Episode 4–"Hellhounds for Hire (part 2)"



[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.]

[Note on names: in some translations of this Suzu's name is Osuzu and Nishimatsu's is Ishimatsu. I have it on good authority that Option B is right, so I'm going with it.]


The brothel floor clears as Jin and Mugen go at it. Sousuke bursts into Fuu and Suzu’s cell and tries to get Osuzu to come with him, but, honorable daughter that she is, she refuses. Sousuke is dragged out by Ishimatsu’s chain weapon and faces him and Rikiei (the Nagatomi boss).

Mugen is throwing everything at Jin including roundhouse kicks and brothel patrons’ shoes; suddenly in charges an army of Nagatomi footsoldiers and Jin and Sousuke are surrounded. Mugen is righteously pissed off at the interruption (“Get out of the way! He’s mine! I’m the one that’s going to kill him!”) and, classic Mugen, starts chopping down any yakuza between him and Jin. Terrified Nagatomi scatter before the madman. Jin grabs the fake shamisen case, which is full of smoke bombs, and he and Sousuke escape under cover of the smoke. Mugen gives chase but loses them.

[nice stuff here: Mugen may have hired on but he still has his solo priorities intact, and his first taste of being overruled by his boss and forced to play the obedient soldier just chokes him.]

Ishimatsu protests that Mugen has killed one of their own and should be fired right now, but Rikiei says no, it’s fine–it gave everyone a good look at him.

Jin and Sousuke talk under a bridge. Poor Sousuke is in tears that he couldn’t save Osuzu, but Jin is all business and tactics. The Nagatomi are only hired men, he says, none of them are committed to defending the boss with their lives. If we can take his head, the clan will collapse. It was worth the trouble of getting in there just to have learned that. --This does not comfort Sousuke.

Fuu and Osuzu talk; Fuu doesn’t see why she should feel responsible for her father’s debts. Because we’re family, says Osuzu. You have a family too, don’t you? Fuu gets an odd wistful look on her face; Osuzu apologizes; Fuu looks out the window and says family can cause a lot of problems...

Rikiei tells Mugen he’s not required to use his sword anymore, just stay put. Mugen’s furious: what did you hire me for then? Coolly filing his nails, the boss says that now that they’ve seen what he can do, just having him around will be enough to keep the rank-and-file in line. So you’re just using me to control others? That’s the power you talk about?, asks Mugen. Exactly. Mugen’s having none of it. I don’t give or take orders, I don’t want to rule or be ruled, he says, and turns to go. Rikiei protests: but you can have anything you want if you stay! You’re just tossing that away? Mugen says he believes only in his own strength, and heads for the door. You won’t live long if you betray me!, yells Rikiei. Mugen pauses and grins. If you send someone after me, make sure he’s really strong, he says, or I’ll have the pleasure of slicing him into tiny pieces. Later. –and he’s gone.

Ishimatsu is outside; they talk. Ishimatsu says he too once believed in his own strength, and thought he’d really get somewhere by leaving the Kawara clan to join the Nagatomi. But now he sees the world isn’t like that, and sometimes you have to give in. Stupid, snaps Mugen, quit making excuses; how you live is up to you. And exits, rolling his eyes in disgust. Ishimatsu looks after him thoughtfully.

Brothel customers are pawing Fuu and Osuzu, making nasty remarks; they seem to be stationed in an outside yard to attract customers off the street. Poor Osuzu shudders. Sousuke can’t stand it; he races up and stabs her molester. This won’t go well....the guy’s a Nagatomi...

Ishimatsu walks into the Kawara hall to tell Heitarou what his son’s done. He says he’ll take the responsibility. We see his meeting with Rikiei, who suggests they settle this yakuza-style, not with bloodshed but with the dice. If Heitarou wins, he saves his son’s life but the Nagatomi get his territory. That’s fair, Heitarou says, and if he loses he’ll atone with his own life. But to keep things fair, the Kawara should provide the dealer. Fine, says Rikiei.

(What an idiot, he tells Ishimatsu after Heitarou has gone; all we have to do is lose and the town is ours. But they get to choose the dealer, protests Ishimatsu. Don’t worry about that, their dealer will never arrive, says the boss...)

Mugen, trudging out of town in the rain, tries to forget that Fuu is still in the brothel and Jin is still alive, and can’t. Too much business left unfinished. Shit, he growls, looking back.

