Once again, my sister has proven to be a great source of finding anime that fits my tastes. This one in particular is spectacular, I only feel shame that in my 15 years of watching anime I had not heard of this before. The show Samurai Champloo was created in 2004 and ran until 2005, having 26 episodes total. The story line is amazing, the artwork is thrilling, and the characters are instantly likable. SPOILER ALERT
-What is the anime about?
The story is about a trio who travels in search for a ‘samurai that smells of sunflowers.’ The first episode introduces the three characters and sets up the plot. A young girl, working in a tea shop, is saved by a vagabond. In another part of town a samurai stands up to a dishonorable lord before going to the tea shop where he and the vagabond begin to fight each other (a misunderstanding occurs). They are equally matched and the tea shop burns down. The samurai and the vagabond are captured and tortured by the dirty lord and they are sentenced for execution in the morning. The young girl helps them to escape, on the condition that they help her find the sunflower samurai. The entire episode was extremely funny, with strange little tidbits catching the audience off guard (like when the samurai is seen in a large pot bathing during the tea shop fire or when the girl puts the fireworks in her shirt and they look like boobs). Just as a forewarning to those who do not like this, the anime is bloody and does have foul language.
-Who are the central characters?
Fuu is the main female character from the trio. She is the young lady that worked in the tea shop as a waitress, and the one that saved the other two from execution. She has no family, the tea shop owners suggested she go with them since she is alone, and she is the one in search of the sunflower samurai. Through out the show, she keeps the vagabond and the samurai from fighting and attempting to kill each other. It is later revealed that the sunflower samurai is her father, who left her and her mother when she was a child. Fuu is 15 years old and her name comes from the word for small, brightly colored birds.
Mugen is the vagabond of the trio. He is the one who helps Fuu in the tea shop as samurais of the corrupt lord where harassing her. He loves to get into fights and has an unconventional fighting style. He is very much similar to the gangster yanki characters completely violent and buck wild. Mugen sports blue tattoos around his wrist that signify he has been in prison prior to meeting Fuu and Jin. He wears geta shoes with metal plating that he uses during battle, adding to the strangeness of his fighting style. He is rude, vulgar, and a womanizer (all traits that get him into trouble). Mugen is an antihero, who may seem like a lowlife at first, but is so much more complex then that. (Mugen is my personal favorite. I love antiheroes, they are usually my brand of awesome, and this includes chicken boy Mugen.) Mugen is 19 years old and his name means limitless or infinity.
Jin is the final member of the trio. He is a ronin (samurai with no lord or master) with very stoic personality. His fighting style is very much by the book making him a foil to Mugen. He and Mugen wish to fight each other through out the entire anime, and in the end, accepting that they are friends, neither wishes to kill the other anymore. When Jin was younger, his own sensei attempted to kill him and died by Jin’s hands. Jin is disciplined and always cool and collected during battles. (He was not in the slightest freaked out when an old man hit on him, suggesting male love, in the second episode). Jin is 20 years old and his name means justice or benevolence one of the codes by which a samurai must live.
-How is the Artwork?
Another amazing attribute of this anime is the art style. I am not even one hundred percent sure how to describe it. The director is the same as that of Cowboy Bebop and the art style is quite similar to that. The characters are lanky and move in strange languid ways (mostly when they fight). They can get really ugly at times but it just adds to the beauty of the art. The entire show is dramatic and full of cinematic visual style. The landscape is rendered in lush watercolors that contrasts the darkness that feels to creep into most of the scenes. If not a darkness the cities tend to be shown with mostly grey, brown, and tan color scheme (not at all vibrant in colors).
-What makes the anime awesome?
The anime is based in feudal japan and is chock full of allusions to real life people and happenings. It is a hybrid of a feudal Japan, urban street flavor, and off-beat comedy. The sound track is brimmed with hip-hop music and Mugen’s fighting style borrows frequently from break dancing. Seeing inconsistencies in the time period by references of modernity is hilarious and adds to the viewing experience.