Anime Spotlight: Samurai Flamenco

Samurai Flamenco is an anime series produced by Manglobe and directed by Takahiro Omori. The series aired on Japanese television from October 10, 2013-March 27, 2014.

As of this writing, Aniplex of America holds the North American home video license for Samurai Flamenco.

Samurai Flamenco is an anime that focuses on two characters: Hidenori Goto and Masayoshi Hazama. Hidenori is a police officer who takes his job seriously, while Masayoshi is a male model who has wanted to be a superhero for years and has taken on the identity of Samurai Flamenco. Unfortunately, Masayoshi doesn’t have any superhero abilities, and all he can do is lecture people about public nuisances. Early on in the series, Hidenori serves as a kind of mentor to Masayoshi, and keeps telling him to shelve the Samurai Flamenco gig for a while because the police have been getting a lot of complaints about him. However, Masayoshi doesn’t listen and still continues trying to be a superhero.

A man named Konno from the show HIGH ROLLERS HI, offers a million yen reward for unmasking Samurai Flamenco, which causes complications for Masayoshi. While this commotion is going on, a man named Joji Kaname, an actor who portrayed a hero named Red Axe the Armored God, tries to claim that he’s Samurai Flamenco. After Masayoshi has a confrontation with Joji, the end result is that Joji becomes another mentor for Masayoshi.

A girl in a magical girl outfit and calling herself Flamenco Girl comes onto the scene and tries to be another superhero. Her real identity is Mari, the lead of the idol group MMM; later, the other two girls in her group join her and together they become the Flamenco Girls.

Samurai Flamenco is then approached by a man named Harazuka from Monsters Stationery’s R&D department; he wants Masayoshi to test weapons that he’s created out of ordinary objects like pens, tape measures, staplers, etc.

Samurai Flamenco goes from being a nuisance to being loved by the public. However, at the end of episode seven, the tone of the series quickly changes and it becomes the unpredictable series that it’s become known as. First, there’s the introduction of the villain King Torture. After Samurai Flamenco defeats this villain, he becomes a member of a five person team known as the Flamengers; Masayoshi becomes the Red Flamenger. As part of this group, he fights against From Beyond.

From here, the series introduces even bigger villains for Masayoshi to fight against, and climaxes with a psychotic person and the revelation that a character that seemed so grounded actually has a troubled past.

At the end of the first episode, I thought that between the animation and the storytelling, there seemed to be enough there to keep my interest and make me want to come back week after week to watch more of Samurai Flamenco.

I have to admit that when the King Torture arc was introduced and caused the major tonal shift for the series, I wasn’t entirely sure that I liked it. It didn’t help that it was also at that point that the animation quality went down noticeably, and that “off model” shots started becoming more prevalent and noticeable. By the end of the King Torture, arc, though, I had become so accustomed to the change in tone that I started enjoying the series a bit more again.

Overall, though, I did enjoy Samurai Flamenco. At such a time that this series is released on home video, it’s one I will definitely be considering to add to my personal anime home video library.

Samurai Flamenco may get a little silly and unpredictable at times, but it’s still a great “hero’s journey” story. Masayoshi really grows and changes a lot as a character, and you can’t help but root for him. It’s a series I would recommend giving a try if you’re able to handle unexpected surprises and major changes in the storytelling.

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