FUNimation Entertainment to Add More Aniplex of America Anime Titles to Its Catalog

FUNimation Entertainment has announced that it will begin streaming the following English-subtitled anime from Aniplex of America on June 16, 2020:

  • Nisekoi
  • Nisekoi:
  • Star Driver
  • Blend S
  • Mushi-Shi The Next Passage (Mushishi: The Next Chapter)
  • Samurai Flamenco
  • Oreimo
  • Oreimo 2
  • Classroom Crisis
  • Gunslinger Stratos

The Nisekoi and Nisekoi: anime will stream in the United States and Canada. The other anime will stream in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.

Source: ANN

2014 In Review: Winter 2014 Season

Over the next few days, I’ll be publishing posts looking back at 2014. This first post takes a look back at the shows that I started watching during the Winter 2014 season. This post will also include series that I started watching in the Fall 2013 season that were still running with Winter 2014 started.

Log Horizon: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. This was a series that I admit to not being sure about when it first started in October 2013, but fortunately, I stuck with it and was rewarded with a series that made itself stand out from other anime series about characters who get stuck in a video game. I fell in love with this series by the time it finished airing in March 2014, and was overjoyed when the end of the final episode announced that there would be a second season that would begin airing in Fall 2014. I spent a lot of the year eagerly anticipating the second season because the first season had built such a strong foundation for the characters and their story.

Noragami: Noragami ended up being a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the first four episodes, but then with Episode Five, I started feeling like the series wasn’t as strong as it was when it first started. My opinion improved a bit with Episode Six, and it kept improving through Episode 11. However, I was never entirely sure how I felt about Episode 12, because I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a series finale or a season finale. As of this writing, there has been no word about a second season for Noragami, so I have to believe this was meant as a series finale. Unfortunately, there were enough loose ends that were left hanging which made it an unsatisfying note to end a series on. The manga for Noragami started being published during 2014, so I may need to start reading it at some point  and see if it might improve my opinion of the series.

Tokyo Ravens: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. When I first watched this series, I thought it had a slow start; however, enough elements were established in the first episode to interest me enough to come back to see more. With the second episode, I felt it was a little heavy on the “info dumping” side, but I was still willing to come back because the story that was developing showed a lot of promise. By the time I hit episode five, I found myself genuinely interested in Tokyo Ravens and decided that I’d see it through until the end. I ended up being interested in Tokyo Ravens for most of its 24 episode run; unfortunately, I started becoming a little disappointed in the series after a particular plot twist in Episode 23. I also ended up feeling rather let down and disappointed with how the final episode ended. FUNimation Entertainment, who had streamed the series as a simulcast, has recently announced that it has acquired the home video rights for Tokyo Ravens; unfortunately, I have no plans to purchase their release to add it to my anime home video library because of my disappointment with the final two episodes of the series.

D-Frag!: This is an anime I watched because the previews made it look like it’d be really hilarious. While there was humor in the first episode, there wasn’t as much as I had expected. And from humor I did see in the episode, I saw the potential for the series to rely on the same gags every week; unfortunately, I ended up being right with that assumption. And the gags that the series relied so heavily upon weren’t terribly funny the first time they showed up, and they wore out their welcome rather quickly. With episode two, I saw that maybe D-Frag! had potential with its story, but sadly, that potential never materialized. It also didn’t help that the series already started feeling stagnant by Episode Four. When I reached the halfway point, I decided I’d stick it out, but that the second half of the series really couldn’t go fast enough for my taste. The final episode didn’t feel like an episode to end a series on. Nothing has been resolved at all, and little to no progress had been made on the loose threads that were out there. I found this to be an unsatisfying ending for a series that had worn out its welcome for me several episodes earlier. And the final episode was the worst of the drudgery that I saw for that show. After that episode ended, all I could think was, “Thank God D-Frag! is over!”

