Samurai Champloo, Episode 12 Recap: “The Disorder Diaries”

Original Toonami Airdate: March 19th, 2016

A recap of an episode that’s nothing but recap? Recap-ception! (Also sorry this recap is late. I was in Orlando over the weekend the episode aired and I got caught up with some stuff).

 

Our heroes are resting in a lodge for the night, with Fuu taking her time relaxing in a nearby hot spring, as Mugen and Jin begin contemplating and expressing skepticism towards their mission. All this time spent hunting down The Samurai Who Smells Of SunflowersTM and they’re not even sure who he is or what Fuu’s connection is to him. Mugen, desiring to find out what’s up, decides to sneak through Fuu’s possessions to find some kind of clue, and he does in the form of a small book. Jin, having to read the book because Mugen is illiterate (of course), sees that it’s a diary that’s been chronicling their adventures from the very first episode, starting on the 10th of July.

She reminisces on her first encounter with the two samurai, having a low opinion of Mugen and an equally negative view of Jin. As the two continue through her diary, she touches upon every episode of the series up to now, some in greater detail than others. One event in particular she focuses on is her encounter with Moronobu Hishikawa, the sketchy ukiyo-e painter from episode 5. Fuu contemplates if he ever successfully escaped to Holland, and a sudden narration by Manzo The Saw reminds us that he did not manage to escape.

Plowing through another handful of episodes, the diary stops to focus on the encounter with Shinsuke, and at one point she wrote about a dream she had concerning her deceased mother, relating it to Shinsuke’s mother and vowing to write a letter to her one day. Manzo’s narration provides an odd non sequitur referring to a fictional text by non-fictional Japanese author Harumachi Koikawa.

Next, the diary focuses on her encounter with Nagamitsu, condemning Mugen and Jin for wanting to go after Budokiba despite the fact that even Fuu herself admits that she was sexy. She laments the fact that all the group’s time is spent earning money to survive instead of directly pursuing their target. This section is book-ended by another Manzo narration about sexual freedom in Japan, describing a perceived boom in sexuality in the present day and relating it to the massive amount of open sexuality present in the Edo period. Sexual freedom evidently didn’t become taboo until the Meiji period and the sudden influx of Western cultural influences.

The diary then covers their imprisonment at the Hakone checkpoint where Fuu express frustration at Jin’s complete lack of conversation throughout the entire ordeal, only responding with “Hmms” or “aahs” instead of opening up to her. Yet another Manzo history lesson pops up, educating us on the influence of Zen Buddhism on the American beatniks of the ‘50s and the hippie flower children of the ‘60s. This time however, Manzo’s narration actually serves a purpose as it segues into unseen parts of the time our heroes spent with Zuikō. We see each of them receiving one-on-one spiritual guidance: Jin is informed of the nature of human freedom, Fuu questions her association with Mugen and Jin before being told her journey with them is her destiny, and Mugen… makes a bunch of crass bald jokes before Zuikō whacks him with his staff.

The diary concludes with Fuu coming to terms with her continued journeying with the two questionable samurai, even expressing a bit of gratitude that they’ve helped her get this far.

PSYCH!

Turns out the schmaltzy ending message was a humorous lie on her part, written there on suspicion that Mugen and Jin would try to dig through her diary.

 

I can’t really say much about the episode itself since it’s nothing but recapping everything that happened for the past 11 weeks, but I will admit it was nice to get a breather after a while. The framing setup for the episode was pretty neat, letting Fuu deliver all the narration and perspective on their journey so far, which makes sense since she’s the catalyst of the journey they’re all on. The ending punchline was also quite amusing, providing a grade-A troll moment at the expense of Mugen and Jin. I suppose I should end this with some thoughts on Champloo up to this point, given this serves as my first watch-through of the series. This is one of those anime that, for me at least, manages to successfully live up to all the hype I’ve heard about it since it first came out. A series with fantastic visuals and direction, a show which expertly covers a variety of tones and themes while still feeling consistent, and a great knack for self-contained storytelling, often crafting narratives that, in the span of a half hour, are more entertaining and dramatically compelling than the stories that most shows need an entire season just to tell. And of course, this wouldn’t be complete without the excellent musical contributions of the late Nujabes, acting as the backbone of the series’ aesthetic and accentuating some of the most memorable scenes to give them an unparalleled sense of emotional resonance. I look forward to where the second half of the series goes from here. I give this recap episode 7 smiley faces/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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