Samurai Champloo

Title:Samurai Champloo
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Madhouse
NAKAI Kazuya
R1 License - FUNimation
R1 License - Pioneer (Defunct)
SATOU Ginpei
TACHIKI Fumihiko
WATANABE Shinichiro

Fuu-chan is working as a waitress in a tea shop in the era of the samurai in Japan. She meets Mugen, a strange samurai warrior who looks like he's break dancing when he fights. For 100 dumplings, he agrees to help her when some local thugs, who work for the magistrate's sone, try to cut off her finger.

Meanwhile another Samurai named Jin runs into the Magistrate and his bodyguards. Quickly dispatching these tough fighters, Jin comes to the tea shop and immediately he and Mugen begin to fight. In the end, Fuu manages to convince the pair to stop their fight and join her on a mysterious quest to find a samurai who smells like sunflowers. Will Jin and Mugen be able to keep their promise to Fuu or will they kill each other? Will people stop trying to get Fuu-chan into bed with them?

[26 TV episodes, from the director of Cowboy Bebop. The series was split into 2-seasons after it was halted for a time after episode 17. Supposedly, this was to allow Geneon's R1 release of the series to continue on schedule. Series licensed by Geneon but now distributed by FUNimation.]

Rating: TV-MA

Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 9 9 8 8 9 Dreamer [series:799#2279]
This is one of those that you absoutely must have in your library, be it on your shelves or otherwise. If you're not a fan of samurai genres, here's a good place to start. I'm not a samurai fan either but this was just top-notch entertainment.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork was excellent. Details were rich, colors were vibrant and the settings were well done and believable. Animation was also excellent. It was smooth and fluid. Character designs were again, excellent. Each character design stood on their own, meaning they were all very distinctly illustrated. Details were also top-notch, such as their facial expressions and their fluid body movements.

The OP was completely different from the norm. It was actually a hip-hop piece! I couldn't believe it when I first listened to it. Personally, I don't like hip-hop, but it was a welcomed change and it actually fit the series as a whole. As for the soundtrack, it had a nice mixture of urban styles, some hip-hop flavors and a slight light blend of techno. Nice overall. The ED was another hip-hop piece but with female vocals. Nice touch.

Series and Episode Story
First let me tell what was wrong with this series..... wait, nothing actually comes to mind. No, actually, just a very minor detail with the plot, which I'll address later. Well then, let me get to the rest. This series was oustanding! Everything from artwork to characters to plot was just awesome. It's probably by far the best samurai series I've seen to date. But then again, I haven't really seen much to begin with.

The sword play in this series was very well done and fast past at that. It wasn't mindless hacking and slashing but rather, there were well coordinated attacks and counter-attacks. It's amazing watching the two very different techniques and swordplay between our two main characters, "Mugen" and "Jin". They can almost be called opposites, not only in their swordplay but also their appearance and character. What helped make this series believable was how our two characters, as bad as they were, still got their asses handed to them several times, one of which by a female. Wow! She was bad-assed.

The plot for the most part didn't progress until the last several episodes (that was the minor detail I mentioned above). This wasn't all that bad however because each episode was still excellent and filled with enough episodic story telling that it kept you occupied and entertained. As the story progresses, we get to see the gradual development of our character's understanding for each other and ultimately a development of friendship... even if it's a silent type of friendship. Character development was minimal, but it kept you interested and it shared just enough to appreciate our main characters that much more. By the end of the series, we finally get to see the "sunflower samurai". Unfortunately, the ending didn't seem like a suitable ending for a series of this caliber. At least, I didn't feel like it was. But, it wasn't a loss, just a slight let down.

Overall, this was a most excellent series. The characters were great, the plot was enjoyable, swordplay was fast & furious. If there's another season to come out, I'd be sure to pick it up.

