Monday, December 30, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Sixty-three

Samurai Champloo was an intriguing experiment. I mentioned, way back when I , that it was a tremendously good mix of style, music, and action... and its English dub was fairly superior to most other anime. That recommendation still holds most of its water, I think, though it's a little shaky this time around.

I say that because this particular episode, Bogus Booty, has a sing-song intro that doesn't translate well in the English dub. The style that they try and emulate from the original just can't be done with our sentence structure and pronunciation, so it ends up being a somewhat sad and definitely pale imitation. Luckily, it's only the first minute or so of the episode, so its quickly dismissed, but I can see where someone just randomly coming to it might be turned off from the whole thing. Not high odds that it would happen that way as Bogus Booty is the fifteenth episode of the series, but it might happen.

Anyways, once that terrible intro is over, the plot for this stand-alone episode kicks into immediate gear as a lone figure tries to escape his ninja pursuers but ends up captured. He throws a bundle into a pond to save it from the ninja and the scene fades... directly into the series' main characters Jin, Mugen, and Fuu fishing the very next day at that same spot. In a fit of fishing-related frustration, Jin finds the bundle and the three discover its full of gold koban coins, which they take directly to the next town and live it up. Fuu gets fat on vittles and the boys ditch her to visit a brothel, where Mugen wins a game of Jan-Ken-Pon (Rock-Paper-Scissors) and gets to spend the night with the cute Yatsuha, who is more than she seems.

The plot of the episode mostly revolves around a counterfeiting operation that Yatsuha and her compatriots (including the runner from the beginning) have been sniffing out, and she uses Mugen's sex drive to convince him to beat the crap out of the rebels using the brothel as a hideout for their illegal deeds. While it's true that Mugen gets the majority of screen time, with short little asides for Fuu and Jin as chapter bookends, there's little to no character development for anyone. This is just a stand-alone action quickie that can be watched by anyone unfamiliar with the series. It's quick, comedic, and fun... though, perhaps a little too sexist.

I like the quirks of history that can be gleaned from the plotline like the yukaku (pleasure) district that Fuu is prevented from entering, the references to the Sengoku (Warring States) grudges, and koban (gold coin) smithing. Almost every episode of Samurai Champloo has little details like these that are hilarious and interesting, and I just love it.

My one regret, though, is that Yatsuha is a one-off character, especially considering her confession to her subordinate that Mugen is the man she wants to marry. It would've been nice, had the series continued past one season (technically two in Japan as their seasons run in lots of 13 and often continue one right after the other) to have Yatsuha and Fuu competing for Mugen's affections... or just nice to see Yatsuha show up again at all. I found her much more compelling in her fifteen or so minutes of screen time than Fuu had across almost the entire series, but that's just because Fuu isn't all that dynamic a character save for when the series arc chapters focus on her "search for the sunflower samurai" woes.

As always with this series, there's fun action, great music, and excellent animation. Worth the watch if you're any sort of fan of anime, samurai films, or hip hop.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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