Yowamushi Pedal: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. After watching the first episode, I thought I could see some potential in the series. Even though I’m not a fan of cycling, I found myself getting hooked on Yowamushi Pedal the more I watched of it. I especially found myself being riveted to the action that takes place during the racing scenes. I also liked how the characters developed over the course of the series. The main focus of the first half was on developing the members of the Sohoku team, with occasional development on members of the other two teams. However, the development for the other two teams tended to take place during the Inter-High race. The main selling point of this series to me ended up being the characters and the development they go through. While the pacing of Yowamushi Pedal was pretty typical for a shonen sports anime, it’s something I got used to with each race that appeared in the series. I was happy to hear that there would be a second season for the series in Fall 2014, especially since this season ended before the winner of the second day of the Inter-High was determined.

Hamatora: After watching the first episode of Hamatora, I felt that the series showed a bit of promise; however, I was little turned off by the character of Hajime, because it appeared her gluttony was going to be a major source of humor for the series. It turns out we learn later on why Hajime is such a glutton, and it also turned out that there was more in the way of humor than just Hajime’s gluttony. It was ultimately the second episode that sold me on Hamatora. I enjoyed seeing the various mysteries that came Hamatora’s way, and how several of the episodes were able to take what appeared to be two unrelated plots and find a way to weave the two together rather successfully by the end. Overall, I enjoyed the series except for Episode Five and Episode Eight. But when I saw that there was a cliffhanger ending and that there would be another season of Hamatora coming in the future, I was looking forward to seeing more episodes in order to find out how the story continued from the cliffhanger.

Nagi no Asukara: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. I have to admit that after watching the first episode, I had some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I kind of liked the story, although I was finding Hikari to be a bit on the annoying side. However, I was having problems with using my willing suspension of disbelief about people being able to live underwater; it turns out that the concept of Ena, which allows them to breathe underwater, hadn’t been properly introduced by the end of the first episode. I decided to continue watching the series, and went into the second episode using my willing suspension of disbelief and focusing on the storytelling. It’s a decision I’m glad I made, because I found myself being more impressed with the series and becoming genuinely interested in the characters and their stories. I’d become so riveted with the series that when the first half reached its climax with the Ofunehiki, I was a little frustrated that I had to wait two weeks in order to find out what happened. When the second half of the series started, I have to admit that it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the fact that a five-year timeskip had happened between the two episodes and that some of the cast members were noticeably older. I appreciated how there was a focus on the confusion for both those who returned from the surface after a five-year hibernation and those who stayed on the surface and aged five years. There’s a lot of raw emotion that’s prevalent in the second half of the series, but I found these emotions and reactions to be believable. I have to admit that for the most part, I had basically predicted what directions the various relationships would go in. However, I still found the conclusion of the series to be satisfying and enjoyable.

Samurai Flamenco: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. 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 when all was said and done.

Magical Warfare: After watching the first episode, I thought the series had some potential. After the second episode, I thought it plodded a bit due all of the exposition included, but I still thought that the overall concept still showed promise. At the end of episode three, I said that while Magical Warfare wasn’t one of my favorite series of Winter 2014, I couldn’t say that it was the worst one I was watching, either. By the end of episode four, I was already at a point where I wasn’t looking forward to watching the series week after week. As the series continued to progress, I became frustrated with how the series was paced, the fact that the villains weren’t very well defined by the halfway point of the series, and how the character development wasn’t where it needed to be for me to truly care about these characters. The final episode was a major letdown, due to how little was explained for what was happening throughout it. The ending of the final episode was so vague that the viewer was left having to make a lot of assumptions just to figure out what the heck was going on. Honestly, the way Magical Warfare ended was just so vague and bizarre that it makes the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion seem like it makes sense. And considering the reputation the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion has, it’s really saying something. All in all, I have to say that Magical Warfare ended up being a steaming pile of poo and I think it was easily one of the worst series I watched during 2014.

