In the name of curry udon, I will punish you!
|I know, I know, I’m terribly late and that’s bad. You’d be shaking my hand and congratulating me on getting this out at all if you knew the gauntlet of essays and midterms I have to run through just to get this post out. Grumbling aside (IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE SHOVED BARBED WIRE INTO MY VEINS) I am here for one of the last shows to get a first episode out this season – Samurai Flamenco. Do we have a second coming of Gatchaman here, or is it an entirely different story?|
Samurai Flamenco begins with a dramatic meeting in a dark alleyway followed by a cliche OP song where Samurai Flamenco uses his superpowers to defeat evil foes and save the day. That’s as cookie-cutter as it gets to the general schema of a superhero/super sentai show. The generic nature of the opening was a bit alarming for me, but that quickly wore off when things got more grounded. Immediately after we were shown a clip of our flashy hero kicking his way clean through a giant robot, we transitioned to the everyday monotony faced by a police station cop. It’s not quite shocking enough to be a real bait and switch, but it does break a few of the finely ingrained patterns about what a superhero show should be. For example, the first episode wasn’t spent granting the hero magical powers for some poorly explained reason. Although I’m guessing this superpower thing will happen eventually, for now it’s going for a more homely spin on the hero trope.
There’s a lot less monster-bashing and a lot more curry-eating than I expected. The chemistry between Goto and Masayoshi creates a real golden combo. To get that “buddy cop” feeling like what Tiger & Bunny had going for it, you really need two complementary characters to carry the show. I think Samurai Flamenco really has that. Goto definitely cares about justice, as seen by the derision on his face when a drunkard at 7/11 cuts in line and buys cigarettes, but he’s extremely cynical about actively fixing these issues. He most likely became a cop in the hopes of making a real difference, but all he really does is yell at hooligans who don’t listen and stand in front of a police station until his legs start to ache. The whole experience was so disenchanting that he’s lost any real drive to make a difference. It’s a sensible attitude, but not one that makes his life all that enjoyable.
Watching anime characters watch anime is my favourite hobby
Then you have Masayoshi – the perfect foil. He’s the friend to really get him fired up about justice again. Mind you, Masayoshi is a little too far along the extreme end to actually give any reasonable advice a normal human being would want to follow. Masayoshi is basically…an idiot. He has no talent except for being pretty and mimicking the action poses of his beloved super sentai idols. His lack of sensibility means that Goto is the perfect supervisor for him. He will watch sentai shows with him and give him good advice without putting him down even though he thinks the kid is lacking a whole lot of sense. Part of him seems to admire Masayoshi for going out on a limb to do the things that he knows are “just” but he’s just too embarrassed to do. The two make an interesting mix and I can’t wait to see how they grow and change over the course of the show.
Bonus Screenshots:Show ▼
This isn’t quite the blockbuster I was expecting, but it’s definitely a good show. I actually don’t have much of an opinion about it yet because it’s so forgettable due to how slow it is. Most first episodes bounce around with the livelihood of a 4 year old trying to get your attention, spamming you with excitement every couple of seconds to get you interested. It just makes sense for an anime to try and attract a big audience in the first episode when most people decide whether or not to watch something based on that episode. Samurai Flamenco appears to be going for a more chill approach. Sometimes when you see someone not trying to be cool, that makes them cool in their own respect. Samurai Flamenco is kind of like that. While it’s not as immediately catchy and cool as, say, Kill la Kill which opened guns a-blazing (and hasn’t slowed down since) it has a strange allure in taking its time to develop things the way it wants regardless of what the audience thinks. With 22 episodes for things to pan out and the way the pacing appears to be so sobering, I’m actually really comfortable that we will get a competently told story that doesn’t end in a giant cliffhanger.
Now, that’s the “nice” way of describing Samurai Flamenco. It has the promise of being technically sound, but it really isn’t memorable. The art style is dull and has a budget so low I had to check that I wasn’t watching the first season of Phi Brain. The characters are adorable, but if the entire show is just two dudes talking about heroism and watching cartoons then I don’t think I can last for 2 seasons of that. Samurai Flamenco is enjoyable, but the tone is so nonchalent that the time just kind of whizzes by and once it’s over you kind of forget you were even watching anything at all.
It’s a real underdog of a show, surprisingly, but I think it might start to pick up some momentum in the next few episodes. It will be an interesting show to watch after Gatchaman Crowds, which took a light and fluffy view of heroes. This is the same director as the infamous Durarara!! and Baccano after all, so he should give us some wonderful material to take in. Masayoshi’s speech about unruly teenagers in society at the end was really impressive so we may be in for more quality writing…as long as I can take the “quality” animation.
Preview: Masayoshi gets popular thanks to the power of the internet. It’s Gatchaman all over again!