Last updated Saturday, December 11 2010. Created Saturday, December 11 2010.
Rent 8 8 8 9 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:799#1552]
Samurai Champloo is another TV anime directed by famous anime director Shinichiro Watanabe. The series focuses on two wandering swordsmen named Mugen and Jin accompanying a young woman named Fuu throughout feudal Japan to journey in finding a man whom she calls the Sunflower Samurai. While on their journey, the three encounter various characters who either have their anachronistic quirks that clash with the reality of the historical period or whom the three are acquainted with from their personal pasts that each of the three are forced to confront.

Samurai Champloo’s most well-known aesthetic element comes in the form of incorporating modern cultural elements to clash with the historical elements of the show’s setting in Tokugawa era Japan. This is mainly shown through some of the show’s filler episodes and even with elements of Mugen’s appearance and fighting style. With filler episodes, a good number of modern Western elements such as baseball, graffiti, rapping, and elevators are incorporated into the various Japanese locales that Fuu and the guys visit. Meanwhile, Mugen’s choice of dress and his Champloo fighting style are inspired by elements of the American hip-hop scene with the baggy appearance of his clothes and incorporating elements of break-dancing into his fighting style. This anachronistic nature is obviously influenced by Watanabe’s love for meshing elements of Western culture into any anime titles that he directs. The anachronistic blurring of modern elements with feudal Japan does help add a stylish flair to Samurai Champloo’s presentation.

Outside of the modern anachronisms, Samurai Champloo also dabbles into believable elements of the Tokugawa era. While historical accuracy and believability of these elements is blurred due to the show’s anachronistic nature and artistic license, it still dabbles into historical figures and events of the time period. The presence of Dutch merchants in Japan despite the country’s strict restrictions on foreign relations, ukiyo-e paintings, and historical figures like Miyamoto Musashi and Mariya Enshirou are found in a number of episodes throughout the series. But the major event of the era that the show does gradually focus on due to its connection to Fuu and her companions’ journey is the Shimabara Rebellion and the shogunate’s efforts to repress the spread of Christianity within the country.

As far as the show’s handling of the journey of our three lead characters are concerned, it’s a bit of a mixed bag within Samurai Champloo. All three are hinted to be affected by different circumstances from their pasts that a number of later episodes do take the time to exploring to varying degrees of effectiveness. Mugen’s backstory explored during the middle of the series in a two-episode arc offered solid exploration of his past and what led to his pessimistic view of life in feudal Japan. Meanwhile, Jin and Fuu’s pasts are gradually built up to with segments of episodes devoted to exploring elements of them and ultimately explored in the show’s final three episodes. However, it seemed to me that Fuu’s character story was not as interesting to get into since she lacked the heavy personal baggage that Mugen and Jin had with their backstories. Plus, the journey to finding the Sunflower Samurai felt quite dragged out as it wasn’t until late in the show’s second half that the series started to pick up steam with trying to push and conclude their journey. A good number of the episodes not focused on our three lead characters vary quite a bit in storytelling quality as many of them are self-contained and contribute little to advancing the journey of Fuu and the men in any way.

As far as presentation’s concerned, Samurai Champloo is a bit hit-and-miss. The show has some fairly inconsistent animation quality as there are occasions I noticed the animated details on characters looked degraded or even missing altogether. While the character designs of our lead characters are pleasing on the eyes, the design quality of other characters tend to vary quite a bit throughout the show’s run. Action scenes had great choreography with characters engaging in sword duels or dealing with foes with different weapons or abilities, most unique of which Mugen milking his unique fighting style with break-dancing moves. Obviously, the visuals are not on the caliber of Watanabe’s more memorable work, Cowboy Bebop. But they get the job done with showing off Samurai Champloo’s stylish mix of feudal era Japanese and modern Western cultural elements.

For music, Samurai Champloo milks a mix of Western hip-hop and rap, traditional Japanese tunes, and some dramatic piano pieces. This is perhaps the best element of Samurai Champloo as this mix of musical styles fits perfectly with the atmosphere and varying moods depicted throughout the series, especially its opening “Battle Cry” being the most memorable musical track within the series.

