Original Toonami Airdate: February 13th, 2016
Oh hey, Jonny Yong Bosch. It’s been a while since we’ve heard you in Toonami.
The episode opens with our leads gambling in order to gain some money for food and winning thanks to a stroke of dumb luck (thanks Momo). The next day, they visit a restaurant and get some delicious meals, being interrupted by a stranger rudely bumping into Fuu. When she goes to pay, she realizes the money they won is now gone, likely pickpocketed by the stranger that just passed them. Jin and Mugen quickly give chase but are unable to track down the man, who quickly proceeds to pickpocket from a larger group of people and acquiring a packet of some kind of drug.
Mugen and Jin follow a lead on the pickpocket’s whereabouts and break into the home of a sickly woman who claims to know nothing. Meanwhile the pickpocket, named Shinsuke, tries to pawn off the drugs to someone he knows, but the man tries to make a deal where he gets 70% of the revenue. Much to Shinsuke’s displeasure, he’s forced to agree. He goes to the house where the sickly woman was seen earlier, and as it turns out, she’s his mother. Shinsuke’s hoping he can make enough money from pickpocketing to afford quality medicine for her illness, but his mom is unaware of his shady dealings, and he’d like to keep it that way. Fuu spies on this conversation but decides to keep it a secret from Mugen and Jin.
Fuu decides to observe the house the next morning, but she gets caught by Shinsuke’s mother who suspects she might be his girlfriend. She takes her inside the house where she explains her situation to Fuu: Shinsuke’s father abandoned the family many years ago, leaving him to care for her, and she’s worried about what Shinsuke’s been up to recently. Later that night, Shinsuke visits the doctor that helps him treat his mother. Unfortunately, her current treatments won’t fully cure her, and the type of high-quality medicine that could cure her is way too expensive.
The next morning, Fuu tracks down Shinsuke to interrogate him about her money, but the two of them get interrupted by the gang that he stole the drugs from. Fuu lets out a loud scream which distracts them long enough for Shinsuke to fight them off and help the two escape. However, they get cornered again which forces Shinsuke to hold up Fuu at knife point until they hole themselves up in a nearby building. While they wait for the coast to be clear, Fuu treats Shinsuke’s wounds and scolds him for his actions. The two of them have a back-and-forth about each other’s parents, finding certain parallels between them. While trying to think of a plan to escape, Fuu offers to distract the crowd so Shinsuke can get out, but the gang finds their way into the building and hindering their ability to escape. Suddenly, Mugen barges his way into the building and starts fighting the gang while Shinsuke tosses the bag of opium as a distraction. He and Fuu escape out the window and onto the rooftops while the fight is happening. Shinsuke eventually makes his way to ground level but is cornered by the police. He takes out his blade to defend himself, but the police stab him in the chest before he can defend himself, dying right there on the spot.
The next day, Fuu visits Shinsuke’s mother who’s worried that he hasn’t come back yet. Even though Fuu tries to calm her down, she knows that Shinsuke is likely never coming back again due to the terrible things he’s done. The episode ends with Mugen, Jin, and Fuu once again heading off on their continued journey.
This was not exactly the most upbeat or joyous of episodes. In fact, it’s rather emotionally harsh to sit through, especially given Shinsuke’s conflict. We get the sense that’s he’s far from a bad person; he’s just a confused kid stuck in absolutely awful circumstances. That’s an unfortunate part of life, both fictional and real: sometimes otherwise good people have to force themselves into doing bad things because life doesn’t give them much of a choice. It really sucks that in the end, Shinsuke could do nothing to help his mother and potentially ended up making the situation worse by getting killed, ensuring that she would receive no assistance from anyone. It’s phenomenal how the show manages to, in just one episode, create a more dramatically involving and emotional tale than most series can in an entire season or story arc.
Life is rough.
The direction and animation in this episode is definitely top-notch, especially the first encounter between Fuu and Shinsuke’s mom, with a great degree of attention to detail in their faces and bodil movements adding an extra degree of expression to every phrase uttered. The music is also a highlight, being appropriately somber and melancholic for every scene, given that this isn’t exactly Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. A fantastic but bitter episode of the series, and I look forward to next week. I give this one 10 bags of opium/10.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know down in the comments below.
Samurai Champloo airs every Saturday at 1:30 AM, only on Toonami.
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