The Complete Guide to Anachronisms in Samurai Champloo--
Tempestuous Temperaments/Storm and Stress


Episode 1: Tempestuous Temperaments/Storm and Stress:

--Although this is a stylistic device and not an anachronism proper, we must mention the "scratch/turntable" method of shifting scenes in this ep, the series' first open nod to hip-hop.

Dakameleon mentioned:
"To offer up as the first sacrificial lamb: anything said in Japlish. From the 4min 30s mark of the first ep, when a random stranger tells Jin the Magistrate's samurai are 'top-class' (Japlish: 'toppu-kurasu') to god knows where. listen carefully and you'll pick it up. I think the Japanese call it 'gairaigo', literally 'outside coming words/language'. I'd think that while Japanese had had contact with English previous to the time Champloo is set, they would hardly have been borrowing English words to the extent where the average man on the street would have known it."


Jin's glasses. That he wears glasses is in itself not anachronistic. The Chinese are sometimes given credit for developing spectacles about 2000 years ago, but apparently they only used them to protect their eyes from an evil force. In the year 1268, English philosopher Roger Bacon wrote in his Opus Majus: "If anyone examine letters or other minute objects through the medium of crystal or glass or other transparent substance, if it be shaped like the lesser segment of a sphere, with the convex side toward the eye, he will see the letters far better and they will seem larger to him."-- What makes Jin's specs worthy of listing here is those classy designer frames. Some have referred to them as Armani; I'm not sure they aren't Jai Kudo, but never mind. They're sure the heck not Edo period. This is all the more striking because Jin's dress is otherwise quite traditional.

Neko-san points out that Jin's glasses are not only stylistically wrong for his era, they're technologically unlikely as well: "Jin's frames are rather on the thin side, although they aren't necessarily outside the bounds of reason. Most modern frames that slender would likely be light metal alloy with plastic lenses, although the plastic is for comfort and safety as well as engineering. Glass lenses require heavier metals and thicker stems to support them, they hurt more on the face, and they're dangerously shatter-prone (Jin's really lucky he's never taken a blow strong enough to break his)".

If interested in observing for contrast: All other pairs of glasses--except Rikiei's shades in episode 3-4, which are covered in the entry there--that we've seen in the series up to #17 have had round lenses. Three of them have had earpieces correct for the period, which actually loop around the ear (the Icky Guy in the brothel in #4, young Yamane's in #9, and Ochaberi's in #5), and two have had more modern bail-style earpieces (old Yamane's in #9, and Not-Jin in #8).


Mugen's, well, everything. In contrast to 99.9% traditional Jin, Mugen is pretty much an original invention from top to bottom. The adaptation of the haori and hakama to a hip-hop baggy style by just cutting the trousers short is simply inspired; I'm counting this as an anachronism because (a) this costume wasn't worn this way in the Edo period and (b) it's a conscious attempt to make period clothing resemble a modern style. I'm a little hesitant about including his metal-soled geta however; while there were a lot of different geta types popular in the Tokugawa era, I feel pretty safe in saying metal soles weren't one of them, so these are purely original, neither period nor modern in form. Ditto his sword, which we've pretty much agreed is one-of-a-kind.

--Possibly not an anachronism: Many have noted the resemblance between Mugen's fighting style and the African-derived Brazilian martial art of capoeira. Capoeira has existed since the 1620s, so there's certainly a possibility that a practitioner of this fighting art, which originated as a form of self-defense for runaway slaves, might have crossed Mugen's path; and Mugen's ability to learn fast and thoroughly from one combat example is already well documented. I think we can leave this one open as an intriguing maybe. [Interesting footnote: as it happens, there are two more details of capoeira that are closely applicable to Mugen. One is that it's very closely linked to music: in fact, in competitive matches the tempo of the music played determines the speed and pace of the fight. The other is that the word "capoeira" literally translates as "rooster's cage", from the Portuguese capao, "rooster").


