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Title: Samurai Champloo - Episode 11 Review
Posted: April 08, 2006 (12:21 PM)
Title: Samurai Champloo
Genre: Japanese Animation - Series
Episode: 11 - Gamblers and Gallantry
Release Year: 2004


Refining Perfection

Content - 10.0 (S)
Art - 9.6 (A+)
Sound - 9.4 (A)
Value - 9.9 (A+)
Tilt - 10.0 (S)
Final - 9.8 (A+)

Think about every movie that deserved to win "Best Picture" but off-handedly won "Best Screenplay". Witness "Sideways", "Lost in Translation", "Spirited Away", and, if it was a movie, "Gamblers and Gallantry". Perhaps overshadowed by the mass popularity of the legendary "Ballad of Fallen Angels" (Cowboy Bebop, Episode #5), "Gamblers and Gallantry" is absolutely and undeniably the best 20 minutes of Japanese animation this hardened critic has ever experienced. Thoroughly intriguing, the script involves and interprets more symbols than Egyptian cryptography: the passionate freedom of the red umbrella, the sorrowful rain and clouds, the bridge crossing, the divine eel, and invariably more than enough for the eye to scour and behold. This kaleidoscope of imagery brings forth the refined complexity yet restrained depth in the relationship between Jin and Shino. From its opening shot descending down the canal, the scenes shift and flow from emotion to emotion with unexpected layers of disbelief and power. Historical nuances such as Kabuto sumo and divorce sanctuaries weave into the narrative intelligently. Masterful handling of lighting and direction accentuate each wave of expression with delicate strokes. Enlightened sympathy and enticing dialogue intertwine and expand across the screen, washing out even the most seductive chance for boredom or cliché from each and every frame. The relative silence near the beginning pulls us into the story, and the ending melody with its soft, melancholy, and romantic tones pulls us in even further. Completing the package are scenes that finally move the relationship between the three forward. Unlike most episodes of Samurai Champloo, "Gamblers and Gallantry" does not ride on just one or two highlights. It is a bona-fide masterpiece.

lastheroUser: lasthero
Posted: April 08, 2006 (12:33 PM)
Hell yes. Love Samurai Champloo.

midwinterUser: midwinter
Posted: April 09, 2006 (11:01 AM)
I just got done watching this episode for the first time a few minutes ago, and I've got to say, you were right on target with all that. It was an amazing 20 minutes of anime, and reminds me of why I started watching the genre in the first place. With so much crap being produced these days, it's good to know that there are people like Shinichiro Watanabe striving for excellence in the medium.

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