First Impression – Samurai Flamenco

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 001Samurai Flamenco 002

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.

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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!

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A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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38 Responses to “First Impression – Samurai Flamenco”

  1. skylion says:

    There really is something here, isn’t there? Despite the low budget blues, the character narrative is really trying to buy our attention; as you said, just by the fact that it isn’t in insane toddler with a fork and a wall socket mode.

    But with character narrative, it can dry up if those are not developed beyond the first episode. The internet fame could quickly change that; GATCHAMAN style. But I think more characters, the wimpy dude as you point out, will do the trick. This show needs more dynamic.

    But, I’m in it for at least a few more to see how it plays out. I’ve still got Tiger and Bunny in my backlog.

    • Overcooled says:

      We’ve got a good director on board so I’m optimistic that things will pick up. There was only the faintest spark of something in the first episode but I’m going to follow it and hope for the best.

      I don’t know which way this show will go at all, but I imagine it will branch out soon. Internet, more heroes, more villains, more superpowers? Whatever the case, they can’t just watch anime forever!

      I really enjoyed Tiger & Bunny. The relationship between the main dudes is just so wonderfully developed. It’s a bit cheesy (very cheesy) but that adds to the charm. Give it a watch if you have time! I’m at least confident you won’t passionately hate it :3

  2. zztop says:

    I am disappointed by the lack of traditional Japanese swordsmen dancing to Spanish folk music from Andalusia in this ep.(▼へ▼メ)

  3. BlackBriar says:

    I just couldn’t continue after the first couple of minutes. Meh would’ve been putting it mildly. It was unappealing, simply unlikable and forgettable and ridiculous in a humorless way and what is said here isn’t giving me the motivation to give it another chance. Gatchaman Crowds was a blast, Kill la Kill is absurdity incarnate but it’s entertaining as hell and Phi Brain may have its perks but it still makes you want to continue watching with a good plot device at its center.

    The premise wasn’t all that interesting but I checked it out nonetheless and found my efforts were in vain. Ah, trial and error, so at least I can say with sighs of relief that I won’t have to bother wasting any more of time with this series and that’s another off my list for Fall. Nearly 6 months of something like this isn’t worth it.

    • Overcooled says:

      Definitely a slow first episode so I don’t blame you. I’m kind of interested to see where this will go so I’m gonna blog it and see what happens.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Then that’s two 2 cour shows on your plate. Here’s your loyal servant wishing you good luck with that.

  4. Irenesharda says:

    This bored me more than Meganebu, but in a different way. This, like Coppelion was nothing like what I was expecting. I’ve never been a fan of the Kick-Ass series, and this reminds of the basic premise of that. Yet, this series doesn’t even have the dark comedy or uber-violence to back it up. It’s just boring. It has little to no plot, and what little it has, I don’t care for.

    Masayoshi is one of those characters that irks me right off the bat. I enjoy idealism and being young at heart, but this is ridiculous. He’s going to get himself or someone else killed. And you’re going to get on people about jaywalking?! Yeah, don’t ever come to NYC or Chicago kid, you WILL get killed.

    I liked the cop, he was a nice guy, especially since he’s good-natured enough to risk his job several times for this guy.

    I plan to give this one more episode just to solidify what the whole plot (or lack thereof) of this show, and then it’s being dropped. I have too much on my plate right now to waste my time.

    • skylion says:

      I didn’t quite get the Kick Ass vibe off this; the supersaturation of sentai probably drowned out the feel of the gritty 90’s comics that Kick Ass takes up to 11. But I don’t think you are wrong in your assessments. As it is, I think the middling charter narrative might need some room to grow. The idealism is purpose built into this show for just that reason..

    • BlackBriar says:

      It was more irritation with this show than boredom for me. Utterly tasteless. Even Coppelion didn’t seem this dull. I just couldn’t get myself to like it at all. I know there are idealists but the protagonist goes about it in a childish and unrealistic way. He’s facing the real world not a fantasy where the good guy always wins and justice prevails.

      • skylion says:

        Again, I think this is purpose built into the narrative. I think this is a show about that kind of growth, from idiotic idealism to a realistic viewpoint. You simply cannot have an true arc without starting off at the very basic core of it all.

        • Irenesharda says:

          I actually felt that it was going to be opposite, especially since the tagline is about not growing up and staying a child. I have a feeling that Masayoshi isn’t going to change at all, instead, he’s going to go through this show and influence others to be “superheros” like him and adopt his ridiculous idealism.

      • Irenesharda says:

        His brand of vigilantism is the reason there are laws against it. His idiocy would get more people killed than it would save.

        He would end up chasing after a jaywalker and cause a car to veer and crash and kill two other pedestrians on the sidewalk. He’d try to stop a car from speeding which would cause a multiple car crash since it would be against the flow and speed of traffic.

        • skylion says:

          You’ve said it all in both comments. I find I have no rebuttal. But I still find the overall narrative, in the context of entertainment, worthy of exploration. But given the quality of the show, it’s not doing it as well as it could.

