"'Brokedown Merry-Go-Round' Show of the Week," I discuss the week's best first-run animated series episode I saw. "Brokedown Merry-Go-Round," a two-hour block of original score tracks from animated shows or movies, airs weekdays at 2pm Pacific on AFOS.
Consistently funny South Park episodes are a rarity these days, and "A Song of Ass and Fire," the second in a three-parter that reimagines the upcoming holiday season's Xbox One/PlayStation 4 console wars as Game of Thrones, helps break the show's slump with a sturdy storyline (which began in "Black Friday" last week) and jokes that stick the landing and are even stronger than the jokes in "Black Friday" by being occasionally surprising. I didn't see the punchline to the news anchor sex scene coming and couldn't stop laughing for a minute and a half afterward. Plus any moment where South Park parodies anime is worthwhile because Trey Parker nails the sounds of J-pop so well, like he does here with Princess Kenny's anime theme song.
The only running joke that's lazily written in "A Song of Ass and Fire" is Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin's obsession with wieners, which doesn't really go anywhere (Martin's choir inside his phallically decorated mansion and their performance of an all-"wieners" cover version of the Game of Thrones main title theme are filler and just an excuse to pad this three-parter out). Otherwise, it's nice when South Park isn't comedically asleep at the wheel, whether it's an Xbox One racing wheel or a PS4 racing wheel.
Over on Samurai Flamenco, the show just took a turn for the crazy--or hasn't. "Change the World" finds Masayoshi Hazama in distress after a note from his deceased grandfather Daisuke Hazama reveals that Masayoshi's parents were murdered, and he's worried about his inability to feel enraged by the way in which they died. The episode also pits Masayoshi and Goto against the show's first real supervillain: a crazed drug chemist who transforms into Guillotine Gorilla, a giant gorilla with a guillotine for a stomach and a minion of a villain boss who identifies himself to Samurai Flamenco as "King Torture." Samurai Flamenco's tonal shift from largely grounded slice-of-life territory (the show's universe has been established in the last few episodes as a universe without superpowers and supervillains) to typical tokusatsu material is extremely jarring and out-of-nowhere.
But if it turns out next week that humans are capable of transforming into monsters straight out of Thor: The Dark World, I'm going to be slightly disappointed. Nothing we've seen on this show has built up towards drugs that alter people's DNA like what Arrow is carefully doing this season with the particle accelerator to establish Barry Allen and his (now-to-take-place-outside-of-Arrow) transformation into the Flash, and that's just sloppy writing if superpowers were indeed always part of this show's plan. My disappointment would also stem from how much the absence of superpowers and supervillains on Samurai Flamenco has helped make the show a unique and different take on the superhero genre in animation (so far, Samurai Flamenco has been as grounded as Christopher Nolan's live-action Batman movies but not as somber). With the addition of Guillotine Gorilla and King Torture, Samurai Flamenco becomes just another animated superhero show, although with some above-average writing.
But that tonal shift is a bit of a concern for me because, as the Japanese band SPYAIR says about their old selves in the unsubtitled "Just One Life" theme song lyrics that I recently discovered the English meanings of, Samurai Flamenco's old--and more interesting--self seems to have died yesterday.
The uncensored cut of "A Song of Ass and Fire" can be streamed in its entirety at South Park Studios. Samurai Flamenco's episodes are posted on Crunchyroll the same day they premiere in Japan, but for Crunchyroll subscribers only.