Samurai Flamenco Episode 8: Enemies Revealed
Viva Torture reveals itself to the world, and demands the country of Japan submits itself to the rule of King Torture. Should they refuse, however, Viva Torture will begin its attack on humanity, guaranteeing the deaths of citizens. In response, Samurai Flamenco and the Flamenco Girls begin to take on the members of Viva Torture with the aid of the police, and successfully prevent loss of life.
Within their private lives, Masayoshi and MMM are all experience increased success as well, encouraged by the deeds they perform as their superhero selves. However, Masayoshi appears to be becoming more lax in his views on justice, deciding not to consider the some of the consequences of his actions where he would before. Mari is concerned however by the fact Samurai Flamenco is making the Flamenco Girls increasingly unnecessary. The episode concludes ominously, with Goto’s girlfriend noting Masayoshi seems different in an unnerving way, and king Torture pleased with Samurai Flamenco’s triumphs; it was all part of his plan.
Well. This episode generated much the same response as last week from me. What the hell is going on? We didn’t really get any answers on the Viva Torture group at all, other than the fact they are extremely dramatic and all explode upon defeat. Even though we want the heroes to defeat the group as they obviously have evil intent, it’s difficult to have any real feelings about Viva Torture. At present, they remain a nebulous enemy without any defined goals or purpose. Beyond enslaving the human race, what do they want to achieve? And why? To be honest, I felt like I was six again and watching the Power Rangers. Our villains have no agenda beyond wreaking havoc and chewing the scenery. This is in direct contrast with the writing of the first six episodes, where the characters all had agency, and the writing and character development was tight and cohesive. That I felt as though the start of this episode was a show within a show speaks of how out-of-place it felt.
It’s this dichotomy in the quality of the writing which has me confused about what Samurai Flamenco wants to achieve, both within this arc and overall. Is this style of narrative (emulating a children’s sentai show) actually some sort of device used to convey the plot or feeling of this arc? That is to say, is it meant to represent Masayoshi’s excitement over being a hero, and feeling as though he is actually a hero in a sentai show? Or has the writing seriously just been thrown out of the window? Don’t get me wrong, the episode was entertaining, but compared to the previous episodes, it lacked character. Thus far, Samurai Flamenco’s writing staff have been clever and created a compelling cast, so I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume this is a deliberate thing.
Despite the plot itself being a little whacked out, we still saw some interesting character development. Initially, Masayoshi expressed concern for the monsters he was fighting. He was concerned over the fact that the could actually be human, or brainwashed. Obviously this is a very important consideration, and one that I would definitely expect Masayoshi to have. However, as time passes and the episode ends, Masayoshi has dismissed this concern as one that doesn’t need consideration since the heroes he idolised never did. This is in direct contrast to the Masayoshi from the first few episodes who would have found the idea of killing someone, or at least, being the cause of someone’s death, reprehensible. Interesting to note is the fact that Goto’s girlfriend finds the look Masayoshi is sporting now “scary”. Is Masayoshi on a slippery slope to becoming a Blood Knight or Knight Templar? Is this part of the plan King Torture has put in motion?
If Samurai Flamenco can move past the ridiculousness and general vagueness of Viva Torture, and explore how becoming a successful hero has changed, or even warped, Masayoshi’s sense of justice, I think that could make for really compelling viewing. How will Masayoshi feel when he looks back at his younger self and realises he has actually strayed from what he and his grandfather wanted? And how will he react if he finds out the members of Viva Torture actually are human? Or brainwashed? I really want to see Masayoshi having to deal with moral conflict honestly and earnestly.
I have no idea where Samurai Flamenco is going to go from here. I just sincerely hope it manages to retain the integrity of its characters. I’m also hopeful the Flamenco Girls don’t become superfluous in the fight against Viva Torture, because their dynamic and humour add something special to the show. Regardless, this arc of Samurai Flamenco has made a definite impact.