Out of all the genres I was expecting to be folded up into SAMURAI CHAMPLOO’s pop cultural potpourri, I never figured Film Noir would be one of them. What an absolutely brilliant episode. No exaggeration - - I’m seriously in awe at the moment. I can’t think of the last time I was as invested in a single scene as I was during Mugen’s “lame” bout of revenge in the finale. The trance music swelling, the understated long-angle death stroke, the constant and creepy cry of the cicadas, the fatalistic resignation Mugen’s girl to floozy-hood and the genuine tension over whether he was going to kill her…
…I was just rapt, man. This episode pushed a lot of the morally-ambiguous buttons that a proper hard-boiled detective yarn would, but with a color, texture and tone that felt wholly removed from really anything I’ve seen before.
Jin’s showdown with Mugen’s nemesis with was another stand-out. What a shockingly nasty way to finish your bad guy off. When that blade slid through the dude’s pancreas, I winced. No lie.
Actually, on a more cerebral note, the scene resonated with me because it delivered rather perfectly on the notion that I enjoy so much about Westerns - - that of impersonal justice/vengeance. Who knows whether the cowboy picture or the samurai picture did it first, but I’ll always be down for a story about your protagonist meddling in a feud that’s really none of his business. It’s so much messier and wonderfully unpredictable like that - - so preferable to any bunk about destined comeuppance.
Mugen’s extended personal hell and hallucinatory brush with the after-life was positively virtuoso, as well. I feel like I could write several W&L’s of a praise for this episode. Oh yeah, it’s pretty thoroughly eclipsed BEBOP by now.
Watch this episode, "Misguided Miscreants, Part 2” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.