Strike the Blood: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure about Strike the Blood after watching the first episode, but I decided to give it a chance and continue watching it. After watching the second episode, though, I was more impressed with the series than I thought I’d be. The cliffhanger ending for episode three ultimately sold me on the series. As the series progressed through the various story arcs, more characters were introduced. Most of them seemed to have an importance to the series, although there were a couple of characters who were only truly important for one or two story arcs, and then basically all but vanished from the series. After making it through all 24 episodes of Strike the Blood, I have to say that overall, I was satisfied with how the series progressed and ultimately came to its conclusion. It was a series I came to look forward to watching.

Wizard Barristers: At the end of the first episode, I thought that Wizard Barristers showed a lot of promise. As the series went on, the story kept me interested in what was going on and made me want to come back and watch week after week. My least favorite part of the series was the animal familiars, because for the most part, they didn’t seem to truly add anything to the series. By the time I reached the final episode, I was overall rather satisfied with how the series progressed. My biggest disappointment with the series was the fact that we don’t learn what happened to Cecil’s mother. The viewer was left with the responsibility of assuming what happens.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: I have to admit that at the end of the first episode, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to like Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. However, I decided to keep watching to see if the story would improve. After finishing episode two, my opinion of the series started becoming more favorable. As the episodes went on, I continued to enjoy the series more and more; I’m so glad I didn’t let my initial unsure impression keep me away from this series. Overall, I thought the series was good, although the last couple of episodes felt a bit rushed compared to the other episodes; I have to say that Episode 10 had more issues with being rushed than Episode Nine did.  The action in the first half of Episode 10 felt stretched out, and then the story in the second half ended up feeling rushed. In the final episode, I appreciated the fact that it demonstrated just how much Inari has grown as a character over the course of the series. In a lot of ways, when Inari returned Uka’s divine power at the end of Episode 10, it symbolizes that Inari had grown up and no longer needs the “crutch” that she thought the power was giving her. In a lot of respects, though, there is some vagueness at the end of the final episode. Do Inari and Koji ever end up together? Is Touka still able to see Uka even though Inari no longer can? It appears that the manga series is still ongoing in Japan, so that might explain why the ending of the anime is a bit ambiguous.

Additional 2014 In Review posts:

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 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 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 him, Joji becomes another mentor for Masayoshi.

A girl in a magical girl outfit 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 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 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 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.

Samurai Flamenco may get a little silly and unpredictable at times, but it’s still a good “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.

Additional Anime Spotlights:

Samurai Flamenco: Episode 22 – “Samurai Flamenco Naked!!”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi also became a member of the Flamengers, and was Flamen Red.

Episode 22 opens with Hidenori having a lengthy flashback about his girlfriend’s disappearance and how his habit of sending himself text messages as his girlfriend evolved. Once this finishes, we hear the gunshot that ended Episode 21. However, we quickly hear Haiji say that he doesn’t want to kill Hidenori; instead, he wants Hidenori to kill him so Masayoshi can be scarred for life. In order to trigger Hidenori’s “crazy switch,” Haiji begins deleting all of the text messages on Hidenori’s phone. When he reaches the final message, which is the last message Hidenori received from his girlfriend, Hidenori begs him not to delete it as Haiji taunts him. Haiji deletes the message, and Hidenori goes berserk.

Meanwhile, Masayoshi learns from Konno that Haiji’s parents faked his death due to his request. After getting this information, Masayoshi finds Hidenori as he keeps yelling that he’ll kill Haiji. Masayoshi confronts Haiji, and Haiji throws the Samurai Flamenco suit at Masayoshi; it turns out Haiji had taken it before causing the explosion at Masayoshi’s apartment. Haiji insists that Masayoshi puts it on, and at first, it appears Masayoshi will do it. However, after stripping down to his underwear, Masayoshi refuses.

From here, Masayoshi starts doing some unexpected things, and the episode reaches its climax. The last few minutes of the episode takes place six months after the end of Masayoshi and Haiji’s confrontation.

Well, this quite an… interesting way to bring Samurai Flamenco to an end, for lack of a better word. There were times during Masayoshi and Haiji’s confrontation where Masayoshi would do something that make me think, “WTF?” However, I guess it wouldn’t be Samurai Flamenco without those kinds of moments.

