As someone who looks out for quality non-mainstream anime, Samurai Champloo certainly caught my eye. Set in a fictional Edo Japan, it brings out a unique style of art with unique characters. Even though it is set in the Edo period, it is filled with modern references which make the anime more fun.
It follows the simplistic story of three young teens, Fuu, a former waitress, Mugen, a rogue clouded with mystery, and Jin, a ronin (Samurai without a master). A flying squirrel called Momo also follows them throughout their adventures, acting as the cast’s mascot. They are helping Fuu to find a samurai that “smells like sunflowers”. As with any other Edo period animes, Samurai Champloo promises swordfights. The swordfights in this particular anime is exceptionally well choreographed, with many of its characters’ movements slick and unique, as with Shinichiro Watanabe’s other animes like Cowboy Bebop.
For example, Mugen uses a highly unconventional style of swordplay, influenced by modern break dancing, which is hugely different to Jin, who fights with an unconventional style of Swordplay.
Without revealing too much of the anime’s plot, in each episode, the trio gets into different troubles with Fuu’s quest to find the samurai that “smells like sunflowers” a plot holder. Each episode adds onto the individual’s character and personality with the last few episodes accumulating to Fuu’s meeting with the Sunflower Samurai. Every episode of the anime makes each of the three heroes more unforgettable and unique.
As mentioned before, the art is stylized and distinctive, perhaps borrowed from how the olden Japanese do their drawings which gives it the historic and traditional feel. Once you watched one episode of the anime, you will feel like the artists have placed in a lot of time and effort into recreating the background of the Edo period, with lust scenery carefully designed to suit that era. The hip hop music also gives the anime its own individualistic theme like no other. It also gives the swordfights in the anime an adrenaline rush with its upbeat tunes. The anime is simulated by classical Japan, modern music and historic ideas.
The anime is also quite comedic, with a few moments in each episode making me laugh out loud. With many genres blending into this anime, it will be able to appeal to many viewers, both casual and hardcore. If you are someone who loves action, this anime has it. If you crave comedy, this anime also has it.
However, except the trio that features in every episode, the other characters from the show are largely forgettable as they only appear once or twice. This does not make for good plot setting as the final plot is only addressed until the end of the show. It is also a pity that there is no build-up to a larger and more sinister plot like Samurai Deeper Kyo. Nonetheless, this type of episodic arrangements makes it that a person who missed one episode would not feel disappointed for not knowing the plot that is carried from the previous episode. The westerners in the show are also stereotyped as large and evil men who are caricaturized of their identity.
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