Sweet As Syrup: Samurai Flamenco Review

Believe it or not, I have stumbled across many series that I regret not having heard of before. Be this a game series, a film series, or even a comic book series. And yes, this even includes anime series. One such anime that I have kicked myself constantly for having never heard of is today’s subject. This is one of the most divisive, yet refreshing anime I’ve seen in the past decade. It revolves around a young man who wishes to be a superhero, despite having no super-powers or combat training.

Despite this, he fashions himself a costume and becomes a hero anyways. He trains hard, fights crime, and eventually becomes a hero to those around him. However, if you’ve heard of this show before, you’d know that I’m only scraping the surface. This show is bizarre, yet awesome and has divided half its audience. I think it’s about time I discuss the amazing-ness that is this little-known series. So, I present to you all the cult-classic gem known as “Samurai Flamenco”.

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“LET’S SYRUP!”

Background Information

Samurai Flamenco started airing in October 2013 and finished its run in March 2014. The anime ran for a total of 22 episodes and unfortunately never took off with a Japanese audience. The show ended up forgotten in Japan, but was brought to America through Netflix and Crunchy Roll. Here, it garnered a small yet devoted fanbase and remains a cult-classic to this day. The anime itself was directed by Takahiro Omori, who is best known for co-directing the Powerstone anime and directing Hyper Police; two highly underrated anime in my opinion. Flamenco is one of Omori’s latest projects, as he hasn’t directed a whole lot since 2013.

Plot and Characters

Hidenori Goto is your typical average policeman. He works a tough job, fights the occasional crime, comes home, sleeps and does the same thing the next day. However, Goto’s life changes forever when he finds a strange naked young man in the alley. This turns out to be a wannabe superhero named Masayoshi who goes under the superhero name “Samurai Flamenco”.

Masayoshi is also secretly a model, which pays the bills and allows him to purse his rather dangerous hobby. Masayoshi is a hero because of the heroes who inspired him as a child, and he wishes to live up to their legacy. This creates a rather unique concept for a series, it’s essentially Kamen Rider meets Kickass. It gets even wilder from there! Masayoshi becomes famous on the internet for fighting crime, even the minuscule ones. This draws the attention of other would-be heroes like the Flamenco Girls, a trio of magical-girl-type superheroines who aren’t afraid to knee a guy in the groin to win a fight.

Masayoshi is also aided by a cast of colorful characters, including his strict manager Sumi, and his eccentric sensei known as Joji Kaname. It’s up to Masayoshi to defeat the various thugs in the city, as well as people who are after him so they can a hefty reward for unmasking him. It’s actually a really good concept, and the series rocks it… Until the end of episode 7. Now, I feel to properly discuss this show in detail I need to talk about it past episode 7. Episode 7 has a twist that rocked the fanbase and even deterred some people from watching it. So, in this next section I will discuss spoilers that span from episode 7 to 11.

SPOILER WARNING

By episode 7, Masayoshi has cleaned up the streets. Few criminals are around and those that are end up being quickly dispatched by our heroes. However… This quickly changes when a real monster shows up at the end of episode 7! This monster is known as “Guillotine Gorilla” and murders several policeman. Our heroes defeat him, only for a mysterious villain known as King Torture shows up. At this point, the show switches genres from a fairly realistic superhero show, to a Kamen Rider type superhero show.

And this isn’t the first or last time it does this! After the end of this arc, it switches genres again and focuses on a team of Sentai-styled superheroes called “The Flamengers”, which are led by Masayoshi. And the show just gets crazier from there! I would say more about it, but I don’t want to spoil all this show has to offer.

SPOILERS OVER

Generally, while I felt that the plot was all over the place, I enjoyed it. Despite the constant genre-shifting, it is a very entertaining story. The problem comes with the characters, as during some arcs, characters are shoved aside in favor of introducing new characters. Despite this, the old characters do return and get a fair bit of development, which is welcome. Still, I could do without the other Flamengers, as they were never that interesting.

Visual Stimuli

I like the character designs in this show somewhat, especially the superhero costumes assigned to the main and supporting characters. They have a retro feel to them, but also have an added modern touch. It sucks that Samurai Flamenco doesn’t have a defined suit, as it changes every 3-4 episodes. Despite this, I loved the design of each suit Masayoshi wears. Sadly, I can’t say the same about the animation. While the animation is good most of the time, sometimes it can be pretty bad. A good example of this is in episode 11, where it looks as though the animators just gave up. The second opening sequence for the show is another example of this, due to how many little animation is shown in that intro. There is a sufficient lack of actual animation in both versions of the trailers and just feels slapped together.

Luckily, voice acting and sound design is fairly good. I found background tracks to be entertaining, as were the theme songs. The anime also uses a surprising number of tracks that seem to be lifted from other shows and only remixed slightly. I can’t tell you how weird it was when the Pink Panther theme just started playing in one episode. Regardless, I found the production value to be a bit middle-of-the-road. It had somewhat okay-ish animation that dips in quality a bit too much. On top of that, you can tell that their were budget cuts along the line. Still, the production values never got too much in the way of me enjoying the show.

In Summation

I can see why some people don’t like this show. This is a show where the animation can look fairly bad on occasion, the show constantly changes genres, character development is shoved aside in favor of introducing new characters, and the soundtrack seems a bit recycled. Despite this, it was still really entertaining!

It had likable characters, fairly unique concept, and was entertaining the whole time for me. I feel this anime is pretty entertaining, despite its flaws. Sadly, this series never took off and only got 22 episodes, but I still enjoy it a lot. How much you get out of the series will depend on you the viewer, I reccomend at least watching the first 10 episodes. The first 10 episodes are a good example of what the show is, so if you don’t like the first 10 then you’ll probably hate the rest of the series. Just be warned that this show is very stupid, but it’s a good kind of stupid. If you can turn your brain off while watching this show, then I think you can find a lot of enjoyment in this series.

I can definitely say that this anime is without a doubt as sweet as syrup. I won’t get this anime a rating, because I feel its about time I retired number ratings. I feel like attaching a numbered score is demeaning the value of the product. So, from now on, every review will be score free! Though, I’ll still tell you if the product is as sweet as syrup or not!

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