Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo
Episode Five--Artistic Anarchy

(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 Five--Artistic Anarchy
This is my annotated character list for episode 5. 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.]

Detective Sakami ("Nokogiri"/"The Saw”) Manzou--Portly, heavily scarred policeman. Does the voice-over at the beginning and end, and provides additional narration throughout the episode. Investigating sudden disappearances of several young women who had posed for ukiyo-e, in that capacity spends a lot of time trailing F and Moronobu. Does some decidedly extracurricular peeping, hides in a barrel to infiltrate the slave ships; fails to catch them in the act, however, so M comes to F's rescue. Denounces and arrests Roukishi for his criminal activities--but not before getting distracted by the porn for sale. [Note #1: In this episode, all the men are extremely distracted by the porn for sale. Including, atypically, J--unless that was a book of haiku he was holding at the end, which I kinda doubt. Note #2: Manzou will be back as voice-over in episode 12, notable as the only time a minor character appears in non-consecutive episodes.]--(phoni, from the indispensable Way of the Champloo board, informs us that "our over-eager detective Manzou the Saw is actually a loose reinterpretation of Hanzo 'The Razor' Itami, star of 3 chambara flicks from the early 1970s, played by bad boy Shintarô Katsu, the original Zatoichi.") [In the Champloo Roman Album, character designer and artist Kazuto Nakazawa confirms that, "of course", Manzou is drawn as a likeness of Katsu. "Our director likes Katsu," says Nakazawa-san, "so I drew him just as he is."]
Ferryman --Appears only in the first street scene. Refuses to lower his fares for the trio, so they spend the rest of the episode trying to earn enough to ride.
Hishikawa Moronobu--Feline ukiyo-e artist with a captivating smile. (One of several actual historical personages to appear in SC.) [Note long fingernails: a sign he does not do manual labor.] Appears first in restaurant scene, offering F (and, unwittingly, her two companions) a free meal. Convinces F to pose for him semi-nude, knowing that she will be taken by slave traders and the portrait used as advertisement. Because she was sweet to him and liked his picture, he has misgivings and tries to free her, but gets caught by the 3 Punk Stooges. M shows up and demands that he talk, and Moronobu spills the whole slave trade story. Ends up trying to leave for Europe where his art will be appreciated, with a stunning picture of F in his luggage. Manzou tells us in the end narration that he was caught and deported to Japan, but his picture of F stayed on in Holland to inspire Vincent van Gogh.
"3 Stooges"--Trio of idiotic yakuza with punk hairdos retained by the bookstore for the dirty work. First seen cackling over some of the Fearsome Bookseller's porno, then robbed barehanded by M, beat up by the Fearsome One for getting robbed, almost robbed again by M. Haul F out of Moronobu's studio, load her onto the boat, promptly get beat up by M for taking F. Not seen to be arrested at the end, although clearly connected with the slavery ring.
Roukishi--Strangely shady old man with gold teeth, first seen sitting in front of the bookstore playing shougi; married to Sawa. First seen as J is watching the foreign ships at sea. Explains that the ships are there illegally. Challenges J to a game of shougi with J's life as a wager, and a sizeable amount of cash as the prize. Asks some rather pointed questions about where J learned to play--may indicate he has heard the rumors about the 1000-Man-Killer. Attempts to cheat at least once (by kicking the board over), gets called out by J who knows where all the pieces were set (and who tries to use that to his advantage, only to get called out himself). The game finally ends just as Manzou is making his speech, and Roukishi is arrested as the leader of the gang.
Sawa--the Fearsome Bookseller; imposing middle-aged female owner of the bookshop/gallery where Moronobu's art is displayed, married to Roukishi, apparently sells some really captivating porn. Beats up one of the 3 Punk Stooges for getting robbed, tries to sex up Moronobu (seen at left) to keep him from rescuing F, tries to get F sold off tout de suite, tries to defend her establishment as a respectable bookstore. Calls after Roukishi rather touchingly as he is arrested. [Note: Sawa is only one of many strong, interesting female characters in SC. It's one of the great things about the series.] [[In the Champloo Roman Album, character designer and artist Kazuto Nakazawa says that there was an actual model for Sawa, but "even if tortured I wouldn't tell" who it was. =)]
Manzou's Watson --Younger guy in similar official-looking kimono. First appears in stakeout/peeping tom scene, reappears as Manzou makes his arrest.

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