As requested by one of my awesome followers, Erised Moon, I am finally reviewing a distinctive anime classic from the early 2000’s called Samurai Champloo. Before getting the request to review this anime, I had this show on my must-watch for a long time, but I never got around to it because of how busy I have been. Now that I have finished it, I keep thinking to myself, “Why haven’t I watched this series earlier?” With this series led by critically acclaimed director Shinichirō Watanabe, this anime brings a lot to the plate when it comes to classics, and even adds some unique twists that are visually and beautifully sounding to the audience.
Samurai Champloo follows a young ditzy waitress in the Edo period named Fuu who brings food to regular customers as her daily schedule…until a group of bandits come into the restaurant and try to kidnap her. Then two unique samurai: Mugen, a fierce warrior with a fighting style with moves similar to a break dancer, and Jin, who has the traditional samurai fighting style, run to the scene and attack the bandits in the eatery and save Fuu. After the scene, though, the two samurai begin fighting one another and accidentally kill a man named Shibui Tomonoshina, the magistrate’s son. For this crime, they are sent to be executed, but Fuu comes to their rescue and requests them to become her bodyguards on a journey to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”
For an anime series, the synopsis seems quite simple for older audiences to follow, but is it really? In the beginning episodes of the show, the three main protagonists have no character development at all and the storyline slows the whole plot, leaving many questions from the audience. After about seven episodes into the anime, I almost stopped watching the show entirely because of how slow the story is at the start, but the eighth episode made a huge comeback by adding some character development and awesome fight scenes. From this episode and throughout the other ones after it, the story improves greatly and will leave the viewers binge-watching until the very end. (I could have watching this series in a couple weeks, but I was so busy with schooling and my Wifi would slow down a lot of the time, so I could only watch the anime during times when my internet would work.)
The uniqueness I mentioned in the first paragraph has to do with two cultures clashing together to create one cool looking TV series: the Japanese and modern Western cultures. From the catchy opening to the ending scene, the audience will get to hear a handful of hip hop and DJ tracks that surprisingly fit to the environment of the series. When hearing the theme song, I questioned whether the series was going to be one with actual hipster samurai…but I was so wrong! These hip hop tracks actually accomplish the task of making this show a masterpiece. With songs produced by classical Japanese rap stars and DJs, these tracks are striking in their own way and very catchy, especially the opening theme, Battlecry.
Oh, but that is not the only aspect of the culture clash, there are a few episodes where the American culture can revolve around an episode. An example would be an episode twenty three, Baseball Blues. The episode follows the popular American sport baseball, of course, but it’s impressive because of the way the episode is handled. In that episode, Americans come to challenge some Japanese villagers and samurai in a comical yet serious baseball game.
Some people who watch anime probably know this, but sometimes the animation in older shows tend to have sketchy and awkward scenes and drawings, but not with Samurai Champloo! The art in this series conveys the anime to life as the character designs and outfits give the show some coolness to it, the backgrounds have spectacular colors and sketches, and to put the cherry on top, each of the battle sequences are beautiful to watch! For the characters’ designs, each of the characters are diffrent in their own way, from the eye shape to the facial features. The only similar feature in their designs is their bold outlining, which can be visible from far away. The animators and designers did a wonderful job creating such a stunning work of art for audiences to enjoy.
As one that mostly watches anime in English Dubbed, I watched this series in the English language, of course, and I really enjoyed it! All of the voices fit for each of the characters, especially the main ones. Mugen, who is voiced by none other than Steve Blum, delivers a wonderful character through his tone, funny moments, and emotions through battle scenes that are certainly unforgettable. If you do not already know, Steve Blum also voices the classic character Spike from Cowboy Bebop, a classic anime that can be compared to Samurai Champloo. (For those of you who haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop, it’s a really good series that you should really check out, especially for newcomers to anime.) There are other amazing voice actors and actresses that helped with this series, but I think Mugen’s voice was my favorite out of all the others.
Overall, this anime is really worth the watch, which is why I am giving it five stars, and I recommend it to those of you who want to view something unique and memorable. If the story had not sped up, I think I would have rated it a four star—maybe less. Now, some of you are probably asking which anime I prefer: Samurai Champloo or Cowboy Bebop? Well, I took some time to think about it, but it was really hard to come up with a decision because both of these anime are great in their own ways. In my opinion, though, I like Cowboy Bebop just a tiny bit more because the story is not as slow as Champloo. To those of you who going to view the anime, get ready for a fun and thrilling rollercoaster ride as you venture into the Edo period full of amazing fighting samurai and nonchalant hip hop tracks.
Warnings: Violence and Some Profanity
Started Watching the Series: December 31st, 2016
Finished the series: February 20th, 2017
I would like to thank you, Erised Moon for telling me about this classic samurai anime; this anime was truly a really fun watch and I may rewatch it someday! 🙂 I apologize for the long wait; I had been very busy while watching the series, so I would only watching when I had some free time and fast internet.
If you viewers want to request a book for me to read (I’ve ran out of books to read), an anime or TV show to watch, or even a movie for me to view, then leave me a comment in the comments section below! I will get back to you as soon as I can, but if I get a request to review a book I’ve read or anime or TV series I’ve already read or seen, then those reviews will be posted first. But I promise I will try and review all of your requests!
Tune in next time for my review of Timeless (Season 1), which will be posted on February 25th, 2017!
GG ❤ 🙂