June 29, 2004
by: Eric Chin
From Cowboy Bebop's Shinichiro Watanabe comes a revolutionary fusion of samurai and hip-hop.
From the mind that brought you the unforgettable Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe brings an exciting new anime to the table - Samurai Champloo. Much like Cowboy Bebop, where Watanabe fuses together bounty hunters in the future and Jazz, Watanabe brings together two different aspects - Hip Hop and samurais in feudal Japan. This combines for a stunning and phenomenal new anime.
Samurai Champloo follows the story of Fuu, a naïve and ditzy teahouse waitress, Mugen, a rebellious and reckless samurai, and Jin, a calm and collected ronin, whom strikes with deadly precise quickness. Their lives start off separate, and eventually they cross paths.
Fuu encounters some trouble with the son of a local magistrate. As they are about to punish her, she screams out one hundred dumplings, the price for Mugen to save her. Slicing off a man’s arm, flipping over enemies, ducking enemy swords Mugen is introduced into the story with his break dancing inspired fighting style. The magistrate’s son threatens Mugen with his dad’s position and the three highly skilled samurais at his side. Mugen responds with an attitude all too familiar to old Clint Eastwood films to bring it on.
As fate would have it, across town Jin has disposed of these samurai with three quick strikes of his blade. Jin epitomizes what it means to be cool with his calm and collected demeanor combined with his skillful use of the blade. Jin stumbles upon this teahouse only to interrupt. He turns around to leave, but Mugen being reckless as usual charges Jin, and the two engage in a short skirmish. They are then captured by the magistrate and are about to be executed when Fuu makes a deal with them to help them escape if they help her find the samurai who smells like sunflowers. This is where it all begins.
The animation in Samurai Champloo is simply amazing. The artists create a very stylistic feudal Japan with highly contrasted frames and a dark approach. The artists bring to life comic book like characters and action sequences familiar to Watanabe’s predecessor – Cowboy Bebop. The characters are completely unique and very well developed. After watching the first few episodes, there is a sense of realism in the characters and the world that can only portrayed by the mastermind - Shinichiro Watanabe. This compelling anime truly stands out in its music. The scores and themes are stunning and combine with deep character development, excellent animation, and the style of Shinchiro Watanabe to make a highly anticipated anime.