So one day I was on the bus home from college and I wondered to myself: “When you mix the age of samurai with beatboxing, breakdancing and graffiti taging wars, what do you get? Well, I’ll be damned if I don’t go and find out.”
I found out that they blend together surprisingly well.
Samurai Champloo is an episodic anime that centres around three unlikely companions on their way to find the ‘samurai who smells of sunflowers’. The story, again, is almost entirely epsiodic in its storyline, with the only exeption of the last few episodes contributing the overall plot in their entirities. There. You’ve been warned.
Story and characters
Although I’m honestly one who has little patience for episodic storylines, even if it does tie together in the end (hence why I couldn’t be bothered to get past the fourth episode of Darker Than Black), I really enjoyed this series and wasn’t bothered by its episodic nature at all. Over the course of the anime, they managed to grow a strong bond between the main characters that felt incredibly natural and barely noticable, in that the developments aren’t made explicitly, but the characters grow a clear chemistry between one another which was really nice to watch.
The characters were enjoyable to watch, and each had their own charm. They don’t fall into the trap of relying on character tropes and archetypes completely because they make each one kinda unique.
Furthermore, as an episodic series, it is important that the episodic characters are interesting. And, honestly, I don’t recall an episode where the episodic characters were boring. So on that front, you have nothing to worry about.
Sound and animation
So, needless to say, anyone who has watched this anime will tell you that the animation is great and the fight scenes are fuid and engaging – which is great, seeing as this is an action anime about samurai. And yes, they are right. I think what’s special about Samurai Champloo isn’t just that the animation is fluid, though, but the fact that the movements of the characters’ actions, epecially during fights, are irregular, creative and yet realistic and believable. Few special effects are used in the action scenes of this anime just because what they (the creators) give you is fine on its own.
The soundtrack may be something that those interested in the music of Nujabes, Dj Okawari, Fat Jon, Emancipator and other artists of this music genre, have heard, or at least heard music by the soundtrack’s creators, Fat Jon and Nujabes. They went for something very new and different for this OST and I just ate it right up. And no – not because I’m a fan of that kind of music already – but because the artists who made it clearly made a soundtrack with character and that fit very well with the animation it was tied to. This hip-hop soundtrack flowed well with both the fast-paced and slow, more solemn scenes, and had attitude, which played nicely with the tone of the anime.
This anime is worth a watch. It was engaging, had fun and lively character ineractions and a good sense of companionship between its main characters. Each episode felt fresh and, most importantly, showed me that episodic anime can work well and not feel empty or repetetive.
8/10 for characters
7/10 on average for episodic story
9/10 for art and animation
8/10 for soundtrack
and a 9/10 for my personal enjoyment.
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