Samurai Flamenco – 11

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I’m kind of running out of things to say about Samumenco, and that’s never a good sign.

NoitaminA is going into its normal winter hibernation and Samurai Flamenco will be back on the 9th of January, but I’m not so sure I’ll be back with it.  For all the on-screen theaterics I think the equation for this series has become a pretty simple one – either you laugh or you don’t.  I can’t imagine anyone taking it remotely seriously at this point (nor do I think they’re supposed to), the turn in the series has rendered any character development pointless and surely no one is watching for the production values – so it really just boils down to whether you think it’s funny.  And right now, I really don’t find it especially funny.

Another part of the issue, I’m sure, is that this started out as a show for which I was right in the target demographic, and it morphed into one that gives me a pretty wide miss.  At this point we seem to have officially moved past the way-station of toku into a full-on super sentai series, and that’s a genre I honestly don’t much care about one way or another.  The parody is largely wasted on me and, generally speaking, I think there’s a larger problem here – the genre is so ridiculous to begin with that parodying it seems almost pointless.  I think there’s an element of parody in every super sentai and pretty much always has been.  Is there something especially necessary or clever in taking it on the way Samumenco seems to be doing?  Unless you have the sheer brilliance of a Mitsudomoe this comes off as pretty impotent – and Mitsudomoe was smart enough to figure out that one episode was just about the longest you could milk it for.

If this is still working for you – or working better than ever – great, more power to you.  Given the usual inverse relationship between my tastes and commercial success as far as anime goes I wouldn’t be surprised if Samumenco’s popularity has ticked up as a result of its complete transformation.  I could see a big fan of super sentai appreciating this for ironic reasons, and picking up all the references and such.  It just isn’t doing anything for me and I don’t see much point in repeating that over and over, so I’ll leave it to those of you for whom that’s not the case.

I will watch at least one more episode, hoping to be surprised and won over.  And I will say again, for the record, that I hope someone makes the series this one started out looking like it was going to be because I think that’s a series that needs to be made.  It would be nice to see a series use a character like Gotou as a main character and not an afterthought, because there seemed to be real potential there.  And if nothing else, Samurai Flamenco scores points for distinctiveness – I can’t think of another show that’s so thoroughly fooled me (and most everyone, I believe) about what kind of show it was going to be. 

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19 comments

  1. s

    I'll miss liking this show. What I won't miss is people saying I don't "get it" or telling me what I should think about it.

  2. It's interesting, because I made that very comment on another forum. It was rife with posters lecturing people about why they felt the way they did, and how they should feel. Few things piss me off more.

  3. G

    I liked the show up until this week. Now that its gone in this direction I'm done with it.

  4. t

    "but I'm not so sure I'll be back with it."

    you are not the first one I hear saying it after this ep
    and it's not like I don't get you at all or something. I do.
    after the first two episodes..none of us thought it would be like this. but after Gorilla guillotine I was almost sure it'll become something like this. especially since back then I examined the OP much more to details.

    it was very very quickly this time. I mean..all of a sudden he reveals his identity, taken by red-axe to WTF to fight WTF (seems like red-axe wasn't just enjoying his time in Africa or whatever HaHa). and boom – flamengers, flamenzords..power rangers in all their might(including mega-zords) on my screen. is that even possible?well, with samumenco everything is possible.
    as I said, I thought that samumenco will try to complete itself by forming a team like super-sentai, but it was so quick..

    clearly this is intended to japanese. especially those who are fmiliar with super-sentai or kamen rider.
    I am not japanese, nor I am a fan of super-sentai or kamen rider.
    yet, I think samumenco is a fine show and I can enjoy it. it's not bad. sure, maybe it's not that good either..I am still uncertain how good samumenco is…but I am not suffer or something, I am having good time watching samumenco (even though it's hard for me to say how much good it is. and that's OK).
    is it because it's that funny?maybe..but I don't think this is the main reason for my enjoyment. it's simply fun-to-watch. even without being familiar with so many references and all.

    I am upset for not seeing Mari this ep. especially after what she's been through.
    same goes for Hidenori..why is he out of the loop all of a sudden?
    I believe that's because we got 4 new characters into the cast..so introducing and interacting with them took time.
    I hope we'll see Mari and Hidenori next time. maybe it'll help the series regain some of the balance after the last shake

  5. M

    "but I'm not so sure I'll be back with it."

    Damn >< I'm just gonna pick this show up after it's break.I'm not familiar with this type of anime and from I keep hearing it has that " WTF?" elemen so I'm definitely more than curious by now.

    I wonder if it's a better show to just marathon though.I tend to leave one or two of those per season that I somehow didn't pick up when it was airing and this bleak winter season is definitely the best time to catch up.

  6. S

    I sense a lot of disappointment in your words. I understand it, but I do not hold the same feelings. Even though this show devolved in Kill la Kill territory by throwing away the plot and upping the absurdity, I still think it’s funny. The Power Ranger stuff brings back some great memories for me.

    Has the shift of direction decreased the quality of SF? I do think so. Is it currently a bad show? Definitely not. It’s different, but I still enjoy the show, even if it’s for different reasons than in the early episodes and even though I’m looking forward to the next episode less. But perhaps I’m just being very forgiving since I absolutely loved the first six episodes.

    Now if you’re in need of a better superhero show to wash the disappointment away, I’d recommend watching Arrow.

  7. J

    You pretty much do have to throw out the plot now and watch it just for the action. When even Masayoshi is asking what the heck is going on here, you kind of have to give up hope in plot and character development. It is kind of sad, because early on the show had a lot going for it. Oh well.

