Episode 2–“Redeye Reprisal”
Ryujiro, the now-one-handed guy from episode one, is obsessed with revenge on Mugen and Jin, and has hatched a complicated scheme to take them out. As we open, he’s walking down the corridor of the local jail with the warden, who’s protesting that Oniwakamaru is still awaiting sentence. Ryujiro doesn’t care; he wants the guy now. We meet Oniwakamaru, an enormous hulking presence with a deep voice and a startling, deformed face. Ryujiro tells him it’s time for revenge on those who tormented him; “we should go on a killing spree”...
(Note on the English Dub:--This character is called "Oniwaka" consistently in Geneon's DVD version. However, Oniwakamaru is his name as given on the series' official website.)
Jin and Mugen, as they go, pelt Fuu with questions about this sunflower samurai she’s looking for:
does she have a portrait of him? Where did he stay when he was here? What is a sunflower, anyway?--But she answers none, gets frustrated
and suggests they get something to eat. They pool their tiny cash resources and buy some steamed tofu buns at
an outdoor café, but a hawk makes off with them before any can be eaten. Mugen overhears some locals saying that
an ogre has been kidnapping people in the area; they approach an older swordsman sitting there and say, hey you’re a
samurai, why don’t you handle it?–-but he’s not too impressive, being scared even by the yap of a little dog.
Mugen steps up and says he’ll deal with the ogre in exchange for a meal–-see a Mugen pattern developing here?–-
showing them some fancy swordwork to settle the bargain.
While they’re eating, Jin has a few words with the diffident older samurai, who he stares at very hard indeed (“I am a samurai in name only,” the fellow shrugs) and the guys with the ogre problem slip Fuu a cup of sake which she mistakes for water and slugs in one shot, promptly passing out on the table. Yet another helpful local asks the group where they’re staying the night and offers them his cabin by the hot spring. (Of course, all these so-friendly people are working for Ryuujiro...)
So off they go, hauling the out-cold Fuu on a cart. (Mugen offers a very rude suggestion to unconscious Fuu, but she really is out: no reaction whatever.) That guy, muses Jin..no, I’m probably just thinking too much. He decidedly seems to be trying to remember where’s he’s seen the man before. Along the path saunters the next element of Ryujiro’s plan, a gorgeous brunette walking uncomfortably barefoot; her sandal’s broken. Mugen offers to fix it, but of course he has his price...so when they get to the cabin, Mugen leaves Jin and Fuu, saying he has something else to do. A woman, mutters Jin...
The lady is very direct about what she wants from Mugen, who’s quite agreeable...
Jin goes off to bathe in the hot spring, only to find the older samurai (whose name is Inuyaka, though it never figures in the episode) already there. He comments on the fireflies which are everywhere, asking if Jin knows why they glow. It’s to attract females, but sometimes, he adds, males end up attracting each other. He looks at Jin, smiles slightly; Jin expressionlessly says “Excuse me,” and gets up to leave, but the man says he has information that might be useful. He knows something about “the samurai that young girl mentioned,” the one who smells of sunflowers. Jin looks skeptical.--You have to admire Jin’s composure; walking away bare-naked from a guy who’s just blatantly hit on him, and still has the cool to stand and talk business for a minute...
While Jin is gone, Ryujiro and Oniwakamaru enter the cabin, knock out the barely-awake Fuu and kidnap her.
Mugen, kissing Hotaru (the brunette), suddenly makes a face and spits. She’s passed him poison. You bitch, what did you do, he snarls; she tells him that it was in the (large amount of) sake he had as well. It’s called “the single night’s mushroom” because it takes all night to kill you. At swordpoint, she adds that it was “a one-handed man” who hired her, and that he has not only the antidote to the poison but-–by now--the girl who was traveling with them. Shit, mutters Mugen, and heads for the cabin.
As Ryujiro and Oniwakamaru are climbing the path with the unconscious Fuu, two officers of the Kanto police stop them with intent to arrest Ryuujiro for the arson of the teahouse and the death of the magistrate’s son. [So, it’s been made clear, I guess, that that’s not Jin and Mugen’s fault after all.] Ryuujiro tells the big guy that here are two of the people who always tormented him, and he gently sets down Fuu and wipes the cops out.