        • Overcooled says:

          Masayoshi is causing more harm than he is helping, and that’s not even taking into account the burden he’s putting on Goto. I think by the end of the series the two of them will find a happy medium of proactively fighting crime and being sensible about it. Running around and yelling at teens with LEAD PIPES (why did he have that???) is not the best way to improve upon society. They’ve already showed that Masayoshi’s method is a big failure, so I doubt they’ll continue along that route much further.

  5. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Where is the Flamenco?

    I actually prefer Tango (of Death).

  6. celestine says:

    I don’t understand why would a anime do a first ep like that; if they where tryng to not be cliche, they could have done that in a less boring way i mean kill-la-kill was completely memorable iven whitout almost any plot so they probaly could have done a better job plot-wise here just keping something interesting happening i don’t have a very big problem whith animation, but if the story doesn’t catch me on right from the beging i just can’t keep it on whit it, also first ep im my opinion is a way of the anime say: hello there, im here! So overall if this doesn’t come up whit sonething beter next ep i might just drop it

    • Overcooled says:

      It’s not a smart move at all to have a first episode be so…bland. I don’t think they tried at all. It’s disappointing, but that makes me wonder if they’re going to completely go their own way and make an original anime not for fanservice, glory or moe…but for fun. We’ll see. I want this show to succeed so much but ahhhh it’s only “okay” and it’s killing me.

  7. celestine says:

    Sorry for the poor inglish i’m from brazil, also on completely non-realetd meter cool i will give a look at phi brain, now don’t expect too much from me since im a mahou shoujo fanboy i don’t know what i could say about puzzles, but you where the one who get me to watch attack on titan so who knows right? I have so much free time on my hands right now so i need some things to watch, will tell you how i felt about it on your next post ok?

    • Overcooled says:

      No need to apologize, Celestine. Phi Brain is one of those odd shows that you will either love or hate. When you watch it, just remember it’s supposed to be dumb so you can laugh at how seriously it takes the world of puzzles. Anyways, I dunno if you’ll actually like it but it’s be great if you did! It’s nothing like Attack on Titan, that’s for sure.

      Like it or not, let me know what you think! I’m curious!

  8. sadakups says:

    I believe that when Masayoshi gets into REAL trouble, like yakuzas or other criminal syndicates, a shitstorm will happen, and Goto will really have to be more of a cop than he usually is.

    • Overcooled says:

      Ahhh, I really hope that happens. Seeing Goto whip out a gun or a taser and be a real hero would be super neat.

  9. Highway says:

    He should have called himself Lecture Man! I thought this episode wasn’t bad, and I don’t get a Kick-Ass kind of vibe from it at all (although I’ve never seen that movie, so I may be wrong). It’s almost more like The Greatest American Hero (oh man, geezer’s pulling out the old stuff now) without an alien-provided super suit (with no instructions). He’s just a guy who thinks there are things that are wrong in the world, and he’s willing to get beat up to tell people that.

    It really doesn’t hurt for there to be some people who ignore social conventions and path of least resistance calculations. He’s right, someone should speak up. Actually EVERYONE should speak up, and noone does. So I give him props for that, he’s just crappy at backing it up.

    • Irenesharda says:

      It’s similar in the basic premise of Kick-Ass in that real people can be superheroes without having powers in a realistic setting. And I remember Greatest American Hero! My dad got me the dvd set and I loved it as a kid. 🙂

      I don’t think these two are similar though. I liked the MC of that way better and he, while he was idealistic, he was no where to this level. There was also a charm and comedy to the show that this show is clearly lacking.

    • Overcooled says:

      I’ve never seen Kick-Ass and I don’t know what it’s about, but I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to it flung around. I have no clue.

      Masayoshi has some good ideas that question some iffy societal norms, and I hope that continues. He’s an interesting character, and I like that he’s so gungho on justice that he messes just about everything up.

  10. zztop says:

    To be fair, this IS the 1st out of 20+ eps. The show could go any way from here. 🙂

    My trick’s to come back in a few week’s time after 10+ eps have aired and watch in 1 go. That should give a better impression of what the show wants to be.

    • Overcooled says:

      Ah, I can’t wait that long since I have to blog it. I find I tend to enjoy shows more when I watch them in chunks though. It really gets you into the right mood.

  11. Foshizzel says:

    After I saw this first episode I was like Hmmm this is basically a slice of life Kick Ass minus the crazy violence and swearing of course, but it is more realistic than Tiger and Bunny or Gatchaman for the superhero element~

    ALSO Sugita! YES! I am happy to hear him as a main character again because he was awesome in Jojo and Gargantia <3

    • d-LaN says:

      I’m curious, wht are your thoughts abt Sugita role as Ragna (BB)?

      • Foshizzel says:

        Angry and angsty Sugita! It’s great! Sadly BlazBlue is kind boring right now and I think its failing for most fans…

        • d-LaN says:

          Well, at least I’m enjoying it. Nu yandere was (unintentionally?) hilarious lol.

    • Overcooled says:

      …I need to watch Kick-Ass.

      And Sugita won me over with his role in JoJo~

  12. anaaga says:

    I stopped the anime halfway when I watched it for the second time. It was just so… Boring. Slice of Life, sure, but it’s not like how I expect it to be. Which kind of pisses me off, since the promotional posters give more action-ish & fun vibe. It was giving me false hope! And I need more of that Sugitan bromance.

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