Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Samurai Champloo

I'm a complete dumbass for not reviewing this earlier.

Samurai Champloo is such an interesting show with an interesting fanbase on top of that. The show is grounded yet stylized, it's classic but also modern, it's this weird mish-mash of completely different genres and yet inexplicably works. The story takes place in the Edo period of Japan around the early to mid 1800s, where we meet a young girl named Fuu who works at a teahouse when she meets two skilled swordsmen Mugen and Jin and quickly enlists their help to find a mysterious samurai from Fuu's past. That's the basic story but what's fascinating about this show is, certain episodes have a story we've seen before. There's a criminal who steals but only to help his sick mother, there's a woman who is enslaved to work at a brothel and has a heart of gold, there's a sports game with high stakes, very stereotypical stories that we have seen time and time again yet they still hold your interest entirely. I can pinpoint this to two core aspects, the style and the characters. The style is very realistic, there's nothing too weird and out there (for the most part) but the show does take liberties with movements and designs because well, it's animation. The fact that they mix the samurai genre with modern hip-hop culture and music should tell you everything about the mood of the show, personified expertly in the opening titles, but also found in a medley of different characters including Mugen. So when you see these stories being told it's still visually interesting with how they tell it. And the characters is what makes the show, we only have 3 main characters and only technically one side character who even then sporadically appears. We have Fuu who is young, energetic, feisty, and is extremely kind and considerate. Mugen who is very tough, very abbrasive, a wise ass, your typical rough and tough kind of dude. Then we have Jin who is easily my favorite of the bunch, very much fits the profile of a samurai, doesn't say much, has intelligence, doesn't go looking for a fight but has no problem ending one, kind of stoic but has his own charm and humor. The three have such a good dynamic, with Mugen and Jin clashing swords often with Fuu trying to be the mediary, they make a great team. It's because of the characters that you stick around even when you've seen this type of story play out, you wonder how they will fit into these positions and how they will react. What is Mugen going to do in a baseball game? What is Jin going to see in a woman who works in a brothel? How will Fuu help a thief to heal his mother? That's the part they focus on and it pays off in aces. The action is spectacular too, you get plenty of hack and slash scenes which combined with the animation is infinitely awesome and even holds great tension near the end of the series. There's so much I want to say about the show to the point I know I'm going to forget something so let's do a little lightning round here. The music is spectacular, even if you don't watch the show look up the two soundtracks on YouTube. The animation style is rich, gorgeous, and stark with strong lines and supremely fluid motion. The clashing of personalities and fighting styles between Mugen and Jin are worthy of a show all by itself. The ending is emotional and honestly made me stress out a bit. It's 26 episodes long and I wish it was so much longer. If I'm going to go full on nerd which, hi how are you welcome to the show, I'm going to, I desperately want to get my hands on Ghost Of Tsushima so I can just play out my samurai fantasies to the max limit as a tribute to this show. This is such an amazing show, it has attracted fans from all different walks of life even ones who aren't that big a fan of hip-hop or rap or whatever the hell kids call it nowadays. I will say it is for older teens I mean it was showcased on Adult Swim for a reason back in 2004. I was 9 and probably...shouldn't have been watching Adult Swim but I was part of the cool kid's club and dang it I'm proud of that. 4 stars, 8.5/10, give it a shot and groove to the tunes.

Now comes the part where I plug my obligatory Facebook page and Twitter page, just search the site name and you'll find me to get updated on new reviews and to see the absurd backlog of reviews I've written. See you guys Friday for a throwback 90s anime.

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