Samurai Flamenco was definitely quite a trip, and as it progressed, I really had no idea what to expect with each story arc. There was the abrupt tonal shift when the series hit the King Torture arc, but once that arc was done, I had adjusted to the change in the series’ tone. My main disappointment with the series is the fact that the quality of the animation had noticeably decreased rather early in the series’ run.

Both Masayoshi and Hidenori both went through major changes as the series progressed. While Masayoshi may have still been reckless at the end of the series, but he was nowhere near as naïve as he was when we first met him back in Episode 1. And it turned out that Hidenori was hiding a dark secret and wasn’t quite as stable as he appeared early on in the series.

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.

Additional posts about Samurai Flamenco:

Samurai Flamenco: Episode 21 – “Teaching Love”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi also became a member of the Flamengers, and was Flamen Red.

Episode 21 sees Haiji wreaking more havoc. It turns out that two members of MMM drink some poisoned coffee before a performance, and they collapse on stage just as they’re about to start performing.

After this, Masayoshi receives a call from Ishihara, and he is escorted to the hospital. In the waiting room are the other Flamengers, Joji’s wife, and Harazuka. They tell him Joji is now awake and wants to speak with Masayoshi alone. Joji asks Masayoshi if the culprit is someone he knows, and mentions hearing Haiji say to give his regards to Samurai Flamenco before being hit by the truck. During their conversation, Masayoshi asks who a hero turns to when he’s in trouble. Joji says a hero doesn’t ask others for help. He also says that heroes have a secret weapon on their side: love. Masayoshi has no idea what this means.

The waiting room and hospital room scenes where both Joji’s wife and Momoi appear bring in some much needed comedy to help lighten the mood a little. Joji’s wife has some witty verbal attacks to launch on Momoi, while Momoi shoves a divorce petition into Joji’s wife’s face.

Later, Masayoshi has a conversation with Ishihara, where he tells her about everything that’s happened with Haiji and about love. When it comes to the Haiji situation, Ishihara ends up calling Konno to see if he can dig up anything on him. Ishihara is surprised to learn from Masayoshi that he’s never been in love with a girl before, because he was too busy training to be a hero. This leads to Ishihara trying to explain the different ways that love can be expressed.

Hidenori, meanwhile, sends himself a text message as his missing girlfriend, asking if he’s sure that he’ll never see Masayoshi again. He tells himself to shut up and then puts his phone down. Later, he finds his phone has been replaced with another one, and the replacement phone rings. Haiji sends text messages as Hidenori’s missing girlfriend and does it in a rather cruel manner. He’s then shown a picture of his own phone and is told to go to a certain location alone if he wants it back. Hidenori is captured by Haiji, and the episode ends with a major cliffhanger…

In this episode, Masayoshi gets confirmation that Haiji isn’t simply a figment of his imagination when Joji tells him that he also saw Haiji. Konno later digs up that records show that Haiji died of illness a year ago and that, after the funeral, his parents went missing. After losing their only son, they must have been in shock. It sounds like they really doted on him. It sounded like he was rather apathetic to his parents’ love. From what Haiji tells Hidenori just a short bit after that information is revealed, he corroborates that this indeed is true.

A lot went on over the course of this episode, and it’s definitely heading for a climactic ending. Masayoshi will have to have some kind of confrontation with Haiji before the next episode ends, so it’ll be interesting to see how that confrontation turns out and what impact it will have on the ending of the story. Even without that, the cliffhanger alone makes me want to see episode 22 in order to find out what exactly has happened to a particular character.

Additional posts about Samurai Flamenco:

Samurai Flamenco: Episode 20 – “Boy From the Past”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi also became a member of the Flamengers, and was Flamen Red.

