Samurai Champloo
Volume 3

Starring (voice): Kazuya Makai, Ginpei Sato and Ayako Kawasumi
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 06 February 2006

Whether it's a fake promissory note or an empty wallet, a variety of challenges face Mugen, Jin and Fuu in their struggle to survive. No legendary monsters, murderers or never-ending rain can shake their iron will and confidence! Then Mugen and Jin find Fuu's diary...

In Beatbox Bandits (Evil Mountain Spirits), Mugen, Jin and Fuu purchase some travel passes from a street seller in order to cross the border. These turn out to be fake, resulting in our three heroes being sentenced to death for trying to illegally cross the border. But at the last minute the guards decide to spare their lives if one of them will run an errand for them. Mugen is chosen to travel through a forest full of dangerous bandits to deliver a head in a sack. If he doesn't return, mission accomplished, by sunset then Jin and Fuu will be executed.

This episode is rather bizarre. Why on earth the guards want a head delivering to another place is anyone's guess - in fact I think I'd rather not know. I loved the way that every time Mugen was faced with danger, back at the border Fuu would exclaim: "Do you think..." and then go onto guess correctly why Mugen was being delayed. The conclusion is comical, but very odd.

Lethal Lunacy (Fight Fire With Fire): Mugen faces the lethal challenge of a Shaolin-trained swordsman and proves equal to the test, while Jin gets stuck doing all the housework. Can Mugen defeat this trained swordsman or will he suffer from his mistakes?

Just who is the mysterious killer who has decided to start killing all of the greatest Samurai? And just what does the old Zen priest, who has taken pity on our heroes, know about him? Mugen eventually meets the killer and challenges him. But how can he win against this master of magic?

In Gamblers and Gallantry (Fallen Angel), Jin comes to the rescue of a lady in distress. He falls in love and tries to rescue his women from the hard life she has come to face. Will he save her and himself?

After two episodes that were centred around Mugen, it's refreshing to have a Jin based episode. Jin falls for a woman who is about to be sold into prostitution (in order to pay off the debts her husband has managed to acquire through gambling). This is a rather touching tale... thankfully, to lighten it up a little, there is a side story that revolves around Mugen and his attempts to train his sumo wrestling beetle. We also discover that Fuu has rather a soft spot for Jin.

The Disorder Diaries (Learning From the Past): Jin and Mugen read through Fuu's diary and find out that she hasn't been telling them what they need to know.

This episode is about as close to a "clips show" as you're ever likely to see in Japanese anime. As I am new to this series, this episode was very welcomed - as it explained how our three heroes originally crossed paths and why they are now travelling from place to place. However, it never explained exactly why they are hunting for the Samurai who smells of sunflowers.

Extras are very poor. We are only offered some trailers and DVD credits.

This is an enjoyable series and one that isn't that difficult to get up to speed with. And, once you've watched one episode you'll be hooked.

Pete Boomer

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