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Anime Review Presents – SAMURAI CHAMPLOO

20 Oct

Konnichiwa minna!

Has everyone been indulging liberally in anime while I was gone? Your oujo sama spends a lot of time watching anime and reading manga, and tends to get lost in those worlds – all for you! All so that I have recommendations that people will enjoy. Ready for what I have this week?
Samurai Champloo is an old anime, originally aired in 2004, and ever since it’s debut continues to remain one of the classics in the field. Set in the ‘Edo’ period, the story is centered around Fuu, a 15-year-old girl who works in her uncle’s teahouse. A random series of encounters bring her together with two ronin – Jin and Mugen – whose lives she saves, only to insist they help her find ‘the samurai who smells of sunflowers’. Though vague initially, the antics of the characters keep you sufficiently entertained, until just enough of the central plot is revealed to make you wonder what’s going on.

Don’t let the simple “samurai” tag fool you. Every episode has a surprise, coupled with the traditional badass sword fights. What makes Champloo different from your average Shogunate period, katana-wielding samurai anime is the characters. Jin partly plays up to the stereotype of the undefeated sword-master with a dark past. But Mugen is a different kettle of fish altogether. The definition of Samurai only barely applies to this rogue who – in addition to using his sword – bites, kicks and slaps his way through his enemies. And his enemies aren’t always the bad guys. He itches to take on anything he comes across that may be remotely stronger than him. Mental? Absolutely.
The most startling factor is probably the inclusion of hip-hop in the series. The very first episode opens with an odd style of rapping which makes the viewer sit up and take notice. After that one comes across myriad references to rap, retro, graffiti and even Van Gogh! Perhaps in any other anime, or as part of another storyline these symbols might not have made sense, but they fit right into the madness that is Samurai Champloo.
My favourite part about the anime is undoubtedly it’s soundtrack. With every track beautifully executed, there are some fantastic hip-hop numbers on the album,in addition to the usual and typical anime style themes. Within a few episodes, you’ll be left scrambling to find the whole soundtrack and listen to it in one go.

Still not convinced? It’s been directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and Animatrix fame. Do I see you nodding there? Now you see what I’m getting at. Give it a shot. You won’t need more than the first episode to get hooked. And you’ll find another jewel to add to your collection.
I shall be back next week, with yet another anime to recommend – meanwhile, have a look at our Mumbai Comic Con Express Updates! You don’t wanna miss it!

Anime Review: Samurai Champloo

2 May
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.