「合戦ザムライ」 (Gassen Zamurai)
Minamino was always dominating the regionals. The question was always how hard he would dominate them. And this episode answers that question, demonstrating how he’s heads and shoulders above the competition. Figuratively and literally. Seeing him perform like that makes me wonder how Jotaro can even have a chance at beating him. But our Gymnastics Samurai continues to make progress, rounding out aspects of his performance that were previously insufficient. Such as his precision. So when the time comes to face off again, I wonder what other bag of tricks Jo will have in store next.
I have many questions about Leo. He has such a ridiculous physique and performed some excellent gymnastics at the start. Also, he has US agents chasing after him, that are happy to let him wander around even after they’ve captured him, as opposed to incarcerating him for good. So my personal theory is that he became Jotaro’s fanboy as a talented teenager then went on to become the US u18 gymnastics representative. But when he heard news that Jotaro was retiring, he immediately went to seek him out so that he could meet with his idol before the man totally dropped off the radar. It would explain the leeway given to him, and his occasional disappearances can be chalked down to mandatory training sessions. With his details still a mystery, it remains to be seen who Leo is. And why he lives in Japan at present.
「親子ザムライ」 (Oyako Zamurai)
“Samurai Father and Daughter”
Whenever the series focuses on Rei, it’s been extremely great. This episode proved no exception, and arguably surpassed the episode that featured Rei getting bullied for Jotaro’s unretirement to become the best we’ve seen so far. Coming in, we knew that there would be unavoidable drama since Jotaro’s training camp coincided with Rei’s birthday. Through her smile, it wasn’t hard to imagine the inner turmoil. Previously, she would keep quiet, smile and put up with life. No matter how frustrated she actually felt. But this episode, she finally cracked.
Big Bird’s Crisis
Big Bird has always been used as comedic relief. Which made the setup perfect. During Taiso Samurai’s run, we’ve come to know this pet as an absolute glutton who scavenges any dropped morsels off the floor. Finally, he eats something yummy that Rei accidentally drops. Only to realise he ate fried chicken, his brethren, which sends him into a catatonic state of shock.
The genius of Taiso Samurai here is the way it can portray seriously heartfelt moments that are punctuated by comedy, without ruining the emotional impact. And vice versa. I was crying with laughter when Big Bird passed out after realising he ate fried chicken. Then I got hit extremely hard in the feels when Rei rushed Big Bird to the vet, unable to find any reliable adult that could help her out, unable to use the bike her father never taught her to ride.
And what got me most of all was her reminiscing about that first encounter with Big Bird when he was a little chick – a gift from Granny Aragaki when she was depressed following her mother’s death. In just a few scenes, despite our previous perception of Big Bird as this big annoying bird who annoyed Rei up until this point, it conveyed just how much Rei cared about him. And how he served as her steadfast companion through the years, when her father would leave her alone frequently due to training or competitive fixtures. Her guilt at causing his health deterioration was a real gut punch. Even if pets can be annoying, loving owners would never intentionally hurt their pets like that. So she wanders around the streets at night, unable to cope with that unrelenting surge of guilt.
Fortunately, Ayu and her gyaru friends help find Rei before any harm comes to her. Granny speaks sense into Rei, explaining to her the ideal, perfect mother she saw and aspired to be was really just a front. And was very much prone to being sloppy or having temper tantrums before she gave birth to Rei. Naturally, this brings a lot of relief to Rei – who finally decides to let it all out. Her anger and grief towards Jotaro, who accepts them all with a tearful acknowledgement that he hasn’t been the best of fathers. They reconcile with a hug – one that is punctuated by Leo joining in for a group hug. And all is well that ends well.
Far from ruining emotional moments, these comedic interruptions only adds to Taiso Samurai’s charm, making the series feel so down to earth and sincere in its approach. I understand that other people might not share this sentiment, so let me know what you thought about the comedic timings.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post and see you all next week!