After all this time, I’m finally getting around to Samurai Flamenco! I guess I should say I’m getting around to finishing it. I watched this as it aired, for a few episodes. I got very sick of the Flamenco Girls very quickly, which disappointed me, as they were a good idea to begin with. My wife insisted I keep going, and I finally got the gumption to do it; obviously I’m glad I did. I haven’t finished the show yet (unsurprisingly, I suppose). I’ve only got ten episodes left, though. Of course, what that means is you will likely know immediately if I’m wrong about anything in my reading. Mind you, please don’t spoil anything. Let’s get going!
If you’re not familiar with it, Samurai Flamenco is a story about a young man, Hazama, who decides to be a superhero. He basically becomes an urban hero / vigilante dude, but mostly he stops bullies, glares at men who might assault women if they were alone, and tells people to sort their garbage thoroughly. Over the course of the show, things change around him, though. That’s as far as I can go without spoiling anything, so if you haven’t seen it and you want to, you should probably stop here.
We can dive right into the reading, I suppose. If you’re still reading, you probably know the rest of what happens. I would just say, first, that I am actually continually surprised by how the show shifts itself into something more like sentai shows, even as it messes with all the tropes in that genre. The characters are, mostly, likable. More importantly, all of them have centers from which their actions and decisions come. That’s a good thing.
We’re returning to the good old past/present/future reading here, with the Waite-Smith deck again.
This is pretty straightforward! That seems appropriate, for a guy like Hazama.
In the past we have the Queen of Cups. She’s an inward-looking person, in touch with her feelings without necessarily acting on them, at least not immediately. She has a solid foundation under her, but there’s a chance it could be washed away — look at how close the throne is to the waves. She’ll be firm if she knows precisely how the water in this area behaves. If she doesn’t, she’ll fall in. Hazama started out this way. He was struggling in a lot of ways — personally, professionally — so becoming a hero gave him an emotional center to focus on instead. He was at risk of toppling over himself, until he made some friends who supported him. Hazama’s past is about emotional recovery. He lost his parents when he was very young, after all.
Yes, that makes him Anime Batman.
I’m sure that joke’s been done before. Sorry.
In the present we got the three of pentacles. This card shows a craftsman at work. It does not necessarily depict practice, which would be the most obvious thing to think of when we think of Hazama’s present. It depicts, instead, mastery of practice, control of a craft. It also shows the artist working in a context — he’s not alone. The people who help run the church look on as he works, approving of what he’s doing. Hazama eventually becomes part of an honest-to-goodness sentai team, based entirely on his performance alone, with minimal support. It turns out his teacher, who seems like a goofy flake who happens to know martial arts, is actually the leader of this group, and brings Hazama on board. Hazama struggles at first, but integrates himself into the new situation like he has everything else. His past is water, after all: he knows how to flow (which is, coincidentally, the title of the second opening song. Ha!).
In the future we see Temperance, the only major in the reading. Temperance does not only mean balance between two poles, though it can mean that. It depicts a spirit on the land and in the water, controlling flow, once again. That is a theme that’s coming up here. Hazama the character — that is, the character we watch and relate to, rather than the character as a fictional person — is about flow, controlling the motion between multiple pulls: modeling, heroing, friendship, family, rivalry, publicity, secrecy. As the show goes on, we see him change the way he flows between roles, eventually integrating them. That’s a form of Temperance: becoming something that’s appropriate at all times. We rarely manage to do that, as people, since we have to shift so often. But personal integration allows us, to some degree, to be more ourselves more often, and that’s what Hazama achieves. He really believes the things he says — unlike at the beginning, he’s not just saying them because that’s what he’s supposed to say (he always believed the intent, but early on he made speeches to amp himself up).
That’s that! Nice and simple, right? Well, I wanted to finish the show before I did this one, but that was just a bridge too far to reach. Alas.
UPDATE: MagicConan14 points out that the opening is not titled “Flow.” That’s the band’s name. My mistake. There was also a bit of confusion about the idea I was resting that section on, so enjoy this Wikipedia page on the concept of psychological “flow.”