Original Toonami Airdate: January 9th, 2016
Oniwakamaru wants you to stay out of his swamp.
The episode opens up in a jail where Ryujiro, the man who burned down the tea house in the first episode, is about to free a prisoner set for execution named Oniwakamaru, needing him to eliminate Mugen & Jin and promising to help him get revenge on those who mocked him and made him feel like an outsider.
The next morning, Mugen, Jun, and Fuu are trying to get some money together, but they all realize they don’t have much on them. Mugen and Jin are about to get into a fight, but Fuu reminds them of the promise they made to her regarding the samurai who smells of sunflowers. They proceed to give her the third degree and bombard her with various questions regarding their quest.
…and apparently Mugen doesn’t know what sunflowers are, even though I find it difficult to imagine he’s never seen one before. Dude, they’re bright, yellow, and grow in abundance. There’s no way their existence can be news to you.
Amidst the arguing, Fuu’s stomach grumbles, and they all decide to get something to eat. They head out to the first food place they come across and order some yaki-manju (dumplings made from flour soaked in sake and then covered with miso and grilled). They argue about how to divide the order amongst the three of them before a bird swoops in and steals their treat. In the midst of this, Jin overhears a conversation from the group of men sitting a short distance away from them about an ogre who massacred innocent people. The men talking suddenly turn to the elderly man sitting next to them and suggest that since this man’s a samurai, he could kill the ogre no problem, but he refuses out of fear. Mugen then comes up and offers to kill the ogre, demonstrating his sword skills on a yaki-manju skewer. Impressed, the men buy some more of the dumplings for Mugen, but Fuu seems annoyed at him for trying to take up a quest separate from his promised mission. However, the men calm her down and offer her a drink as well… which causes her to pass out for a bit, and the cowardly samurai comments to Jin about his jealousy of their sword-wielding prowess. Another elderly man, an innkeeper, asks about the gang’s plans and advises them against travelling through the night, suggesting that they stay at a shack located around a nearby hot spring that’s free of charge. They take him up on his offer, heading up to the shack and using a cart to drag the unconscious Fuu with them. On their way, Mugen stops and catches sight of a mysterious women of great beauty.
At the shack, Ryujiro meets with the innkeeper and congratulates him for following orders (presumably he was told to lead the group to the shack) before having Oniwakamaru strangle him to death. Meanwhile, Mugen helps the woman who appears to be struggling with her sandals and tries to extort a favor out of her. Later that night, Mugen and Jin make it to the shack before Mugen dashes off to meet up with the woman again at her house. The two enjoy some time together before she immediately rushes into trying to have sex with Mugen. While this little sexual escapade is going on, Fuu finally wakes up, unfortunately, to the sight of Ryujiro, who promptly knocks her unconscious by stomping on her face.
Jin is unaware of all this, having taken a break for a dip in the nearby hot spring, when he suddenly encounters the cowardly samurai from the tea house earlier. He makes some rather odd comments about the fireflies surrounding the air above them which make Jin uncomfortable and decides to leave. Before he does, the cowardly samurai tells him that he’s heard of the samurai who smells of sunflowers.
Ryujiro and Oniwakamaru take Fuu’s unconscious body with them when Kanto police officers suddenly show up to arrest Ryujiro for his crimes. He responds by sicking Oniwaka on the police, and given that they insult him by calling him a monster, he gladly obliges. After the battle, Fuu is locked inside of a cage with Oniwaka standing guard inside. He starts to discuss his backstory, which mainly consists of people belittling him for his monstrous appearance and then proceeding to kill them out of frustration. The two end up sharing a bonding moment since Fuu doesn’t find him all that scary (also a firefly finds its way into the cage because of course), but it’s interrupted by Ryujiro commenting that he “sent the invitation”.
Meanwhile, Mugen’s about to get his freak on with the mystery woman, but while they’re locked in a sweet embrace, she puts her tongue and something else down his throat. As it turns out, she was hired by a one-armed man to poison him with a “one night mushroom” (whatever that is) and sake, and only Ryujiro has the antidote AND Fuu as well. As this is going on, Jin is led out to the middle of the woods by the samurai who reveals himself to be a hired assassin, something Jin already knew. The two proceed to engage in a tense sword duel. The samurai frequently compliments Jin on his sword-fighting prowess as the battle rages on.
Mugen uses a clue he’s given to track down where Ryujiro is keeping Fuu captive. While he makes his way through the area, he’s caught off-guard by Oniwaka, and he catches sight of Ryujiro and Fuu. Mugen doesn’t seem to have any recollection of who Ryujiro is, but this is interrupted by Oniwaka’s continued assault, and his weakened state makes it difficult to fight. Mugen manages to slice through the hood on Oniwaka’s face, and he responds by hitting Mugen in the face. Ryujiro tells him to back off, wanting to kill our hero slowly, and he does so by attempting to drown him in the nearby river. Fuu manages to intervene by knocking Ryujiro down, but he gets back up and holds his sword up to her neck. He goes on a speech about how he likes to share his suffering with other people and his general sadistic tendencies (sounding suspiciously like a mediocre Final Fantasy villain). Oniwaka interferes at just the right time to choke Ryujiro to death, and Mugen gets up again to land one more blow on him. Oniwaka prepares to defend himself, but Fuu tells him not to do so right before Mugen pierces his heart with his sword.
The fight between Jin and the assassin eventually finds its way to the river, where he notices that Ryujiro is lying dead. The assassin realizes that he no longer has any reason to continue fighting and leaves Jin behind, but not before commenting that the two of them will likely meet again. Fuu goes to the dying Oniwaka and asks why he rescued her, and he tells her that it’s because she’s the only person he’s ever met who wasn’t afraid of him and his appearance. The episode ends with Oniwaka pointing up to a sky and catching a firefly on his finger before dying.
This episode was a good one, although it didn’t really advance the overarching story in any kind of direct way. This wasn’t a problem by any significant means as it managed to expand on the characters and wrap up the loose ends from the first episode. We get to see a bit more of them and how they interact with their world and each other. Fuu is still the bond who tries to keep Mugen and Jin in check, but as we see at the tea house, she can be just as prone to fits of anger and annoyance as the short-tempered Mugen. My favorite aspect of the episode was the way that each character got a sub-plot which fit right at home with their own personas. Fuu, the more emotional member of the team, has a story where she deals with a character who has a sad, depressing backstory that she feels genuine sympathy for. She has no qualms about being stuck with Oniwakamaru (Japanese for “ogre” but also probably a reference to Musashibo Benkei, a highly skilled warrior monk from the 12th century who held the nickname during his childhood) because she recognizes the humanity underneath his monstrous façade. Meanwhile Mugen gets into some depraved sexual shenanigans that are right at home with his own lack of decency or morals, and also she’s voiced by Wendee Lee who was also Faye in Cowboy Bebop, so in case you ever wanted to see them do it, there you go. Finally, Jin is given the opportunity to face off against an opponent who behaves rather respectfully and calm compared to the other samurai we’ve encounter so far, feeling like a perfect complement to Jin’s own personality. A solid follow-up to the premiere, and I look forward to see where the story goes from here. I give this episode 8 yaki-manju skewers/10.
Samurai Champloo airs every Saturday at 1:30 AM, only on Toonami.
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