Samurai Flamenco – 09

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Thursday has definitely become my anime WTF day this season.

Between Samurai Flamenco and Golden Time I confess I’m thoroughly bewitched, bothered and bewildered – but I guess the first one of those three is the most important because it means I’m still watching.   More than that, still invested in both shows despite being thoroughly vexed by them.  I can honestly say I have even less idea what’s going on with this series than with GT – I have no idea what sort of show it is, but I can say for certain that it isn’t the show I thought it was going to be.  Given how enthusiastic I was about that show, I’m just going to have to get past it – Samumenco Mark I, R.I.P..

There are certain things that seem obvious enough both in terms of plot and theme, but I wonder if those aren’t a siren song inviting us to crash on the rocks of our expectations.  This series has established that rules don’t apply here, so I’m not taking anything I see on-screen as gospel merely because I see it.  It certainly seems indisputable – as much as anything can with this series – that we’re working on some level of meta here.  The question, really, is what level of meta we’re talking about.  I could see it going several layers deep at this point.

Let’s start with a scene like Samurai Flamenco doing battle with “Burning Piranha“.  The dastardly crime this time?  Handing out tissues (if you’ve been to Tokyo you get that part of the joke) that cause people to get split-ends.  As a bonus, we get Piranha pausing during the battle to let Samumenco take a call.  How are we supposed to take that seriously on any level?  It’s funny, for starters – if this series weren’t still funny I think all of this discussion would be moot – but it’s also abundantly clear that these “acts of evil” are themselves a joke.  This is clearly a performance by all involved – and it’s one that the people of Japan (and Mari) have grown totally bored with.  Samumenco’s battles with King Torture’s monsters-of-the-week are now the last item on the news before signoff.

The weird thing is (well, it’s all pretty weird) that just as it’s taken such pains to undercut any sense of gravity in this central conflict, Samumenco takes a dark turn and shows us Konno having been captured and tortured by King – well, Torture (there goes that theory).  And there’s still the matter of those three cops, and the fact that the monsters blow themselves up at the end of every encounter.  It’s hard not to have the sense that everyone here is playing a part in a staged drama – the series pretty much says so overtly – yet whoever these minions of K.T. are they seem to have so qualms about blowing themselves up (that’s taking method acting way too far).

The cover story the show seems to be pushing is that K.T. is some kind of Tokusatsu otaku who’s memorized every script by heart, and is staging this for… what, exactly?  Alleviate boredom?  Make Samumenco a bigger star?  But this series has a way of building up a theory only to blow it out of the water, and now we get the revelation (courtesy Harazuka-san) that King Torture and his minions might in fact be aliens.  Well, of course!  Where does that leave us, then?  Did K.T. watch Japan’s broadcast TV signals as they made their way to extraterrestrial space and assume this was the truth of human culture?  Even that still wouldn’t explain just what the hell it is he wants, or why he thinks it’s worth killing cops and kidnapping people for.

Speaking of kidnapping, it seems that K.T.’s dangling of entertainment in front of Konno was enough to turn him to the dark side when torture wasn’t, and he lures Mari to the supervillain’s lair as bait to call out Samumenco.  Again we see things operating on a meta level here, as Torture admits the monsters-of-the-week and everything else has just been checking off the cliche boxes, setting up the final showdown between himself and Samumenco.  OK, fine – but again, the “why” of all this is a mystery.  Just as the identity of Gotou’s girlfriend is, and that scenario is getting more suspicious and weird every week.  I’m not too worried about Gotou’s spat with Hazama – that will surely sort itself out – but I am still waiting for his true importance in the story above and beyond being Samumenco’s liaison with the bureaucracy to reveal itself, and it seems likely the girlfriend angle is going to be a part of that.

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16 comments

  1. f

    I have a theory (which is probably completely wrong, but anyway) – King Torture is S.F's polar opposite – a villain who genuinely wants to do evil. All of the previous attacks from his minions were just used to make the public lose interest in SF so that when KT really made his move, no one would really care and so he would be free to do whatever supremely evil things he'd want. If you were to plot a graph, the gradually declining severity of the crimes the minions committed would be inversely proportional to the growing apathy of the public (once again), and that, along with KT's planned "serious" acts of evil, would be the greatest evil of all. I have no idea what to make of who KT really is, though.

    I dunno. Golden Time's definitely making more sense at the moment.

  2. f

    (Clarification) I still think the central theme here is apathy.

