Title: Samurai Champloo
Genre: action, comedy, historical
Released date: May 20, 2004 – March 19, 2005
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Animated by: Manglobe Studio
Comment: Samurai Champloo follows the journey of Fuu, a young woman seeking “the samurai who smelled of sunflower”, and her two recruited companion; Mugen the wandering outlaw and Jin, the quiet and mild mannered ronin. Each episode involved the separate events the group has gone through during their journey but new bits of details concerning the whereabouts and identity of the mysterious samurai and the backgrounds of each characters are gradually and subtly revealed to provide the sense of continuation.
Personally, I think Fuu who is the center of the entire series has the weakest storyline. The mystery about the samurai who smells of sunflower is initially very interesting but in the end when the truth is revealed, it is so predictable that I am surprised and in the middle section of the series, this story is barely touched. On the other hand, the story of Mugen and Jin are absolutely intriguing and thoroughly detailed.
The setting of Samurai Champloo is in Edo era of Japan with unique mixture of modern style, most prominently hip-hop and rap music. This blending of the old and new style helps lift the anime’s conventional story into something extraordinary. This technique is previously used in Cowboy Bebop (also directed by Watanabe) which is now considered a classic anime. The animation quality is superb and the action sequences are masterfully crafted. Certain action scenes actually send a chill running through my spine. Despite all these favorable qualities, I find a number of episodes quite problematic and sometimes even disturbing or silly. I believe it is because I do not understand the historical or cultural reference behind them or is it because I don’t get the joke? (obviously, I’m not Japanese)
Conclusion: Although Samurai Champloo is already worth a try just for its style, it is also entertaining and technically amazing. But it does suffer from few episodes that cannot live up to the others and an arguably unsatisfied ending.