Masayoshi encounters a middle school boy named Haiji Sawada, who declares that he is Samurai Flamenco’s final enemy. Over the course of the episode, events happen that Masayoshi attributes to Haiji: Masayoshi’s home exploding, Flamen Blue’s home being vandalized, Flamen Black’s grandfather being attacked, Flamen Green’s books being destroyed, Flamen Pink’s hair getting cut off while she’s walking down the street, Harazuka being pushed down a flight of stairs, and Joji being hit by a truck.

However, the police say that they’ve learned that Haiji died about a year ago from an illness, and that his parents moved out of town after his death. Even after learning this, Masayoshi still receives calls from Haiji.

Later, when Hidenori returns home from his trip, Masayoshi goes to see him. After explaining things, Hidenori tells Masayoshi that he’s probably tired and is losing his mind. Masayoshi argues that he’s telling the truth. When Hidenori says again that his mind may be playing tricks on him, Masayoshi brings up what he learned about Hidenori’s girlfriend. The two end up in a scuffle, which ends with Hidenori telling Masayoshi to leave and to never show his face in front of him again.

Episode 20 is quite a trip. Masayoshi, along with the audience, is taken on a head trip. Is Haiji real and the one doing all these things? Is Haiji a figment of Masayoshi’s imagination, and if he is, then who’s doing all these things? Is Masayoshi having some kind of a weird dream? Did the universe’s will lie when it said that there was now peace? Or is there some other theory I haven’t even though of yet?

My head is still swimming after watching this episode. So much happens, but very little is answered to explain what’s going on. And now having Masayoshi questioning whether or not Haiji may be something he created adds another twist to a plot that’s had so many twists and turns thrown into it. I’m really looking forward to watching episode 21 in the hopes of getting some answers or seeing what new twists and turns may be added to the plot next.

Additional posts about Samurai Flamenco:

Samurai Flamenco: Episode 19 – “The Quiet Life”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi also became a member of the Flamengers, and was Flamen Red.

Episode 19 is set six months after the end of episode 18. Life has been rather peaceful, and the UN Assembly is discussing the possibility of forming a World Government. The most recent polls have Masayoshi, the savior of humanity, as the most likely winner of a race for World Government President. Masayoshi, however, really has no interest in holding that office.

While visiting with Hidenori, Masayoshi learns that Hidenori will be going back to his hometown for a date with his girlfriend. When Masayoshi later shares this information with Mari and the rest of MMM, Mari hatches a plan for them to follow Hidenori while trying to disguise themselves.

The day of the date arrives, and Mari and Masayoshi follow Hidenori; unfortunately, they don’t manage to get on the same train as him. But when Mari was staying at Hidenori’s place, she had done some snooping and found where he lived in his hometown. When Mari and Masayoshi get to the house, they encounter his mother, who says that Hidenori hasn’t come home yet. When Masayoshi mentions that Hidenori had come back to have a date with his girlfriend, Hidenori’s mother reveals the truth regarding Hidenori’s girlfriend.

And when Masayoshi returns home at the end of the episode, he has an encounter with a mysterious young man, and the first evil act in six months is suddenly committed…

Most of the first half of this episode was rather idyllic, and it was definitely meant to lull the viewer into a false sense of security. However, from watching enough anime series, I know that an episode that appears to be light-hearted so close to the end of a series means that it’s a break before hitting the final climax. That appears to be the case here. This idyllic section also served to catch the audience up on what the various characters who aren’t important in this episode are up to.

Once we reach Masayoshi and Mari talking with Hidenori’s mother, though, the episode starts taking a dark turn. I don’t want to provide spoilers here, so all I will say is that I was nearly heartbroken when I heard the truth about Hidenori’s girlfriend.

When the first evil act in six months is committed at the end of the episode, it confirmed that the series is setting itself up to reaching its climax. With only three more episodes left to go, I’m curious to see how the story of Samurai Flamenco will ultimately come to an end.

Additional posts about Samurai Flamenco:

Samurai Flamenco: Episode 18 – “Flamenco in Space”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi is now a member of the Flamengers, and he is Flamen Red.