The brothel madam tells the girls about the news of the big Kawara-Nagatomi gamble, adding that they shouldn’t think any of them will be set free, no matter who wins. Fuu looks stunned.

Jin pays the innkeeper for his free meal of yesterday; the kind fellow gives him an umbrella, and he steps out into the rain. Heitarou is there. Where are you headed, he asks, and they walk to the town bridge talking. He’s a guy with a lot of regrets. He’s shed a lot of innocent blood and lost irreplaceable friends and family. He hoped to hand the clan on to his son, but that’s in jeopardy. He’s wondered if it’s time to quit ever since Nishimatsu left the Kawara. He asks Jin a favor: though Jin has the skill to kill Rikiei, that will only continue the cycle of retribution. Would he please leave the matter to Heitarou? He gives Jin a temple talisman to give Sousuke.

Fuu is making ugly faces to scare prospective brothel clients away, hoping to be fired, but all she does is attract an ugly guy! Momosan to the rescue! The squirrel pops out of her dress when the guy tries to grab her and gives him a good bite; Fuu makes him eat vase and goes out the window. In the street, looking for the gambling hall, she flags down a passing palanquin. They assume she’s the Kawara’s chosen dealer and take her there on the double.

Everyone’s sitting in the hall, waiting for the dealer to arrive: Rikiei and Ishimatsu on the Nagatomi side and Heitarou and Jin for the Kawara. What happened to your bodyguard, Jin asks Rikiei. He left town, the boss says. Jin frowns slightly at this news....

Mugen bursts into the brothel and asks “Where is she?” Um, she ran away. ..”Idiot!” and he’s off.

Rikiei grins sharklike and suggests they’d better choose a dealer themselves, since it looks like the Kawara choice isn’t coming, but suddenly the arrival is announced. Everyone is stunned to see her, the Kawara side since she’s not who they expected (Jin: “You?!”) and the Nagatomi since they obviously arranged for no one to arrive at all. But to the room’s surprise little Fuu steps up, takes charge, and tosses the dice with professional skill. It’s a game called han-chou (odd-even): dealer throws the dice, then covers them with a cup so they can’t be seen, and gamblers bet on whether they came up even or odd. The Nagatomi call han; the Kawara call chou. It’s a seven: odd. The Nagatomi win.

Heitarou stands up and says he’ll settle this, that he has no intention of giving his people or land to the Nagatomi. As promised, he’ll pay with his life. He draws a knife and commits seppuku on the spot.

How old-fashioned, remarks Rikiei coldly; that’s the end of that piece of shit. No!, yells Sousuke, my dad behaved like an honorable villain--a true yakuza! You’ve done nothing to call yourself a real yakuza! You’re the piece of shit!

And that’s fine with me, says Rikiei, collaring the kid. Now I’ll just have to use force to take this territory. He puts a knife to Sousuke’s throat, warning Jin not to move. Jin freezes, hand halfway to katana–

When guess whose metal-clad geta stamps through the wall. And again everyone in the room says “You?!”

A certain someone didn’t come after me, no one came after me, says Mugen, so here I am. He spins his sword and grins. Rikiei tries to use Sousuke as a shield–-like Mugen cares about that. Here I come!, he says, and charges.

Rikiei throws the kid aside and bolts. Fighters scatter in all directions. Jin and Mugen each take a section of floor and start clearing it.

Rikiei sees none of his guys will face their swords for him, and flees the building, only to find Ishimatsu standing in his path. You never trusted me or any of us, you trusted only money, he says, and stabs Rikiei dead. Jin, Sousuke and the Kawara run up only to find the deed already done. I finally opened my eyes, says Ishimatsu....

It’s later. Jin gives Sousuke the talisman his father entrusted to him. Sousuke asks Ishimatsu to come back to the Kawara, saying his father would have done the same. Thanks, he says, but first I need to atone for what I’ve done. He steps outside and asks Mugen if he’d like to finish their duel.

Fuu and Jin leave, telling Sousuke and Osuzu goodbye. Fuu says they’ll come back for a visit after they’ve found the sunflower samurai.

And Ishimatsu and Mugen face each other. I won’t go easy on you, Mugen says. I thought so, replies Ishimatsu. There’s an unexpected sadness in Mugen’s eyes. They run at each other, there’s one flash, and Ishimatsu falls, blood spilling from his mouth. Silhouette and cut.



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

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