Alas I’m through with the tough papers, leaving those petty papers left. So I am a bit relaxed for now. This should explains my delay in my review for Samurai Champloo. Without further ado, here’s the review.
I’m guessing I grow akin with the Japanese shogunate era, specifically the Tokugawa era (Rurouni Kenshin, just for the record). Samurai Champloo is one of them though it is not exactly during the Tokugawa era. This anime title has a refreshing style, which makes it unique. Why? I’ll tell that later. The first episode had blown me away. I grew a liking to Samurai Champloo almost instantly. So what makes this anime one of the kind? I’m guessing this is the first anime that emulate so much hip-hop culture and not to mention meshing it up with the samurai genre. Odd pairing? I beg to differ. It fits perfectly, probably due to some modifications and adaptation of the old Japanese culture with the modern one. Come on! We’re talking about imperial Japanese people rapping words and painting graffiti. Free style anime in its best form.
The obvious hip hop culture in the anime
The story began with the first encounter of the three main characters – Mugen, Jin, and Fuu. Fuu was doing her work in a shop (a restraurant I suppose) when a gang of thug barged in. One of them is the son of the local magistrate. Along came Mugen. Fuu asked Mugen and he really kicked those thugs’ arses. Away from those commotion, a debt-ridden poor farmer was begging for his life for not being able to pay up for his loan to the magistrate. The merciless magistrate ordered his samurais to execute him but Jin stepped in. His amazing sword skills instantly killed all those samurais. Terrified, the magistrate let the debtor free and let Jin walked away. He then reached the shop where Fuu and Mugen are in. Mugen was babbling about fighting strong swordsmen. The magistrate’s son told him that there are a group of samurai working for his father. Showing interest to it, Mugen let him free. But Jin who just came by, told him that he had killed those people. Mugen was not satisfied yet thrilled being able to meet a stronger opponent. The two are on a duel. One of the thugs set the shop on fire. Everyone escaped except for those two. After the fire, Mugen and Jin woke up bounded in a prison. They were detained and will be executed. The two managed to escape on execution day with the help from Fuu (the help was not necessary anyway, Mugen and Jin still managed to fight their way out). As a promise of helping them, Fuu asked Mugen and Jin to help her to find the samurai smelled of sunflower.
The journey begins for those three as they encounter countless obstacles along the way. Character development is mediocre, explaining only certain story of their past. For me, Mugen lacking development as only a part of his past were told despite of having several episode of visitation to his past when people from his past came to him. From what I know, Mugen originated from the southern islands of Japan, off shore Okinawa. I suppose he came from a criminal familial background as the way he is portrayed. In spite of his magnificent sword skill, his fighting style is random. He fight purely on instinct without learning any sword style from any dojo. He believe only on his own strength to defeat his opponent. But there was one hint of his skill and probably where he really came from. There was a duel of him against a killer swordsman who acquire his Qi ability from mainland China. Mugen countered him with the similar ability which leaves a question whether he ever went to China to learn his sword techniques. Mugen being a criminal in nature has a rather abrasive attitude but somehow the girls really dig him. It was revealed (although not clearly) that Fuu actually liked him. Girls always like bad boys.
Mugen is up to no good
Jin is my favourite character in the story. Introvert and mysterious, that is how I describe him. Frankly speaking Mugen is more mysterious. He is probably one of the best samurai at that time. He came from one of the best dojo and quickly became one of the best there. Even the master eyed on him as the next successor of the dojo. One day, the dojo was asked to be trained as assasins for the shogun. Jin testified his objection to his master. Being the only one who stop the way, the master was ordered to kill Jin. Jin who has the superior skill killed his own master. Later on, he was called traitor to the dojo by all the dojo disciples. In the past, he was always lonely as he was distanced from all the peers around him since he was the best student there. His life had always been lonely. Meeting Mugen and Fuu had finally made him realized that finally he has people whom he see as friends. A touching story.
Jin: Draw your sword
Fuu is the central persona of this story. She was the one who initiate the meeting of the three and bring them to the crazy journey all the way to Okinawa. She is definitely one of the bravest girl for someone of her stature. She was never daunted by threats from anyone, let it be from a group of thug or a murderer. And she has a pet flying squirrel. Though not significant, the squirrel does play some role in the story. Her father left her and her mother when she was young and her mother died later on. Like the other two, she also has a fair share of loneliness in her life. I’m guessing this what brought them together even though they came from different background and the deviating personality from each other. At the end of the story, the sunflower scented samurai as described by Fuu was actually her father who is an underground Christian fighting to safeguard the Christian community. At that time, the Japanese do not accept any foreign culture and this includes Christianity. Finally she met her bed-ridden father who was partly blind. But he was killed in front of her by the final opponent who is an assasin for the shogun.
Fuu, the one who starts it all
So the final duel was between Jin and that assasin. The assasin was known to be the best swordsman ever and no one had ever defeated him. He quited fighting because there was no equal adversary for him. But finally the duel was with Jin. Jin was taught one thing that serves the purpose to defeat the strongest of enemies and he was to advised to never make that final move. However to defeat this strong opponent, he used it. I was curious at that moment whether or not it is the secret killing technique like Hiten Mitsurugi as done by Himura Kenshin in Rurouni Kenshin. Surprise, it’s a no. In fact it is the most logically move to give the final blow. Jin allowed himself to be stabbed and he execute the killing stab back to the assasin. It was supposed to have both of them dead but Jin got lucky. He survived. Finally months later, after the all the fighting, they were seen at a crossroad as they part to their own ways. I have to admit it, it is a nice ending though I am not happy with it. Well it’s logical to have that ending anyway.
Parting ways… I don’t like this ending
Another thing that is worth the attention is the great ending songs. There is nothing much from the soundtrack but the ending songs are great. The musics are mostly hip-hop as shown in the anime. Anime with good songs are so hard to find these days. So here is another anime soundtrack worth to check onto.
My ratings: 5 out of 5