“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future – must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”
-from “Epidemics” in the Hippocratic Corpus.
Masayoshi Hazama is no physician; however, by donning the costume of Samurai Flamenco, he’s tasked himself with the well-being of others. He adheres to a strong moral code, truly believes in righting wrongs – or petty annoyances – and wants to be a hero like the super sentai television heroes he was raised on.
Episode seven of Samurai Flamenco gives Masayoshi a back story worthy of any super sentai or comic book hero: his parents were murdered when he was young, and the murderer was never caught. Masayoshi knew none of this growing up, as his grandfather chose to lie to him, stating that his parents died of an illness. In the process of unloading this truth to his grandson, Masayoshi’s grandfather explains his reasoning for not telling Masayoshi the truth – he thought that it would have been too cruel – however, by lying while also rearing Masayoshi to have a strong sense of justice, Daisuke Hazama raises a young man completely devoid of vengeance.
“My parents were killed by bad guys. That’s the best back story a hero could ask for! I should be driven by rage to find the murderer, to teach them a real lesson! I’d expect it of anyone in this position…However, I have no anger or desire for revenge. Honestly, I don’t even want to bother…How can I call myself a hero when I’m so cold-hearted?”
-Masayoshi Hazama, Samurai Flamenco, episode 7
Batman would be the easiest and perhaps most widely-known comparison to Masayoshi’s situation, but I’m going to focus a bit more on a recent superhero: Barnaby Brooks Jr. of Tiger and Bunny. Barnaby grows up desperately craving to avenge his parents’ deaths. This desire is nurtured by his foster parent, Albert Maverick, who raises him specifically to be the perfect hero. Maverick goes as far as to alter Barnaby’s memories, crafting the young Barnaby in his image from a very early age.
In this way, Masayoshi is much like Barnaby. In spite of his ignorance, Masayoshi was raised by his grandfather Daisuke with a very specific superhero image in mind. Devoid of any sort of superpower – which Barnaby does have in the Tiger and Bunny universe – Masayoshi must rely on the strict moral compass imparted to him by the fictional heroes of his childhood. When confronted with the truth, it’s no wonder that Masayoshi feels no anger or desire for vengeance and it’s hardly because he’s cold-hearted. In fact, especially when compared to his counterparts in Barnaby Brooks Jr. or Bruce Wayne, Masayoshi is one of the kindest hearts to ever become a hero. Who else would lecture a group of junior high street punks, telling them that he cares about them when their parents don’t? Who else would take specific care to use office supplies and clever strategy as opposed to brute force and injury? Who else would instinctively save a person, believing that same person would turn them in moments later for a cash payout? No one but Samurai Flamenco, or Masayoshi Hazama, because they’re one and the same.
“You’re the reason the city is slowly changing. I’ve also found myself changing, so I see you differently now. You’re a good freak. A freak that helps people. In other words, my basic point is that you’re a freak, not a hero. You’re only human, so having questions is natural.”
-Hidenori Goto, in response to Masayoshi Hazama, Samurai Flamenco, episode 7
Perhaps it was logical then, for the series to take a turn for the traditional, and delve into the supernatural. Masayoshi has been raised to become a super hero, thanks to Daisuke. It’s unclear as to whether Daisuke wishes for Masayoshi to avenge his parents – he only states that his own anger towards the murderer of his son and daughter-in-law never subsided – but it’s very clear that Daisuke wants Masayoshi to eradicate the type of “evil” responsible for his parents’ deaths by becoming Samurai Flamenco. This brings us to the rather large elephant, or gorilla, in the room: the newly-introduced King Torture. By giving Masayoshi a superpowered opponent, the series is backing him into a corner and forcing him to reevaluate his “do no harm” attitude.
The conclusion of episode seven finds Masayoshi partially responsible for the death of a person. In pushing Guillotine Gorilla out of a three-story window he inadvertently – one could additionally argue that there’s no way Masayoshi and Goto could have known whether he would survive the fall in the first place, making them directly responsible – sentences him to death by suicide. There’s a world of difference from fighting petty crimes to fighting powered-up evil organizations, and I’m looking forward to how Masayoshi will deal with the consequences of his own actions from this point on.