Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo
Episodes 13 & 14--Misguided Miscreants (parts 1 & 2)

(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.)

Episodes 13 & 14--Misguided Miscreants (parts 1 & 2)
This is my annotated character list for episodes 13 & 14. 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.

Unfortunate sailor --Crew member of one of the ships that fall victim to the pirates. Seen only in the opening sequence, pleading with Mukuro to save his life. Mukuro instead shoves a bomb into his mouth and walks away.
Mukuro--Large man of about thirty, captain of the pirate ship, owns the first gun seen in the series. [It's apparently a revolver, which is anachronistic.] An extremely unpleasant figure from M's Ryuukyuu past, he recruited M for a job taking down a government sugar shipment with the promise of safe passage off the prison colony, then betrayed his accomplice to the authorities, who tried to execute M. (He saved himself by jumping off a cliff.) First seen brutally murdering the unfortunate sailor in the opening sequence, reappears when the pirates attack the trio on the beach. Offers M a part in the next big heist, but M refuses until Mukuro's taunts about the inescapability of his bloody past sink in. The plan is to attack a government ship carrying gold bullion, with Mukuro smuggled on board to help his mole, Shiren, take the crew by surprise. Not surprisingly, this is a double cross, and the pirate ship is blown up, taking the crew with it (except for M, who's just too stubborn to die). Stashes the gold with Shiren, and returns to shore to pick up Kohza, only to find that she's ratted him out to J, who's not too happy about the whole "offing M without my permission" thing. [It is at this point that he realizes Kohza's been scheming with Shiren.] Killed spectacularly by J, but reveals Kohza's betrayal before he dies. [Their sword-vs.-pistol duel makes one wonder whether J has fought against firepower before, or if he's just almost as quick as M at adapting to new fighting styles.](Kyu-san's money is on option 2.)
Mugen [As noted by Kyuketsuki in her episode summary, the flashback implies that M may have survived a massacre like the one J says happened in the village.]
Jin [Geeky thematic note: in these episodes, J and M switch their "foreigner" and "heretic" roles--among the Okinawan pirates J is for the first time the one visibly outside his own culture, and M is the native who's forsaken his companions.]
Kohza--Pirate girl probably about Fuu's age; Mukuro's unhappy "sister". [Yeah, sure she's his sister. And J wears frilly pink underpants.] Another former Ryuukyuu inmate, seems to have actually been rather close to M at one point, judging by the flashback to them watching the stars and talking together. First appears sitting alone on the beach as bait to the pirates' trap. M is impassive when he first sees her because he knows this means Mukuro is nearby. Tries to convince M to run away with her, but he refuses, probably what precipitated the double-cross. Allows M to be blown up on the pirate ship in order to use J to get rid of Mukuro so she and Shiren can take the loot and shack up. When M hears of her treachery from J, he (M) kills Shiren, and leaves clinging-vine Kohza alive to suffer alone.
Nobu, Ken, and Ryuu --The only pirates besides Mukuro to be named. Appear only in the hijacking scene, impersonating shogunate employees in order to smuggle Mukuro aboard the ship in a barrel. (Shiren is the one inspecting the barrels.)
Satsuma Officials--Magistrate and executioners, apparently. Appear only in M's flashbacks to Ryuukyuu; they were to execute him for the sugar ship incident but he escaped off the cliff.
Shiren--A shogunate official, Mukuro's accomplice aboard the bullion ship, interested in (and involved with) Kohza. (Cute in a decadent sort of way; before his name was known, called by online fans "the pretty-boy pirate".) First mentioned by Mukuro while he is laying out the plan, first appears in the actual hijacking scene helping Mukuro to kill the crews of the vessels and take the gold. Part of his compensation for collaborating is getting to be Kohza's boyfriend, but this backfires on Mukuro when they (Kohza and Shiren) hand him over to J to die. Killed by M in the final scene. Only Shiren and Mukuro knew where the gold was stashed, so Kohza has no means of support once he is killed.
Pantu--Numinous human figures dressed in feathery/furry capes and armed with spears. Appear only in M's vision of the inverted world, when he says he is not ready to die yet. They circle around and form lines beside M, as if they were both his ancestors and his descendents (appropriate to the animism and ancestor worship still common in Okinawa at this period). When he decides to return to the living world they fade away silently.

[from the Champloo Roman Album: "Mugen is led toward the underworld by a Pantu. The Pantu is the main deity in the Pantu Bunaka Festival that is held in (old calendar) September in the northernmost part of Miyakujima, part of the Okinawa Prefecture. The Pantu hail from the shores of Mutuzuma, where villagers found a mask floating in the water. A local shrine maiden claimed that the mask was a wandering god, and over the following centuries an annual ritual developed where the Pantu travels through the vilages warding off evil and disease. The festival is still held today...The Pantu are played by young volunteers from the addition to ropes, their costumes are also made out of vines; they spread mud from the Tsumassari Holy Well all over their bodies, don their masks, and walk all around the villages with staffs. The Pantu was a very mystical figure and something to be is still taboo for the transformation of the young men into Pantu and the prayers of the shrine maidens to be witnessed by outsiders. The festival has been designated an 'important intangible cultural treasure' by the Japanese government."]

Fisherman--Appears only in the beach scene the morning after the shipwreck. Hauls his nets in to find Mugen tangled in them, apparently dead, and screams bloody murder. [M must have washed up pretty far down the beach--this is the only local we've seen that wasn't killed in the initial raid.]
Investigators --Shogunate officials come to uncover the cause of the attack and find out what happened to the gold. Appear only in the "morning after" scenes, where they give Kohza a fright by questioning her odd clothing, and saying they've found the ship--which makes J suspicious, but not nearly suspicious enough. (It could also be Jin’s clothing they question; certainly there are more people in the vicinity who dress like Kohza than like Jin. But Kohza is definitely terrified that they’ve found the ship, in case the gold is still aboard and her plans are toast.)
Pirates--There only seem to be about 7 of them. J says of their attack on the village, "They killed everyone but the young men...even the women and children were killed. Furthermore, they made the men kill each other. And the ones who survived are now their comrades." Seen in the opening sequence, the ambush on the beach, and the planning and execution of the hijacking.
Sailors --The crews of the ships who fall victim to the pirates, in the opening sequence and on the bullion ship. The ones from the opening are blown up by the pirates. Several of the shogunate sailors are killed by Mukuro, after Shiren sics his men on the pirates several are killed by M.

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--Go on to Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo-- Episode Fifteen.