Fuu's decorated nail polish.. For a long time I thought the first good look at this we got was in Episode 11 (see Anachron Guide to that episode for a clearer image), but joanzhang was sure they were there for the whole series, and Jen Chough finally got me to look closely at episode 1 again. And sure enough, there it is.
These could possibly be hand-painted details, but they look a lot like nail decals, which are decidedly a 20th century invention. And I've seen nothing yet to suggest that painting details on the fingernails was an Edo custom, though of course the custom of lacquering, polishing and coloring the nails is way older than that. (It's been dated to 3000 BC in China, and during the Chou Dynasty (c. 600 BC) it's recorded that there was a strict class-related color code: gold and silver were the royal prerogative. Later, royalty usually wore black or red nail color. Lower ranking women were only permitted to wear pale tones; no woman would have dared to wear the color of a queen or a king, upon pain of death. And Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt 69-30 BC, was an avid "rust red" nail polish wearer; probably a henna and beeswax concoction.=) So Fuu's just wearing pink polish is nothing unusual, but with the little flowers I'd call this one a genuine anachronism.


"The department store of torture". The daimyo uses this phrase to describe the fun awaiting J&M in both the sub and dub, but it's odd that he uses it at all: the first stores called by this name appeared in both Britain and the USA no earlier than the 1840s, and the concept didn't really take off until about 1905.

It should also be mentioned that all the guards in said establishment wear an insignia which bears a close resemblance to the old-school Adidas three-leaf logo, and the daimyo's own insignia is almost exactly the classic Converse star.
(Credit to porphyria_kris for supplying the screengrabs.)

[Footnote: Jamal Steele spotted a similar logo on an actual shoe in episode 18--see more info in Anachron Guide for that episode.]


From VLN on the Adult Swim board: "About the fireworks shop. i paid attention tonight and found out another hint. the guy at the shop (artisan) was wearing a jacket that had a kanji (pronounced "tama") on it. Tama is a kanji for "ball," but this signifies fireworks shops because "Tamaya" is a famous fireworks shop back in the Edo period. Tamaya and Kagiya were the two biggest names in the industry, and that's why Japanese people today still call out "tamaya!" and "kagiya!" when they see fireworks in the sky. so, if you're an educated Japanese native, and if you paid attention and saw those ball-looking things and the kanji on the guy's jacket, you'd know that it's a fireworks shop. but it was very inconspicuous so most people (including myself) wouldn't have noticed the first time around. --here's another thing about Champloo and its inaccurate historical portrayal: i did a little research and found out that Kagiya, the first shop to mass produce fireworks in Japan, was founded in 1659 (already in the mid-1600s...), but it wasn't until 1751 that bottle-rocket-type fireworks or "uchiage-hanabi" in Japanese were produced. as for Tamaya, it was founded in 1810. so... if we suppose that Champloo takes place in the mid-1600s, it doesn't add up. then again, they didn't have blond hair dye back then either... (1789 was apparently the year that the first-ever fireworks festival featuring uchiage-hanabi took place.)" [trivia: "uchiage-hanabi", unless I'm way off course here, would literally mean "after-fireworks party". An "uchiage" is the party you have after an event to celebrate its successful completion, and "hanabi"--literally "flower-fire"--connotes a fancy firework.]


--Both Sleight and ChamplooMasta mentioned the bleached and layered haircut of the magistrate's spoiled-brat son. This is indeed another for the anachronism file. At the moment (mid-late 2004) it is apparently most stylin' for Japanese kids to bleach and color their hair, to the great consternation of many (too extreme, too Western..); but I can find no reference to bleaching of Japanese hair before the modern era. Braiding and adding ornaments were the approved ways of having a distinctive hairstyle.

Also mentioned was this character's unique outfit, which Dakameleon called a "yukata-cross-tracksuit"--it does indeed look like something by Adidas =).


The pinwheel outside the teahouse. I suspected these were modern toys, but they were invented all the way back in the 4th Century! I had no idea! They were used by the Chinese to improve lift and propulsion of kites.

Anachronisms Occurring Only in the English Dub:

"The River Styx". The daimyo refers to the cost of crossing this river, a Greek mythological reference. Not likely; Japan wasn't exposed to ancient Greek literature until the 19th Century. The use of the phrase in the English dub is a reversioning of the Japanese usage "the Sanzu River", which--like the Styx--is a mythological river which divides the lands of the living and the dead.


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