Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo
Episode Eleven--Gamblers and Gallantry

(all text written by and property of Neko-san.
Any note you see in italics--like this one--is by me, Kyuketsuki/Paula, the proprietor of this site.)

Episode Eleven--Gamblers and Gallantry
This is my annotated character list for episode 11. People are listed in order of appearance, with names (where given), first appearance, and significant details. Main characters are referred to as J, M, and F. I note their first appearance in the episode, but don't bother to gloss them. Unnamed flunkies are grouped together at the bottom. [Note: Many supporting characters' names are never given in the episode, but have been posted to the show's official website,, thanks to which they appear here.]

Shino/"Kohana"--Gentle, beautiful, down-to-earth woman, most likely older than J but not over 30 (no lines around her eyes). Married to the owner of the town dry-goods store, her husband sold her to a brothel when his gambling debts dried up their wealth. Appears in the first shot of the episode standing on the bridge with a red umbrella; unable to convince J she's not considering suicide. Meets him again shortly after at the eel stand, where it becomes obvious that J, though allegedly working there, doesn't know one end of an eel from the other. Steps behind the counter and proceeds to run the outfit for the rest of the day; is frank about the state of the eel which J cooks (read: burns) for her in thanks, but graciously eats it anyway. Says as she walks away that this will be a good memory, since she's starting in the brothel tomorrow; leaves her umbrella behind. Tells J to keep it because she can no longer go outside. [--Jin's second gift umbrella of the series, see ep. 4.] Fearing for his safety and her own, she gently tells him to leave when he continues to stand and watch her. [Note the expression on her face during the brothel customer montage--seen at left--she feels as strongly about J as he does about her.] Gets assigned to take care of him after he returns with cash, they have a gentle conversation and spend the night together. Tells him once again to leave and not look back in the "morning after" scene, then her husband appears, demands money, and batters her until J pulls him off. Reluctant to leave with J when he comes for her until she realizes he's saved her life once already. Flees with him into the night, and once past the brothel guards boards a small boat to go to an Enkiri Dera, a temple that functions as a safehouse for women, declaring her independence from her husband. J pushes her boat off while he's still standing on the dock, she reaches for him but he's already too far. Whispers, "Thank you!" as she vanishes into the mist.("Kohana" is the "working name" she goes by while employed at the brothel: she's "Kohana" to the brothel boss but respectfully "Shino-san" to J. "Kohana" means "little flower"; dakameleon points out that this is in keeping with the custom of floral names for "working girls" of the time.)
--As she looks when buying her freedom from her husband.
"Rodriguez"--M's sumo beetle, large and kinda gross (..aww, we think it's cute. =). First appears in sumo scene, getting KO'd by another fighter. M trains it throughout the episode by making it drag a rock. F is not happy about the addition to the household until Rodriguez wins a big match and earns them a gold ryou, which J uses to buy a night with Shino. Rodriguez disappears after this episode--perhaps he was sold for travel funds when they left town. [It was originally thought that 'Rodriguez' was a name added for the English dub, but when the sub was re-checked we realized that it had been there all along--Mugen clearly calls him 'Rodriguez-san' during his winning match. Guess it just seemed so unlikely that no one recognized it when they heard it. But 'Rodriguez' it is.]
Eel Merchant --The guy J's working for, appears only in the kabyaki scene. Says that this is a "kiru" ("cutting") job--which J initially takes to mean "killing". Runs off without telling J anything about what he's supposed to do.
Bantou--The brothel boss; portly, 40ish man who keeps a firm hold on Shino's contract. First appears in the "window shopping" scene, ordering his guards to attack J when he learns that the samurai has no money. Demands that J turn over his swords before entering the brothel, claiming house rules, which J does without demur. (Others have commented on J's willingness to approach Shino in open vulnerability and not as an armed and deadly killer.) Overheard by F in the restaurant, talking unsympathetically about Shino's misfortune. Interrupts the escape attempt by coming in to collect an extension fee, tries to grab Shino but she drops into J's waiting arms. [Literal leap of faith, there.] Bantou and his guards intercept them on the street and a fight ensues.
Hanjiro--Shino's husband, a gambling addict; looks older than Shino. Refuses to initiate a divorce [something the female partner in a marriage could NOT do] and sold his wife to the brothel so he could live off her earnings. (He actually tells her that he intends to do this and not seek work at all. What a lovely fella.) First appears in the "morning after" scene, battering Shino and demanding money. J hauls him off her, and he runs off cursing her. Reappears at the dock as Shino is making her escape, unable to believe she would really leave him. She throws a handful of coins in his face, saying, "This is the price of the woman you called your wife!" [Right ON, sister!]
Brothel Customers--Seen as a montage of faceless men having sex with Shino juxtaposed with J limping home alone. [The customers are all large and dark-complected, in violent visual contrast with both delicate Shino and slender, pale J.]
Brothel Guards --A collective flunky entry. First seen roughing J up for window shopping--he does not resist or evade. This may be why they seem confident against him at the end, when he has to fight them unarmed until M arrives to help. M takes out several as J and Shino run to the river, and J eliminates the three that follow him in less time than it takes for their hats to fall to the ground.

--Go back to Character Guide main page.
--Go on to Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo-- Episodes Thirteen & Fourteen.