Samurai Flamenco: to do good, or to do no harm

samurai flamenco, masayoshi hazama, samurai flamenco helmet, episode 7  samurai flamenco

“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.

7 comments

  1. “This brings us to the rather large elephant, or gorilla, in the room: the newly-introduced King Torture”

    the gorilla in the room was Gorillatine

    1. Figuratively speaking, it’s King Torture’s appearance that contributes to the sudden shift in narrative of the story. Literally speaking, there was a gorilla in the room in that narrative-shifting scene, but Emily didn’t make particular reference to it. If there’s anything I’ll give her a hard time about, it’s the contextually misleading use of the pun.

      (Sorry Em, I still love you though <3)

  2. I personally enjoy the sudden shift in the show, but I would have liked what Sammenco would have had to say if it stayed the course with what it was going for originally. One of the things I enjoyed most about this show is how they communicated the idea of having dreams, and the realization thereof through different characters’ careers and hobbies, particularly that of Goto in contrast to Masayoshi’s. The idea that there is “no market” in which superheros can thrive, yet Masayoshi pursues it due to his passion, is admirable, and provides an interesting, yet novel framework to address said idea.

    That being said, under my original assumption that the show would be slated for only a single season, episode 7 would have been a bit too late in introducing this sudden shift, but having recently discovered that this is going to continue into next year’s spring season, it certainly makes sense from a structural standpoint. Simply put, spending 22 episodes to address the above would make the show’s idea spread rather thinly and the novelty of framework that I meantioned before would be lost along the way.

    Had the show been limited to only one season, I think that staying the course without going into actual superheroism could still work. Masayoshi experiences an existential crisis upon realizing the origin of his parents’ death, and the choice brought onto him by his late grandfather’s sudden revelation. He can’t even take vengeance to begin with because at this point, the murderer(s) is/are probably too old to even be continuing to do bad deeds. Since there is no call to be answered due to the nonexistence of a higher evil in this mundane version of the universe, he simply is given an opportunity to reaffirm his ideals under a new light. I can’t think of any particular scene that can highlight this revelation, but it would definitely work within the confines of the remaining time in a single season’s worth of syndication. Good post!

    1. “Since there is no call to be answered due to the nonexistence of a higher evil in this mundane version of the universe, he is simply given an opportunity to reaffirm his ideals under a new light.”

      Masayoshi does have a sped-up version of this process in episode seven, following his conversation with Goto in the park. He overhears someone in trouble and goes back to being Samurai Flamenco. Although not expressly said, I think the conclusion Masayoshi comes to – thanks in large part to Goto’s words, which I quoted above – are that it’s okay to have questions, and that he should keep doing what he’s doing, provided that he still believes in it.

      I think that the series does have a lot of time left to explore Goto, and that it will most likely come in this next portion of Samurai Flamenco, as foreshadowed by Goto and Masayoshi’s conversation in episode 7. Masayoshi repeatedly asks Goto why he became a police officer, and all Goto will say is that he “had his reasons.” Additionally, he tells Masayoshi that his own attitude is changing due to Masayoshi’s influence. In addition to the shift for Masayoshi, and his role as Samurai Flamenco, I’ll be curious to see if/how Goto steps it up now that they’re dealing with more traditional villains.

      Thanks for the comment.


  3. Not sure what to make of the latest development, whether this is just a strange fantasy sequence or a new shift in the plotline. Still, will keep track of this series.

    And where are the flamenco-dancing samurai?!😦

    1. I hope it’s a new shift in the plot line (as one may be able to tell from this post). It would seem a bit cheap at this point to go back on what was established in this episode, and regardless of what is to follow, I’d want the series to stick to its guns.

      Final episode is a musical episode. I’m calling it now. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment.

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