  8. S

    Yeah, but the problem is that, with this kind of animation, character design and art, the action is pretty crappy…

  9. j

    So…are you not going to address the suspiciousness of kaname this episode? I feel like everyone is too caught up with (with good reason) all the craziness and degrading plot to notice that he was especially deceitful this episode

    For one, the timing of the "from beyond" attack was timed way too perfectly. As soon as kaname said something along the lines of "we have things to do," from beyond reveals itself. And that whole intro that from beyond played over the television broadcast? I don't know if it's just purely supposed to be parodical, but I have my suspicions when aliens (?) have their own production team to make their intro videos. All the while kaname is still lying out his ass, even as to fake his own death. So who knows where he's been every time he "goes on a trip?" I have a pretty good feeling that he's the one behind every thing we've seen in the crazy zone so far. The guy is not even a real super hero, but I feel that he's identified with being a "super hero" for so long that he can't mesh into the real world…HENCE THE TAGLINE OF THE SHOW (think about it, it's the most logical resolution to this plot right now)

    I feel like the show is way too dumb right now on it's own to have even gotten the OK to get aired. There has to be something to explain it all, albeit it may not be the most amazing revelation, but I still think this show just requires a large amount of patience. I think the weekly format just doesn't work for this show, since people have to WAIT after seeing this episode.

  10. How can you single out Kaname when pretty much everything makes no sense whatsoever? That's the issue – I just don't see much point in trying to apply any logic to character behavior, which means character development is out the window.

  11. j

    Well first off, I always found Kaname suspicious from the start with his excuses for leaving on "trips" (this episode made me especially suspicious of him even in the midst of the craziness).

    And what's the deal with the prime minister? As I recall from previous episodes he was always very quiet in those meetings regarding KT's monsters (he even blushed at one point for some reason?). Now he's supposedly in on this whole super sentai thing? It's almost TOO suspicious for me to miss…

    I guess much of my theorizing is biased since I have expectations of Omori, BUT at the same time I still think that there are a few things in the plot that clearly stand out above the rest of the parodical aspects of the show.

  12. M

    Yeah, I'm done with this show. If it's hiding some grand point that will circle back and connect to what the show was doing earlier in it's run, great, but I won't be around to see it. I was really hoping that there would be some return to normalcy and some kind of point would be made after torture was defeated. But instead we've jumped headfirst into another, even greater villain. How many episodes until From Beyond is defeated? I'd guess most of the rest of the series? Ugh. And they've introduced all these new characters, none of which grabbed my attention. Goto has always been the most interesting, but ever since it went sentai crazy he hasn't had anything interesting to do.

    Well, at least I learned one thing from this show. Sentai shows are definitely not for me.

  13. f

    It's the Samumeltdown, for sure.

  14. H

    "It would be nice to see a series use a character like Gotou as a main character and not an afterthought, because there seemed to be real potential there." Agreed, I feel like the show thinks that it's being this cool parody of common superhero tropes but plays almost all of them just too straight, even when something weird happens (like having five red rangers) it's still treated more seriously than silly. Gotou however is just about the only character who acknowledges how silly it is and then works it through anyway and I feel like we really need him as a foil almost all the time. Heck, I was even wondering why I wasn't liking this episode as much and then when he finally popped up on screen I remembered why.
    (Alternate theories, Sam Flam's team got word of what Galilei Donna was doing and said "oh no, WE CAN TOTALLY TOP THIS GUYS")

  15. S

    Since you're mentioning "brilliant Super Sentai parody", Enzo… did you know that Togashi tackled the topic as well in his first manga (which was adapted into anime a few years ago), "Level E"? There was an hilarious short arc about the "Colour Rangers". It was more about subversion than parody though, and at a certain point it transformed into something that could be considered the prototype for the Greed Island arc of HXH, but it had some extremely funny moments. Also one of the rangers got his character design basically recycled for Gon XD.

  16. Yes, I blogged Level E on this site in fact. Loved that arc.

  17. S

    Oh, I wasn't following this blog back then. I'll go check out those reviews then XD.

  18. T

    I think that what grounded this show was Gotou. Even as the weapons became more absurd and the show started to tip-toe outside of what was essentially a 'plausible' premise, I was still strong enough to keep me interested. Now it's just lost that something. I wanted to know about Gotou's girlfriend, I wanted to know about the relationship of the 3 idols, I wanted Flamenco to 'grow up' and learn from his arrogance… remember his parents or something, I wanted to see what the relationship between his agent and the guy from hirollers. There was so much more humanity left in those questions and others unasked. I'm not saying that they will not go back to those, but at the rate it's going I feel myself caring less. It doesn't really matter if Gotou get's a promotion (for example) when everyone is fighting in giant robots. While homages to shows like the Big O are appreciated, this show is going the way of Gurren Laggan and I honestly don't think the character of Samurai Flamenco is strong enough to carry it there.

  19. q

    I know that this sounds terrible to most people, but..I actually kinda liked this episode.

    Maybe it's my love of the tokusatsu genre that's 'blinding' me, if you will, but I just had so much fun watching this! (Also, to the poster above, you aren't alone in being suspicious of Kaname. I've been thinking his 'trips' were something else for a while now, but after this I'm positive that he's behind something.) (It's also worth a mention that the 5 Zords appear on the poster for the show, meaning that yes, this was going to happen at some point.) I don't believe that the writing will tank or anything, but I do understand why a lot of people are frustrated. (Part of me also figured that we would get 'bigger' things happening at some point in the plot, but I figured that what happened in episode 7 would happen here right before it went on break.)

    Granted, I hope that we don't lose out on seeing Goto anymore, since he is pretty awesome. :)

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