Overall, would say Samurai Champloo’s a mixed bag. While it does effectively blend feudal Japanese elements with modern Western cultural elements for its aesthetics, its handling of the journey of Fuu and her male companions is quite hit-and-miss as focus on it felt too dragged out and Fuu’s character story not feeling as engaging to see develop compared to Mugen and Jin. It is still worth checking out if you are more into the show’s style and heavy swordsplay action. But would still say it isn’t one of Shinichiro Watanabe’s more stronger works compared to anything like Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, and Carole and Tuesday.

Last updated Sunday, February 02 2020. Created Thursday, December 24 2009.
Buy 9 10 10 9 8 10 periphereia [series:799#3121]
Genuinely one of my favourite anime. i'd happily suggest people to buy this, though as with any anime, it depends on your taste.

The storyline may seem simple or typical for a samurai series: A girl helps two lone samurai escape from prison if they promise to help her search for "The Samurai that smells of sunflowers". I'll admit too, it's a pretty darn simple storyline. But the simplicity is perfect for the series. It allows a lot of potential and freedom for each individual episode, a series that seems to take itself serious without being serious at all. It's hard to explain, but everything about it seems perfectly suited for what they are trying to achieve.

The characters are fairly typical. Fuu, a young, naive (but over confident?) girl with an insane appetite. Mugen, a rough samurai with a bizarre fighting style, and a rude straightforward attitude. And Jin, a very traditional samurai who hardly speaks a word. Yet each character has their own little quirks that make them unique, whether it's the way the interact with one another, speak, or view certain issues. Most impressive, to me however, is the character design. The style is so unique and recognisable, and very pleasing to the eye. And the animation of the series is excellent, the movement is so fluent yet exaggerated in a typical anime style. Every scene is well drawn, boldly coloured or drawn, and the fight scenes are easily the best I've watched from any anime series.

The music, at first, what a little strange. But while watching it, I noticed how well it seemed to fit. It's not a typical samurai story, it certainly has it's own twist which makes this series really stand out. Not once was I disappointed by this series. Even the recap episode was well done, as far as recap episodes go. It's funny, well animated, suitable music, interesting characters, and brilliant fight scenes. The characters may not seem to develop all that much, but as the series progresses, there are small changes in the way they seem to appreciate each other.

If a violent, well animated action isn't for you, you may still find the humour appealing. Definitely give it a look.

Last updated Saturday, May 09 2009. Created Saturday, May 09 2009.
Buy 10 10 10 10 10 10 DisFunctional [series:799#863]
I'm surprised Samurai Champloo only got a "rent" review.

I LOVE SAMURAI CHAMPLOO!!!! My friends and i have seen this anime 6 or 7 times over the years and could never get sick of it.

it's a given, the art, animation, and character design is 2nd to none (btw i'm a graphic designer). They have the most crazy fighting scenes i've seen in an anime for a while. You could compare it to Samurai X but Samurai X only had a few fighting scenes. In Samurai Champloo, where there is a fight (almost every ep) you know it's going to be good!

On top of the beautiful art/ani/design, there is this fascinating/deep story line that slowly unfolds as the eps goes on. Each character has their own history and the director teases you with glimpses of their past till the very end.

Now you have to be warned this anime is very unorthodox. eg, they had rappers and graffiti artists in the samurai age lol! This is why i liked Samurai Champloo too. It's not "just another" everyday anime.

I'd like to share a scene that stuck in my memory. Jin's in a dark room with a few girls. all of a sudden a bunch of ninjas tries to attack him from mid air. Jin swiftly cuts them up with his lighting sword skills. By now, most animes will have close ups of their hero, wind blowing through their hair, and all sorts of questions will be running through their mind... What does Jin do? "Oh my back" and gets back to the girls. LOL

Samurai Champloo is funny, different and i think i've said enough about the graphics.

Last updated Friday, September 07 2007. Created Friday, September 07 2007.
Unevaluated aoneish [series:799#1615]
I may be stereotyping, but this is SUCH a guy anime. Heh.