Episode 18 opens with a slight backtrack to the end of episode 17, where it was revealed that Mr. Justice is actually Alien Flamenco. Alien Flamenco announces to the people of Japan that he intends to place them under his control. Masayoshi, Hidenori, the Flamenco Girls, Harazuka, and Konno all talk to Alien Flamenco, and Alien Flamenco offers to talk to Masayoshi. Alien Flamenco creates a doorway and then teleports away. They deduce that the door must be a portal to Alien Flamenco’s ship, but that this most likely is a trap. When Masayoshi hesitates, Hidenori gives him the encouragement he needs to take the chance to go through the door. Before he goes, Harazuka gives him a pen that’s a tracer.

When Masayoshi goes through the door, he is indeed transported to the ship. Alien Flamenco creates an illusion of a riverbank, and the two of them talk. It’s revealed that Alien Flamenco was responsible for both King Torture and From Beyond and was able to get them where they were through evolution. Alien Flamenco shows Masayoshi a device that forces organisms to rapidly evolve, and demands that Masayoshi take it and lead the Japanese people and guide them through evolution. Masayoshi refuses, and the two of them battle it out. Masayoshi ends up doing something surprising and turns the tables when it looks like he’s losing.

The others sees Alien Flamenco’s saucer leaving, but Masayoshi doesn’t return. Harazuka looks at his computer to see where the tracer is, but all his computer shows is “no signal.” Meanwhile, the audience sees that Masayoshi is somewhere, talking to the universe’s will. At first, it takes the guise of Harakiri Sunshine, but over the course of their conversation, it changes into King Torture and then into his manager. It’s revealed that Masayoshi has gone through all of what he’s gone through because he wished for it, and now he’s where he’s ended up because he didn’t wish for any enemies after Alien Flamenco.

The universe’s will gives Masayoshi a choice: he can wish for a new enemy or he can return to his regular world and live a relatively peaceful life. Masayoshi gives an answer that the universe’s will doesn’t expect…

While previous episodes of Samurai Flamenco could get rather strange at times, I don’t think strange is the right word here. By the time the episode reaches the scene of Masayoshi talking with the universe’s will, it gets almost downright existential. I have to admit that as this scene played out, I kept thinking that the tone felt like the show was coming to an end; however, I know there’s still four more episodes left, so I knew this wasn’t the end.

I have to admit something here. When I saw that the title of the episode was, “Flamenco in Space,” I heard it in my head like how the “Pigs in Space” segment of The Muppet Show was introduced… “Flamenco in Spaaaace…”

I guess I was wrong about Alien Flamenco being the basis of a final story arc for the series. After what happens at the end of episode 18, I have no idea where this series is going to go next. I’ll just have to watch episode 19 next week in order to find out, I guess.

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Samurai Flamenco: Episode 17 – “Ultimate Prime Minister”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi is now a member of the Flamengers, and he is Flamen Red.

Masayoshi shows up at Hidenori’s apartment, and Hidenori hands him a gas mask. Hidenori makes a phone call, and the police try to force their way into the apartment. After donning their gas masks, Hidenori shoots some gas at the officers, and he and Masayoshi make an escape. Harazuka picks them up in a car and whisks them away to a location that’s being used as a secret base. Here, they find Konno, and they talk about the vote coming up the next day on the Ban of Vigilante Activity bill. Masayoshi says they have to stop the prime minister, and the others say they’ll give Masayoshi the help he needs. Mr. Justice arrives and says he’ll help, too.

The next day, the group heads toward the Diet, where the vote is being held. Just as the vote numbers are being announced, Masayoshi crashes into the chamber, and he’s wearing his Samurai Flamenco outfit. Hidenori joins in the action, announcing himself as Samurai Policeman. I found it really amusing when someone in the chamber accuses Hidenori of being a cosplay freak.

