Anime Review: “Samurai Champloo”: Swordfighting and… Beatboxing?

Written by Alex Bowman February 22, 2013

I have wanted to talk about this anime for a very long time. This anime is one of my all-time personal favorites largely due to the fact that it is so incredibly different. I have yet to see an anime as unique, stylized and bombastic as “Samurai Champloo.” What do you get when you take the historical Edo period of Japan and coat it with modern hip-hop elements? I can assure you that what you will get is a brilliantly constructed anime that is just clever enough to make it both hilarious and enjoyable. Plus it doesn’t hurt that this anime was made by the same guy who made “Cowboy Bebop.”

Tempestuous Temperaments

The setting for “Samurai Champloo” focuses on the journey of the series’ three main protagonists: the vagabond Mugen, the master-less ronin Jin and the feisty Fuu. The show begins with Fuu witnessing a bar fight between Mugen and Jin who immediately hate each other due to poor information. Fuu sees their potential and propositions them both to escort her on a journey to find the samurai who smells of sunflowers. After a coin toss is made to decide their fate, Mugen and Jin are roped into helping Fuu on her quest through Tokugawa-era Japan.

Lethal Lunacy

“Samurai Champloo” has a lot of great and enjoyable content that will immediately grab your attention. The three main protagonists are incredibly entertaining and each one has something about them that you will find yourself continuously enjoying whether it be Mugen’s coolness, Jin’s dry humor or Fuu’s quirkiness. Each character is portrayed very well and their endless tomfoolery really compliments the brilliant writing that doesn’t suffer any forms of platitude throughout the series 26 episode run. The show is also incredibly funny but still provides you with a chance to breathe and take in the world of the show without having to be drowned in a constant barrage of mindless content. Just the right amount of comedy and drama are blended together to create a beautiful epic reminiscent of other travel narratives like Don Quixote or Joseph Andrews.

Artistic Anarchy

Before we go any further, let’s just address the elephant in the room: this anime is slathered with artistic licensing. I feel it only appropriate to address the elements of the show that some people may not enjoy. Right off the bat the show presents us with a ton of anachronisms; they may be little things like Jin’s glasses and Fuu’s nail polish or big things like characters breaking into a rap battle while the musical score busts out a hip-hop track. History nuts will also find it hard to enjoy episodes devoted to historical events in the Edo period (e.g. the Shimabara Rebellion) with characters acting like members of Snoop Dogg’s posse. The music of the show may not be everyone’s cup of sake; much of the show’s music consists of hip hop and rap music ripped directly from the lost episodes of “The Boondocks.” Mugen himself is a great character but his presence in the show is in and of itself an anachronism; things like his hair, his clothing, his attitude and his chanbara technique (Mugen sword-fights with a style reminiscent of a break-dancer) really stick out.

The modern motifs of the show overall may come off as distracting for those who are not fans of the hip-hop genre but I would argue that, despite the choice in design and musical accompaniment, you should still give this show a chance. The historical segments of the show are not at all bastardized by the interlacing of modernized segments and Mugen’s character is still a force to be reckoned with because of the strong writing and hard-hitting pathos that is associated with his character.

Cosmic Collision

Some may call this anime one of the greatest shows of all time and some may call it “The Boondocks” with samurai swords; some may like it and some may hate it. I personally recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone with a passing interest in anime. The series may suffer from too much artistic leeway and use of modernism but the show overall works really well because everything blends together to provide a great adventure with plenty of gut-busting gags, epic battles and memorable stories that will immediately earn your admiration.

My Rating: 7/10

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Alex Bowman

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on Anime Review: “Samurai Champloo”: Swordfighting and… Beatboxing?. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment