The Complete Guide to Anachronisms in Samurai Champloo--
The Art of Altercation


Episode 8: The Art of Altercation:

Everyone's favorite total anachronism so far: the episode's primary antagonist, Nagamitsu the Classy, the man on The Road To Big, by some called Samurai MC. Lots of notes have been submitted about this charmer:

(a) He's carried everywhere in a palanquin, or Kago. No way would he have been allowed to do this:
"11. - Those who may ride in palanquins are all persons of distinction who are connections of the Tokugawa clan; lords of domains (Kuni) and lords of castles having 10,000 koku (bushels) and upwards; the sons of provincial Daimyo (beneficiaries), lords of castles; chamberlains and higher functionaries, and the legitimate sons of such (i. e. sons by their wives; but not sons by their concubines); persons (of any rank) above fifty years of age; of the two professions of doctors of medicine and soothsayers (astrologers, onyoshi) and invalids and sick persons. Apart from the above named, irregularities must be prohibited; but those who have applied for and received official permission to ride are not included in the prohibition."
-- "Laws for the Barons" (the Buke Shuhatto) of Kwan-Ei 22 (5TH AUGUST, 1635).

Not only that, but Wolfgangh and dakameleon both pointed out that when Nagamitsu takes said palanquin to the pawnshop to have its trade value assessed, the Loan Shark guy tells him it's been modified too extremely to have any remaining worth--"chopped and channeled" as it were. This we bet is a sly reference to ricers, i.e., those who own/drive ultra-mega-redecorated souped-up street racers of the "Fast and the Furious" stripe. (The name would seem to be a pun combining "racer" with the fact that such cars are usually based on Asian models).--see "Low rider" note below.

And in addition to that:

(b) He wears purple--the Imperial color, forbidden to all but royalty--and detailed with a flame-colored pattern that makes him look as much like a custom hot-rod as his palanquin.
(c) His speeches are accompanied by a guy doing a human beatbox routine, the first one on earth by several hundred years.
(d) The heroic images of him in his autobiographical flashback are all modeled on characters from 1960s Japanese live-action samurai TV shows.

Tristan Bradshaw adds: "Nagamitsu says, while speaking Japanese, the English words 'big' and 'bigger' ...I am fairly sure that the idiomatic meaning of 'big' as 'famous' or 'popular' was not in use until the twentieth century. At the time the word would likely have only meant 'large.'


from TheReverendFetus:
Nagamitsu in episode 8 would not be allowed to ride in a kago (a.k.a. palaquin) based on what we knew of him. He may have been royalty (unbeknownst to us) but I don't think so. Kago were also never brought indoors, at least I've never seen it happen in a movie or tv show and I've seen quite a few samurai flicks....

Another one from episode 8 is how he uses the "pommel" or kashira of his katana as a microphone. There were: A. no microphones in Edo-era Japan. B. No trained Japanese swordsman would be caught dead with a European style pommel (or kashira) on his sword.

Really Long, Drawn out, and Completely Unneccessary Explanation of B:

The traditional shape of the kashira, or pommel, is not an aesthetic choice, it's functional. In kenjutsu and all its variants the sword is often held with the end of the tsuka (handle) in the center of the palm; this allows the end of the sword to act as the fixed point while the other hand acts as the fulcrum. This, and a few other basic mechanics is what lends the Japanese sword its horrendous cutting power. The placement of one's hands change as one transitions from offensive to defensive positions though; a kashira shaped like Nagamitsu's would slow down this transition dramatically.
I guess it can be argued that this isn't an anachronism then, in fact it might be seen as a subtle and well thought out character design detail. His strange sword fits in with his strange clothing, actions, and "rapping."
Wait a second... Nagamitsu is the anachronism, not his sword.


That kid with the lollipop. I was alerted to this by an email from SC fan Fiona, but the research was most graciously done for me by Full_Metal_Megadeus from the Adult Swim board:

"That's a hard one to pin down. The basic idea of the lollipop has been around since the cavemen (archeological digs found what appeared to be lollipops that were made in ancient Egypt and China). The lollipop became a delicacy around the 17th century (in England anyway, not sure about Japan) and of course the modern mass-produced lollipops were not created until around 1905. Also, the date put down for the invention of the lollipop was 1785, hope this helps somehow."

So unless we can prove that ancient Chinese lollipop recipes came to Japan, I think this one counts as an anachronism.


--arr! the Jolly Roger!--Took us a long while to notice this one, but Icaya Q brought it to my attention--the skull-and-crossbones design of the beatbox dude's wristband. While the use of real skulls and then skull-and-bone emblems to mark cemeteries had been noted in Spain for centuries, the now-familiar Jolly Roger flag isn't recorded in use on pirate ships before 1714. (It is just marginally possible that the symbol could have come into Japan earlier --if it was a traditional Spanish grave marking --via Portuguese contact, but that is reeeealllly stretching it.)--Ironically, the first time know for sure that the symbol would have been seen in Japan is during WW II, when it was the emblem of the VFA-103 U.S. Naval Aviation squadron.


Exclamation points.--Modern written Japanese does use the exclamation point, but I can't find anything on how long it has been doing so. In any case, multiple !!s have always been a grammatical no-no; but then Nagamitsu is nothing if not consistently over-the-top. =)


Anachronisms Occurring Only in the English Dub:

Nagamitsu's palanquin is rejected by the pawnshop owner because it has been so drastically modified. In the Geneon dub this point is picked up amusingly by having the Loan Shark call it a "low rider". This is an older, American term for a stylishly modified street car, which originated in East Los Angeles Chicano culture but has come into general use over the years.

--Go back to Compete Guide to Anachronisms main page.