Man, between this episode and the final showdown of “the Dark Tournament,” I’m getting daily reminders of how fun this job can be. To be honest, when I first looked at SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, I was a little dubious about what the great appeal was here. Putting a hip hop soundtrack on a samurai adventure and then chopping it up into some non-linear narrative potpourri is kind of novel, I suppose - - but it’s not enough to wax rhapsodic about it, you know?
But this episode… wow. “It’s like their stomachs are evolving to an ultimate state of food digestion!”
Here’s where the show’s confection of swordplay, satire and assorted send-ups gets absolutely brilliant. This episode was just an ever-escalating parade of hilarious scenarios finding exceedingly clever ways to lampoon modern pop culture with (somewhat anachronistic?) examples in this Edo period.
First, the goof on eating contests and their alternately disgusting and admirable champions like Kobayashi. Then, the reveal of this giant Weeaboo who’s solely construed his understanding of Japan’s possibly-desirable sexual politics by his exposure to erotic prints. Then, in quick succession… the inept sight-seeing tour of Edo, the innocent confusion of kabuki players’ genders and the brief history of Manly Love erotic art that somehow brings us to the baffling, almost sublime sight of clog-wearing ninja assassins.
I list all these successive premises because I was just floored by this episode never stopped throwing them out. It really never stopped being inventive. Usually, one episode of show will present one premise, or maybe two, and then just settle on it. This just didn’t stop. I was cracking up over gags, pumping my fist over action and then even scratching my head at cleverness. If this is what the rest of the season’s going to be like, SAMURAI CHAMPLOO may very well be one of my favorite series. Better than even COWBOY BEBOP! Yeah, I’ll go on and say that.
Watch this episode, "Stranger Searching” here and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.