The Samurai Persistence Monopoly

This episode of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger begins with Ryunoske Ikenami trying to help out with the chores around the temple, to no avail as the Kuroko insist on doing the menial work themselves. However, in the middle of one of Ryunosuke’s tougher fights trying to wrest the broom from the Kuroko’s hands, a stranger vists.

This man’s name is Richard Brown, and he’s a huge fanboy of the Shinkengers. He’s also klutzy, easily excitable, and it should be pretty clear by now why I dislike the guy. His fandom started during an earlier episode when Ryunosuke saved the town from being poisoned. It was then that he decided to become a disciple of the Shinkengers and spread the art of the samurai throughout the world. I assume that he had to haggle for some considerable vacation time at whatever job he was working, because he has to know that that kind of training would take years and years to complete, and no company will pay him to learn skills that have rather narrow applicability in the modern world.

It only gets worse from here.

Lord Takeru Shiba’s orders are for Ryunosuke to get rid of Mr. Brown, by making him go through harsh training that will turn him off from the idea of learning the samurai arts. Ryunosuke starts with a speech about how a calm mind is the key to being a samurai, which any viewer knows is bullshit, because, well, it’s Super Sentai, and outside of Takeru “calm mind” is the last thing anyone should associate with the Shinkengers, ESPECIALLY Ryunosuke.

The lesson here being that if you can keep a calm mind while being mugged, then you’re already a true samurai!

Obviously, there are a bunch of “lol Mr. Brown fails at training” slapstick gags, culminating in Chiaki telling a disappointed Mr. Brown that not everyone is cut out to be a samurai, and he should give up. No kidding, within the mythology of this show’s universe a samurai family something that you have to be born into. Genta hadn’t shown up by this point to put a damper on that.

As you can see, Mr. Brown takes this revelation with dignity.

During a talk over noodles, Mr. Brown is indeed discouraged about training to be a samurai, but Ryunosuke reassures him by bringing up the golden rule of being a samurai: never give up. This seems innocuous now, but those three words will come to represent everything wrong with this episode. From here, Ryunosuke decides to help Mr. Brown become a true samurai.

Judging from this show, most Japanese people don’t even understand it.

Meanwhile, in Dokoku Chimatsuri’s hideout, the usual irritating scene takes place in which a restless Gedoshu, this time Hachouchin, is sent to the human world to burn up some humans.

While Ryunosuke is training Mr. Brown in basic swordsmanship, he receives a call about Hachouchin wreaking havoc in Chibahama Town. And with that, the episode tosses all credibility out the window, as Mr. Brown, in his usual over-the-top style, offers to come with Ryunosuke to “slice down bad guys”. You know, because that’s totally the point of being a samurai. Yeah, I know that this is a kids’ action show where that’s the point, but in order to be engaging there has to be a reason to root for the good guys beyond “they slice down bad guys”.

No! I said we need to root for the good guys!

The Shinkengers sans Ryunosuke interrupt Hachouchin’s rampage through the city, and as usual the monster reveals his annoyance, which is resistance to Shinken Red’s fire attacks. Shinken Pink’s wind attacks only serve to make him stronger as well. The only one with powers that Hachouchin is susceptible to is the water-based Ryunosuke, but he’s busy making sure that Mr. Brown doesn’t make an ass of himself, at which he is failing spectacularly.

The only samurai this guy will ever be is of the Flamenco variety.

Ryunosuke gets the brunt of a burning attack while shielding Mr. Brown from his own stupidity. At this point Hachouchin is all dried up, so he must return to the hideout to moisturize again. Considering his powers, I’m surprised he’s even able to step outside to begin with.

Later, Ryunosuke sadly tells Mr. Brown that he cannot continue instruction. There’s sad music playing as Mr. Brown is leaving back for… wherever he’s from, but I’m not buying it because Mr. Brown’s kind of a moron.

It was then he decided to pursue his other dream of becoming a Sailor Senshi.

It is not long before Hachouchin strikes again, and once again the Shinkengers are there to ruin his fun, with Ryunosuke included this time. Their roll call is tragically cut short by the addition of a new Shinkenger, one named Richard Brown. Amazingly, his announcement is so hammy that the real Shinkengers listen to him when he shouts “On the field!”

The cast of Power Rangers Samurai is older than I remember.

Turns out Mr. Brown had misinterpreted Ryunosuke’s message that he “had nothing left to teach” as meaning that he has become a master. I assume I am supposed to find this charming, but it’s not. At all. This whole charade is at its worst when Mr. Brown flat out pushes Shinken Green to the side when the latter tries to stop him. Anyway, Hachouchin shoots another fire blast at the group, with Mr. Brown caught in the crossfire this time.

Good, because Super Sentai have a pretty shaky history with forgiveness.

Seeing Mr. Brown wounded causes Shinken Blue to lose control and strike at Hachouchin wildly, resulting in him taking yet another full fire blast. Hachouchin follows up by damaging everyone enough to get them to revert back to their civilian forms.

This is followed up by unquestionably the dethroning moment of the episode. Mr. Brown sees the Shinkengers are beaten down, and gets up and tells them to not give up. AND THE SHINKENGERS ACTUALLY TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY. No, they definitely needed a pep talk from a foreigner who can’t tell a katana from a baseball bat. They defintely would have given up then and there. What are they, Operation Overdrive?

I get the feeling that someone at Over-Time subs didn’t like this episode much either.

Of course, the Shinkengers have to rub salt in the wound by praising Mr. Brown for his “bravery” (here confused with “stupidity”, a HUGE pet peeve I have with stories in general). He’s the reason you guys even got into this situation to begin with, but because he used some pretty words he’s this great samurai student?!

Mr. Brown is the equivalent of face-painting hockey fans who think they’re being “supportive”.

So the usual shpiel happens, Ryunosuke uses his water attacks to get the Shinkengers the upper hand, group slash attack, firing the big cannon, monster explodes, cool turning back from the explosion shot, etc. Mr. Brown joins with the shooting of the Swordfish Five Ring Shot, because he totally  earned the right.

Sharknado, eat your heart out.

After the usual mech porn, the episode finally comes to an end with Mr. Brown declaring his intention to teach people about the way of the samurai in… wherever he’s from. Ryunosuke is confident they can count on him because after all, “he knows the most important thing a samurai can learn”, which is that water is effective against fire. But only slightly less important than that is not giving up, which is something that is completely unique to samurai and doesn’t at all cheapen the message for any of the little kids watching.

This episode sucked, and it is indeed almost entirely due to Richard Brown. He has no real defining characteristics outside of overzealousness, and this is painted as a virtue in the end, because reasons. Instead of being shown why we’re supposed to like this guy or believe that he is capable of being a samurai, we have to be told it. His actions flat out endanger the lives of the people he supposedly respects, he never listens to reason, and he’s arrogant enough to believe that he’s a master, despite receiving a couple of days of training at most, while his “heroes” have been learning their art since they were kids.

All of this undermines the “never give up” moral that the episode is going for, as it essentially equates “never giving up” with “sticking your nose into business that is clearly too much for you, being counteractively disruptive in the process”. Weirdly, this episode did kind of reveal the inherent complexities that complicate the “never give up” aphorism, but the intention was to show that persistence is how one improves, which this episode does a pretty horrible job representing.

Next time: Ghosts, police investigations gone wrong, and speeches so corny Nebraska would burn right up in shame.

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