“Freedom, isn’t something earned through suffering or pushing yourself. You must accept yourself just as you are and live according to the flow of things; that is true freedom.”
A look into the world of Samurai Champloo
The series begins with the soon to be execution of two rebels, Mugen and a ronin samurai Jin. However the series immediately cuts to a short period before hand to explain how the situation evolved. A series of events that occur in parallel leads to the two men clashing. However, they cannot continue their fight and instead find themselves possibly being executed. This is because they angered the same powerful man through their actions. Unwilling to die, they manage to free themselves and fight for their lives, despite being outnumbered. It is at this point that Fuu-chan, a girl affected by their earlier fight, causes a distraction, allowing them to escape. From that point on, they face various misadventures and it seems that no matter how they are separated, fate has a funny way of bringing them back together. In their dangerous world, the dying time of the samurai, they become an unlikely trio.
“”If living means bowing down to the likes of you bastards, then I’ll die on my feet with my head held high!”
A character introduction like that could make someone think that Mugen is brave, fearless and proud. He is actually rather wild and reckless and effortlessly attracts trouble. Because he is from Ryuku islands, this fact seems to instill fear in those who discover it. He sells his services, mainly because with his strength he’d like to clash with strong opponents. However, Mugen has no problem with betraying his employers, walking away whenever he pleases. He is not interested in helping Fuu-chan and tries to ditch her, but fate seems to have other plans, bringing Jin and Fuu-chan into his life consistently. He is fascinated with Jin’s strength and skill as he can’t seem to kill him and vice versa. While he and Jin are opposites in a lot of ways, they are surprisingly similar in others. Their dynamic is really important in showing Mugen’s strengths and weaknesses as a person.
“I have no desire to kill you. In fact, you’re not worth killing. Killing you, would only tarnish my blade,”
He is a ronin, a master-less samurai. Jin follows his own moral code, and for this reason gets into trouble with those who break it. He is a man of few words and quite self-righteous. This does not make him too much of a snob as he is capable of showing kindness. Jin thinks Mugen lives horribly but as they continue to fight with and against each other, they become reluctant comrades. His past, like his comrades, is mysterious and curious. It is easy to see that Mugen has lived an unstable life but how Jin came to live his life is his best kept secret. Whether this is revealed depends on the audience finishing the show or turning to the manga to get the full picture.
“This world would be in darkness without a sense of duty.”
Fuu-chan is looking for someone, and needs two dangerous men to help her do it. Needless to say, that person must be someone she wants dead. Why this is the case we discover as the story progresses. Fuu-chan is very resourceful with a strong sense of duty. Her fighting spirit prevents her from giving up even when her circumstances are grim. She is not at all intimidated by Jin and Mugen and her independent personality is refreshing. As a female character she is very realistic. She is not so strong and proud that she cannot ask for help like many female characters in anime and neither is she always a damsel in distress. This balance makes her enjoyable to watch.
Quality of Production
Art Style and Graphics
The artwork is definitely very shonen, yet it is slightly cleaner than the manga itself. It has its own unique elements such as the interesting range of colours and their depth. From scenery, to character design there was clearly no cost to heavy. Each character has unique facial expressions and features, even as far as a varying difference in skin tone. Since Samurai Champloo is largely a Samurai anime, most of the graphics focus on the fighting such as blade cuts being white flashes, blood splatter and body movement during fights.
Sound and Soundtracks
The anime has an epic chill hip hop intro and a soulful outro. The general vibe conveyed by the song is also reminiscent of Boondocks and it would not be surprising if fans of the cartoon transitioned into anime through Samurai Champloo. Other than that, there’s a lot of room for producers to play with sound. The sound producers make sure to emphasize on the important sounds. These are of course of breaking bones and swords slicing and piercing through flesh. They do not even neglect the natural sounds of wildlife and nature. Everything is of high quality.
The voice actors do a phenomenal job and portray their characters well. They are spot on with the kind of tones and ambiance they need to set during certain scenes and since a lot of it is dramatic, they manage to really embody their characters without over doing it. That is to say, it is hard to find an annoying character because of their voice rather than their personality.
Samurai Champloo is a phenomenal show. It jumps right into the story line without rushing it, allowing the audience to really enjoy the characters. The story itself is very simple, no over complicated twists and turns. However, this does not mean it becomes boring. Instead it continues to be enjoyable. It is steady in every way, from the quiet scenes to the action ones and for a largely bloody anime, humorous in some ways. Definitely watch it…and then watch it again.