Episode 55: “Bad Boy Musashi: A Success Story”
Original airdate: January 5, 1983
Corresponding manga chapters: “Super Musashi!”/”Musashi, in Training!!”/”Bad Boy Musashi, You’re No Man!!”, volume 13, chapters 1-3 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapters 125-127
Minor characters introduced: Jotaroo, Otsu, various historical characters played by the cast
Summary: Once there was a young man named Miyamoto Musashi, played here by Onsen-Mark, in the spring of his seventeenth year. He set out on a journey to make himself famous. As he leaves town, he sees a group of villagers charging toward him, pursuing a young man with a cow on his back. The ensuing trampling throws out his back and reduces his speed considerably. (Note: There are too many references in this episode for me to explain as I go; I recommend checking the Wikipedia entries and the AnimEigo notes page.)
The young man, Ataru, returns to his finacee Lum with his offering of food, only to be chewed out by Master Takuan (Cherry) and Ten. (Ataru claims that the cow is actually a radish from his farm.) A group of villagers arrive, with Gosaku (Perm) and Megane (wearing those round glasses that have strings over the ears, like Genma in Ranma 1/2) complaining about the theft of Perm’s cow Mary. Takuan offers them a spit-roasted radish, which Gosaku instantly recognizes and doesn’t take well.
The villagers soon have Ataru the Menace strung up on a tree. Takuan complains that Ataru got him to eat stolen cows and horses by claiming they were radishes and carrots, and soon finds himself next to Ataru. Lum flies up and agrees to free Ataru if he finally agrees to marry her. He does, and she cuts him loose (literally, dropping him on his face from 20 feet up). Ataru picks himself up, brushes himself off, and ties Lum to the tree while complaining that he’s a victim of circumstance, then splits.
(This is what safewords are for, Lum.) The narration notes that Ataru of Miyamoto Village is also in the spring of his seventeenth year.
In a restaurant with a familiar double-arch sign on the roof, Ataru is eating a bowl of something when Musashi sneaks in and empties the contents of the refrigerator into a bag, then runs. Ataru charges after him, the waitress (who appears to be the blind flower seller, but I think it’s just a similar character design) shouting that he needs to pay; another man, with a monkey on his back, charges after Ataru, the waitress yelling after him as well.
The trio come to rest in a clearing (Musashi accusing the others of dine-and-dashing, which seems a bit rich). Ataru and Musashi recognize each other, and Musashi explains that he’s been living in the mountains on his way to stardom. The third man speaks bluntly about Musashi’s unsightly appearance (while the monkey makes faces at him), and when challenged, identifies himself as Ganryuu Sasaki Kojiroo, played by Mendou.
The narrator notes that this is their fateful meeting, although it consists largely of Musashi being unable to remember Kojiroo’s name while Ataru eats the stolen food.
A few days later, Lum, Ten and Takuan are in the big city (probably Kyoto), looking for Ataru. They hear someone calling out for Musashi and recognize Ataru’s voice. Lum and the others catch up with him, and Ten breathes fire on the pursuers to cover their escape. Elsewhere, the local businessmen are complaining about a rash of dine-and-dash incidents to Master Yoshioka (Yoshiokaseijuuroo Sakura), played by Sakura. They promise to write off her food tabs if she tracks down “Musashi” and stops him.
Sakura walks outside and runs into her sister, later identified as Yoshiokadenshichiroo Shinobu (Shinobu, nacherly) and Kojiroo. She requests the latter’s help, and soon after we see a restaurant wall covered with 10,000-yen reward posters for Miyamoto Musashi, illustrated with a likeness of Ataru. Ataru himself sits and eats below (wearing a period version of his on-the-run disguise, including sunglasses with over-the-ear strings, at least in one shot), to the disbelief of Lum and Takuan. Kojiroo and the Yoshiokas enter; Lum and Takuan try to warn Ataru, but he’s already hitting on Sakura. She demands to know his name, and he identifies himself as masterless samurai Moroboshi Ataru. A round of introductions ensues, until Kojiroo gets tired of being ignored and confronts Ataru, demanding to know if he knows who he is. A long moment is followed by Ataru admitting he has no idea.
Someone comes in and tells Sakura that Musashi has been spotted at another restaurant, and the entire crew takes off without paying, pursued by the proprietor (Mr. Moroboshi). Outdoors under a tree, everyone is whispering about Musashi, which pleases him as he’s finally famous. He ties up a huge bundle of stolen food and slings it on his back, just as the Yoshiokas and company arrive. Ataru and Takuan leap onto the bag and direct Musashi to an escape through a rice field.
