Episode 15–“Bogus Booty"

[Important note: This is a complete summary of the episode containing major spoilers. Please be sure you want to know this info before you read; spoilers are not blocked or hidden in any way so this is your only warning. If you aren't 100% sure you want to know who lives, who dies, who gets hurt, who walks away and who's responsible, please pack your katana and walk right now. My feelings will not be hurt. Thank you.]

--We open with a map following Fuu, Jin and Mugen’s journey since the Hakone gate. They passed Tsuruga (where Mugen stole Fuu’s diary), Hamamatsu, and Ise; they reached Kanigata (where they had their run-in with Mukuru’s pirates), and have finally reached Kansai: western Japan. Kyoto, to be exact.

--Prelude: “Pike in Kansai”
We see a young guy in ninja dress, running hard through a forest, a pack of ninjas close behind. They fly through the trees in great leaps; the kid pauses, gasping for air; they instantly fire on him, and he runs on, panting. The ninjas gain on him, streaking past the camera at blinding speed. He sees water gleaming through the trees; knows he’s about to be caught; pulls out a bag and tosses it into the lake as he races past.

--Main title: “Bogus Booty”
Jin is perched on a rock in the lake, unsuccessfully fishing. The clear water is full of fish--pike, in fact--but they ignore his bait. Jin frowns. On the shore, fish are broiling, and Mugen and Fuu are eating and chatting happily about the flavor of the catch -- saltwater-raised boy Mugen had no idea freshwater fish could taste this good. Jin, give it up, calls Fuu over her shoulder, come in and eat with us; I’ll share the ones I caught with you. Jin doesn’t budge. Let him alone, says Mugen, he’s just being stubborn because he’s the only one who didn’t catch anything. Before we started, he said (Mugen here does a hilarious impersonation of Jin, pulling a long face and pinching his throat to imitate Jin’s low voice--he even closes his eyes) “fishing is a serious battle between man and fish, which must be taken seriously”—but, as Mugen breaks out laughing, he can’t even catch what’s in plain sight! He and Fuu totally crack up at this; Fuu tries to chide him that it’s not nice to laugh at people, but she can’t stop herself.

On the rock, Jin narrows his gaze, and suddenly they see him jump into the water. Do you think we laughed too much?—worries Fuu. Jin splashes about in big dolphin-like leaps, then bounds onto the shore and runs toward them hauling a sack. Don’t meet his eyes, mutters Mugen. Jin falls sprawled in a heap; the bag opens; it’s full of gold coins! And they’re Koban, each one worth 10 gold ryu—-this is a LOT of money. (Remember in #10 when Fuu said that with just the bounty of 10 gold ryu they could go all the way to Nagasaki?) Mugen and Fuu’s eyes widen in awe. We’re rich!--cries Fuu. Got big gold!--marvels Mugen. You’re doing that on purpose, aren’t you, says Jin…[this is a slightly complicated joke: what Fuu and Mugen have said are the Japanese and Chinese transliterations of the same set of kanji characters; Mugen is poking some wry fun at his Ryukyu upbringing, and Jin knows it.]

They head for the nearest town, where Fuu stuffs herself until she’s totally gorged, and waddles off looking easily twice the size she did after the eating contest (back in #6). As she sings happily to herself about the joy of being full, the guys pause at the gateway to the red-light district, take a good long look, then both bolt down the street, leaving Fuu behind. She tries to give chase, but women aren’t allowed to go there, and she’s barred at the gate. Idiots! --she yells after them.

Mugen fans out a handful of gold coins at the best brothel in town, and they’re given a royal welcome. The proprietor proudly assures them that this is the best place in the West, as fine as anything they’d find in Edo. (Meanwhile, Fuu is muttering about their going to the red-light district even though they have her…does she really mean it when she says that?…) The guys are unimpressed with the offered talent until they meet Yatsuha…

They then play a traditional choosing game ("acchi muite hoi"--see footnote**) to see who gets her, and Mugen wins. All right!--cheers Mugen. The rest of you get the glasses guy.

Meanwhile: the gold they paid their way in with is being closely scrutinized by a grim-looking boss type. Brought in by those two ronin, says Akabe, one of his men; they seem to have just arrived in town today. These are the coins we were planning to send to Kaga in three days, says the boss. Why are they being circulated? Did you fail, Kakizou? Kakizou begins to apologize; then the elevator [by my dating system for the series, it's a little early for elevators: they were invented in the 1800s. See Anachronisms Guide.] door opens and two men enter, throwing a bound captive onto the carpet. It’s the ninja kid who threw the gold in the lake. He’s Otowa Hankichi, they say. He slipped away, and by the time we caught him in Ryuugaku he had nothing on him. We tortured him but he wouldn’t talk; it’s possible he was trained to withstand it. Are you saying, says the boss [his name’s Momochi Ginsa] that he could have been sent in as a spy for the authorities? Who was hired at the same time as he? He came to the foundry a year ago, says Akabe: so did four or five others below, and above, only Yatsuha.

Yatsuha, listening at the door while Mugen limbers up for the evening’s fun, is not at all pleased to hear her name…

We must crush all suspects, says Ginsa, with no exception. Kakizou, deal with the two men, make sure they’re shark food. There was a fat girl with them, says Kakizou. Take care of her too, orders the boss. Leave no traces. He and two of his guys head down in the elevator.

Yatsuha realizes she’s in big trouble: her partner’s a captive, her cover has been blown, she needs to get rid of her customer and get out of here as fast as possible. Not so easy... Mugen creeps up and says she shouldn’t tease him, he’s ready to enjoy himself. She lets him kiss her and reaches for a vase behind his back—-there’s a shattering crunch as she breaks it over his head.