The press is evacuated, and the audio is cut; only video is transmitting from the room. The Prime Minister tells everyone else to leave, and they do. It’s revealed that the Prime Minister is really Okuzaki Flamenco Shintaro, and that he has armor that serves as the country’s secret weapon. The armor is strengthened as his public support grows. There’s a major battle between Samurai Flamenco and the Prime Minister that takes place for most of the episode. Samurai Flamenco receives some unexpected help that turns the tide of the fight. And, as should be expected from this series by now, there’s a major plot twist revealed right at the end of the episode.

In my writeup for episode 17, I had mentioned that I thought the Flamenco Girls would play a part to help Masayoshi. It turns out that I was right, but that their part wasn’t as big as I had expected. Hidenori ended up playing a bigger role than I thought, and he seemed to be putting his police badge on the line with the assistance he was giving to Masayoshi. It turns out he’d been talking with Harazuka and plotting the actions that ended up taking place in this episode to help Masayoshi.

The major plot twist in this episode definitely sets the stage for another story arc to happen. Considering the fact there’s only five episodes left, I’m willing to wager that this will be the final arc for the series. I’m looking forward to seeing what direction the story is going in next, but it turns out I have to wait an extra week. Episode 18 won’t be available on Crunchyroll until February 27, 2014. Since I’m a free user, I have to wait until March 6, 2014 in order to see the episode.

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Samurai Flamenco: Episode 16 – “Wandering Hero”

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. After having the Flamenco Girls joining him on adventures, everything changes with the arrival of King Torture. After Masayoshi and Hidenori are able to defeat King Torture, Masayoshi reveals his true identity to the media that have arrived. Masayoshi is now a member of the Flamengers, and he is Flamen Red.

The early part of the episode focuses on the Japanese authorities spending time questioning Masayoshi’s various acquaintances, but not really getting any answers that will help them find Masayoshi. Later, when the prime minister finds out his approval is at 81 percent and that Masayoshi still hasn’t been apprehended, he orders to have more money and more people put on the case in order to apprehend Masayoshi.

Through a discussion that Joji’s wife has with him while she’s visiting him, we get to find out how most of the Flamengers are holding up while in police custody. The only one we don’t hear about is Momoi, because Joji’s wife doesn’t acknowledge her as a Flamenger due to Momoi’s interest in her husband.

Then, the episode shifts its focus to Mari. Through a flashback, we get to see what happened at Hidenori’s place when Mizuki and Moe arrived to get her; we saw a brief bit of this in episode 15, but this flashback shows the entirety of what transpired. Mari yells at the other two, and blames Moe for humiliating her during the King Torture incident by saying she would die in Mari’s place. Mari’s pride has her hurling several insults, and it escalates to the point where Mizuki and Mari exchange physical blows. Mari suddenly storms off, and we see her wandering the streets. Mari has a bad reaction after having flashbacks of King Torture, and she is found by Moe and Mizuki. By the end of the scene, the three women have reconciled.

The remainder of the episode sees Masayoshi on the run, and pondering that maybe he shouldn’t have become a superhero after all. After falling asleep on a park bench, Masayoshi is taken in by an older gentleman who is partially blind. After talking with the gentleman and hearing something that he needs to hear, Masayoshi figures out what he needs to do.

Over the course of this episode, the prime minister makes it clear that he’s setting his sights on Masayoshi in order to boost his approval rating. He seems to believe that he’s captured all of the heroes except for Masayoshi. He seems to have forgotten about the Flamenco Girls, and now that they’ve reconciled, I’m thinking they’re going to end up playing an important role in the story to somehow help Masayoshi out of the predicament that he finds himself in.

I have to admit that during the conversation between Masayoshi and the partially blind older man, I had basically predicted what it is that the man would be saying, and that it would ultimately spur Masayoshi into action. It appears his next move is somehow going to involve Hidenori, and now I’m curious to see how Hidenori will balance being a police officer with helping his friend.

Even with some of the off-model animation I saw in episode 16, I still enjoyed watching it. I’m curious to see how Masayoshi’s predicament will be resolved and whether or not it will end up employing the unexpected plot twists that Samurai Flamenco has become known for.

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