Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo
Episode 18--War of the Words

(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 18--War of the Words
This is my annotated character list for episode 18. 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.

Jin, Mugen, & Fuu [All three sitting in a drive-in, watching their previous exploits flash by on the screen.]
Bundai--[Mr. Muscular Literacy-- he reminds me of one of my high school English teachers. Good memories, those.]--Middle-aged priest-scholar of the local temple. His students have apparently abandoned him, and he is given to William Safire-esque rants on poor spelling and pronunciation. First seen in the diner (or whatever you call the Tokugawa equivalent) getting quite drunk and berating M for his illiteracy. Passes out on the floor and gets stuck with the trio's bill--as revenge. Drags M off to his temple-schoolroom, and proceeds to literally beat the hiragana syllabary into his brain. Note that M has no objection to this style of education. During the climatic tagging scene, Bundai becomes incensed by the Niwa brothers' misspelling, and drags them off for instruction. [Hopefully, of a less forceful nature than that applied to M.]
Uohori Andou--Looks like the Tokugawa version of Andy Warhol, owns a dry-goods shop in Ura-Edo. First seen admiring the numeral-rebus tagging that F was reading off to M, gets chewed out by the Clean-Up Duo for asking who did it. Seen again during the tagging battle, standing on a tower and marveling at the sight of a town bathed in graffiti. Approaches the Niwa brothers afterwards, offering to make them stars of fashion, (he has the Boho Hordes providing interpretive dance accompaniment for this) an offer which, to judge by the ending voiceover, he makes good on.
Clean-Up Duo--Two matrons with big brushes and buckets, seen only after M's revelation. They are attempting to paint over the graffiti on their house, and do not take kindly to Uohori's interest in it. [Typical. The men make a mess and leave the poor women to make it all magically disappear!]
Niwa Juunosuke (passim)--A former sensei of J's (First time we've heard him mention any teacher other than Enshiro!) who had a dojo in Mihara. First mentioned by J as he leaves M and F (looking at the graffiti) to pay his old friend a visit. He finds the dojo abandoned and covered in graffiti, visits the family burial plot, and learns from Oshou that Juunosuke was so envied by the other masters that he was ordered by the daimyo to take down his sign or cut off his arm. He committed suicide rather than allow this to happen, but his twin sons abandoned the way of the sword after his death. Seen in a flashback sequence as J describes his friend to F, he spars briefly with J, and then tells him he has completed his training and can return to his master with pride. He requests that J look after his sons should something happen to him. [Some interesting notes: J is noticeably younger and sans glasses, as in the duel with Yukimaru, indicating this occurs years before he killed Enshiro. Unlike that duel, however, he is not wearing his usual indigo blue kimono.]
Niwa Tatsunoshin and Niwa Kazunosuke--Sons of Juunosuke, identical twins [and if you can tell which is which you're a smarter girl than I] with exactly identical faces; the heads of the local tagging gang. Refer to J as Jin-nii ("Elder-brother Jin"), further indication of his familiarity with the family. First seen brawling in the street over who's the real head of the gang, but they get distracted by F's (read: Momo's) charming qualities. So they're about to fight over her instead when J shows up wanting to know what gives. They tell him that tagging is their new way of life, that they risk their lives to put text where no brush has scribbled before, and he seems dubious. [Can you blame the poor boy? Everything in his world is crumbling.] F suggests that they solve their succession argument with a tagging contest (most incredible location wins) and J agrees to be the referee. They have a spectacular duel that involves considerable desecration of religious iconography (and also an impressive mural across the chests of some policemen) but fail to end it conclusively. With a little prompting from F, the new battleground becomes Hiroshima Castle--a form of revenge for their father's disgrace. (This pleases J.) The two brothers climb higher and higher up the castle, but are beaten by the newly literate M, who paints an infinity symbol (supposedly his invention and a pun on one possible meaning of his name) on the highest roof of all, and then plunges into the river. The brothers are philosophical about losing, and J is happy about this, but not about their obsession with Momo. They are recruited by Uohori as designers to "shake up the stagnant world of fashion" and then forcibly carried off by Bundai to study spelling, against their protests of artistic license. Last seen in the ending voiceover, as successful artists of Ura-Edo, ("the Charismas of Scribbling") posing with their brushes. [Note, by the way, that they both wear Buddhist mala --or more precisely nenju--beads on their wrists, similar to Jin's. In typical Champloo style this gives them both a link to tradition and a rather modern look.]
Oshou--The name literally means "Buddhist priest"; seen at the temple with the Niwa burial plot. Remembers J from his time at the Gojuu dojo, and says that he has grown into a nice young man. J politely refutes this, but the priest seems glad that someone is paying attention to the sensei's grave, and narrates the tale of Niwa-dono's downfall.
Boho Hordes--First seen in the voice-over segment in Ura-Edo, then playing Greek chorus to Uohori, then again in the ending voice-over.
Random Taggers--Teenage boys belonging to the Niwa brothers' gang, dressed in very Edo/hip-hop styles, using gangster mannerisms. First seen in the opening graffiti-painting sequence, then four of them encounter J at the old dojo and try to extort from him (and subsequently face the Indigo Wrath). They recur throughout the episode backing up the two gang leaders, and are most prominent during the tagging sequences.
Aki Policemen--Prefecture officials who ineffectually try to stop the tagging contest. Seen in both contest sequences, in the first they have police palanquins with flashing lights on top. [Anachronism, anyone?]

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