Samurai Champloo, Episode 11 Recap: “Gamblers and Gallantry”

Original Toonami Airdate: March 12th, 2016

I haven’t seen a beetle fight that intense since Josuke faced off against Jobin Higashikata in JoJolion.

Our heroes are stuck in town on an extremely rainy night trying to find any work they can, with Fuu having already found a job. Jin roams around aimlessly when he comes across a woman on a bridge and… gives weirdly nonchalant advice on how she can drown herself. She just laughs it off and walks away as Jin heads off on his way, hitting up a food stand where he was advised there was a part-time job available. The stall owner tells him to man the stall while he leaves, not feeling worried since business will be dead because of the rain.

Gambling and Gallantry - Jin and ShinoJin suddenly gets a customer, and it turns out to be the woman from earlier. He attempts to prepare some eel for her but struggles to even fish one out of the bucket. She comes around back to show him how to prepare eel and helps him serve a sudden rush of customers. Once the rush is over, Jin tries to prepare some eel for the woman before she leaves, and she reveals the sad truth that she’s being forced to work at a brothel to pay off her husband’s gambling debts.  The next morning, Jin finds the brothel where the woman is working at and returns the umbrella she left behind, but she’s called to work shortly after. They exchange names just before she heads off, and we learn her name is Shino.

Meanwhile, Mugen is trying to earn money in stag beetle fights, but things aren’t going well for him. At the group’s current residence, Fuu scolds him for quitting a job as a bodyguard, to which Mugen replies with his usual smug dismissiveness. He drags her along to another stag beetle fight where his beetle, which he named Rodriguez (… ??) manages to win a match, much to Fuu’s surprise.Gambling and Gallantry - Beetle Wrestling

Jin pays another visit to Shino but is unable to convince her to get out of the brothel, and when the owners spot him and realize he has no money, they beat him down mercilessly in the street. Jin drags himself back to where the group is staying, and the other two are surprised by his injuries. He requests some money to “buy a woman”, taking the earnings that Mugen received from his earlier win. Mugen and Fuu begin to debate and argue about Jin’s sexuality, eventually arriving at the humorous accusation that Fuu has feelings for Jin. As this is going on, he arrives at the brothel once again, and unlike last time, he is treated as a valued customer when he shows the money and requests Shino’s company. The two spend most of the night sitting in peace and discussing various topics. The next morning, Jin suggests the two of them bail and leave town, but Shino’s need to pay off her husband’s gambling debts is keeping her stuck. In a coincidental turn of events, Shino receives a visit from her husband who requests money from her, but when she tries to convince him to earn it on his own, he smacks her down mercilessly. Jin then interrupts and restrains her husband by force before being asked to let him go.Gambling and Gallantry - Shino and Jin

Later that night, Jin once again visits Shino (barring some mild opposition from Fuu), and he once again proposes the two of them leave. He can help Shino get to a shelter that will protect her, but the two of them won’t be able to see each other again. The conversation goes back to the day they met on the bridge, where Shino confirms that she indeed wanted to drown herself. She comes around and finally decides to leave with Jin. As the two of them sneak out, they’re spotted by the brothel staff who quickly pursue them. Jin begins to fight them off with his bare hands as Mugen and Fuu arrive in the nick of time to provide additional backup. As Mugen fights the guards, Jin guides Shino to the small boat that will take her to the shelter, but her husband shows up to try and force her to stay. She throws a handful of money in his face and rejects his demands as she gets on the boat, and Jin pushes it off in the direction of the shelter, the two of them sharing one last longing look at each other as the episode ends.

The most striking element of “Gamblers and Gallantry” is the sudden and unexpected look at Jin’s emotions and humanity. He’s generally a stereotypically uptight no-nonsense warrior, the straight man of the group, so it’s interesting to see what happens when his emotions finally find their way to the surface. The emotional bond formed between him and Shino feels immensely sincere, which is made all the more heartbreaking given the tragic circumstances behind her character. She seems like the first person Jin has held any affection for in quite a long time, and the fact that the seemingly unchangeable forces of life are doing everything they can to keep the two of them apart is extremely upsetting. Even when the episode reaches the end and Shino is free from her life of prostitution, it’s still an extremely bittersweet “happy” ending as who knows how long the two will be separated from one another. The constant rainfall and stormy weather conditions create this moody atmosphere around the main love story, reinforcing the somber uncertainty of their relationship. The musical choices in the episode are also top tier as always, especially the music which plays over the ending scenes, a track called “Counting Stars”. It’s a romantic beautiful song, but also appropriately melancholic to match up with the story and visual atmosphere. I give this episode 10 stag beetles/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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