If you wanna watch this for violence, it certainly won’t disappoint. Though mugen’s style of fighting is just…not samurai, well, I guess it’s AU anyway. There’s an undercurrent of humor, but maybe that’s just me, the art style itself is half humorous, half realistic. On the other hand, it can also be considered a dark and violent series. People are killed without repercussion, no remorse, no emotion, so easily. Nobody really has a problem killing anybody, and nothing ever really happens to punish them(unless they get killed). But again, maybe that's just me. The ost, much like the colors, is very lush.

I like the episodic nature of the series, it’s a nice break from the other anime I’ve been seeing, that is, stringing you along with bits of and hints at the bigger picture with hardly anything to relieve you from the tension and suspense. So while the search for the sunflower samurai isn’t the main focus, it still is there, and provides continuity for us. They bring it up nearly every episode anyway. Meanwhile we do get some info on our characters. A tiny bit of depth.

The marijuana episode? LOL. The beetle sumo and training? LOL. The “rapper”? and the beatboxing? Just…NO. Some episodes are really unnecessary. But heh.

The hunger thing was getting old by the tenth episode, but I guess it’s a tried and true method of getting characters motivated to do something.

Lol just watch episode 12 and you’ll know what went on in the first 11. Minus all the fighting of course. And although the voice overs were interesting, really, they really didn’t have to be included in that episode.

Anyway, TBC.

Last updated Thursday, November 09 2006. Created Thursday, November 09 2006.
Rent 7 10 8 7 8 6 manganime [series:799#1633]
This is border-line rent watch for me.

The animation is simply great with some great fight scenes. As soon as I saw it I thought this looks awesome- looks as good as Bebop- i was wrong about that.

Sadly not every thing is great here- the major downfall was the lack of story development- only a couple of episodes actually lead on to one another most episodes are self contained and not very enjoyable.

I really liked Jin; thought he was really cool but I found Mugen a bit annoying and arrogant.

The ending was good but the ending of the ending sucked. And I'm not sure how well the whole samurai hip-hop thing worked although it is original (the ending song was really bad though).

All in all a decent anime which has some great moments but not sure how much you could watch the entire series.

Last updated Monday, December 19 2005. Created Monday, December 19 2005.
Watch 10 10 10 10 10 Violet D [series:799#1393]
This started on Adult Swim a couple weekends ago. I would say you can tell the same director who did Cowboy Bebop did this one also. Jin's personality reminds me of the personality of Spike. Mugen also does. For some reason when they get together they like to start fighting each other untill Fuu tells them to knock it off. She has hired them to help her find the samurai that smells like sunflowers. So the threesome takes off on their journey. This animated story even has a narrator that starts the tale as the episode begins. I enjoy this and I think it gives the tale a new twist. This last episode I saw was a splitting of the ways and Fuu ended up in the river and rescued by a stranger. Meanwhile jin meets up with someone who wants to kill him and Mujen is mistaken identity. Fuu asks the stranger who rescued her if she can join him and it ends there.I just watched episode 18 on Wednesday and I Meanthought this one is pretty powerful. Jin is looking for the Sensa and find his two offspring instead. Meanwhile Mugen needs to learn to read and gets in a fight with the tacher who wants to show mugen how to read. The brothers have a contest by tagging buildings and the narrator says this was the first time grafitti was introduced The continuation is on Thursday mornings. Anyway this one was about the first baseball game between the English and Japanese. At one point they are having to deal with the cheating and the narator is told to leave also. I like how they do this episode it brings up the idea of realism and I think it does good for them. They had the last episode a couple of Wednesdays ago on adult swim. Fu did find her dad and some samarei came and killed him don"t figure. But after all this Mugen, Jin and Fu depart and start their seperate ways. I thought they ended this episode on a good note and it gives them openings if they decide to write more episodes.

Last updated Sunday, April 02 2006. Created Monday, June 20 2005.
Rent Forbin [series:799#1573]
Drama : Med
Comedy : Low
Action : High
SciFi : None
Ecchi : Low

4 Episodes Watched I normally don't watch Samurai types (As they are usually majorly depressing) but so far it's been a good series. Because it isn't comedy heavy and I normally don't watch Samurai types I can't rate it a buy yet, but it's a good series.

