September 7, 2014

Samurai Flamenco: "Idol Devastation"

Hazama's crusade as Samurai Flamenco seems to be taking off. He's receiving combat training from tokusatsu legend Kaname Joji, he's successfully intervening to stop genuine street crimes, and his popularity online seems to be growing and growing. When he steps in over his head, however, things look grim - until the sudden arrival of Flamenco Girl, the sidekick he didn't know he had.

Ever since I started watching Samurai Flamenco I've been noting how it's skirted the line between being something specifically Japanese and being a riff on American works like Mark Millar's Kickass or James Gunn's Super. This episode pushes things pretty firmly on both directions. It draws pop starlet Mari Maya into Hazama's superhero plans, after some pretty clear foreshadowing last episode. It's great to have another female character in the series, even if she appears to slide pretty smoothly into stereotype.

On the one hand Mari's debut as Flamenco Girl is as a hilarious Sailor Moon-esque pastiche, and she's revealed to have as fastidious and obsessive collection of merchandise for that sort of anime genre as Hazaka's is for tokusatsu. On the other hand Mari is revealed as obsessively violent, using her specially-constructed gadget to bludgeon, stab and electrocute her victims. Quite how enjoyable you find this episode will likely hinge on how funny you think it is to see a 'kawaii' cute pop starlet repeatedly kick muggers and thieves in the groin. I found it funny the first time. The second time, not so much. I honestly can't swear over whether or not there was a third, but I do remember being pretty weary of the joke by the end.

Weary policeman Goto doesn't really get a huge amount to do in this episode. Through him we discover the police are monitoring the growing popularity of Samurai Flamenco and Flamenco Girl, and we also see Mari's got a big crush on him that will likely develop as the series goes on. I did kind of miss him, however: his deadpan, tired attempts to restrain Hazaka's enthusiasm were a key aspect of earlier episodes.

I wasn't so convinced with this episode as I was with the others. The introduction of Mari as Flamenco Girl seemed a bit sudden and a bit too silly. I'm still enjoying the show, and even counting this one as a dud we're still scoring 75% on the quality ratio. I just find that I'm a lot more amused by the Japanese aspects of the show than the American influenced parts.

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