I recently finished watching Samurai Champloo, and I have to admit that I have only good things to say about this anime.
Full of humor, adventure, drama and samurai that are perfectly encased in funky, hip hop vibes, this anime somehow combines all of the things I like in one, lovely, unassuming package.
In fact, Champloo (or Chanpuru) means “mixed” and is actually an Okinawan stir-fry dish – so, basically, the show is a luscious blend of entertainment flavors that left me feeling more than satisfied.
The story follows three main protagonists: Mugen, a vagrant (almost feral) swordsman, Jin, a controlled and stoic ronin, and Fuu, a young girl in search of the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”
Traveling across an alternate version of Edo-era Japan (1603-1868), the three find themselves tangled in a series of ridiculous antics that eventually become part of the larger, overarching story line.
The fight scenes are well choreographed and interesting, without the show being overwhelmed by them – in fact, I was surprised how well they balanced the storytelling and action scenes.
Additionally, as you devour the show (I couldn’t stop watching), the characters become very well-developed, providing you with a sense of camaraderie, and allowing you to feel as though you are along for the journey.
Samurai Champloo has a lot of similarities to Cowboy Bebop, who Shinichiro Watanabe also directed, that combines an alternate version of history blended with contemporary music. Both of the series are critically acclaimed, and I can’t tell you that I’m surprised. I’ll definitely be diving into Cowboy Bebop soon, as I’ve only seen an episode or two so far.
Below, you can see some fan art I found that shows the main characters from each series. Mugen and Spike (the main character in Cowboy Bebop) are drawn very similarly, and are both played by the same voice actor. Admittedly, the voice actor, Steve Blum has an ideal voice for both characters, and has been a voice actor in some of the most popular animated series in the last decade i.e. Naruto, Durarara, Regular Show, Transformers, etc.
If you’re feeling my description of this anime and want to experience a little of it yourself, I highly recommend you watch the opening credits I’ve attached below. The opening is a very good representation of the show’s vibe, and I just love both the song and how it’s drawn. What do you think?