As she peels off her courtesan’s costume she explains/apologizes to the out-cold Mugen that things have changed, and she has to get back to Edo and rethink her plans. Such a nuisance, after she worked so hard on this investigation... under the pretty outfit she’s wearing ninja garb; she ties up her hair. Bye now, lady-killer, she says smiling to Mugen; maybe fate will let us meet again. And she’s nearly out of the window when he gets to his feet, rubbing his skull and grumbling that it hurt. She’s stunned.

This is good service, but I’m not letting you get away again, says Mugen, coming on with a grin. Oh, how annoying, says Yatsuha, and lets loose a flying kick at him; they have a quick scuffle. Of course, Mugen being Mugen, a good fight is nothing less than foreplay. Dripping blood and grinning carnivorously, he gets her pinned to the wall. She thinks fast: Oh look, she cries, a naked woman over there! He looks over his shoulder and she lands a kick in his crotch which drops him to the floor in gasping misery---but still doesn’t knock him out. This guy’s really strong, she notes, awestruck that he’s still conscious, and she gets an idea…

He looks up and assures her that he likes strong women. Want to do something really amazing with me?-- she asks. Oh yeah, he definitely does, even though still doubled over with pain. In the next room, she says, and he boots open the door only to show the rest of the conspirators she was eavesdropping on. Oh, we can’t do it with these people in here, Yatsuha says, and Mugen with a yowl of frustration kicks them all out cold. Yatsuha runs to her bound and bruised comrade: Hankichi, are you still alive? He apologizes that he couldn’t escape, and tells her that this guy is no ordinary counterfeiter but a remnant of the Negoro. Those mercenaries from the Sengoku Jidai? There are still some left? she says; leave it to me, I’ll take care of it.

--So, now? --asks Mugen. Um, we can’t do anything amazing here, says Yatsuha; there’s a good place downstairs. She points at the elevator, but Mugen hasn’t time for that: he kicks the elevator to flinders (and he’s barefoot, mind you! It’s not just the metal shoes that make this stuff possible!), scoops her onto his shoulders and jumps straight down the elevator shaft.

In the basement: the forgers are busily turning out more counterfeit coins, and suspects are being killed by being forced to swallow molten gold. Enter our pair with a shattering shriek and crash. Momochi Ginsa! –yells Yatsuha. All your crimes are revealed! Give yourself up! He laughs at her. We are more than 20 descendants of the Negoro, peerless warriors: what can a mere undercover detective, working for peace, do here? [Yes, the Tokugawa shoguns did officially employ ninjas; she’s essentially an FBI agent.—It’s also interesting that this is exactly the same phrase our friend Detective Manzou uses to describe himself…] She leans down to Mugen: if you’ll beat up all these guys I’ll do something amazing for you, she says. Mugen is finally a little wary: like what? he says; you can’t trick me again. She whispers in his ear, he leers enthusiastically: “Sure!”

(Outside: two guys ask Fuu if she’s seen a fat girl about her own age. Nope.)

Mugen proceeds to put on a splendid display of unarmed and barefoot ass-kicking, while Yatsuha goes into full-tilt ninja mode. They make a great team. Blood sprays and supposedly peerless warriors fall in all directions.

Upstairs. Jin is sitting calmly in the moonlight, fully dressed, eyes closed, listening. A woman is lying on the floor behind him massaging his back with her bare feet, and two others seem to be asleep on the same mat. Jin hears something. Who’s there, he asks, and a screen on the balcony opens to reveal a line of five ninjas. One question, says the central ninja: where did you get those gold koban? As I thought...money with a history, says unruffled Jin. I have no obligation to answer. The ninjas draw and charge; almost too fast to see, Jin lunges to his feet and drops all five ninjas with his classic right-left double sweep. (--and then folds in half, having badly stressed his spine.)--"Jin-sama?" calls one of the women, sleepily...

Mugen and Yatsuha drop the last of Ginsa’s men and Yatsuha introduces herself to him: she’s the daughter of Shogun palace guard Imano Jinpachi. So, Jinpachi’s daughter, he says. Our revival has been thwarted by a blood relative of the same clan. He charges; they finish him off.

Outside: cops are leading Ginsa away. Thanks, says Yatsuha to Mugen. These guys have been hiding here a year and we were finally able to arrest them with your help. No need to thank me, says Mugen: just keep your promise. He smirks, rushes at her, and again falls for the look-a-naked woman line.

Yatsuha and Hankichi dump him under a tree on the hill outside the brothel. He was here with someone, they’ll find him, she says. Let’s go, it’s a long way to Edo. I hope crows don’t eat him, worries Hankichi. No, he’s tough, says Yatsuha, and sighs happily. He’s the man I’m going to marry; I’m in love! As her partner splutters, she thinks: when both our journeys are ended I’ll definitely find you.

And Fuu is yelling that she’s hungry again; and Jin’s back really hurts…

**Footnote: The game Jin and Mugen play to decide which of them will accompany Yatsuha is called “Acchi Muite Hoi,” where players will play rock-paper-scissors and then the winner will point a direction (up/down/left/right) while the loser will have to face a direction. If the challenged player faces the same direction as the challenger points, he loses the match. --Thanks to shu for this info!

Samurai Champloo characters, visuals and materials (c) 2004 manglobe.
Original story synopsis written and (c) 2004 by Paula O'Keefe.

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