Samurai Champloo is the latest work from Writer/Director Shinichiro Watanabe, who is most recognized for his work on Cowboy Bebop. One of the very few things Champloo and Bebop have in common is their great scores. Champloo mixes two subjects which would never be put in one sentence together, western hip-hop and eastern samurai swordplay. Yet the mixture comes out with a brilliant result. The fights scenes are hyped up with the speed and flow from the music and come out magnificent. But Champloo isn't all about fighting. Many things happen along the road for the three main characters: Mugen, a rough mouth vagrant with a fighting style similar to capoeira with a sword. Jin, a quite and intelligent ronin who fights with deadly lightning speeds. And Fuu, the ditsy waitress that brings these two together in search of a samurai who smells of sunflowers. Between these three we see many moments of humorous antics, whether it's Mugen poking insults at her flat chest or Mugen and Jin’s constant attempts on each others life. Samurai Champloo is fueled by Action, Comedy, and Drama. Together with an original story Samurai Champloo has a unique spin on the old samurai era making it a great find for any fan of anime.
The story of Champloo is an original work from Shinichiro Watanabe. The story centers on Fuu’s search for a samurai who smells of sunflowers. As the wanders continue on their travel they encounter many problems, mostly dealing with how to make money for their various expenses some times causing trouble for the three. In the travels many humorous things occur like Mugen entering a beetle type cock fight, Jin and Mugen’s adventure in to the red-light district, or the three entering an eating contest. As the three get closer to the samurai who smells of sunflowers, things begin to unravel leading the three to the most trouble they have ever seen.
Champloo has crisp clean stylistic animation. Characters are draw clean and clear with many details. The landscapes of Champloo are filled with beautiful shots of Japan’s country side. There are even a few scenes were the animation becomes only black and white and seem as they where draw straight from sketches to add to the scene. There is also one part were the colors and animation becomes so lively that it gives the impression of a whacked out hallucination.
The score of Champloo is what sets its self apart from any other anime in its genre. The background music is filled with urban hip-hop to give it a loose free flowing fill to it. A big portion of Champloo is focused on its original sound and it shows. For action scenes we get a fast flowing sound that gives the sword fights a more stylistic feel to them. For the more dramatic scenes we get deeper sounding background music. There are even moments during some flash back scenes were the music that we get to hear a rich Japanese sound to give a deeper feeling to it.
Samurai Champloo focuses around 3 core characters. Mugen is a straight loud mouth anti-hero. Mugen is the wild one of the group, always flying by the seat of his pants. Mugen also seems to have a problem with authority. Mugen is the first to draw and the last to leave a fight. Jin is a noble ronin in the search of a purpose. Jin although quite and wise, he too has some distaste with authority like Mugen, although with different reason mainly because he sees the one’s in charge as waste. Fuu is a young girl in the search of a samurai who smells of sunflowers, she keeps these reasons to herself for some reason. Fuu is clumsy and some times naive. Fuu is constantly being kidnapped even though she has two strong bodyguards. And for some reason she keeps a flying squirrel with her to help out sometimes.
Any one who is a fan of samurai action will surely like Champloo. Filled with enough action to keep those hard core action fans at bay, Champloo sprinkles some comedy and drama on top. If you are someone who doesn't like the hip-hop aspect of Champloo, then at least give it a try, you may be surprised.