After the eyecatch, the narrator explains that everyone has wound up at Himeji Castle. The Yoshioka contingent (including Lum and Ten) ride in a cart pulled by Kojiroo’s monkey (which is now human-sized) and shout to the crowd that they’ll be performing that evening at the Cultural Center. The Cultural Center turns out to be a vacant lot and a “construction starting soon” sign, but Sakura says that they can put the show on right there. She sees that Kojiroo is distracted by thoughts of Musashi, and pulls out a map of his crimes, pointing out that he’s followed a path of eating the famous cuisine of every town he passes through. They realize that the next target is probably the rock fish of Onomichi. Kojiroo wants to hurry to Onomichi, but Sakura proclaims that she’s never had the Bashuu noodles of Himeji, and to do so they will need money, which they will get by putting on a killer show.
Meanwhile, the real and fake Musashis eat fish (in a restaurant with a Colonel Sanders statue outside), until they’re interrupted by three warriors: Shishido Baiken (Chibi), a graduate of the Nara Hoozooin spear school (Perm, probably not the same character as earlier) and Muso Gunnosuke (Kakugari). Ataru asks which one is the strongest, and he and Musashi sneak out while they’re arguing.
Back in the vacant lot, Lum and Ten are doing a tightrope-walking act. Lum confides that she’s planning on leaving after this performance, since the circus thing is getting in the way of finding Darling. Ten points out that apart from the monkey show and the tightrope walking, the only other act is Shinobu’s desk-throwing, and says he’ll stay behind. Down below, Kojiroo realizes that he doesn’t actually have any reason to chase Musashi, and heads out himself, leaving the monkey (Jotaroo) behind.
Ataru is walking through the woods with a bag of swag when he sees a wanted poster on a tree, and is taken aback to realize that they’re appearing this deep in the mountains. He considers dropping the disguise, but after he eats, of course. Seeing a form dart through the trees, he calls it out, but is unprepared when it turns out to be Jotaroo.
He tries to escape, until Jotaroo manages to get him to see who he is. He commiserates with Jotaroo over being dumped, and agrees to let him tag along while they work something out.
In a restaurant, Lum overhears an account of two infamous dine-and-dashers, Musashi and Kojiroo, and where they’re headed. Cut to “Musashi” and “Kojiroo” (Ataru and Jotaroo) escaping from an angry mob of restauranteurs. They hide in a pair of garbage cans, but just when the coast seems clear Takuan pops out and confronts them.
We see a montage of Kojiroo, Lum, and the Yoshiokas and Ten converging on their destiny in Shimonoseki, famous for fugu. Ataru, Takuan and Jotaroo are soon chowing down on large quantities of fugu, until they realize that they’re starting to go numb. The waitress, Otsu, calls for the chef, who turns out to be the real Musashi and who recognizes Ataru. Lum bursts in and electro-hugs Ataru. The panel to the back door opens and we see Kojiroo and the Yoshiokas lying on futons, having been poisoned at the restaurant’s grand opening. Musashi wonders why Lum and Ten were able to eat the fugu, but Lum explains that they’re different. Musashi remembers a story that fugu-poisoning victims can be cured by burial overnight, and he knows just the place: Ganryuu Island! (Historically named after Kojiroo after his death, but now’s not the point to start quibbling.)
Musashi stands among the buried restaurant patrons and muses that he may not have been cut out to be a chef, but should have been a star. Kojiroo says that someone with his face could never be a star, and Musashi grabs a nearby oar and smashes him on the head: the famous victory of Musashi over Kojiroo! He sails off into the sunset, as the narrator tells of how his fame spread.
Changes from the manga version: As a three-chapter adaptation, there’s a bit more story than will fit the episode, so between the scene of Ataru forgetting Kojiroo’s name and the mob chasing Musashi is a brief scene where Ataru offers to help track down the infamous Musashi. The scanslation, at least, has a Dragon Ball joke that’s not in the anime (the line about “Does the passage of time change a person this much?” is “I didn’t know you changed into a monkey when the moon is full!” Jotaroo doesn’t talk in the manga but does in the anime (I’m not sure why, as it doesn’t add much).
Thoughts: This is one of the episodes that’s a fun ride if you just let it take you along and don’t think about it too hard. Knowing Musashi’s story is helpful in appreciating it but not crucial, as long as you think of it as a “Fracture Fairy Tales” take on history.
This episode is a bit different from the earlier stories putting the cast in the past, in that many of them are explicitly filling the roles of historical figures rather than most of them being equivalent characters to their modern selves (the Heian story) or just thinking they’re these legendary characters (last episode). That’s why I’ve used the names of the figures they’re playing rather than their original names, where it matters (I’m not typing out the full names for the Yoshiokas more than once).
New closing theme! Tomobiki-cho lists this as the first episode of the fourth season, ,which makes sense if you’re using credit changes as reference. I like this theme better than the last one, and the tiny characters are cute.
Next episode: Onsen-Mark strives mightily to maintain order in the classroom!