  3. R

    If these guys really are Aliens, then they seem to be just like those from Haiyore! Nyaruko-san in how silly their Methods and Motivations are.
    Hell! At this Point I wouldn't be surprised if Nyaruko and Entourage suddenly showed up to crash the party and the Aliens turned out to be an Intergalactic Organisation of Sentai Fanboy Extremists.

  4. K

    Am I the only one imagining Mari to be gang raped and tortured. I know, I'm sick but this is my impression of that particular scene.

    TQ

  5. Z

    Oh now you've done it!

  6. e

    Well well well…*sweet smile* Time for Mari to bust some more balls then. Jingle balls jingle all the way! Xmas is coming and she'll deliver.
    Now, about the actual show…
    It's getting puzzling indeed. The MofW part and the monster-hero interatcion + aliens for me really carries the flavour of a few Sailor Moon anime segments (by season #3 and #4 the fourth wall was breeched quite often. And the monsters and/or mutated humans had the whole 'arms up, scream signature phrase as they go poof' too ) . But still you were meant to go along with it as a watcher. Here instead they are seemingly highlighting the absurd and disturbing of those genre tropes, toying with our suspension of disbelief..
    What I got from this episode in any case was a 'careful what you wish for' . It was even spelled out in the dialogue in different moments. Mari, Masa, Gotou, Stationary doc, Konno had each wished for change in their own ways, be it spotlight, purpose, fulfillment, justice, social awareness, relief from boredom (and entertainment).
    They got it. Now the backlash is avalanching. And so is our cognitive dissonance. At least mine is X,D.
    And we as watchers might have some insight on the familiar rules but can't still see to which game they actually belong. Indded Enzo, if this is meta it's hard to say atm how meta it could get.
    But so far it works.

  7. d

    Nope, not the only one. I got the Wicked City vibe here, and anyone who's seen that flick knows it is a dark dark misogynistic path.

    The show does indeed seem super-meta, and willing to play a front with a straight face until it turns against itself again.

  8. E

    It's not possible for villains for not doing it.
    She is, after all, a popular idol, young and very attractive.

  9. t

    it was a bit weird this time. a bit less energetic, more full of conversation,
    well, when samumenco isn't weird?

    it feels like samumenco back to ep 1. instead of issues like umbrellas or garbage, we have KT and his minions. Masayoshi was left as the last man standing against them, as was the first eps he had to deal with problems no one care about.
    Goto and Masayoshi continue not to see eye to eye. it leads to rift between the two.
    last time, with the ending of ep #08, I was saying that it seemed like Masayoshi's image as the optimal superhero was eroded. but maybe it's the other way around.
    Goto and Mari are busy over bullshit, the former is taking care of paperwork rather than the actual problem, the other is being bored.
    I am not surprised about Mari, she was always like that. but Goto is presented here as the "regular cop". when approaching the "regular cop", the first thing they do is "OK, let's fill up reports and forms".
    I don't know where this is heading to, but for sure, those guys(who are the main force of the "good guys") will have to achieve balance between them and cooperate.
    I guess Masayoshi is the key, but don't think he is always right and perfect. his POV is more optimal, but sometimes he is a bit too much enthused as we know.
    it'll be interesting to see how the further interactions will toward it.

    poor Konno. he isn't the torture, but for sure he is being tortured 😛
    I wonder why KT chose him for his next plot.
    maybe Konno tried to approach KT in order to make things more interesting (after he watched Diamond flamenco saying it's boring..it's possible, they also talked about entertaining and stuff).
    what with "handing that girl over to him?" was he talking about Diamond Flamenco or Masayoshi's manager?
    in the end it looked like KT tried to recruit him…WOW

    I was saying SF is weird.
    but I don't really care if it's "weird". not only rules don't apply here, but more importantly, samumenco feel free to do whatever it wants – Gorilla, aliens, tortures, deaths of cops and whatever may cross your mind (next week ghosts??I guess we'll save that spot for ghost Banri, if you dodn't mind, King T). ridiculous as it may be, samumenco try to enjoy the freedom of creation. everything is accessible. and hell why not?
    if you ask me now, "hey, what samumenco is about?" I am not sure I can provide a good definite answer, but most likely I'd also say "it's fun to watch".
    and that's what it is. it's fun to watch. even if I am not really sure what exactly it's objective or where it's heading to, it's still mostly fun to watch. even if this ep, wasn't the best of all samumenco's eps.

  10. i

    Is it me or does Mari's rack grow a couple of sizes whenever she transforms into Flamenco Girl Diamond? Rest of the show was WTF but still entertaining, I guess.

  11. d

    Its the superheroine effect! Yes, they emphasize b00bies, and it gets noticed here too.