Mugen makes his way along, sweating and looking very sick. He finds the cabin empty.
Wakamaru is standing guard over Fuu when she comes to. He tells her not to look at him because his face is so horrible. Compassionate little Fuu tells him that she’s not afraid of him, and that he has very sad eyes. He tells her his story: he was in jail because he killed a gang of men who called him a monster and hunted him down. He didn’t really mean to, but he was afraid and confused. (We’ve been seeing his repeated flashback: Frankenstein-esque scenes of pursuing mobs with torches.) They watch the fireflies together until Ryuujiro arrives, saying it’s time for the feast to begin.
Jin and Inuyaka, the older samurai, are walking into the woods; I assume on the pretext of sharing the aforementioned information, but they both seem to know better already. The man tells Jin that he’s a hired assassin, which Jin had guessed, and that killing him is nothing personal, just his job. Jin wants to know who sent him, but he only says, let’s go. The guy's quite good, a traditional duelist like Jin; his first rush is so fast that Jin's eyes go wide, and he never lets up from there. He's delighted with Jin's skill: “It's a long time since I've faced an opponent of your caliber. Just as the rumors say!” [--First mention of these. He's heard more than just rumors about Jin, too: what he actually says is, "You are even better than the rumors have it. Maybe in a dojo I would not be able to beat you, but this isn't the dojo anymore, eh?"--arigato to Neko-san for giving me this line.] --There follows much elegant swooshing and flashing of swords in the bright moonlight.
Something is still distracting Jin about this guy, he's a stride off his game and Inuyaka takes the advantage, backing Jin into the bamboo. Was I wrong about not standing a chance against you?--he smiles. Jin stares at him, trying to get it. The guy darts off, Jin gives chase; he turns, again launches into Jin with a furious barrage of slashes. Jin, who's used to making his kill within half-a-minute, is having one of the fights of his life: he's decidedly pressed to the wall and starting to look anxious. Inuyaka's next swing gets close enough to crease the front of Jin's montsuki--
Mugen finally finds Ryujiro, Wakamaru and the tied-up Fuu. Ryuujiro taunts him with the antidote to the poison. It’s soon made clear that Mugen has no memory whatever of this guy or of what happened to his hand (though Fuu does), and no clue what all this revenge business is about, which seriously ticks Ryujiro off. He sics the giant on Mugen, who’s getting shaky, but plunges in headfirst anyway–
[And: the two battles are going on at opposite sides of the spring/river on a clear moonlit night, each visible to the other. Nice cinematography there.]
Fuu is terrified for Mugen’s safety, calling out to him, and when the giant knocks Mugen out and Ryujiro drags him to the waterside, she hurls herself at Ryujiro and pushes him in. Ryujiro, furious, delivers an insane monologue about how much he loves the pain of others and wants to extend their suffering, but he thinks Fuu might as well die right now. He puts his sword to her throat. That’s too much for big Oniwakamaru, who won’t see his little friend harmed, and throttles Ryujiro then and there. Dizzy Mugen, seeing the dangling feet of the giant’s victim, charges Wakamaru. Fuu cries out for them to stop; Wakamaru hears her and drops his weapon; Mugen doesn't, and punches his sword straight through him.
Across the water, Inuyaka sees Ryujiro fall. Oh, look at that, he says calmly; my employer is dead, so I now have no reason to kill you. Of course I won’t get paid for having fought you, but that can’t be helped. [Jin is standing there with the most priceless “WTF?” look on his face.] The man sheathes his sword. I have a feeling we’ll meet again, he says, and off down the path he goes, just like that. Leaving Jin staring after him, completely mystified.
And Fuu kneels beside the dying giant, sadly asking him why he defended her. Because you weren’t afraid of me, he says; because I don’t feel alone anymore. A firefly lands on his hand and its light plays across his face. He smiles...
(...I guess we should just assume that Mugen picked Ryujiro’s pockets & found the bottle of antidote, since he’s obviously fine... )
Samurai Champloo characters, visuals and materials (c) 2004 manglobe.
Original story synopsis written and (c) 2004 by Paula O'Keefe.
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