|Article by Ben Huber
Hopefully by now you've seen Shinichiro Watanabe's fantastic 2004 anime series Samurai Champloo. If not -- go pick it up and watch it now! It has a slick combination of Edo-era Japan, hip hop, and stylized animation that'll have you glued to the TV and bopping in your seat to some amazing tunes. If you've already seen it: good job! Here's a number of reasons why you should pop the soundtrack back into your playlist and then rewatch the whole series again!
Well, we have to start somewhere, and why not start with the rough-and-tumble vagabond dressed in red? He'll fight in whatever way best suits him, and that means he'll slide between fighting styles effortlessly. Don't mess with him! But you probably already knew that...
Samurai Champloo goes a lot of places, and you meet a lot of people (some even from history). The series as a whole is fairly anachronistic, taking elements from the present that we're familiar with and dropping them into the Edo period. Bending history is fun!
Fitting right into the typical ronin role, Jin is the perfect counterbalance to Mugen's recklessness. Jin is much more disciplined and reserved -- yet, even he can let his hair down every once in a while (hint, hint).
Yeah, with two sword-users in the trio of main characters, there's going to be some fighting going on. Sometimes it's between Mugen and Jin, sometimes their up against bandits or kidnappers, but one this is always certain: you're going to see some steel flash.
How can we go without mentioning Fuu? The intrepid young lady sets the whole adventure in motion after she wraps Mugen and Jin into searching for the samurai who smells of sunflowers. Also, she has a flying squirrel named Momo, as you might remember. That's awesome.
Sometimes you're hungry. Sometimes you're really hungry. And if you're the crew in Samurai Champloo, you're usually starving! It feels like almost every episode starts with them trying to buy, swindle, or hunt down some food. The vagabond's life is hard! And hunger-inducing!
No really, these guys are really hungry. Don't get in their way.
One of the biggest selling points of Samurai Champloo is the soundtrack. Done by the late great DJ Nujabes in collaboration with other great musicians like Shing02, Minmi, Tsutchie, Force of Nature, and Fat Jon. Once you're done rewatching the series, pop the soundtrack in and drift off to the silky-smooth jams. It'll probably stay in your rotation for quite a while, because it's just that good.
The "Baseball Blues" Episode
It's not all serious and grim in the Samurai Champloo world, it's often pretty light-hearted. There are a few episodes that take a lighter look at things. You know, when you need to take a break from all that sword fighting, maybe a simple game of baseball is the way to take the edge off. Well, at least, I think so? Maybe not for Mugen...
Speaking of fun and games, some of the best bits of Samurai Champloo are the funny ones. Sure, you've built up a bunch of tension, and now it needs a way to get out -- and laughter is the best medicine. Fuu will usually find a way to brighten up the day! Or maybe she's just trying to reprimand Mugen for something silly he did.
The Fluid Animation
Manglobe and the rest of Watanabe's crew put in some impressive work on Champloo, creating some amazingly fluid animation. The fight scenes usually get the most money thrown at them, but there's plenty to go around, making the whole show incredibly visually appealing. It's hard to just pick one fight scene that stands out, because there are so many good ones.
At the end of the day, the show is best when focusing on the relationship between Jin, Mugen, and Fuu. They'll always be there to back each other up, even when they have their disagreements or spats. And that's what'll stick with you most when you're finished, because they're that memorable and lovable.
The Opening Animation
Samurai Champloo's opening song and animation is so good, combining some amazing tunes from Nujabes with the stark black inks surrounding the characters. This is reason enough to rewatch the whole series, as you'll get to see and hear this gorgeous OP 26 times. It's worth it. Those colors are just perfect!
That opening animation is killer!