  12. C

    I was totally on board to see where this meta roller coaster was going but this episode honestly left me disappointed.

    Everyone stayed pretty much true to their character but the rapid fire cycling between them really hurts believably.
    Would Konno really have the integrity to withstand serious torture and then be instantly provoked into joining the guy? I mean all King.T even DID was point out that people who die are eventually forgotten which a smart guy like Konno should have considered. He didn't threaten to hide his honorable death or anything and the 'carrot' he dangles is some extremely vague promise of entertainment which presumably involves torture but is that actually supposed to appeal to Konno? If so, why isn't Konno an infamous serial killer by this point.

    Hazama suddenly seems to be enjoying attention a lot more this episode then he has before.
    Also when he leaves Professor Harazuka behind to deal with the small fry gimp men it would have had more impact if the guy had got more then half a pea worth of introduction/character arc.

    Alot of places we were bounced between (Mari tricking her cosplay Ken doll, Hazama being thrown by his master who's off to Africa, taking down a silly enemy of the week, public disinterest, the bored bureaucracy etc.) fell flat because we've seen it before. Heck we got basically an entire silly enemy of the week episode last week.
    The other side of the spectrum was confronting graphic violence and honestly the recycled jokes don't do nearly enough to counter it.

    While I was still interested and pretty much enjoyed the episode I felt like it didn't have that usual easy spark of absurdest humor and amusing meta + satire that the previous episode entertained and captivated me with.

    Still, even if it become a total incoherent mess you have to give the show major credit for having serious balls and intelligence. Plus the fact that there are so many interesting characters and aspects to analyse and get me thinking that I just realize how long I've rambled here is testament Samurai Flamenco's sheer depth…..seriously though WTF :)

  13. d

    "then be instantly provoked"
    Isn't that the typical japanese anime thing to do? Throw all sense and loyalty out the door, for the sake of drama? I was thinking that observing valvrave, and it has occurred more and more often than I realize.

    I was more upset at valverave though… just about yelling, ye gods don't these characters have any loyalty whatsoever? All that character build up means nothing after all. These people are just fickle and swap at a drop of a hat.

    That's how japanese anime seems to like them, and not just in valvrave. "Sudden revelation" by antagonist, turns the supporting character against our hero… when really the family-friends shouldn't listen to anything the others say.

    I've come to not expect good sense or loyalty from japanese anime characters.

  14. C

    I've never especially noticed the whole swapping sides thing, I guess because I don't recall watching an anime where that was a big deal (sorry I'm not following Valvrave so I don't exactly know what you're referring to) I think its perfectly believable Konno would swap to King.T's side for the same reason a bunch of people thought he actually WAS King.T, he's addicted to 'entertainment' in their words.
    It's just that every scene including that one happened so fast that I felt everything fell a little flatter and was less believable as a result.

    Haha characters that swap sides certainly adds drama but I see quite a few of them in every medium. The good guy with a weakness that gets exploited or the baddie that redeems himself is pretty covered territory.

    DW Samurai Flamenco will remain loyal to Justice, Goto will remain loyal to hazama (and that mysterious GF) and Mari will remain loyal to her cosplay model! ^^

  15. j

    I'm sorry, but that scene with KT and Konno made this the best episode thus far. I was full on expecting some at least of the screen torture, but was surprised to hear what KT had to say. Also eagerly awaiting for the reveal as to why those monsters keep coming and coming (have an idea, but don't wanna jump to conclusions just yet, this show has already pulled several fast ones on us).

  16. J

    Hmmmm…. Everything seems to be going according to a script. A hero emerges, he gets beaten down, but he learns how to fight from a master. He makes allies. He has a a close friend who gives him counsel. He has his own personal arsenal and scientist working for him. He takes care of the little criminals and solves the little problems that are causing a huge problem in society. When crime has been reduced to 0, things get boring and it seems Masayoshi has lost his purpose… He discovers he has a heroe's past, due to his parents being murdered by a criminal… In comes the super villains, with Masayoshi's gear getting ridiculously advanced.

    As someone on Random C pointed out, it seems like everything is going according to a script, and that everything seems to be handed to him on a silver platter and setting himself up to be a super hero without any difficulties. If things started making it hard to fulfill becoming a superhero, something always popped up to aid Masayoshi. He gets a mentor that teaches him to fend for himself, he gets weapons that surpass the Flamenco Girls' weapons, the criminals get weaker and weaker so as to not threaten anyone person's life. And now, he's about to face off with the Big Bad and save the damsel in distress who was betrayed by the guy who made a face-heel turn.

    Whew… Mouthful… And to think we have an entire core left of this show.

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