Taisou Zamurai

Title:Taisou Zamurai
The Gymnastics Samurai
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - MAPPA
ONO Kenshou
In 2002 the career of Jotaro Aragaki (known as 'The Samurai' because of his hairstyle) as a professional gymnast is coming to a premature end. He suffered a shoulder injury from which he has never completely recovered, and his coach frankly recommends he retire. However, Jotaro is not prepared to throw in the towel, and with the help of two fellow gymnasts attempts to reinvigorate his career.

11 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent Stretch [series:4225#628]
(All episodes watched):

I initially could only compose a partial synopsis for this show, because after episode one it remained unclear what the basic premise would be. Apparently Jotaro will give gymnastics one more try before giving up, but that wasn't quite as startling a surprise as I was sure we'd get at the end of the episode. What part will Leo, an agile foreigner (and possibly an illegal immigrant), play? Based on the OP sequence I had guessed he would become Jotaro's apprentice, and become the sort of world-famous gymnast that Jotaro hadn't quite managed to be. Why is the story set in 2002? Another guess that occurred to me was that maybe we'd flash forward to the present, and Rei, Jotaro's daughter, would become a star with him as her coach. But no, it wasn't that complex: the story does indeed take place in 2002 and Jotaro is the only gymnast. The basic premise--namely, an odd but not impossible scenario (no magic here)--felt familiar and I wondered if I'd already watched at least one anime based on a story written by the same author. The OP sequence is colorful and LOL amusing--as I watched the last episode the thought occurred to me that even if I never re-watch this show, I'd like to rewatch the sequence now and then. Episode two clarified things somewhat: Jotaro stumbles upon a potential route to rehabilitation for the injury that has threatened his career (a good deal of the problem was in his head, not his shoulder). In episode two I felt we still didn't know him all that well and as a result it was hard to get excited about his prospects; but in episode three this no longer bugged me. As was often the case this season, early on I neither loved nor hated this series, and continued to watch with modest enthusiasm. Again, based on the OP sequence It looked like the story would be about a trio of gymnasts, not just Jotaro: namely him, Leo, and a third character, Tetsuo, a rising star who initially despises Jotaro as a has-been. I had been operating on the assumption that sooner or later Leo would get the idea that he ought to take up gymnastics as well, but as of episode five that still hadn't happened. Instead, Leo helps Rei deal with harassment she has been getting at school. He has a problem of his own, however, as these people who are searching for him are closing in (they like to wear sunglasses and dark-colored outfits, for some reason). Jotaro competes in a prestigious competition, and while he doesn't take a gold, silver or bronze medal he does encouragingly well. He must balance his ambitions as a gymnast with the fact that he's a single parent (his wife died). In episode seven we learn a good deal about Leo's origins. He's a distinguished performer (a ballet dancer) from London who seems to have run away from home for some reason. The people tracking him are private investigators (or something like that) sent by his mother to find him, not Japanese immigration agents as I had assumed. At a joint Japanese/Chinese gymnastic training camp Jotaro realizes that he will need a new trick if he is to have any chance of winning a competition against the up-and-coming next generation of gymnasts. In episode eight Leo's talent is finally revealed to Jotaro, Rei, and the coach. And, while he hasn't decided to take up gymnastics himself, he uses what he knows to help Jotaro solve a problem. An uncomfortable question about why Leo is seemingly hiding out while his skills go largely unused suggested a sophisticated and engaging plot; Jotaro isn't the only person with a conflict that needs to be resolved. Going into the final episode I was confident that this wouldn't just be the sort of show where the protagonist triumphs, the end. Given that he has an unexpected handicap, and that the entire show doesn't revolve entirely around him, and it has been clever and complex up until now, anything could happen. Tetsuo hadn't played as large a part as the OP sequence suggested, so he would surely do something important in the climax. Actually, the final episode didn't hold any major surprises; Tetsuo doesn't try to cheat or do anything unexpected, and Jotaro's handicap doesn't make all that much of a difference. I never fully understood what Leo's problem was or how he overcame it. But the episode worked, and we are left feeling good as the story ends. This was a sports anime in which most of the story takes place off the playing field and is about an individual athlete rather than a team. Nevertheless it had a large and colorful cast which made it fun.

Last updated Saturday, January 02 2021. Created Sunday, October 18 2020.

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