Neko-san's Guide to the Characters of Samurai Champloo
Episode Six--Stranger Searching

(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 Six--Stranger Searching
This is my annotated character list for episode 6. 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.

Kabuki Map Singer --Does a sonorant narration of the opening map scene, tracking the trio's progress from the original teashop to Edo. The map narration is repeated at the beginning of episode 15.
"Basket Brigade"--Large group of men marching around with wicker baskets on their heads, and wooden shoes. First appear crossing the bridge into Nihonbashi, march around in the background for most of the episode. Throw off their baskets when Isaac is cornered in the kabuki theater to reveal they are all East India Company Dutchmen, and explain the special circumstances to the INS headman.
Registrar--Man at the sign-up desk at the eating contest; appears only in that scene. Accepts trio's weapons as collateral for the entry fee--J gets shanghai'd into handing over his swords. [Note: this is the first appearance of F's pink tanto outside the opening credits; will we ever see her actually USE the thing except as a keychain?]
Jouji/Isaac Titsingh, Governor General of the East India Company--Tall, red-headed blue-eyed contestant with foreign accent; enthusiastic yaoi fan-boy. Originally introduces himself to our trio as Jouji, attempting, despite contrary visual evidence and their pointed questions, to pass for Japanese. Wins the eating contest but offers to return trio's weapons if they give him a tour of Edo--he is incredibly excited by everything he sees. Revealed as a foreigner by the "INS agents" who storm in during dinner; he insists on seeing a kabuki play, hits on the principal actor, and tells how he left Holland hoping to find acceptance in a culture more tolerant of homosexuality. The Basket Brigade reveals his full name and explains that he is actually the Governor General, and is playing hooky from a meeting with the Shogun. [Not the best idea, that...] Back on the bridge, Isaac says he hopes that someday Japan will open up to people like him. F shows him her Keychain of Doom and he tells her that it's a dangerous thing to have around, and she'll find more information in Nagasaki--thus setting up the journey for at least the next eleven episodes.
[Note: Some viewers have complained about Isaac's open homosexuality. I think it was handled very tactfully and thoughtfully, and that those viewers are just insecure themselves.](--I completely concur with Neko-san on this point.)
==2012 update: Turns out that Isaac is yet another of the real historical personages appearing in the series, and quite an illustrious one at that. History does not record, however, whether or not he loved Japan for our Isaac's specific reason. More here:

Oshaberi Ichiemon --Announcer at eating contest, a newspaper seller, he wears an amusing paper hat; his nickname means "Motormouth". Appears in the eating contest scene, spouting a hilarious Iron Chef-esque running monologue. He appears again later being questioned by the "INS agents" about the mysterious winner.
Ingen Oshou --Buddhist monk who renounced vegetarianism, commentator on the eating contest. Appears only in that scene. Asks the immortal questions,"Who are we? Where are we going? How much can we stuff down on the way?" ["oshou" means "priest"; Geneon's English dub calls him "Father Ingen".]
Izumi "the Sweet Tooth Queen" --Skinny woman who won the eating contest two years ago. Appears only in the contest scene. Fourth-to-last competitor to drop out, after 22 bowls.
Sounosuke "the Bottomless Stomach" --Large man who won last year. Appears only in the contest scene. Third-to-last competitor to drop out, after 23 bowls.
"INS Agents"--Government officials looking for the Westerner loose in Edo. First seen questioning various people, including Oshaberi. Catch up with Isaac at dinner, get beat up by J and M (wielding only chopsticks and a cup of tea--now THAT's style), catch up again backstage at the kabuki theater, and then are confronted with Isaac's credentials by the Basket Brigade.
"Yamato Nadeshiko"--Attractive young kabuki actor. Appears only in theater scene. Catches Isaac's eye onstage, and then gets to listen to the Dutchman's lifestory and get hit on. Tough night. (Note that this name is a traditional nickname for the ideal Japanese woman, and also the title of a currently popular TV series there. Well worth Googling for more info.)
Tanaka Sukeimon --Isaac's assigned translator. Appears only at the end of the theater scene. Arrives with the Basket Brigade to certify the Governor's identity. [Isaac doesn't really need a translator--he has a noticeable accent in Japanese, but makes himself understood perfectly well.]

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