I was reluctant to watch Samurai Champloo, or morelike I was reluctant to finish it – I started the series about a year ago, knowing well it was by the one and only Shinichiro Watanabe, director of the iconic Cowboy Bebop, which I´m watching right now, but since I didn´t exactly adore the first few episodes at the time, I wasn´t expecting anything crazy – fastforward two weeks ago, where I decided to pick it right back up and as a result, just couldn´t stop.
Mugen is a violent, womanizing carefree warrior. Jin is a brooding, traditional, well-mannered ronin – both men end up in a sword fight by which they´re arrested and set to be executed, (un)fortunately for them, the cute, ditzy waitress Yuu saves them from the execution and convinces the two to help her find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers” to pay her back – thus begins the adventure of three people who couldn´t be more different from one another.
To say Samurai Champloo is a masterpiece might be an exaggeration, but damn it, if that´s the way to get you to watch this series, so be it – Samurai Champloo is an an anime like no other (and by no other I mean like no other series directed by Watanabe) the storytelling is impressive, and even though the format is – mostly – episodic, the dramatic episodes are moving and engaging like any good samurai drama, the comedy episodes don´t involve pantyshots, and everything inbetween that just works.
Y´see, I think some anime are good anime, but not good pieces of fiction – Samurai Champloo, however, is a great piece of fiction, and sometimes really doesn´t feel like an anime and gives us the break from the tropes we love, but sometimes get sick of.
Shinichiro Watanabe knows his craft, and if you´ve seen anything by him, be it Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Space Dandy or Zankyo no Terror, you know his style – it´s adult, it´s an actual story with direction.
So if you´re like me and have been putting off Samurai Champloo for some reason, I heavily recommend you watch it, if not for the serious episodes and the music alone – I think most people will find something in Champloo to enjoy, it´s considered a classic for a reason.