The main character of Hana: The Tale of a Reluctant Samurai is a young man charged with getting revenge for the murder of his samurai, sent to an unfamiliar impoverished village of row houses in Edo, in search of his foe. Soza is disenchanted by the cycle of murder and revenge, and delays his search as much as possible. Over time he becomes friendly with the downtrodden villagers, among them a slightly intellectually impaired man named Magosaburo.
Mago is usually seen wearing a loincloth, faded happi coat and a colorful patchwork vest. He’s initially portrayed as being the butt of all the jokes, and always given the dirtiest and most dangerous of jobs. Even the landlord, who collects their nightsoil to sell as fertilizer and buy the traditional mooncakes for the yearly festival, makes a cruel remark about Mago’s labor being not worth as much as his feces. Mago doesn’t pick up on the cruelty, though, and excitedly begins to jump up and down in hopes of hastening his next session at the latrine.
But each year the villagers scheme to win the reward for Best Dramatic Play at the festival, and Soza not only provides them with a compelling theme for a play, but a covert operation to collect a different reward to boot. Mago plays a starring role in this one, and when he completes his role flawlessly the villagers find they have more respect for him. He’s included in their good fortune as well as the bad.