This sorta reminds me of Cowboy Bebop in ancient Japan.

Last updated Thursday, April 28 2005. Created Thursday, April 28 2005.
Buy 8 9 9 9 10 9 Seth Weiner [series:799#1707]
I really loved this series. It provides a nice lite, and often humorous, take on a normally serious subject in Japanese Animation.

The word Champloo in the title of this anime is actually a version of the Japanese word 'Champuru,' which means 'messed up.'

Last updated Saturday, April 09 2005. Created Friday, April 08 2005.
Unevaluated 8 8 6 8 5 gom sama [series:799#1463]
This is a good action series with a lot of potential, but has fallen short so far in my opinion. It starts off great, but then it simply digresses. The main story of "finding the samurai who smells like sunflowers" is hardly explored or explained. The viewer doesn't even know if sunflower samurai is a good or bad man or woman. Personally, I prefer fast-paced anime and would like at least have an idea of what's going on after watching 13 episodes. All I've seen so far is the trio wandering around, doing random stuff, and always broke and starving (reminds me of kenshin sorta). I have a feeling this series will have a disappointing abrupt ending, but I'll keep watching anyway since I have a soft spot for samurai animes. Hopefully, it'll get much more interesting once the main story kicks in, but it's hard to judge it without even knowing the main plot.

Last updated Monday, September 06 2004. Created Monday, September 06 2004.
Rent 9 9 7 9 7 8 AstroNerdBoy [series:799#436]

Combine modern Japanese hip-hop with the old Samurai history and you get the unique feel of this series. Samurai Champloo is mostly episodic in nature with Fuu-chan's quest to find the Samurai-san who smells of Sunflowers being the thread that ties it all together. The series doesn't do much to advance the main story, chosing rather to use it to move the characters from one adventure to another. Often, these adventures are twists on actual historical events but highly fictionalized, such as Americans coming to visit in the 1600's, the setting of the series, or having hip-hop artist in that time period.

On the surface, it seems like this wouldn't work, yet amazingly Watanabe-sensei pulls it off. Often, the modern hip-hop is used for comic relief, but at the same time, Mugen's break-dance fighting style comes off very nicely. The series doesn't just use hip-hop music, but when it did, I often found my head bobbing to the beat. I may actually have to buy the soundtrack.

While the comedy is humorous, episode 23 is a gut-buster despite being somewhat anti-American in nature. The Japanese actually hired a couple of English-speaking VA's to play a couple of the roles, which was a nice touch. I've written more about this in the episode review.

Around episode 24, the main story is dealt with until the conclusion at episode 26. Because the writers really didn't do much to advance the story along the way, the final three episodes don't have the impact they could have had. I think Watanabe-sensei wanted to avoid certain cliche's and I can appreciate that, but in the process, any real feel of destiny on the part of Jin or Mugen was lost. Fuu fared somewhat better but even then, the impact just wasn't there like it should have been.

One interesting thing I noticed was the look at Christianity in Japan. Samurai Champloo makes a point of noting how Christians in Japan were horribly persecuted and killed for their beliefs. While Christianity was certainly a foreign-introduced religion, I never got the impression that the series condemmnd it but rather seemed rather to condemn the Japanese who treated their fellow Japanese so horribly.

One should be warned that the series is VERY violent. There are a lot of bloody sword fights which are well done from an animation point of view. I didn't have a problem with this, but I thought I'd toss out the warning.

Bottom line: while very good and very enjoyable, the re-watch factor of the series isn't there for me, thus my giving this a Rent. I would recommend watching some Zatoichi movies to get a feel for the period and a greater understanding of some of the things that go on, especially with the yakuza.

Last updated Friday, February 17 2006. Created Thursday, June 10 2004.

Other Sites
Samurai Champloo Official Website
The official Japanese website for the series.

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