One day I was chilling. Scrolling through Netflix because that's all I do. All I do is Write, Stream, and talk to myself. I looked through the anime section and usually this section is lacking on Netflix. I don't even know why I was searching this section when I have Crunchyroll and Kiss Anime but there I was. I seen Samurai Champloo and clicked on it after reading the description. I watched episode 1. Got out of my bed. Turned on my Macbook. Got on Amazon and bought the complete series on Blu-ray. The episode was so refreshing to me that I refused to watch it until the complete series was delivered to me. Thanks to my bae Amazon Prime. Samurai Champloo was in my hands in two days. I was officially ready to set out on the adventure to find the samurai who smells of sunflowers. I'm listening to "Battle Cry" as I write this. Peace to Nujabes.
Samurai Champloo is a show about three individuals the universe and a group of power tripping assholes brought together to set out on an adventure to find a samurai who smells of sunflowers. Let's introduce the main characters.
Fuu Kasami - The leading lady. A poor waitress/dancer in a teahouse
Mugen - One of two bodyguards for Fuu. Wild card. Unpredictable swordsman.
Jin- One of two bodyguards for Fuu. Calm. Discipline swordsman.
Fuu is a waitress at a teahouse and she gets into trouble with a group of power hungry thugs who bully everyone in the town and they attempt to harm her. Mugen and Jin fatefully get involved in this situation and Fuu ends up saving their lives and now they are in debt to Fuu for saving their lives. Fuu in return wants both Mugen and Jin to accompany her to find a samurai who smells of sunflowers. Another part of the deal is that Mugen and Jin cannot fight each other until the adventure they set out on is complete.
What really caught my attention and drew me in to this series after watching episode 1 was the use of hip-hop. I was really bugged out about this while watching the series. The creator really respects the hip-hop culture. Hip-Hop consistently stayed relevant throughout the series and was fused with Japanese culture so beautifully. I can picture hip-hop pioneers watching Samurai Champloo and being impressed and proud of the representation of hip-hop in the series. The soundtrack to the series is really 90's influenced with the boom bap and shit. The music is what made me keep watching. It's a shame that another culture really has more respect for hip-hop than the states it was created in. They used the 5 elements of hip-hop in this series.
Dj Scratching sound effects throughout the series.
Beat-boxing with the ends of swords.
B-Boying. Mugen's fighting style mixes b-boying with unorthodox sword skills. He basically Eddie Gordo from Tekken but he can swiss cheese you up.
Graffiti. There was an episode about Graffiti. Beautifully done. Seriously dope as fuck.
Knowledge. They used hip-hop culture to express and find purpose in their lives.
Okay that's 6. Who's counting anyway.
This series is basically a mixtape. You don't know what you're getting. I think in the total 26 episodes there are about 10-13 episodes that connect with the overall mission in finding the Sunflower Samurai. There's a lot of filler but plot twist! Majority of the filler is entertaining and worth watching. You have pointless episodes like the Zombie one. You have hilarious episodes like the baseball one. Mugen could win a Cy Young if he'd control his fastball. A lot of these episodes are really fun to watch. If I had my way this series would be cut down maybe to 20 episodes. Even though some of the filler can be entertaining I'm real big on the flow of story. I like when series feel like one long movie. Champloo doesn't feel like that with all the random episodes thrown in the mix. This series is so random just like it's predecessor "Cowboy Bebop." We forgot about each characters desire until it was time to almost bring the series to an end. Bebop were a bunch of episodes of random bounty missions, a few episodes about the syndicate and Spike's crazy past then all of sudden shit really got real and you were just sitting there like damn this is deep. Champloo is the same way except it's way more secretive. I'll explain why it's more secretive later.
I really enjoyed how all 3 characters were different from each other. Mugen is the anti hero. A sociopath. No respect for authority. Unorthodox fighting style. No discipline. Only thinks of himself and killing people. Love's chicks with big titties and food. He's a real dude. Fuu is a know it all that doesn't know it all. Probably the most kidnapped person in a series I've ever seen and she doesn't know how to mind her business. She's kind of boring but you need her in this series because she's the reason the adventure is happening. Jin was probably the most interesting guy. He's quiet. Disciplined. A very cerebral swordsman. The total opposite of Mugen and why they both never get along. He hates people who abuses power and people who aren't honorable. He is the eldest of the 3 and he is always thinking several moves ahead before he acts. He keeps the group grounded and that's why I feel he was the most important person in the group. He cleans up and prevents a lot of mistakes. Just to see the different personalities grow with each other on this adventure was really a bright spot in this series. Everyone in the group learns about a flaw in their character and grows from it. Mugen learns about being selfless. Jin learns about friendship. Fuu learns the truth.
This is a very secretive series as I stated before because everyones past is really cloudy. Just when you think you're going to get an episode about someone's past like Bebop did, Champloo turns it back to involve the whole group. Remember in Bebop when Spike had episodes about his past it was all about him. Same with Faye Valentine. Champloo doesn't make it about one person often. I think Mugen was the closest and even with those episodes you still really don't know a lot about Mugen's past and it included the whole group. It's up to you to interpret what you think Mugen is. Jin rarely got any love in this department. I think he deserved more episodes about himself. Fuu past was hidden all the way to the last leg of the series. All we know about the past of each person of the group is that it plays a part of putting everyone in danger. The character development is another flaw of this series in my opinion. They just exist. I didn't walk away from the series feeling like I knew anyone. Jin was the closest because of one episode where you see him come out of his shell for a love interest.
The series finale is a 3 part roller coaster and seriously one of the best series finales I've seen ever. The security blanket was gone. Throughout the series you knew that no one would leave the group because the story would no longer make sense. There isn't enough characters in this series to just kill people off like "The Walking Dead" does. The series finale of Champloo is a toss up and all bets are off. We have reached the desired destination and anyone can die and that's what made it so great. When you reach this point you're just wondering who will make it and who won't and how will they overcome these obstacles. I seriously was on the edge of my seat biting my nails. It was just so beautifully done and emotional.
Samurai Champloo is a fun ride that can be enjoyed by people who aren't hardcore fans of anime and hardcore fans of anime. It has mass appeal as the late Guru would suggest. Definitely up there as one of my favorites. If you haven't checked it out, it's on Netflix for you to enjoy and on youtube also. Peace.