Samurai Champloo Review – A Must Watch Anime for Samurai Lovers
I honestly forgot it shared the director from Cowboy Bebop, though it was always on the tip of my tongue as Mugen’s VA is also Spike, and so I had to tell myself it was different from Bebop, and it was. To me, as someone who is deeply engrossed in Bushido and Samurai while being unable to act on those innate desires to study the way of the sword and be one with myself, every episode of the anime was deeply moving.
I was completely smitten from the start, watching an episode or two when it first aired on Adult Swim. The music, art style, movement and dialogue of the characters, and the gravity of each and every scene completely captivated me! Though I couldn’t watch it all at the time, I finally made the wise decision to set aside a few days to do so.
The take on the “alternate universe Edo period” was excellent, and the main characters played off and against each other so well that I found myself rooting for a different one in each episode! The narration by a side character who eventually appeared was also a nice touch, making the opening scenes less silent.
It gave life to the amount of time following the opening in which they had to set the mood/tone for the episode. And, despite the fact that all of the episodes were meant to follow a single timeline of the series, I think the creators did such a good job of making each one feel like its own individual story that we could get into and be sad when they ended.
The fight scenes were stunning, and what drove the story for a while became “What are we doing?” which was fine for when it was introduced. Mugen and Jin were presented in a great way, with the typical “I’m a Samurai” but with the creators’ own spin on the era and personality of each character.
Backgrounds and blurred swings during fights were amazing to see because they didn’t detract from the context of the narrative or the characters but instead used silence and tones of color to capture moments and trigger emotion to the point where I’d pause and just look at several frames/scenes.
The soundtrack was incredible, and I want to listen to it over and over again. The opening is a knockout, and skipping it would be a heinous crime. In a way, the somber music was my favorite of all because the tones of the art and backgrounds in the scenes, as well as still shots of the characters, just popped out at me and held my attention so much more.
It was also a joy how it had a hip-hop flair to the seemingly soft style of music, and it fits with the era of Japan the show worked in. I don’t know much about the musical artists whose work was featured in Champloo, but they appear to be a hidden treasure.
The cast of characters in this was incredibly diverse, with the good, the bad, and the clearly purposefully ugly. Mugen, Jin, and Fuu were three unlikely people who happened to make a big difference in each other’s lives and embarked on a journey together. Mugen, who is stubborn and erratic, Jin, who is stoic and reserved, and Fuu, who is bubbly and determined. They clashed in the first few episodes but quickly learned to be there for each other, despite the fact that they knew so little about each other.
For the “different” period of Japan that the show creates, the side characters are very vibrant. From the villains to the well-meaning characters, to the main characters’ former friends and allies. The special agent character who narrated the show was amusing, and some of the interactions between side characters and the main characters were quite humbling and realistic in Japan at the time.
I thoroughly enjoyed the show and would watch it three, maybe five more times. Every time I watched an episode, I felt completely immersed in what was going on, as if I blinked, I’d missed something incredible.
I’ve never enjoyed an anime as much as this one. Samurai 7 is also a special one for me because I am a fan of Samurai anime. It was a fantastic anime to watch, and it’s a series that I’ll definitely get my hands on.