Original Toonami Airdate: March 26th, 2016
Pirates? Am I recapping Samurai Champloo or One Piece this week?
A lone ship in the middle of the ocean is attacked by a group of pirates who set the ship ablaze as they steal all their goods, murder the crew, and bomb the remains, leaving no survivors.
Our heroes are lost in the woods but luckily manage to find their way out and to the ocean, much to Fuu’s excitement. While she plays around in the shore, Mugen catches sight of a girl who unexpectedly recognizes him by name and appearance, running to him and being overjoyed that he’s “still alive”. Suddenly, a net fires out of nowhere and captures Fuu (big surprise), and the two samurai begin fighting off a group of unexpected kidnappers, with the fight getting called off by a surprise gunshot. The man who fired the round: the leader of the pirates from earlier, whose name is Mukuro. Much like the girl, he also recognizes Mugen and is surprised to see him still alive. He tries to get him to join them in a major heist, but he refuses due to his commitment to Jin and Fuu. Mukuro tries to browbeat him by bringing up the past, but this just pisses him off as he walks away.
Later, Jin and Fuu are speaking with the girl (Mukuro’s younger sister, Koza), who tells them that the three of them grew up on a small section of the Ryukyu Islands together. Unfortunately, it was an island where criminals would be exiled to, forcing the three of them to grow up only knowing a world of crime. Koza also gives them some advice for their trip to Nagasaki, and Mugen heads off to find a boat to get them there. Koza is upset at the prospect of Mugen leaving again, having always preferred his presence over the company of Mukuro. Afterwards, Jin and Fuu head off to wander around, coming across an oddly desolate village while Mugen has another encounter with Mukuro, reminding him of his past. Cut to a flashback of Mugen standing on cliff about to be executed by a firing squad, making his escape by jumping off the cliff before a single shot is fired.
Mugen makes a wager where he has to work with Mukuro if he loses, with the two riding horses off a cliff and seeing who has to grab on the cliff first, and Mugen loses. Jin and Fuu, having found a place to rest for the night, suspect that Mukuro and his goons were responsible for the absence of other people within the village. Mugen shows up ad informs them he agreed to perform a job for Mukuro, meeting up with the pirates immediately after. The plan: rob an incoming government transport ship that’s harboring 60,000 ryō, sneaking onboarding and taking out the crew to get to the money. Mukuro’s pirates have a couple of aces up their sleeve, namely a mole on the ship and the help of stormy weather conditions to make things easier for them. Mugen meets up with Koza on the shore of the beach where she tries to reminisce on the happier times she’s enjoyed with Mugen, but he behaves like he’s completely unfamiliar with what she’s talking about.
Mugen and the other pirates get in position to execute the heist, and we get a quick scene of Mukuro telling a secret to Koza: he plans to kill off all of his men as part of the mission, including Mugen. Mukuro manages to sneak onboard the ship and detonate a bomb as Mugen commandeers a boat to ram into the side of the target vessel. However, once on board he notices the crew is still alive, forcing him to fight them off. Koza runs to ask Jin and Fuu for help saving Mugen from the trap he’s unexpectedly walked into. While in the middle of the fight, Mukuro appears with a large barrel full of explosives, tossing it next to Mugen and escaping with his mole before the boat explodes, much to the horror of Koza, Jin, and Fuu who are watching from a distance.
This is the first episode where we’ve gotten an actual glimpse at the past of one of our main characters, a subject that’s been largely dodged up to now. Unsurprisingly, Mugen grew up on an island full of criminals which more than explains why he is who he is now. However, there seems to be more underneath the surface of his character than what we get from these expository details since, from what we see primarily from his present-day interactions with Koza, he seems to be playing dumb on some of the specifics of his past when made to acknowledge them, and it’s clearly intentional that he’s trying to leave it behind. It’s ultimately kind of ironic though since, what we know of his personality currently, he’s clearly never managed to successfully escape. The remnants of his criminal past always remain a part of him, even after his supposed “death” and whatever attempts he’s made to distance himself from that life, if any were made at all. This is another 2-part episode, so it looks like we have to wait until next week to see where the story goes and if Mugen survived the bombing of the ship. I give this episode 8 horses running off a cliff/10.
Seriously, what did the horses ever do to them?
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.
Follow the Swim Squad on Twitter.