(Please note: This post contains spoilers for Samurai Flamenco)
As mentioned in the previous post, fujoshi fishing in non-BL anime for the most part flirts at the idea of a BL but rarely acknowledges outright the (romantic) nature of relationship between two male characters. This in turns leaves that duty to the fujoshi fandom. (See Durarara, Kuroko no Basuke, Tiger and Bunny, among others). Exceptions exist, one being born yesterday.
Enter Samurai Flamenco‘s Hazama Masayoshi:
In its own way, Samurai Flamenco is not an average anime. (Depending on the person, it is either above or below.) With unpredictability as its guiding star, Samurai Flamenco transforms from a seemingly harmless slice-of-life series into a fantastical landscape of alien invasions and righteous heroes.
Despite Samurai Flamenco‘s lapses in animation quality, drastic plot twists, and disconcerting female characters, it is nevertheless fearless: fearless in its genre-bending, fearless in its pursuit of metafictive analysis on entertainment, and fearless in its reflection on love. Truly, beneath the chaotic-alien-invasion-vigilanti-hero-turned-world-president-former-model-superhero-otaku story dwells a larger inquiry on the nature of love. While not evident at first glance, love arguably propels Samurai Flamenco‘s story, from Hazama’s obsession with heroes to the series’ surprising finale with Hazama proposal of marriage to Goto.
It is this very proposal and Hazama’s subsequent realization that his feelings toward Goto are love, that pushes Samurai Flamenco away the typical path of fujoshi fishing in shonen-esque series. The proposal onto itself appears to defy the conventions of “fujoshi fishing” by making Goto and Hazama “officially” a canon couple, a hope perhaps many fujoshi (including myself) desired. Yet, while this can be viewed as a victory for Team Fujoshi, claiming such victory may be evading a deeper meaning behind Hazama’s proposal.
When we enter the final episode, Sawada Haiji, a middle school student obsessed with Samurai Flamenco, had kidnapped Goto in an attempt to force Hazama to continue being his superhero alter ego. After a brief flashback to Goto’s past, Hazama enters the scene filled with meditations on love prepared to confront Sawada and save Goto. Rather than transform into a hero, however, Hazama chooses to battle as himself, confessing he truly does not understand love, but neither does Sawada. Positioning Sawada’s fantasies concerning Samurai Flamenco as a misguided love, Hazama stops Sawada by expressing his sincere care for him. Goto, freeing himself from Sawada’s constraints, then attempts to kill Sawada, prompting Hazama to save the both of them. Entirely naked and countering Goto’s claim that he is alone, Hazama proposes marriage to Goto, and then realizes that perhaps his desire to protect Goto and help him was love.
On the surface, Hazama’s actions seems to pander to the idealized fujoshi demographic: naked male, essentially love confession, marriage plan. Yet, Samurai Flamenco operates on a slightly different logic. The series positions the proposal in an expansive humanistic narrative about the human struggle against the inherent loneliness of being rather an an stance on gay marriage. By portraying marriage as a means to overcome Goto’s sense of isolation, Samurai Flamenco depoliticizes love and marriage by separating it from politically charged issues of sexuality, gender, and sex. Though wearing the pelts of BL, Samurai Flamenco, in accordance to its grand gesticulations toward high ideals such as justice and heroes, upholds a pure conception of love free from the complications of politics and BL.
Perhaps such purity in the face to life’s cruelty and true injustice, both politic and otherwise, is naive. Samurai Flamenco‘s humanistic meditations on love perhaps will be lost in an impending sea of fan fiction and doujinshi that even I myself may consume. Nonetheless, this finale has made its splash. Now it is time to see how other studios and fan will swim with the waves. (Perhaps…looking forward to this summer’s Free! a bit too much. How short the attention span is now in the age of mass media.)