I absolutely loved Cowboy Bebop and the intertwining jazz music, which truly shone bright and etched the series into my mind and heart. So, I fished for some more “stuff” from Mr. Shinichirō Watanabe. Coming across “Samurai Champloo” I thought of getting some info about the series before I jump into it. This is how my friend described it to me – “I don’t remember the series name but it involves two samurai’s. One was strict and the other was a total ruckus but they rocked the house and it was awesome!!Oh and it has Hip-Hop mashed with old Japan”.
I saw the first episode and I smiled. It was same with Bebop. The funky factor of the series was evident and the premise of the series was pretty simple – Finding a samurai who smells like sunflower! (Do sunflowers even smell??Try finding it out.) So the affair started for 26 episodes and its memory still remains due to the impressive melodic (rap/Blue/hip-hop) background score. I have written this piece while ear-geared on Champloo music. Lookout for the music in episode 18, the one with all the graffiti fight.
So what’s the stick you ask! A young girl named Fuu is the one who is looking for the samurai who smells like sunflower, for reasons she doesn’t want to reveal. She is accompanied by two samurai’s who have a blood lust for each other but in a very warrior-ish way. The disciplinarian young Ronin is Jin and the carefree vagabond is Mugen. These two promise to help Fuu as she helped save their lives. Now the trio have started their adventure without any clue about the samurai who…you know who!! And they do find the smelly samurai so the ending is clear and not ambiguous.
As you continue with the episodes, you will notice a lot of anachronistic examples spread across the series. A lot of places may also appear out of time (that’s what anachronism means). Hip-hop culture, rap music, eyebrow piercings, gangsta styled thugs and my favourite – Disc scratching. Oh yeah, there are graffiti artists also. The main characters are pretty laid out including their history. Ofcourse this is revealed slowly with the flow of the series but the supporting cast doesn’t play much of a role. They come, they go but they are enjoyable nevertheless. Through their journey you will meet few interesting characters such as graffiti brothers, blind musician and the warrior stag beetle. And man can Fuu eat, like hell she can. In one of the episodes Fuu eats so much that she swells up and people fail to recognise her.
Essentially the series get a little heavier towards the last few episodes but the gravity demanded the sacrifice. There are a few loose ends but lets stop whining, nothing is perfect. The ending, for me, kind of choked me. I know we are suckers for happy ending especially when we have seen the protagonists go through a lot. But you can’t use that as a pretext and just show anything. I guess the creator must have had an idea to create a sequel with the so-sequel-ish-obvious, underwhelming ending considering the same production gave us Cowboy Bebop which ended with a bang.
Samurai Champloo is about subtle human emotions which are endearing and believable. The exuberant personalities and the artistic flair, mix it up with modern beats and add the feudal history, the series gets that unforgettable charm.
To end this, you can watch this series with your kids (or abuse-sensitive person) as there are lots of beeps and Scratching just at the right time. Its a must watch for all those who love Cowboy Bebop and for everyone else this will be a very pleasant experience.