doubt take some hard work to get there – you don’t drop a good decade of delusion in one swift confession.
          Nonetheless, it would be rather nice. And I think what most would’ve brushed off as fan-baiting early on (particularly that infamous observation of Flamenco Girl’s) might work out well enough.

  5. bithynia

    It’s the law of cuts. You can (almost) always tell the direction a show (particularly an anime, whose cinematographers usually aren’t top notch) is going by the cuts they make, which have been hinting at the whole Goto/Masayoshi thing for pretty much the entire series.

    Reply

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