As promised, here is the review of Samurai Champloo. Samurai Champloo is another one of those anime that has been around for awhile, but that I’ve never gotten around to watching. A friend from library school recommended it to me, so I decided to give it a shot. Overall, I was happy that I did.
The story follows Fuu, Jin, and Mugen in their journey across Japan. It begins when Fuu, a waitress, rescues Jin and Mugen from execution. After rescuing them, she demands that they accompany her as she searches for the samurai who smells of sunflowers. The anime follows this general plot line, although there are episodes that do not necessarily follow the plot, but those that divert are guaranteed to entertain.
It is definitely not a kid’s anime (and is a bit crass in parts and might be a bit gory and too serious in some parts for younger audiences) but it is quite funny. Although the show has a historical setting, it, much like Samurai 7, incorporates some strange elements. In this case, it’s hip hop.
There are several examples of this, such as Mugen’s fighting style, which resembles break dancing, and the graffiti episode and the random diversions into hip hop music by minor characters. These slightly absurd elements, along with the off-topic episodes, are what make the anime fun.
However, the anime also does a good job of addressing more serious topics. All three protagonists have some dark aspects in their pasts, and the anime does a good job of having the characters address and resolve these darker elements. I will say that I liked Mugen and Fuu better as characters than Jin, partially because I found their characters a little different from typical characters. Jin was a bit too angsty for me. Mugen is great comic relief, due to his utterly ridiculous fighting style and general goofiness. Fuu is also interesting because she is a strong character in her own way. I had initially wanted her to be more of a fighter, but honestly she is strong in force of personality and determination, and I was satisfied with her character in the long run.
But back to the anime as a whole. Even though the series addresses the journey and some serious concepts, it does so in a balanced way. It swings from the absurd to the serious very well, and that I think that these shifts make for a well-balanced anime. Just as things get too dramatic, it promptly stops taking itself seriously. Overall, the series was extremely enjoyable to watch.