Samurai Champloo, Episode 24 Recap: “Evanescent Encounter (Part 1)”

Original Toonami Airdate: June 18th, 2016

The end begins.

The episode opens on a samurai named Kariya being recruited by a shogunate councilor to deal with a particular problem: stopping our heroes from making contact with Seizo Kasumi, the samurai who smells of sunflowers. The councilor is still capturing stragglers from the Shimabara Rebellion (actual historical event, will cover later), and things would be complicated if our heroes achieved their goal. Kariya agrees to take on the task after learning that our heroes took out Sara (the blind songstress from “Elegy of Entrapment”).

Evanescent Encounter - AssassinsThat night, our heroes are sitting around a fire and checking their progress, noting that they passed Nagasaki earlier and are only a short trip away from the Ikitsuki Islands. Fuu immediately becomes sentimental, sad that once the journey’s over the three of them will part ways and never meet again. She asks Mugen and Jin to vent and reveal any hidden personal information about their pasts. Mugen gives a predictable response about once killing an old man who talked to him funny, and Jin vents about his history at the Muju dojo, being an orphan who did nothing but train all day and eventually killed his master. Fuu opens up about her father leaving when she was very young, wanting to pursue him and get revenge on behalf of her deceased mother. Later, Jin asks Fuu what her plans are once the journey’s done, to which Fuu responds with uncertainty, crying into Jin’s chest. The next morning, a strange group of bloodthirsty travelers investigate the site, appearing to be in pursuit of our heroes. They ask a nearby traveler if anyone was staying there, and after receiving no response, the one with the eyepatch decides to decapitate the stranger.

The gang reaches an ocean-side town and grabs some food while inquiring about how to get to the Ikitsuki Islands. They need to take a boat to get to the islands, but before they can, Fuu asks Mugen and Jin to pick up a souvenir for her from anywhere in town. When Mugen and Jin attempt to pay for a souvenir, they find a note from Fuu, saying goodbye to the two of them and thanking them for all the adventures they’ve had together as she heads off on her own to confront her father, with Fuu running into Kariya (unaware of who he is) before getting on the boat. Meanwhile, the assassin’s from earlier stop by the restaurant and inquire about our heroes’ whereabouts, killing the owner when he tries to snitch on the assassins.

Evanescent Encounter - Fuu in the sunflower fieldWhen Fuu finally reaches the island, the villagers run away from her in fear as she asks about the Seizo’s location. However, at one point she encounters a mother who gives her a direct lead to his location, telling her to visit a house north of the village. Back over in the other town, Mugen and Jin are watching the ocean when they’re approached by Kariya, who fills them in on several details about Seizo Kasumi: namely that he’s a top target of the shogunate and is considered a traitor for his religious beliefs and aid in the Shimabara Rebellion. They’ve known of her activities for quite a while and have been tracking her to find Seizo’s location. At that point, Kariya challenges the two samurai to a fight. Meanwhile, Fuu finds herself on the right track as she walks through a massive field of sunflowers, but she has a surprise encounter with the three assassins, and the episode ends on a cliffhanger as the one with the eyepatch attacks.

 

This is the first of a three-part finale from what I’ve been told, so it’ll be difficult to give a full opinion on this series of episodes until it (and the show) finally wraps up. However, I will give a bit of historical context on the referenced Shimabara Rebellion (which may get referenced in the next two episodes, possibly making this redundant). As the show’s pointed out in the past, the Edo period had a well-documented history of persecution against those of the Christian faith. In particular, the residents of the Shimabara peninsula received a disproportionate amount of abuse in the form of famine and over-taxation due to the construction of a new castle in the area by a shogunate lord who despised Christianity, having forced out the peninsula’s former dominant clan who promoted Christianity in the region. Eventually, the peasants banded together and staged a massive uprising and attempted to overthrow and take over the castle, but they were defeated, which led to exponentially stricter isolationist policies following the rebellion. The way the episode is written strongly alludes to the fact that in this version of the Edo period, Seizo was likely a key figure in the rebellion, although the full extent of his involvement isn’t 100% elaborated upon at this point. On an unrelated note, I would also like to point out the beheading of the mystery traveler by the eyepatch assassin is one of the best bits in the episode, as it’s just a visually impressive way of showing such a violent act. I’ll reserve a rating until this last stretch of episodes is done.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know down in the comments below.

 

Samurai Champloo airs every Saturday at 1:00 AM, only on Toonami.

 

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