Original Toonami Airdate: May 21st, 2016
As Fuu and Mugen continue their journey, they overhear a conversation about the collapsed bridge, following some villagers in the direction that Jin and Sara went off in. When they come across the bridge’s remains, the two of them (along with a massive search party) find Sara on the shore, still alive despite some bad injuries. With no immediate sign of Jin anywhere, Sara’s taken back to a cabin where she finally awakens as Fuu tends to her wounds. Meanwhile, Mugen goes out searching the river and lake for any sign of Jin’s body anywhere, but instead he find Sara’s cane and her busted-up shamisen and brings them back to the cabin. Fuu heads out to look for Jin herself while Mugen stays behind and keeps Sara company. He makes an offhand comment suggesting he knows of Sara’s true nature, causing her to challenge him to a fight by the river.
Nightfall arrives as Mugen and Sara begin their battle, and as it goes on it becomes clear that Sara has the upper hand, stabbing and slicing Mugen a handful of times. Fuu eventually comes across the fight, completely distressed at what she’s witnessing. Mugen’s attempts to fight back fail as his injuries become too severe and he collapses to the ground, helpless as Sara goes in for the kill. Fuu interferes, begging for her to stop, and she leaves Mugen alone despite him begging for the fight to continue. Having lost too much blood at this point, he collapses as he attempts to chase Sara.
Jin is shown waking up in a cabin somewhere in an unknown location, being tended to by an eccentric stranger. He heads off to find some food for Jin, leaving behind a bowl to give him something to consume in the meantime as Jin’s injuries seem pretty severe. The bowl, as it turns out, is empty: nothing more than a test by the stranger to test the full extent of his injuries. He eventually manages to get up and track down the man at the river trying to capture fish. He delivers some wise words to Jin about needing to move with the flow of water in order to catch fish properly, and eventually Jin starts feeling well enough to head off on his own, but not before thanking the man for his help.
Sara’s off wandering on her own before having another encounter with the masked man from last week, reminding her she has a job to finish or else her son will die. Meanwhile, Jin arrives at the cabin where Mugen and Fuu are staying, having brought fish for them to eat. He chooses to rest for a bit as he explains his side of the battle, suspecting that Sara is a hired assassin sent by someone who doesn’t want them to make it to Nagasaki. Later in the night, Mugen heads off to find Sara, but not before Jin dispenses with the advice he was given about “moving with the current to catch the fish”.
Mugen eventually locates Sara and their rematch commences, but it ends almost as quickly as it begins. Mugen, heeding Jin’s wisdom, attempts to use the rainy weather conditions in his favor and flow with their movements, which allows him to get it one lethal blow against Sara who oddly chooses to pull back on her weapon just as it’s about to make contact with Mugen. As she lays on the ground, Mugen wonders why she chose not to follow through with her attack. She confesses with the knowledge that her son’s likely been dead this whole time, and she allowed herself to be manipulated by whoever it was that hired her. After saying her parting words to Mugen, she dies right there, and the episode ends with Mugen tossing her blade in a fit of rage.
The tale of Sara sadly comes to an end, but not without continued reflection on the symbolic themes presented in the previous episode. Sara’s first fight with Mugen uses the Kuzunoha musical motif while clearly presenting her fighting in a way that once again symbolizes her being an analogue to Kishimojin: taking any means necessary to protect her son’s life. However, during this initial fight, she comments on something she senses off of Mugen: namely that no one’s ever really loved him in his life. I find this interesting because of how it relates to his seeming infatuation with Sara in the prior episode. On some level, he probably sees her as a source of motherly comfort, even if his bratty childlike demeanor prevents it from coming through in a sincere fashion. When she utters her parting words of “I just want you to live, Mugen”, this sends him into one last fit of rage at the end, as he’s lost probably the only person he’s met that he’s felt completely comfortable or attached to.
Sara’s come to terms with what she’s been forced to do in these past two episodes, and knowing that her son is dead, realizes there’s no point in trying to take Mugen’s life. Killing him won’t bring her son back, so she decides to attempt a sort of self-redemption by allowing him to live. It’s also worth noting that the musical piece that plays during this conflict is “The Million Way Of Drum”, which also playing during the final moments of “Misguided Miscreants part 2”, another episode which focused heavily on Mugen’s frustrations at how his life has fared up to now. On another note, the side plot with Jin learning fish-based wisdom comes off as fairly interesting, especially given how the series’ OP sequence frequently pairs Jin up against imagery of fish. One must always move with the natural flow and pace of combat instead of trying to fight against it. Overall, I think this episode provided a satisfying climax to this two-parter, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next episode. I give it 9 roasted fish/10.
Note: next week (May 28th, during Memorial Day weekend), Toonami will be airing a marathon of Samurai Champloo episodes.
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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