The Complete Guide to Anachronisms in Samurai Champloo--
Unholy Union


Episode 19: Unholy Union: (thanks to Zantetsuken/Judy Renee for the research!)

Lighting in the grotto:

Following in the tradition of Episode 15 and all the way back to 3/4, this one features visible candles but also light sources that just cannot be candle or lantern light-- these look almost like electric floodlighting. Based on all the questions we have had so far about this--and will continue to have (see 20-21)-- I suspect we must make the assumption that gaslight, at the very least, arrived in the Champloo universe a good deal earlier than it did in our own universe's version of Japan (1872).

Xavier's weaponry.

The idea of a gun that would keep up a continuous stream of fire attracted inventors early in the development of firearms. In 1718 James Puckle invented what he called his Defence Gun. Placed on a tripod it was a large revolver with a cylinder behind its single barrel; the cylinder had to be turned manually. Using a standard flintlock weapon, a soldier could be expected to fire three times per minute, but the Puckle gun could fire up to nine shots per minute. In 1861 Richard Jordan Gatling, a trained dentist from North Carolina, produced an effective mechanical gun. The Gatling Gun consisted of six barrels mounted in a revolving frame.

But. Xavier's pet is neither of those (neither is it a Mitrailleuse). To begin with, all of those are tripod mounted. It's not fast enough, either--it fires one projectile at a time, with a considerable interval in-between, and must be cocked between shots. Its biggest advantage is that you don't have to reload between each firing, probably a good thing since your only hope of hitting someone with anything of this design is a vague chance of you being slightly faster (if one looks, the six barrels don't seem to revolve, so there's no way to aim the thing). And more interesting, the trigger device is neither that of a c. 1400 "hand gonne" (the first handgun), a mid-1400s matchlock, a c. 1517 wheel lock, a c. 1570 snaphaunce, or any other early handgun. [I did have someone suggest that it was a pepper-box handgun, but those never made it into the Far East.]

So what is it? Essentially, it's a tanegashima--a Japanese matchlock. AND it's chronologically sound, too.

From Nihonto.com: "The Matchlock entered Japan in the 16th century, during an era of history that found the country in a state of constant war known as the Sengoku period (the "age of the country at war" or Civil War Period). The Japanese matchlock has been used in Japan since the middle of the 16th century when it was introduced into Japan by the Portuguese. [Since Xavier is pretending to be the grandson of a Portuguese missionary, this fits to a T.] It came to be known throughout the world as the Tanegashima, named after the island of its original port of entry. The matchlock soon earned its place among the legendary weapons of samurai warfare such as the sword, spear, and bow. While the basic components and shape of the matchlock remained relatively unchanged over the years, they were made in a great number and depending on their intended use were built in various shapes, sizes, and calibers; so much so that it is difficult to find any two that are exactly alike."

"In 1543, a Chinese ship carrying Portuguese traders wrecked on the island of Tanegashima. The local lord, Tanegashima Tokitaka, purchased two matchlocks from the Portuguese, and ordered a local blacksmith to begin producing copies. Soon these "Tanegashimajū" were in great demand among warring armies all over Japan - both the original copies, and copies of the copies. The Tanegashima-style matchlock would prove its worth definitively at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, when Oda Nobunaga's army of lowly ashigaru used Tanegashima guns to devastate the Takeda samurai and their fabled cavalry charge. "

So...I suspect that while the gun type itself is perfectly ok for the time and place, that "various shapes, sizes, and calibers" bit has been taken and Champlooed; I can find nothing indicating that any enterprising soul ever tried making one with six barrels! That innovation is usually reserved for Puckle and/or Gatling--no earlier than 1718. So, it's a super, video-gamed matchlock. (And matchlocks of any breed were well known for blowing up in one's face...)

--The ones being manufactured for sale by his parishioners, by comparison, are tanegashima plain and simple.

Real_aircooledman sends me this useful illustrated link on early gunnage, and also points out that someone is seen carrying a percussion pistol, which didn't exist until the early/mid-1800s.

Xavier's art collection. He owns originals or copies of Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" (1485), Uccello's "Battle of San Romano" (1438) and Delacroix's famous French Revolution image "Liberty Leading the People" (1830). Even though two of these are chronologically possible, they're so unlikely to this place and person that I just plain do not think so.

Canopy bed and teddy bear.

Canopy beds go back to at least the 1500s, and probably before. Only the wealthy tended to have them, of course, but many European monarchs had very elaborate ones, sometimes involving mirrored "ceilings" (and you thought that was so '70's!) Also, they tended to be huge--how does a bed up to four meters wide sound? But Xavier's is awfully modern looking...

As for that teddy...the toy industry itself only dates to 1848. Before that, most toys were made at home; tin toys only date back to 1860. The only exception seems to be dolls, whose commercial existence goes back to early 15th century Germany, and which in handmade form are as old as humankind.
The world-famous Steiff company seems to have been the first to specialize in stuffed animals as an industry, beginning in 1880 in Giengen-on-the-Brenz, Germany, when Margarete Steiff, confined to a wheelchair since childhood due to polio, made a felt elephant for a friend. By 1885 the range included donkeys, horses, camels, giraffes, pigs, mice, dogs and cats, producing 5000 in this year alone, and they continue to this day, 120+ years later. --The origin of the Teddy Bear by that particular name dates to 1903. (Long story there: If you're interested in the legend of US President Theodore Roosevelt and the bear cub, here it is.)

So, in Edo Japan: stuffed animals, homemade, probably. Teddy Bears, no. Modern-looking Teddy Bears (as opposed to 1903 ones) definitely no.


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